Our Stand: Edo 2016: An unacceptable cock-and-bull story

Our Stand: Edo 2016: An unacceptable cock-and-bull story

 

The drama leading up to the final cancellation by INEC, of the Edo gubernatorial election, originally slated for Saturday, September 10, can best be described as a comedy of monumental tragedy.

 

The script was not only very poorly written but the actors were also very amateurish in their deliveries. Majority of Nigerians are neither amused nor thrilled by the sham of  an unwarranted postponement of the Edo polls by forces bent on slowing down our democratic journey.

 

We do not hear any applause from discerning watchers of Nigeria’s political space except the distorted echoes emanating from the DSS, Nigerian Police, INEC, and a distant but forlorn gaze from President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Let us remind ourselves of what transpired.

On Wednesday, after months of intense preparations, Nigerians woke up to the rude shock of being told by the top brass of the nation’s security agencies that Edo State was not safe for any elections. They, indeed, called for a postponement of the poll.

 

In dismissing the advice of the uniformed officers a day after, INEC, perhaps, considered their pronouncement not only flimsy but a huge joke, insisting that the election must hold on the scheduled date which was September, 10. The electoral umpire’s stubbornness did not last. It was made to swallow its vomit in less than 6 hours!

 

The drama had come full circle. The intrigues were fully played out when INEC announced late Thursday that the election had been shifted to September 28, more than 2 weeks beyond the scheduled date.

 

Read also: Why INEC fixed Edo guber for Sept 28, 2 days after Oba’s coronation

 

Our Stand

1, We are convinced that the plot to postpone the Edo gubernatorial poll was deliberate, orchestrated and willfully promoted by a cabal intent on narrow selfish gains. If the contrary were the case, the inter-agency committee instituted to perfect the processes and ensure a free, fair and credible election would not have been left in the dark. The Election Situation Room made up of over 70 election monitoring groups,  who were firmly on ground in Benin, have since denounced the clandestine motives of the security agencies.

 

2, We are also not convinced that INEC acted on its own volition to shift the poll, and therefore, condemn in no unmistaken terms attempts to deliberately humiliate the leadership of INEC and diminish its independence. If there were any doubts, such were cleared when the umpire declared through its key officers that they were 99 per cent ready for the election.

 

3, The claim of insecurity and allusion to ‘insurgents’ and ‘extremists’, in our view, is not only frivolous and flimsy but intended to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians and Edo people, in particular. It is on record that the conduct of the campaigns were largely peaceful without any outstanding skirmishes.

 

4, We note, regrettably, that the integrity of INEC has been tainted with the manner in which it recanted itself moments after insisting on going ahead with the election. Or, are we to believe that it’s leadership is incapable of deeper reflections before taking a position on critical and sensitive issues?

 

We, therefore, call on Mahmoud Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, to rigorously distance himself from the entire charade if only to assure Nigerians that he is not part of the plot to compromise the institution which he leads.

 

  1. We acknowledge the reasons advanced by INEC for its seeming double speak and call for a comprehensive review of inter-agency communications processes with a view to restoring transparency and integrity to the electoral process.

 

6, We commend the civil society community for speaking up and insisting on orderly transition of governance through free, fair and credible elections.

 

7, We encourage Edo people to remain peaceful, committed, steadfast and not be discouraged but prepared to fully exercise their franchise on September, 28.

 

8, We urge President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet to reassess what may have transpired and ensure that all contestants to the Edo Government House are given a level playing field, not molested or intimidated out of the race. This is especially so as it is being alleged that the candidate of the PDP may be dragged before security agencies in the coming days.

 

The Edo cock-and-bull story must come to an end now if we are to sustain democracy in Nigeria.

 

 

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Edo state, INEC, Edo election, Edo governorship, police, DSS, President Buhari, Nigeria democracy, Mahmoud Yakubu, Edo editorial

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