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Okoroma: For Free Polls, Watch PDP Governors


AS Nigerians from all walks of life prepare for the important 2015 presidential elections, which holds in about a week, one issue on which they are all agreed is that the election should be free and fair. In fact, to his credit, President Jonathan who is a contestant in that election has told Nigerians and the international community that he will ensure that the elections are free and fair so that whoever emerges winner would be credible and have legitimacy.

  Similarly, well-meaning Nigerians have all expressed anxiety about the conduct of the election with all stating their interest in free, fair and transparent elections. At the recent flag-off of his presidential campaign in Lagos, President Jonathan was also challenged by no other a person than the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, who said all he wants in 2015, is a free, fair and credible poll.

  Yet another issue related to free and fair and credible poll is the resolve of all Nigerians that they would defend their votes. This means that they would not tolerate electoral manipulation, rigging and other malpractices, which tends to alter the true outcome of an election by conferring victory on a particular person when the voters cast their ballot for another. If this happens, the voters realising that their votes have been stolen would complain and protest and if care is not taken, this situation could degenerate to violence.

  It would be unfair if any group of Nigerians or individuals turn the 2015 election into an event for which reason additional violence would be visited on Nigerians considering that the Nigerian people already have an overdose of violence, killings and displacement no thanks to the Boko Haram insurgency of the past five years.

  One is of the view that there are some people in some parts of the country who are hell-bent to drag the country into violence and chaos through their utterances and through their actions if they are not strictly monitored or called to order. These people do not believe in the sacrosanct of free and fair elections and the gain to the nation when the way and manner the election was organized confer credibility and legitimacy on the outcome.  

  Unfortunately, among such Nigerians who by their utterances might jeopardise the desire of Nigerians for free, fair and credible elections, are the Governors of the ruling party nationwide. Notable among them is that of Enugu State, Mr. Sullivan Chime! In his capacity as a State governor, Chime should be in the forefront of those clamouring and working for free and fair and credible polls. This is not however the case.

  At a pre-campaign briefing at Government House, Enugu on the 8th of January, 2015, before the Presidential campaign train of the PDP and its candidate, President Jonathan arrived the State capital for the presidential campaign of his party, the governor told his audience that President Jonathan need not campaign in the State.

  The governor said later that the candidate of his party, President Jonathan would secure one hundred percent of the votes to be cast in the February 14, 2015 elections.

  The point here is that the governor’s declaration is insensitive and reckless and is capable of compromising the effort of the people of the State and indeed all Nigerians for free and fair elections. The question that the governor needs to answer is how can he be so certain as to assure a candidate in an election that is yet to hold that he would get 100 % of the votes cast? One wonders how the governor would perform such magic bearing in mind that he has only one vote and there is a limit to which any one can influence another in a free election.

  The statement credited to the governor simply shows where the governor’s preference lie, in his party candidate, which is legitimate but he should not go as far as compromising the sanctity of the polls and ignoring the support available to the other candidates.

  Several other overzealous governors of the PDP have made such reckless statements pertaining to the how their party candidate would sweep the votes to be cast in their States. These PDP governors are a threat to the nation and our democracy! 

  It is not possible in modern democracies for any candidate no matter how popular to get 100 % of the votes cast. This is because it is not even possible for all registered and eligible voters to be present at the voting arena on Election Day. One thinks that like his fellow party man and former Imo State governor, Sullivan Chime might be on the road to committing another despicable electoral blunder which would not be good for the 2015 polls in view of the mood of the nation. In 2011, to the embarrassment of his party and the people of Imo State, President Jonathan obtained close to one million votes, a figure miles away from the total number of registered voters in the State! However, as providence would have it, this thoughtless blunder laid the foundation for the political wilderness the then governor and his ilk now find themselves. The same fate awaits Governor Chime and those PDP governors versed in rigging elections.

Louis Okoroma, a Political Analyst wrote from Abuja.

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