Nigeria: Edo Poll - We Are Relieved, But...

22 September 2020

Contrary to widespread expectations, the just-concluded Edo State governorship election has come and gone successfully. The fire and brimstone we expected to fall from the skies did not happen.

The pre-election sabre-rattling, which peaked with the removal of the roof of the Edo State House of Assembly and gun violence around the palace of the Benin monarch, fizzled out into a generally-peaceful, free and fair election. For the second time since the November 19, 2017 re-election poll of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, the Edo governorship election ended with the will of the people prevailing and without bloodshed.

The simple reason for this was that President Muhammadu Buhari kept his word towards ensuring a free, fair and peaceful election. Whenever the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the security agencies are made to carry out their constitutional mandates professionally, the outcome always gives reason for the people to celebrate.

We commend every stakeholder, especially the two frontline political parties - the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the all Progressives Congress, APC, for generally desisting from a pronounced degree of violence and electoral malfeasance.

We are gratified that the feared clash between "governor's incumbency power" and "the federal might" did not take place after all, despite the mobilisation of governors of both parties to Benin for the expected "battle royale".

While we congratulate Governor Godwin Obaseki and expect him to be a servant to all Edo people, we also urge those who feel aggrieved to follow the due process of the law in seeking redress. The judiciary should also emulate the INEC and security agencies in ensuring that justice and the people's will prevail.

In particular, we commend our international partners, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, which have resorted to imposition of stiff sanctions on election riggers and promoters of violence through visa bans, asset seizures and possible prosecutions under international law.

This must have gone a long way in ensuring the peaceful outcome of the Edo governorship election. It probably also helped our government in sitting up and ensuring the right thing was done.

We call on President Buhari to continue to ensure that all elections that will be conducted under the rest of his watch will be free, fair and transparent. These include the forthcoming off-cycle Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun governorship elections as well as the 2023 general elections. At this juncture of his life and tenure, Buhari owes Nigeria's democracy a shining legacy, being a beneficiary of a free, fair and peaceful election.

He should lead efforts to ensure that all residual legal and legislative requirements which will promote further INEC independence and the true will of the people are put in place before the next elections.

To who much is given, much is expected.

VANGUARD

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