By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Lagos lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, yesterday, urged Nigerians to resist what they described as the rigging machine of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2011 general elections.
They warned that the 2011 general elections may be a mirage unless â€œwe lay down solid institutions that would ensure free and fair elections.â€ The duo spoke in Benin City at an event to mark the one year anniversary of the death of the former Chief Press Secretary, Chris Nwachukwu and the Personal Assistant to the Governor, Greg Aruna last year.
The late aides died in an auto crash on the Benin â€“ OkeneÂ road few weeks after Oshiomhole was declared governor of the state by the Appeal Court in Benin.
According to Governor Oshiomhole, the political classÂ must recognize that some Nigerians have staked their lives to entrench genuine democracy in the country adding that any attempt to disregard the efforts made to enthrone democracy in the country would be disastrous for the nation.
His words: â€œThe Nigerian political class must recognize that they have no choice, some of us have already made up our mind that we will be on the side of the people whether in government or out of government. Nigeria must be free, the peopleâ€™s vote must count and anybody who is thinking he can rig and go home must be a joker.
This slogan that half bread is better than none is not true. If it is not good it is not good. In the NLC when we had those incremented offers, I used to say, if that half bread is poisoned, then half bread becomes dangerous. Election rigging is poisonous and we must reject poison whether in small quantity or in big quantityâ€.
He commended the judiciary for their doggedness so far, pointing out that he would not have become Governor of the state if not for the courage exhibited by the judiciary.
Oshiomhole who attributed the political problem confronting the nation to the alleged misrule of the PDP, asserted that â€œthe future for me lies in our people asking the question, if I allow electoral fraud, will I live for ever?
No.Â If I fight and defeat him, will I live for ever? No. What will be the difference, the difference is society will be governed by people truly democratically elected by them, accountable to them and therefore will ensure that the popular aspiration of the people is expressed in governance.
â€œSo if you are a coward, you wonâ€™t live forever, if you are a brave man, you wonâ€™t live forever but it is better to be remembered as a fighter who died for a cause than a coward who died several times before his death. Nigerians can do it but the mistake we make always is thinking that protest is for the poor, it is for the students, it is for workers. It is conditions that produce comrades in the struggle to free the countryâ€.
â€œIn 2011, if we are not careful, we shall have the last vote because it is either we cast the vote and it is counted and there will be future elections or we cast the votes and if they are not counted, there will be future votesâ€ he declared.
In his lecture entitled â€œThe role of judiciary in sustaining democracyâ€, Keyamo commended the judiciary for the role they have played so far in sustaining the nationâ€™s democracy but recommended that to check corruption in the bench, judges nominated into election tribunals should be made to declare their assets, saying that â€œ it will help in checking the activities of corrupt people in the judiciaryâ€.