The forthcoming governorship election in Edo State promises to task the capacity and wits of all involved. A total of 19 political parties have been cleared to contest the 10th September, 2016 election that will produce a successor to the outgoing governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who has exhausted his maximum two terms of office.
At least 1.7 million voters had until recently been enlisted on the voters register before the recent registration exercise for new voters. The number of voters who have been added to the voters roll has, however, not been disclosed.
The campaigns by the political parties have undoubtedly been heated. It is, however, remarkable that only two political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of the 19 parties listed for the contest have been conspicuous in the public space. This development, which had been the trend since the 2015 general elections, suggests that the nation is gradually settling into a two party system with two dominant political parties.
As with all the previous elections in Nigeria, the campaigns in Edo State have not been exactly ideology-based. Rather, they have been energised by personalities within the two dominant parties, with personal attacks rather than issues dominating soap box outings. Emphasis is being placed on personalities rather than their individual abilities to govern effectively based on track records.
It is gratifying that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has so far kept to its timelines for the election. The election management body is called upon also to ensure that the scheduled training of ad-hoc staff and other logistical preparations are achieved within the set timelines.
We also call on the INEC to especially be careful in the recruitment of the ad-hoc staff towards ensuring that it keeps agents of competing political interests from umpiring the process. The security agencies are also urged to maintain a neutral stance in the campaigns and the election proper. State security agents are there strictly to protect the election and those involved in it, and nothing more.
We commend the political parties that despite the high stakes involved there have been no reports of violence. We urge them to continue to maintain the peace as they canvass for votes.
We also call on all the residents of Edo State to maintain vigilance and ensure that the forthcoming election is a showpiece for the entire country.
The INEC must perfect all its logistical acts and ensure that this election is concluded on September 10, 2016 without any need for a rerun.