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Oshiomhole urges respect for electorate

Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has said for elections in the country to be credible, the right of the people to elect their representatives must be respected.

The governor, who was guest speaker at this year’s Mukoro Mowoe Memorial Lecture on the theme, The Benefits of Credible Elections in Nigeria, organised in Warri by Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, said many elite wanted to confuse the whole essence of democracy.

Oshiomhole lamented that many office holders wanted to commission old toilets or roads, whether or not it was of good quality, and call it dividends of democracy.

According to him, “you often hear governors call these dividends of democracy. But my argument is that it is a very dangerous thing to do because to argue like that is to downplay the whole import of democracy itself.”

“Democracy is not just about the capacity to build roads, schools or renovate hospitals after all, some of the roads built in Nigeria, some of the universities set up in Nigeria, some of the hospitals were not built by democrats, they were built by military dictators and they did not call it dividends of dictatorship.”

He said for him, what constitutes the most important dividend of democracy is that in a democratic system, the ordinary man on election day is the king; “he has such enormous power that all of us who call ourselves excellencies, executive Governors, executive president, executive minister, distinguished Senators, whatever we choose to call ourselves, on that day, on all of these go for nothing.

The only important person in town is that man or woman, rich or not, intelligent or not is that man equipped with the ballot paper to vote for whoever is candidate his choice.”

The governor who held the audience spellbound for the over thirty-five minutes that he spoke said the beauty of democracy is that people can decide who to entrust  with the management of their collective resources. “He may be a foolish man, but we have a right as a free people if we think that a foolish man is better to foolishly govern us, then we elect a foolish man.

But after a time, if we discover he has become too foolish to for our liking, at the next election, we foolishly remove him with our ballot paper.”

He said the foundation for every political office holder, whether he builds roads, hospitals or schools or not is how did he acquire power, saying “if that is removed from the people, we are in trouble and cannot safely discuss democracy. Even if the man is performing by building roads, the issue is who gave you the mandate to perform; who asked you to perform.”

He faulted the 2007 election as fraught with fraud, saying many politicians cannot swear on the Bible or Quran that they won their elections.

He said Nigerians are unanimous that the last elections represent a dangerous drift to anarchy, he however singled out President Umaru Yar’Adua for praise among some other credible politicians, saying the President admitted that that the election that returned him as President was not too credible, “which made him to set up the Uwais Electoral Reforms Panel to clean up the system so that nobody assumes office again except by will of the people.”

The governor insisted that there is no alternative to the one man, one vote campaign which he has embarked on and chided some governors who are quoted in newspapers that they will decide who will govern after them or that they are yet to anoint their successors, saying only the people have a right to decide who governs them through intra-party and inter-party democracy.


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