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Edo: Truth about the forthcoming council polls

By Nosa Adams

GOVERNOR  Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole of Edo State has always given the impression that he is an electoral reformer.  He pontificates and sermonises about credible elections as if he represents the quintessence of a drum major for such reform.  Not long ago, he hosted the first “One-man-One Vote” rally in Benin City, which was, understandably boycotted by his political allies in the Action Congress (AC).

Interestingly, at the end, the rally achieved nothing other than a revelation of Oshiomhole’s political duplicity.  It turned out that his “One-man-One vote” song was a mantra of deception.   Indeed, Oshiomhole’s duplicity was first evident from the two bye-elections conducted into Akoko-Edo Constituency 1 and Etsako Central Constituency seats in the State House of Assembly.

Each of the elections was conducted at different times; and this gave Oshiomhole ample opportunity to teleguide and manipulate the exercise in favour of AC. The successful manipulation of the two bye-elections has now spurred him into a grand plan of holding the forthcoming local government elections in the State piece-meal.

In fact, there were official meetings in which the details of how the planned manipulations would be executed in each local government council election were agreed upon.  The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State recently announced that it got the facts of the clandestine plan to shortchange the people of the State through another round of electoral deception disguised as a product of “one man-one vote”.

It is on record that the National Leader of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, in a recent rally at Etsako West, promptly warned against Oshiomhole’s plan to stagger the elections.  In response, the AC denied any such plan.  Oshiomhole, himself, in an interview with aviation correspondents at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday, July 7, 2010, also denied “the plan to stagger the local government elections”. (The Nation newspaper of Thursday, July 8, 2010 at page 8.)

In fact, his denial was flat as he argued that there were rules by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) guiding the conduct of the local government elections.  I must say that Oshiomhole’s argument was duplicitous and ingenious when he knows full well that it is the SIEC that is responsible for the local government elections and that the Commission is under the financial and administrative control and/or influence of the State Government.

Read him: “It is INEC or SIEC that will conduct elections and they make the rules, not the governor(s) and the rules will not allow them to do the kind of thing he (Anenih) was suggesting”. Oshiomhole knows that Anenih was referring to SIEC and not INEC. In that case, why is Oshiomhole planning to appoint and impose electoral officers on SIEC in Edo State? And, why is the AC in the State eager to manipulate the commissioners and cajole them into doing their bidding in the forthcoming local government elections? That throws Oshiomhole’s One man-One vote to the dogs!

Information has it that Oshiomhole was extremely furious when he found out that the PDP was aware of his plans. He reportedly almost brought down the roof of Government House, accusing his aides of being more of PDP than AC. In fact, the rate at which AC members are defecting to the PDP shows clearly that Oshiomhole has failed the people of Edo State.

Can Oshiomhole deny the fact that he held a meeting with some of his government officials on plans to circumvent the independence of the State SIEC by influencing it to stagger the forthcoming council elections?  Is it not true also that the Governor has, on several occasions, threatened to replace some of the Commissioners of SIEC? Oshiomhole must ponder these questions and relate to them in the interest of electoral purity, which is the basis of acceptable election results.
Rather than answer to the allegations by the PDP leadership, Oshiomhole, in the same interview at the airport in Lagos, relished in his usual pastime of hurling abuses at the person of Anenih, denigrating his character and referring to his age, as if old age is a crime.  In Africa, old age is a thing of joy and we all pray to the Almighty God to grant us long life, good health and prosperity.

As Edo State Governor, Oshiomhole cannot afford to be so crude and unrefined in his choice of language.  It gives him no credit in the minds of Edo people to refer to Anenih who is, undoubtedly, a respected elder statesman and revered traditional chief (Iyasele of Esanland), as ”a pathological liar’’. The Governor’s conduct, utterances and disrespect for tradition raise the critical question as to whether, indeed, he is a true son of Edo State.

Now, consider Oshiomhole’s confusion in the quote credited to him in the newspaper report.  Read him: “…In my village, we don’t talk about my elders; we don’t abuse younger ones in public because God has already put you up there; you don’t look down at people…”. Is Oshiomhole implying that in his village, younger ones mock old age and abuse their elders? Don’t they aspire to be as old as their elders?

Mr. Adams is Publicity Secretary of Edo State PDP.


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