By Joseph Amaoru
Governorship elections of Kogi and Bayelsa States have been the talking points since Sunday, November 22, 2015 when INEC announced the Kogi election as inconclusive. The sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, who was coasting home to victory, created a lot of confusion .
The confusion arose because our electoral law and the Constitution never envisaged a situation where a candidate dies during the process of an election being conducted.
However, many analysts believed that commonsense would have prevailed but that was not the reality. Audu had a running mate, Hon James Faleke both of whom ran on a joint ticket of the All Progressives Congress ( APC). The argument arose on whether to replace Faleke as the governorship candidate to conclude the election. Many people thought that was the natural sequence but APC came with a different position supported by some lawyers who argued that Faleke never aspired to be governor because he never contested the APC primary election.
They therefore replaced the Audu with Alhaji Yahaya Bello who was the first runners up during APC primary election for the conclusive election on December 5, 2015. However, Faleke disagreed with the decision to field Bello as the candidate to conclude the election. There were indeed five court cases to stop the election slated for December 5, 2015 but the Federal High Court declined jurisdiction, arguing that the cases were election matters that should be handle Election Petitions Tribunal. His point was that the election of December 21, 2015 was concluded.
As it appears this election may be finally decided by the courts. However, there are some salient questions: Can Bello be a valid candidate without a running mate? When is an election concluded?
Faleke has indicated his desire not to be available to be sworn-in as a Deputy Governor on January 27, 2016. The APC has threatened a replacement that if that happens. Can such a replacement be valid?
While the Kogi conundrum was playing out, the Bayelsa imbroglio was brewing. It was generally reported how chaotic the APC primary election was at the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa. It got to a point where the leader of the APC Committee to oversee the primary election Comrade Adams Oshiomole, pointedly accused the then governorship aspirant and former governor of Bayelsa State , Chief Timipre Sylva, of being responsible for chaos. Of course, the primary election was cancelled and repeated but, somehow, Sylva still won. He eventually became the APC governorship candidate for the December 5 ,2015 election.
The APC primary should have provided a dress rehearsal of what to expect at the governorship election but not much attention was paid to it. With the result of seven lovsl governments out of eight released, six is in favor of PDP and one in favor of APC. While Gov Seriake Dickson the PDP candidate, polled 105748 votes, Sylva, the APC candidate, had 72594 votes. The election has again gone into the inconclusive mode with the outstanding result of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area not available because of wide spread violence. The Southern Ijaw Local Government is very significant because it accounts for about 25 percent of the votes in the State amounting to 120827 votes. This number of votes is very significant in a state like Bayelsa.
Now the current Board of INEC has conducted two consecutive elections and both have ended in the inconclusive mode with lots of issues. Does it show competence on the part of INEC or a lack of political education on the part of the people? Has it become clear for the need to fully constitute the electoral body. Perhaps, if the body was fully constituted some members would have seen the need to do things differently to avert these unpleasant results.
- Amaoru is a Social and Political affairs commentator.