OF TECHNICALITY AND LEGITIMACY OF ELECTION
By Jacobson Nasamu
Several somewhat hilarious things have happened in Edo state in the last few weeks which, if not attended to appropriately, may assume some significance in the minds of citizens in and outside the outside the state. One of such is the orchestrated demonstration of numbers by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which organised a rally to celebrate the Etsako West II Constituency party candidate’s victory at the Appeal Court recently. State PDP officials seem to lay so much emphasis on the fact that Governor Adams Oshiomhole is a member of that constituency and, therefore, their appeal court victory is victory over Comrade Oshiomhole. This may well be true but the citizenry has a right to be educated on how and why the mandate freely and massively given to the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate in the April 11, 2015 State House of Assembly election was reversed in favour of the PDP and its candidate.
Results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) clearly show that while the APC and its candidate, Yakubu Gowon Jerry, garnered 14, 373 votes, the PDP and its candidate, Sylvanus Eruaga, had 4, 001 votes. Two other candidates, Ibrahim Abdulkadiri of SDP and Shehu Mohammed of PPA recorded 836 and 14 votes respectively. The results reflect the membership strenght and popularity of the parties, not only in the particular constituency involved but in the whole of Edo North Senatorial District. It is, therefore, pyrrhic victory which the PDP should not celebrate so loudly especially as it was obtained through technicalities.
The PDP candidate had challenged the declaration of Yakubu Gowon Jerry of the APC by the Independent Nationl Electoral Commission as winner of the election on the ground that the winner was not validly nominated by his party, the APC. The State Election Petition Tribunal, in its ruling, held that the notice of intention to hold party primaries sent to IBEC by the APC was less than the mandatory 21 days having been given on November 13, 2014 while the primaries held on December 1, 2014. The effect of this, as noted by the tribunal and affirmed by the appeal court, is that not being duly nominated, the votes received by Yakubu Gowon Jerry of the APC were wasted since the party did not have a valid candidate in the election. The logical step, therefore, was to declare the first runner up, Sylvanus Eruaga of the PDP, who had only 4, 001 votes as the duly elected candidate to represent the constituency in the State House of Assembly.
The scenario as clearly encapsulated in the foregoing diminishes any claim by the PDP or any other political party to a modicum of popularity in the area. The PDP and its candidate failed woefully to secure appreciable votes at the election only to hatch on a technicality to enter the State House of Assembly through the back door. A few days ago, I listened in on a Benin radio programme during which the acclaimed victor, Sylvanus Eruaga, lamented his inability to deliver the necessary court processes to the clerk of the state house of assembly to enable him take his seat at the assembly where his party, the PDP has an insignificant membership of four. His lamentation, no doubt, indicated clearly a lack of knowledge of procedures and processes involed in members taking their seats at the parliament.
Rather than using a radio programme to ventilate his frustrations, the lawmaker-designate should patiently wait for when necessary processes are concluded for him to take his seat. However, what quality of representation would the people of the constituency expect from a minority member who secured minimal votes at an election only to wait for technical victory?
The state chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Osi Orbih, reacting to the tribunal ruling, had noted that the ruling was proof that the PDP is in charge of the state. Nothing, as attested to by figures, can be more fallacious. In a state where PDP is an opposition party, all eighteen local government council areas are controlled by the APC which also has 20 out of 24 members in the state house of assembly, how is PDP in charge of the state? How morally or legally legitimate can this victory be in a constituency with over fifty thousand registered voters? He may have based his subje tive assessment on the fact that the PDP had more votes than the APC in the last presidential election. This was mainly due to the sentimental consideration of Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP candidate, as “our brother” by Edo voters.
It is obvious in the whole of Edo state that the APC is the dominant party while the PDP and others are struggling to gain elusive relevance. This is why APC has continued to receive into its fold former members of the PDP and other parties who have seen clearly that nothing positive would result from continued membership of the moribund, eclipsed and decapitated entity. With the recent resignation from the PDP of one of its founding fathers and member of the board of trustees, Dr, Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, and the rumoured ill health and incapacitation of Chief Tony Anenih the PDP may be described as a party resting in peace in the hands of Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion. The forthcoming gubernatorial election may well then be a fitting requiem for the party.