By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
The eagerly awaited Edo State gubernatorial election is now around the corner with the political parties and their candidates putting finishing touches to their respective strategies and permutations geared towards securing victory at the polls. This is not unexpected because it is only one candidate (with the majority of the votes cast and the required spread across the local government areas) that will emerge victorious. Therefore, it is normal for the stakeholders to employ all means possible to outdo one another. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong in throwing all strategies at one`s disposal into the context to achieve results; provided they are lawful and in accordance to the laid down rules and regulations guiding the process. Thus, there would not have been any need for this write-up if our politicians have considerably imbibed the principle of “one man one vote”; but, elections conducted in recent past (despite the feat achieved on 12th of June, 1993) were largely tainted by various forms of malpractice, ranging from intimidation of electorates; vote buying; multiple vote casting; ballot box snatching; disruption of voting in opponents areas of strength and popularity; rigging; destruction of lives and properties of political opponents; and, manipulation of results, to mention but a few.
It is consequent upon the foregoing that this review is meant to call on the good people of Edo to be wary of the ploys of unscrupulous politicians who will be out to perpetrate their usual nefarious activities to undermine the will of the people and success of the exercise. They have already caused disaffections amongst the people for their own selfish interests and gains. So, my crucial advice to the electorates is to have it at the back of their minds that the context is a family affair (regardless of the different political ideologies and affiliations); and, should be best treated as such. However, they should not be deceived or carried away by the beautiful slogans and agenda of the various parties because most of our politicians are birds of the same feather. All you need to do is to look at the incumbent`s scorecard to determine whether he deserves a second term or not. If by your personal assessment you believe that he is on the right track, feel free to vote for continuity; otherwise, make your choice amongst other candidate. It is very short and simple. You do not need a superhuman or a stranger to compel you to do their biddings. However, as a result of the fact that some politicians see election as a “do-or-die affair”; they are always out to manipulate the process to deprive the people from having a say in the choice of who governs them. They have successfully carried out such dastardly acts in the past; and, they will be prepared to do the same with this election; and, that is the more reason why the electorates should do everything possible within the confines of the law to STOP THEM.
In order to put a stop to this evil trend, you cannot afford to be complacent. It is not enough to shout “No to god-fatherism”; “No to bad governance”; “We no go gree”; and, “Edo no be Lagos” and all sorts without matching your words with action. You must brace up and take your destiny and that of future generations in your hands. You must be willing and ready to make deliberate efforts to emancipate yourselves from the bondage of these slave-masters and enemies of our democracy who believe that they have the wherewithal to manipulate and determine the outcome of every election in the country. That future begins now (with the Edo election); and, you must be resolute more than ever to ensure that your votes count. Therefore, it is very crucial that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the rules guiding the process are strictly adhered by all and sundry to ensure free and fair exercise where THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE MUST BE SACROSANCT. As a result, you must be conscious of your political rights and responsibilities, which will make it very difficult; if not impossible, for the enemies of democracy to perpetrate their BUSINESS AS USUAL. The people of Edo are in the right position to make their choice between voting for “continuity” or “change”; and, their expressions through their votes at the polls should be supreme. Thus, I want to support and encourage you to be guided by the following tips;
You must have registered and obtained the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to be entitled to exercise your voting right. You are to present your PVC at your designated polling centre within the stipulated time for accreditation and voting accordingly.
You must eschew violence and conduct yourselves in orderly and peaceful manner before, during and after the election.
You must be vigilant to ensure that suspicious movements and conducts are promptly reported to the security agents and independent observers and other authorities.
You must ensure that the ballot papers are sorted appropriately before and after counting to forestall manipulations.
You must not allow multiple voting which are capable of voiding the results of your polling centre for over-voting (a situation where the total votes cast exceed number of accredited voters). This is one of the strategies of fraudulent politicians to deprive their opponents of legitimates and valid votes in their strongholds.
You must keep an eye on the electoral umpires to ensure that they are not induced to compromise the rules to favour a particular candidate/party.
You must not allow yourselves to be used by anybody to perpetrate any form of malpractice at the risk of your lives while their own children are secured in the comforts of their homes.
You must not give-in to any form of threats or intimidations from any quarter.
In the same vein, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials should follow the rules to the later in the conduct of the election. All necessary arrangements must be put in place to ensure that due process is followed to achieve “one man, one vote” without fear or favour, so that the end result will be a true reflection of the people`s choice. You must not be intimidated or induced by any person or group to subvert the will of the people. There should be no “inconclusiveness” or “11th hour postponement” of the election. Nigerians and the world are waiting and watching with keen interest and benefit of the doubt to see if you are truly the unbiased electoral umpire that you should be.
Also, the numerous security personnel deployed for the exercise are adjured to be apolitical and professional in the discharge of their duties towards ensuring that the lives and properties of the people are secured before, during and after the election. Anybody involved in malpractices, violence, and other unlawful conducts must be made to face the full wrath of the law, because such acts are capable of undermining our democracy. You should ensure that your unalloyed loyalty is to the country and the citizenry; and, not to any political party and, or their leaders.
Finally, world leaders are enjoined to take the issue of election malpractices very seriously. The act is one and the same as treason. If you want us to embrace democracy as the best form of government; then you should be able to support the people to defend the system. The visa ban is a welcome development; but, it should be extended to include all member countries of the United Nation. Furthermore, such persons should be made to face the full wrath of the law as deterrent to others. We must all come together to uphold the sanctity of democracy.
From the aforementioned, it is very obvious that the Edo election is very crucial to determining the direction of our democracy. It will be in the best interest of our corporate existence to handle it with the utmost care it deserves.
A world is enough for the wise.
Oise-Oghaede, writes from Suru-Lere, Lagos State, Nigeria.
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