By Kolade Larewaju
The Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has advised all stakeholders in the nation’s political process not to heat up the polity ahead of the 2011 general elections.
He said this when he received members of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters who were in Abeokuta as part of their oversight function.
He said for democracy to be deepened all those involved must be sportsman like in their approach to election results. The Governor wondered why some political parties only accuse the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) of partisanship when things do not go their way. He said politicians should stop usingÂ INEC as their whipping boy, saying the electoral body had given a good account of itself since the political process began some ten years ago.
The governor said whatever flaws identified in the system should not be blamed solely on the institutions concerned but on all stakeholders who are contributory factors.Â He said he was optimistic that the electoral process in 2011 would be peaceful, saying the fears of Armageddon expressed over the exercise in 1999, 2003, and 2007 never came to pass.Â He assured the visitors that Ogun would continue to do everything to maintain the prevailing peaceful atmosphere before, during and after all elections.
Speaking earlier, the Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon Abubakar Abubakar, who led the delegation that included the Ogun State resident electoral commissioner, directors and state officials of INEC, said they were in Abeokuta to inspect one of the two National Data centres in the Country.
He said the INEC data centres in Abeokuta and Dutse, Jigawa State, wouldÂ serve as back up to the INEC headquarters in case of any disruption of its data storage.
He said with the establishment of six zonal stores of the commission in each of the geopolitical zones, INEC had effectively solved the problem of late arrival of materials during polls. Abubakar said the House Committee would continue to ensure that monies appropriated to the commission were judiciously spent for the betterment of the electoral process.
…says newspapers’ registration not to gag press
Also on Monday, the Ogun Sate governor said his decision to register newspaper operation in the state was not aimed at gagging the media but, rather to generate more revenue for the state in view of the dwindling revenue base.
Speaking at a meeting with Proprietors of Community Newspapers in the state, Governor Daniel said there was really no need to gag the media as everything he was doing in the state was open for all to see.
The media owners had sought audience withÂ the governorÂ toÂ either waive or reduce the registration fee of N50, 000 and N5, 000 cost of form for registration which they argued was astronomical and unaffordable.
He said â€œthe thing has nothing to do with gagging of the press as it was being said in some quarters. There is no need to gag the press because what we are doing here, we have been doing in the open.Â What we are doing now is about revenue generation.
â€œWhen we came, we were creating jobs and we were servicing past liabilities. When we had a windfall, all the arrears were paid. We introduced Christmas bonus in the interest of the workers, but one day the meltdown came and I started to shout but people would not listen.
â€œPolitical office holders took 12 percent cut in wage and we slashed running cost by 50% and even the Federal Government had to pump money into the banks so that they would not fail. Then our friends in the House of Assembly started playing politics. They said we cannot take bond.
â€œTeachers went on strike over increase in salary and Health workers too. I agree, it was legitimate, but the economy was stagnated. We need money, so we have to look inward.
“The law is a 1978 law of Ogun State which was reviewed in 2006. We have to generate moneyâ€