BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
Esan North East Local Government Council of Edo state is the only council in Edo state that is yet to enjoy full democratic governance in the state following the cancellation of the April 20, 2013 Local Government election in the area. Election into the chairmanship and councillorship positions in the area have been cancelled twice due to what the Edo state Independent National Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) described as alleged electoral malpractices and violence witnessed during the elections.
The EDSIEC assured that a new date will be fixed for the election. However, the chairmanship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Mr John Yakubu had in a recent interview faulted the decision of the EDSIEC to cancel the election which he claimed victory. But in this interview with Vanguard, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for the election, Mr Sam Abhulimen Oboh said Yakubu lacks the political pedigree to win election in the area, saying that his claim was too hasty and laughable. Excerpts:
Your opponent in the election is claiming victory and faulted the cancellation of the election, what is your take?
For me it is the people that will decide who will be chairman of the council. I want to also say that it is highly condemnable for my opponent to claim victory in a process that was declared cancelled. This is a contest that has an umpire and it is morally wrong for any of us to claim victory in that process. And I think it is even an offence for him to declare himself winner in a process that was cancelled. And by now I expected he should have been arrested because such an action is capable of causing crisis in the land because he has no power to declare himself winner of the election. It is also very funny, I have heard recently where he said at any time the election is called, even if it is hundred times that he is going to win the election. I don’t see that as optimism, I see it as political naivety, he is just being naïve.
For me his comments shows that he has a mind set to cheat, a mindset not to accept the verdict of the people because he has already made up his mind that he must win at all cost. That is desperation. But I would rather say that the voice of the people will be respected through the ballot and I will not join him by declaring myself winner when the process has not commenced. But we have to watch out for him because I believe that the PDP which he represents have concluded plans to rig the election because they are in control of the security apparatus at the federal level which they used during the botched election. But I believe that whatever they tried to do the voice of the people will prevail at the end of the day.
But some persons believed your opponent performed well while he was chairman of that council, are you saying you have better political credentials than him?
Let me tell you performance is based on evaluation. For those who believe he has performed, there are parameters of assessment it is not on the pages of newspaper. Go to the streets of Uromi and see the performance. It is on record that while he was in office, there was an attempt he made towards road construction but as I speak with you all the roads are in sordid state, they are just about two roads in all the period he spent as chairman and the roads are located in one constituency.
The election will come up soon, how optimistic are you for victory?
If and when the election comes tomorrow, the will of the people will prevail. Going by the developmental strides of the ACN in Edo state, the projects we have speak for us. I am a product of such a system so I expect our people to look at the developmental strides of the ACN led government in our area and give me their vote. Let me tell you, how can the PDP think they can win an election where they lost few months ago during the governorship election. During the governorship election, ACN won eight out of the eleven wards in the council. So what has changed between then and now that they think they can win.
The PDP has been in charge of the Local Government since 1999 and we can see the difference in terms of development. The only good road we have today in Esan North East was constructed by the Oshiomhole administration, so we are going to win that election landslide. Let me also tell you that it is not true that the area is PDP dominated. That you have the Minister from that place and the House of Reps member, does not translate to votes. And I tell you, these people have nothing to offer any more.
In Esan North East PDP is dancing to an imaginary music because the gods have left them. It is a party that was once known in the locality but because of their misrule and lack of meaningful development to show the people, the people have left them. The coming of Oshiomhole changed everything because the people now saw practical development. That was why the PDP lost the local government during the governorship election despite the presence of these personalities.
You will ask yourself what has changed that will make the voters turn against ACN, if anything there is more development now than before that will make the people vote ACN. I can tell you the much orchestrated noise about the dominance of PDP in Esan North East is a mirage, it is not a reality. So I can assure you that any day the election is fixed I will triumph.