By now, all the political parties and their candidates in the upcoming Ondo state governorship election must be putting finishing touches to the array of resources at their disposal towards ensuring that they come out tops at the end of the exercise; but, as it is conventional in the Nigerian electoral system, it is only the candidate with the highest number of valid votes and who must have garnered twenty five percent of the number of votes in at least two third of the local government areas across the state that will emerge victorious. By this fact, it is therefore, not surprising that each candidate/party would not want to leave any stone unturned in their quest to becoming “the one and only amongst the rest” at the end of the day. As a result of this basic fact, I cannot but use this medium to wish all the candidates and their respective parties/supporters the very best of luck. However, considering that the Edo state governorship election has just been concluded, one would be tempted to conclude that there is no much ado about the Ondo version; but, that is far from the truth because much is expected from all the stakeholders to making the exercise a huge success. Interestingly, the outcome of the Edo exercise will surely put more pressure on the people because it is not going to be “business as usual”. This pressure will also be compounded by the fact that all eyes will be on the people of the state with high expectations to replicating the feat achieved by their Edo counterparts. This is so because the exercise of 19th September, 2020 has been adjudged to be the best in recent times; and, it would be detrimental with far reaching consequences for our brothers in Ondo to “DROP THE BALL”.
From the above scenario, one cannot but accept the fact that the task ahead is not as easy as it may seem. The people are obviously caught in-between the “old order” and the “emerging new order”; it is either they consolidate and navigate through the newly established “access road” to the “Nigeria of our dream” or they drag us further into the “throes of socio-economic and political disunity”. To some of us who still believe in “one Nigeria”; the least expected of us is to encourage them to toe the line of honour by showcasing and upholding the slogan of the state as the “Sunshine State”. It is consequent upon this background that this review is meant to share some of the major tips highlighted in my article preceding the “Edo Wonder” titled “EDO GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION AND THE FUTURE OF OUR DEMOCRACY”.
The foremost and crucial of all is the underlying aim and objective of ensuring that “the will of the people must be sacrosanct”.
In line with the above, you are to do a critical appraisal of the candidates that are vying for the position. The incumbent governor has been in office in the last four years; so, it is very easy to draw a scorecard to assess his performances over the years. If you think he has done well and can still do more; then, you can vote for “CONTINUITY”; otherwise, you have the option to vote for “CHANGE” by picking your preferred choice amongst the others. This is a very simple process; and, you do not need any super human or magician to tell you what to do.
You should have it at the back of your mind; that, presenting your Permanent Voters Card (PVC) at the appropriate polling centre is your license to vote. Without “YOUR PVC” you do not have business near the voting area. (I capitalized YOUR PVC to emphasize that it is a crime to impersonate or even attempt to use another person`s card). So, I will enjoin you to think twice before taking any risk that can lead to incarceration.
You must ensure that you get to your centre within the time frame set by INEC for accreditation and voting.
You should conduct yourselves orderly and avoid conflict with anyone before, during and after the election. Do not allow anybody to instigate or use you to perpetrate any form of malpractice(s) by exposing you to dangers; while, their own children are living large in the comfort of their palatial mansions.
Make sure you report any suspicious move(s) to security agencies and independent observers for appropriate actions.
Be very vigilant and ensure that the ballot papers are sorted appropriately before and after counting to avoid mix up that could lead to confusion and manipulations.
You must keep an eye on the electoral umpires and the parties
agents to ensure that they do not compromise the process under the influence of financial inducements and gratifications from moneybags politicians.
Make sure the principle of one man one vote is strictly adhered to prevent multiple voting which the enemies of democracy could use to invalidate results in opponents stronghold(s); because, anywhere the total votes cast exceed number of accredited voters, the results of that centre will be cancelled. This has been one of the dubious strategies they have adopted in the past to deprive their opponents of legitimates and valid votes in their areas of strong followership. Also, they may want cause unnecessary trouble in these strongholds so that the election and results of those areas are cancelled for violent conducts. Therefore, you need to exercise caution in order not to fall into their traps.
You must not give-in to any form of threats or intimidations from any quarter because your right to vote is backed by law and you are at liberty to vote your preferred candidate as it pleases you.
Basking in the euphoria of the success achieved in Edo state, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the personnel of the various security agencies that will be on ground; the independent observers and other stakeholders cannot afford to drop the ball at this crucial time. You are all expected to discharge your assigned responsibilities diligently and professionally without fear or favour.
From all that have been highlighted above, there is no gainsaying the fact that we are in the process of taking back our electoral freedom from the cruel bondage of those that have been “kneeling on our necks” since the attainment of our democracy. We need to reinforce the foundation of our democracy; and, the Edo achievement has set the pace for the votes of the electorates to be sacrosanct. We need to take our destiny in our hands by ensuring that “godsons” and “goddaughters” are no longer allowed to take hold of our “commonwealth” in trust for their “godfathers” and “godmother”. The time is “now” to emancipate ourselves and our children from their “political spells” under which they have been feeding us with crumbs (from our commonwealth!!!!); while, their families and cronies continue to lord it over us. We need to prove to our political leaders who take us for granted that we “CAN DO and UNDO” with our “VOTES”.
From the foregoing, it is very important to state it clearly that this review is not meant to woo the electorates to vote for a particular party or candidate; and, the castigations therein are not targeted at a particular person or group of persons (except the real enemies of our democracy/country). It is a CLARION CALL to the good people of Ondo state to ensure that they do not “DROP THE BALL”; but, to “CONSOLIDATE” on the feat achieved during the Edo state governorship election; because, that is the major way to moving our country forward as extensively discussed in my earlier article titled “EDO 2020 AND THE EMERGING NEW NIGERIA”.
“LET`S JOIN HANDS TOGETHER TO MAKE IT WORK”.
Raymond Oise-Oghaede writes from Suru-lere, Lagos State, Nigeria. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
7TH OCTOBER, 2020.