Vanguard (Lagos)

9 September 2009

Nigeria: Edo Re-Run Election - the Limits of Propaganda

opinion

What a pity that a behemoth of crisis that the PDP epitomises, especially as it relates to electoral fraud and outright failure to salvage the critical imbalances in the political space that are capable of derailing and truncating the nascent democracy never learnt to operate away from self-induced electoral fraud!

Part of PDP's agonising travails in Edo State has been that its conquest propensity, the circumventing antics of blurring the almost enduring democratic process, and the criminal perpetuation of electoral vices have been crushed in the Akoko-Edo re-run election, once and for all.

The policemen on guard at the INEC office, Igara who outnumbered PDP thugs told of how their fully armed militant thugs invaded the office and stayed all through the night preceding the election day like giants fire-flies. The PDP invading army stormed the INEC office four consecutive times to orchestrate mayhem, but were resisted; except in Ayegunle, the sleeping village of Col. Tunde Akogun on the day of election. Their aim was to cart away election materials in the PDP tradition, so that election results are written and announced before cock crows.

Senator Alhaji Yisa Braimoh himself acceded to this fact in his earlier interview he granted the Thisday newspaper on August 28, 2009 that, "we mobilized, including himself, our party supporters"- Braimoh was only short of saying armed PDP hoodlums - "to head to INEC office and stay guard there till morning". This is unbecoming of a distinguished Senator and House of Representatives member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who ought to deliver good governance in the day time and have a resounding sleep at night.

However, those who know Senator Yisa Braimoh and his political antecedents might not be surprised about his antics. The self-acclaimed Sariki Muslumi of Afenmai land has built a reputation for allegedly employing political thugs in every election.

So far, he has gotten away with the consequences of his actions. Senator Braimoh, Col. Tunde Akogun and Hon. Johnson Abolagba, the trio who fanned the ember of violence in the polling unit in Col. Akogun's house have been long in coming into the torrid arena of ranked hypocrisy.

The Edo State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike who was in charge of the re-run election was reported on page 9 of Vanguard Newspapers, August 24, 2009 as saying that following security reports that Col. Tunde Akogun adopted electoral officials and materials meant for the re-run election he moved swiftly to Col. Akogun's in Aiyegunle .

I quote: "So I decided to head to Akogun's house where I had a meeting with him. And I told him that I learnt that the INEC officials were held hostage in his house, but he became angry and told me not to insult him. The SSS man with me also repeated the same thing to him but he became really angry. So I tried to persuade him on the need to free the INEC officials so that voting can commence in the area.

"He narrated his innocence, but as we were descending downstairs, a woman pointed to me to come see where the INEC officials and the electoral materials were hidden.

"So I went there and freed them and I took them to the polling unit and told them to prepare everything for the election to continue; but the woman was scared that if we leave, the thugs will come back to beat them up, so she pleaded we should stay while they conduct the election. We decided to stay and asked people to queue and cast their votes at about 3pm. That was how peace returned to the area and election went on peacefully without any hindrance".

No doubt, this clear and unambiguous statement by the DCP captured the entire scenario of his team who managed to navigate the numerous potholes on the federal road to Col. Akogun's house who could not repair them, or use his acclaimed Federal might and connection to repair them for over six years as the leader of the House of Representatives.

Understandably, this would fall into the deaf ears of PDP drowning leaders in Edo State and their collaborator in Abuja who are hell bent on associating AC stalwarts, Chief Austine Amune and Bayo Adams, with the mayhem PDP intended to visit on the Akoko-Edo constituency 1 people while the election lasted. The thugs, charms, arms and ammunition the Inspector General of Police displayed in Abuja represent a PDP desperate and concocted falsehood, and a grand design to pass off their militant thugs over as AC's.

This time around, the people have said enough of their electoral brigandage. The fairness of this rerun election takes the people back, for instance, to April 14 2007, when the most blatant election manipulation took place at the hands of the yet-to-be fully purged Maurice Iwu's INEC.

What the people of Akoko-Edo have said to their aggressors - is this: You have taken our home, you have taken our wealth, you have taken our livelihood; you have taken away our sense of security and you have even taken our volition, but you cannot continue to steal our vote at all times.

If anything, the triumph of will over might in Akoko-Edo shows that the seemingly futile attempts to smother the expression of popular democracy, the bye-product of representative governance, have yielded bountiful harvest.

Now, PDP and its minders are seeking a way out of the unsavory dilemma into which their nearly 12 years of the locust at the helm of affairs in Edo State has thrust the party - fixated failure and ineptitude over and above the claims of total control of the state machinery of power.

Now, the thwarted custodians of total control of Edo State politics, who have boasted of their abilities to swallow, intact, the civic rights of the people to vote, and dared the people to go and jump into the high sea, can now rethink their mischievous connivance in the subsequent elections.

They may continue to opt for the elusive contest of who serves the godfather better for all they care, but the resounding victory AC recorded in the rerun election reiterated the foremost democratic dividend of having a say in the governing process of one's own state and country.

I advise the PDP to continue to pursue illusions since it is their lots to do so. It is when attempts are made - just the way they did in Akoko-Edo constituency 1, re-run election - to stuff and flaunt such illusion in the faces of the people to intimidate that the crushing might of the people's will resonate in the courage of their convention to stand up and be counted.

The people's determination to concern electoral maleficense into the dustbin of history was explicit and remarkable in their renewed desire that saw to the triumph of will over might! The embattled PDP chapter in Edo State raced to the media, along with their mafia interest groups in Abuja, after their never-do-well candidate, Anslem Agbabi lost a keenly contested election to a better focus political party, AC and a more resourceful candidate, Kabiru Adjoto. The fairness of the election is reflective in the sum total of votes each candidate scored. While AC candidate scored 5, 345 votes, the PDP candidate garnered 3, 637 votes.

Mr. Ikhide is SSA on Media Affairs to the Edo State Governor.

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