By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN â€” FORMER Military Administrator of old Bendel State, General Tunde Ogbeha, and former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Reverend Peter Obadan, weekend, disagreed with the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on his condemnation of Senate President, David Mark, over his defence of Prof. Maurice Iwu on the nationâ€™s electoral problems.
Soyinka had, in his lecture to mark Governor Adams Oshiomholeâ€™s one-year in office in Benin, entitled, Electoral Integrity Begets Governance Integrity, condemned the comment credited to the Senate President, who in a retreat in Enugu, faulted the call by some Nigerians for the sack of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, saying he (Iwu) alone was not the problem confronting the electoral system.
Soyinka described the Senate President as confused and insisted that Iwu should be sacked for the nation to have credible a electoral system.
Rising in defense of the Senate President, Ogbeha and Obadan said Soyinka misunderstood Mark who was only trying to say that Iwu, as an individual, was not the problem but the entire players in every electoral contest.
While Ogbeha pointed out that Soyinka was just â€œgrandstandingâ€ so as to be seen to be criticising constituted authorities, Obadan asserted that Soyinka has lost touch with the current situation in the country due to his constant trips abroad.
The duo spoke in a separate interviews with Vanguard in Benin City.
Ogbeha said, â€œSoyinka spoke out of political ignorance. I want to believe that it was not his turf. He spoke absolutely out of context.
â€œWhat I believe should happen in the heart of our electoral reforms is the people. We must orientate Nigerians. We must dissuade Nigerians from rigging.
â€œIt is not Professor Iwu who snatches ballot papers. What do you say about the electoral officers in the various polling booths? What do you say about the security agents?
â€œSo my take is that we must not focus on individuals butÂ must focus on the institution and that is why I said the Senate President was very right.
â€œIt is unfortunate that we always want to grandstand so that it will be seen that we are criticising government. What is the guarantee that whoever takes over from Iwu will be better.â€
On his part, Obadan stated that, â€œyou are not going to get an angel from heaven to do that job. You have to get a Nigerian to the job. And for the fact that they are not doing your bidding does not mean that they are not doing well.
â€œIwu is not the electoral officer in the villages. He is not the police. He is not the one giving and offering bribes. Has he (Soyinka) sat Maurice Iwu down one-on-one or when he read the statement by David Mark?
â€œI expected him to put a call to David Mark and understand where he was coming from. As a man we respect, and we are proud of him, caution should be the word.â€