Democracy On Trial: Congratulations, Governor Adeleke And Osun State

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By

Hon. Rahman Owokoniran

I join millions of people in celebration of Osun State’s victory once again at the Appeal Court.

I congratulate Governor Ademola Adeleke for a well-deserved victory. One cannot but wonder what went through the Governor’s mind as he waited for this judgement. We can only salute his courage as he went on discharging his duties diligently to the  good people of Osun State while waiting for the judgement. Well, the waiting game is over and justice is finally served.

Osun is on our mind as we look on to the future of the fragile democracy in our dear country. In Osun State, INEC followed the due process of the electoral law every inch of the way in discharging its duties. INEC’s performance was a testimony that credible elections are indeed possible in Nigeria. Hence, people bought into the idea that their votes would count. That enthusiasm was good to drive more than 40 percent of registered voters to participate.

However, this hope has become short-lived as the ruling party APC continues to throw spanners into the works. They have introduced policies to make life a lot more difficult for the people. Scarcity of money in circulation would make life more difficult for the people, hence they would be vulnerable to accepting money in exchange for their votes. Shortage of petrol is another policy targeted at suppressing the votes. With these shortages, people were disoriented and distracted.

Apart from these state policy mishaps, the security apparatus of government and INEC were derelict of their duties before and during the elections. As umpires for that period, they were supposed to be working for the people on election matters. But they continued all through the election to remain subservient only to the ruling party. Impunity became the order of the period. INEC in Lagos State was going to use the ruling party’s buses to transport election materials on the E-Day, but for the court ruling that stopped that indiscretion.

The continued harassment of voters by thugs was ignored by the authorities. The threat to the rights and lives of people of Igbo extraction by gangsters unleashed by the ruling party was paid no attention.  The open attack that led to people’s death was sadly the epitome of government’s irresponsible and negligent actions against our fragile democracy. As a direct consequence, the number of voters who cast their votes on 25th February dropped significantly to about 25 percent of voters registered.

Yet INEC, in total disregard of its responsibilities, fraudulently announced to the world results allocated by the ruling party. Neglecting the processes exemplified in the Osun State governorship election by completely snubbing the usage of the BVAS and e-transmission of results, INEC instead resorted to  manual collation of results.

Let INEC publish the total number of votes rejected on this election that it hurriedly declared. Indiscriminately, INEC officials cancelled election results at the polling units and the ward collation centres for the following reasons:

  • Votes rejected due to over-voting,
  • Votes cancelled for disruption,
  • Votes rejected for snatching of ballot boxes.

In all the above cases, the ruling party through INEC was the instigator. You can begin to appreciate how much latitude the party APC had to control the field operations. Was that the more reason why the INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu was in a hurry to legitimise the concocted results?

Fortunately and to the glory of God, the world could not be hoodwinked. Nations have rejected the fraud. World nations have enough evidence from international observers, local observers and media to damn the presidential election.

Nigerians have condemned and rejected this offensive INEC conjecture. They know whom they ACTUALLY voted! They will not be swayed by INEC’s offhanded application and bypassing of due process that led to its indiscriminate allocation of votes.

Yet again today, the people’s hope hangs on the last bastion of our democracy –the Judiciary.

Isn’t it funny that our democracy keeps moving in a vicious circle? In 1983, the Judiciary sacrificed the spirit of the law for the compromised judgement of the presidential election. History reminds us where that judgement led the Nation. Here we are again, a nation always in hurry to nowhere!

The Judiciary needs to be reminded that Nigeria craves for democracy. In Osun State, the process by which the results were delivered was one of the characteristics of the democratic tenets of that governorship election. The Judiciary, being the last bastion of hope, must dispense its duties without prejudice to anyone. Must they be reminded that the whole world’s searchlight is right now focused on the Nigerian Judiciary?

Once again, my heart rejoices with the people of Osun State as they celebrate this glorious feat. Congratulations!

A FORMER LAGOS STATE COMMISSIONER FOR HOUSING, HON. RAHMAN OWOKONIRAN IS SOUTH-WEST ZONAL SECRETARY OF THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY, PDP

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