Today is the ultimate determinant of who continues to stride the corridor of power in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states. For Bayelsa, Governor Douye Diri is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with former Governor Timipre Sylva seeking to truncate his comeback dream. One thing is clear: the opposition is not united and the current governor has garnered endorsement from prominent politicians of the state, including former President Goodluck Jonathan. It is absolutely certain that Diri is set to breast the tape in today’s election.
In Imo, Governor Hope Uzodinma is pitched in a titanic battle against opposition forces that have been in the trenches since he became governor. Described as someone who never let go of a political battle, Uzodinma emerged as governor through the controversial verdict of the Supreme Court. Amidst crisis and violence that have trailed the state, the former senator has survived the flood of opposition. Pitched against the opposition and organised labour, Uzodinma’s prospect for re-election is yet to be dimmed as those opposed to him, as at yesterday, are yet to be united in defeating him. Having rendered the opposition in disarray and numb, Uzodinma has left no stone unturned that, barring any unforeseen circumstance, he is set to do without the verdict of the Apex Court this time around.
In Kogi State, today’s electoral contest is a show of political supremacy between outgoing Governor Yahaya Bello whose candidate Alhaji Ahmed Ododo is pitched against the Social Democratic Party (SDP) standard bearer, Alhaji Murtala Ajaka Muri and PDP’s Senator Dino Melaye. The fact that the opposition is not united hands over today’s victory to Bello’s APC. The performance profile of GYB in the last eight years may not be seen by others as commendable, but defeating him won’t be a walk in the park.
Hard moment for INEC
For the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), today offers an opportunity to win back the confidence of Nigerians whose condemnation of the electoral umpire has left a sour taste in the mouth. Before today’s battle royale ahead, the Kogi East Elder Council (KECC) had called for the postponement of the Kogi governorship poll, insisting that the wave of violence ripping across parts of the state ahead of today’s governorship election is a grim forerunner of what is to be. Both Diri and Sylva camps in Bayelsa have accused each other of plotting to compromise the poll through the deployment of thugs.
As voters in the three states go to polls today to either endorse the re-election of the incumbent, as in the case of Bayelsa and Imo, or elect a new captain to steer the ship of state as in Kogi, the roles of INEC and security personnel are imperative to the sanctity of the ballot box. INEC must not allow technicalities or glitches to frustrate the transmission of election results on real time via the commission’s portal. Not a few are definitely hopeful that today’s exercise will definitely renew the hope of citizens in INEC and its capacity to turn the tables for a new dawn.
Today’s poll should serve as a symbolic resilience of the Nigerian spirit in fighting for the greater glory of the nation, rather than playing to personal whims and caprices. Amidst the follies and apparent shortcomings of the electoral process, today must demonstrate the commitment of voters and the resolve by INEC to overcome yesterday’s shortcomings that have become its albatross. Despite the monumental despair that democracy has placed on our country as a desirable burden, the unbreakable resolve to sustain and deepen democracy must be on display today. How INEC handles today’s poll will go a long way in sustaining democracy in Africa’s giant.
Democracy must work for all
Over 24 years after the inauguration of this unbroken democracy in May 1999, the ballot government is presently surrounded with fears and anxiety as it relates to the improvement of the living conditions of the poor. Frightened citizens have seen their living conditions crashed to the ground, with monsters of insecurity and corruption plunging national institutions into comatose. Democracy as a government of the people and for the people and by the people has been hijacked by a vicious ruling elite. Crimes have now become the order of the day. Those who fight to enthrone and perpetuate themselves in power are taking advantage of our fault lines, ethnicity and religion, to widen the gulf of our differences. The living conditions of citizens are at their lowest ebbs, while despair and hopelessness have enshrouded our dream for a brighter tomorrow.
Today’s governorship poll should serve as a reflection of INEC and voters’ determination to stand up for democracy in the interest of future. For too long have they taken the masses for a ride for their pecuniary interests. Citizens must play their roles and ensure that the necessary organs engaged in providing oxygen to democracy are not allowed to wobble under the influence of jobbers masquerading as democrats. INEC must rise up and work in the most transparent manner in order to erase D the memory of its past failures. While the security forces must unlearn their past; they must also demonstrate neutrality and work for the deepening of democracy. We all become victims and losers when we allow anti-democratic forces to triumph over the choice of the people.