By EMMA AMAIZE
EDO State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has said that 80 per cent of governors, National Assembly members and other public office holders in Nigeria cannot swear they were elected by popular demand in 2007, and so, it was the political elite and not the people that should be enlightened on the true canon of democracy.
For a credible election in 2011, he suggested that all public office holders, including himself, should allow themselves to be defeated if that is the will of the people, adding that this could only be achieved if the system of one man, one vote was institutionalized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He spoke, yesterday, at Effurun, Delta State on the occasion of the late Chief Umukoro Mowoe memorial lecture series, entitled, â€œThe Benefits of Credible Elections in Nigeriaâ€, organized by the Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, where the chairman of INEC, Prof Maurice Iwu, represented by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Lagos, Mr. Moses Ogbe, appealed to Nigerians â€œto actively participate in the political process, as we hope that through such active interest, we will be able to get it right overtimeâ€.
The acting governor of Delta State, Prof Amos Utuama, also, at the occasion, noted that everyone in the country is itching for credible elections because that was the only way â€œwe can achieve good governance and developmentâ€, saying, â€œWe all have a responsibility, having chosen the path of democracy as it provides that leadership should come through regular election where people freely choose their leadersâ€, Utuama added.
Oshimohole said that if the people were not enlightened, they would not queue in the sun and rain to cast their votes particularly the women, but, on the part of political elite, they preferred to hire and arm thugs to rig elections.
Oshimohole, who traced the present democratic journey to 1999, said it was only President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua that has so far admitted among the public office holders that were imposed on the people that the 2007 elections that brought him to power was not good enoughÂ and subsequently set up the Justice Uwais Reform Committee to reorganize the electoral process.
He pointed out that former PresidentÂ Olusegun Obasanjo laid the background for the fraud that was the 2007 elections when he declared that it was a â€˜do-or-dieâ€™ election, and accordingly, the INEC and the security agencies took a cue and ensured that the election was rigged for the PDP.
In a thought-provoking lecture in which the audience was held spellbound for more than 10 minutes, the Edo governor said it was already a settled norm the world over that â€œmilitary rule is not just fashionable but no longer acceptableâ€, but the nationâ€™s political eliteÂ continue to confuse the whole essence of democracy.
He said it was amusing and dangerous to see governors like him going to commission road, hospital and other projects built or rehabilitated by them and describing them as dividends of democracy, pointing out that it was wrong in his view, as the military dictator who performed a similar act would not, in the same vein, describe them as dividends of dictatorship.
Iwu ,in his address, said, â€œIn our continuous effort to bring improvement into the electoral environment, the Commission has embarked on a number of reforms, including the decision to use youth corps members in future elections.
We have observed that the deployment of ad hoc staff, who have no proper form of identification has not in any way enhanced the outcome of our elections in the pastâ€.
â€œAnother area that we feel will reduce friction in our future election is the decision for representatives of political parties and security agencies to take note of serial numbers of all sensitive materials being used for elections. With this, it will be easy to detect the injection of fake materials. Thirdly, all votes are to be counted and announced at the polling unitsâ€,
Commenting on the Anambra elections, he said, â€œThe Commission has also raised a monitoring and observation board to monitor the preparations, organization and conduct of the Anambra state election. A major function of the board is to point out at any point in time, any factor that may affect the credibility of the electoral process as a wholeâ€.