Before Edo is set on fire…

I invite you to take a critical look at political events in Edo State ahead of this weekend’s governorship election.  There is no doubt that the fortune of the APC in Edo has plummeted, and since there is no likely quick fix in sight, its main political actors have resorted to threats. They want to unleash Armageddon on a state that is already gripped by hunger.  By allegedly planning to rig the forthcoming election, the APC government is preparing the ground for anarchy.

The fear is strengthened by a bizarre development in Edo, which has further fuelled suspicions that the APC is committed to perpetrating electoral fraud. The development is called hunt for thugs (similar to the talent hunt show), and it is basically fashioned out to assemble the most daring of the area boys in town ahead of the poll.  Today, thuggery is considered the highest paying job in the state, with a lucrative recruitment scheme such that if you can stake the unexpected as an area boy, just expect a call from Oga at the top to be enlisted for the task ahead, in a desperate bid to impose a “puppet-candidate” on Edo.

They have threatened that a particular candidate will only be governor over their dead body. But unfortunately for them, the people do not want them dead yet.  Even though they have made up their minds to vote out the APC, they want the APC leaders to be alive to witness the consequences of their action of betraying the people’s trust.

Though there is an increased consciousness on the part of the people to frustrate any plan to manipulate the election, it is, however, necessary for the law enforcement agencies to be on the guard, as impartial security outfits working to keep and ensure the peace and stability of the state. The mood in Edo is now that of a people ready to defend their mandate and protect their state against any internal or external forces of destabilisation.

There is, however, a major concern, the kind that was witnessed during the 2015 elections, when an accreditation-technology of card reader was introduced and used against the provision of the Electoral Act and the common sense of testing it at smaller elections before a large scale application. Aside the fact that the innovation was an unmitigated disaster, the Supreme Court has since ruled on its applicability and asked the electoral body to appropriately include it in the Electoral Act if it so desired.

But it appears the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is again up to something else in the Edo and Ondo states elections with yet another introduction of an electronic platform for collation of results. This has not been captured by any law or guaranteed by the Electoral Act. It is called e-collation and e-transmission of results.

Already, some political stakeholders have started raising serious suspicions on the integrity, applicability and acceptability of the e-collation platform. They are wondering why INEC is going ahead with an innovation that has not been captured in the Electoral Act and which efficacy has not been tested in smaller elections and reruns.  They are worried that there is a likelihood of conspiracy somewhere, as witnessed during the last elections when, after ignoring all pre-election concerns, INEC later made a U-turn in the middle of the game and announced that card reader should be jettisoned where it did not work.

There is also an informed fear that the e-collation, as planned by the INEC, may be manipulated to produce imaginary figures. INEC must sincerely address this concern to show that it is indeed an unbiased umpire. However, it is incumbent on the opposition parties in Edo, beyond the expression of worry, to take further steps by seeking pronouncement of the court on the applicability and acceptability of this e-collation platform. They must also make a strong case that it is illogical for the INEC to again test an innovation, which is not circumscribed in the Electoral Act, in a major election when it had the opportunity to test it in several reruns and bye-elections but failed to do so.

Moreover, since the INEC has refused to release the card readers’ data on the 2015 elections, it therefore, has no moral authority to introduce another technology without first perfecting the previous one.  Such action should include getting the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to accommodate the e-collation platform.  The truth is, there is more to it than meet the eyes in the sense of urgency by the INEC to have the e-collation platform tested in Edo and Ondo elections.

My fear is that the plot to rig the election as well as the introduction of the e-collation platform could unsettle the state. This is because the people are now ready to take their collective destiny in their hands.  They have become so enlightened that they have gone past the era when an individual would lord it over them.

If Brother A succeeds in installing his chosen candidates, he will become the new face of the ultimate godfather in the state, whose perceived misdeeds in office will be overlooked by his cronies. Edo people know this.  This is why any attempt to rig with a view to frustrate the emergence of their will and the crystallisation of their mandate will certainly be vehemently resisted. There is ample time to prevent Brother A or any other person for that matter from setting Edo on fire in a desperate bid to have his way. Edo is our collective heritage, not anybody’s private estate; we have to salvage it from all manner of political shenanigans in the interest of our generation and future ones.

  • Mr Ojeifo sent this piece