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Edo re-run election: the limits of propaganda

By Erasmus Ikhide
Published September 12th, 2009

What a pity that a behemoth of crisis that the PDP epitomizes, 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 affliction! Part of PDP’s agonizing 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 has been crushed in the Akoko-Edo re-run election, once and for all.

The police men 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 THISDA Y 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 members 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 artful antics. The self-acclaimed Sariki Muslumi of Afenmai land has built a reputation for 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, with incurably unbroken record of electoral violence to their credit! It is only now, since 1999 that Col. Akogun has been prevented from using the Nigeria army to rig elections.

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 Newspaper, 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 free 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 pot holes 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 in the House, and as the leader of the House of Representative. That may not be the only ‘shameful’ encounter DCP and INEC had with these shameless election riggers.

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 bunch of wags intend 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 was a PDP desperate and concocted falsehood, and a grand design to pass off their militant thugs over as AC’s.

This time round, 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 – Braimoh, Akogun and Abolagba and their ink 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 can not 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 smoother the expression of populous democracy; the bye-product of representative governance has 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 dare the people to go and have jump in the high sea; even salted and spiced by the public fund 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 advice 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 peoples’ will resonate in the courage of their convention to stand up and be counted.

The peoples’ determination to concern electoral maleficent 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 on multiple fronts 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.

The PDP master riggers who have characteristically authored the act of stonewalling, ballot snatching and stuffing and the booming gun to a grand art are now troubled with the conduct of the freest and fairest election the people of Akoko-Edo constituency 1 has seen, since the beginning of the 4th republic. The peoples’ redemption son in Akoko-Edo for having their vote count after many years of frustration and in the dungeon of PDP’s bondage did not go down well with the political tyrants.

While Adams Oshiomhole was battle crying all through his union career and activism for the sanctity of electoral democracy that accommodates one-man-one-vote, which the PDP detests to the nation’s chagrin and detriment and unto its eternal shame – apologies to their ‘Patriarch of Modern Nigeria’, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo – the author, concoctor , cultivator, and the executor of do-or-die election in Nigeria.

Action Congress, AC should be credited for conducting a generally accepted election. The Edo State Chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalist and Civil Society Coalition; which monitored the rerun election at Akoko-Edo constituency 1, congratulated INEC and the Nigeria Police Force for leaving up to expectation in the face of daunting challenges. In a statement wildly published in no less than six national daily, the group congratulated INEC, the Nigeria Police Force, State Security Services and encourage them to improve on their output in the subsequent elections.

The state INEC Resident Electoral Comissioner, REC Aniedi Abasi Ikoiwak who in his official capacity has the last word on the rerun election satisfies the poll as 90% free and fair. Those who are still in doubts whether or not the Akoko-Edo re-run election suffered hick-ups might do themselves a word of good to cross check their facts with the one provided by the REC Commissioner. The election was also hailed by INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu and other NGOs as the most peaceful in the annals of elections in the state and the local government in particular.

The most baffling of it all is the hiring of one Mr. Solomon Osahuohien by PDP to lay the seeds of distractions – new ways to pursue a tenacious agenda to rule Edo State ; among other states, for the next 60 years, or forever. Osahuohien’s publication in the Vanguard Newspaper of August 31 and September 1, 2009, on page 19 respectively, put together formed a crooked line. He came across as an errant scion of slave drivers who harbours atrocious misgivings against a free people to elect their own representative and, as the bearer of PDP’s saga of acquisitive obsession for power that flows from the barrels of do-or-die elections.

The baleful outing of the evasive Solomon Osahuohien to lure attention away from the PDP oppressive legacy and social assaults on the civilized race to render them politically mute in the face of odious tyranny is most insulting. Solomon’s pain arises from the fact that PDP schemes to keep the people down in the ditch has become as elusive as their ambition to rule the state for ever run.

You can not but pity a political party and its bellicose drowning jobbers who are trying to cling to every available straw to stay afloat.

Erasmus Ikhide is the Senior

Special Assistant, Media Affairs

To Edo State Governor, Comrade

Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.

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