Edo State, Osunbor And The Restituted Seat Of Power!

We have sympathized with Oserhiemen Osunbor. It is unfortunate that as a law professor, he is unable to read and understand the March 20th tribunal’s judgment that was delivered live on radio and television against his “mandate” in Edo State government House.

The judges who gave reasons for the judgment, based on facts before the court declared that it was not in the mouth of Osunbor and his associates that the tribunal judgment would be distorted. At this point in time, when the panel of justices of Court of Appeal later sat on that same case, I don’t believe it was proper to comment on the same matter since Osunbor has hired all kinds of people in his futile attempt to subvert justice.

Despite the need for improved governance, this regime is has not gotten rid of politicians who got into the office from the backdoor .The April 2007 electoral process still had many of the serious flaws and shortcomings that the previous ones had and that have not been addressed. Due to these shortcomings, this election, it has fallen short of a number of key international standards for democratic elections.

Trouble with the torchbearers of this government; each of their politicians viewed himself or herself as a deliverer or a messiah. They became desperate. The way they make their deliberations, I have a feeling that they consider themselves as a Kennedy, a Churchill, or a Plato, but wolf in sheep clothing. People at the forefront of this government, true to the tyrant culture, talk too much, talk irrelevant and often talk at cross-purpose, perhaps as a ploy to keep people confused and subjugated.

Technically, before now, the Edo State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin declared that the Action Congress candidate, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, was the winner of the April 14, 2007 gubernatorial election in the state. In a unanimous decision, the tribunal said that Oshiomhole scored 166,577 lawful votes to beat his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, who scored 129,017 valid votes in the election.The standard by which the tribunal arrived at the March 20 courageous and commendable judgment was the same standard that the PDP benefited from in respect of Igueben and Orhionmwon House assembly seats in that state.

Rattled by the cancellation of his election, Osunbor begun moves to reach out to all the aggrieved PDP leaders in the state. Factional leaders of the embattled Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) re-united to save the party and the state ex Governor, Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, in the light of the judgment of the election tribunal nullifying the election of Osunbor. While appealing to Oshiomhole “to give peace a chance” and await the outcome of the Appeal Court, Osunbor and the PDP hopefully about the tribunal judgment.

Disappointedly to Mr. Osunbor, the Appeal Court headed by Justice Umaru Abdullahi concluded its verdict few days ago to confirmation of Mr. Adams Aliu Oshimohole as governor in his stead. This reminds me that there is little doubt that the existing electoral laws, rules and regulations are theoretically foolproof but the flaw lies in their execution. The rule on submission of returns on election funding and expenses is a case in point here. While it is mandatory for individual or party candidates to submit statements on election expenditure, more than 700 contestants in the 2007 general elections, mostly belonging to the ruling political parties; PDP, did not bother to comply with the rule and seemingly got away with it. Not a single case was filed against such aberrations.

Today, it appears that the public is both a winner and loser. It has been saved from the consequences of a breakdown in security and the economy. Thus, all sections of society have welcomed democracy in Nigeria, including the electioneering process. In this experiment, the police have become more highhanded despite tall claims of providing fair elections and better service to the people at large.

In the name of maintaining law and order pre-emptive arrests of nearly 50,000 civilians during that election that foresaw flaw, on grounds of ‘suspicions’, and without warrants of arrests in most cases. They have helped none of the holy objectives as drummed up by the INEC . On the contrary, it has added yet another feather to the country’s already dwindling record of human rights violations. Every sign is there that this regime has cling to the seat of the government and ‘wield the stick of absolute power at will’.

Nigeria’s election usually suffer Limited resources, decayed infrastructure, remote polling stations, poor telecommunications, the lack of census and proper documents and the inexperience of both the election commission, which the electorate daunts to over come. The organization of that election is monumental: It requires planning, appraisal, coordination, facilities, logistics, equipment, observers (local and international), mobilization of security officers, and many more tasks failed to give comprehensive analysis…There was no illusion; this gave a walk in the dark.

These protests and complaints about irregularities in the April 2007 poll seem to have become a post-election pattern in the immediate aftermath of all elections in this country. The ruling Party also protested the election results with the threat of the use of force when it lost the peoples’ mandate in 2003. In subsequent elections, this party has always won, and some have taken the post–election protests as the losers’ “sour grapes.

However, the losers may turn out to have good justification for their protests and complaints when flaws and shortcomings of the electoral process have been carefully examined.

The international communities have stated that the INEC lacks confidence in its impartiality among election stakeholders. All the institutions involved in the appointment of its members are dominated by the ruling Party; PDP and two of its members only are associated with the opposition Party. The membership of its standing committees is dominated by the same ruling party, yet the voting system is shaky enough to warrant serious concern.

We are concerned that in the name of efficiency, important political considerations are not being given the deliberation they require. The most important consideration, inside “nigeria4betterrule” opinion, is whether or not electoral reforms contribute to enhancing the participation of the citizens of Nigeria in the political and electoral process and to the creation of a modern process which recognizes the right of all members of the polity to elect and to be elected and provides enabling legislation for these rights to be exercised.

In this regard, we express some concern about the conception presented in the introduction to the opinion analysts’ report, according to which “a fully modern, effective, independent and objective structure for the conduct of elections will facilitate the development and implementation of reforms to that system.” Such a conception seems to belittle, if not undermine, the crucial role of the National Assembly in the development of political and electoral reforms.

While everybody can applaud the effort of the Nigerian people in participating in these elections, the process really did not meet the hopes and the standards the Nigerians themselves .All Nigerians, no matter how they voted, need to have confidence that when they cast their ballot, their voice is heard. Indeed. There are Yar’Adua critics who probably never will accept the April 2007 elections results. And the systemic problems that do exist – secretive voting technologies, the opportunity for partisan hacks to engage in voter suppression – will allow these people to hang on to their worst fears and to continue to share look-at-this! But the evidence to date is that the election results were rigged and produced by a flawed system

Nigeria should prepare and standardize the election procedures. The custody, the security and the procedures of counting of the ballots, the training of the staff, detecting and deterring to vote more than once, chronicling problems and resolving conflicts at the polling station are only a few of many tasks that would require identifying and prescribing standardized procedures. All of these tasks consist of minute details that need planning. If these procedures are not standardized, each polling station would be implementing a separate procedure and that could be enough grounds to contaminate.

Standardizing the system and the procedures across the system would enhance the voting efficiency, the transparency and the fairness. Whenever the standard is established, there would be less chaos and less improvisation, and any deviations can be analyzed, evaluated and assessed against the prescribed standard.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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