Yobe State Council Polls: An Election With A Statement

Source: thewillnigeria.com
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, December 28, (THEWILL) -  Today's Local Government polls in Yobe State is not just an election to bring Local Government chairmen and councillors into office but an election that has a statement to make that the 2015 general election can indeed hold in the state, as reported by our correspondent: On Saturday December 28, 2013, the Yobe State Government has the task of ensuring that election into the 17 Local Government Areas of the state holds in order to prove wrong the painting that election cannot be held in the state alongside Borno and Adamawa States due to the deadly Boko Haram insurgency being witnessed for some time now in the area The election is so important to the state that everything may have to be put on hold in order to hold it on this particular day in order to prove all doubters and so called detractors wrong and to show to the rest of the country and the world by extension that the massive investment by the Governor Ibrahim Gaidam-led administration in bringing security and orderliness to the state has yielded result The state government has prepared the ground for the organisation of a successful Local Government election even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, threw the salvo via a suggestion that election may not hold in the three Northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe due to insecurity, as the state through the Yobe State Independent Electoral Commission had set election into the councils for December 28 and ensured that all that is needed was available for its conduct With Jega's statement, the election became more important and a must in order to show that there was no use disenfranchising millions of people of Yobe during the national election scheduled for between January and February, 2015 for the change of government on May 29, 2015 Jega had, in his statement read at a stakeholders' hearing on preparations and challenges ahead of the 2015 general elections organised by the Senate Committee on INEC, said based on the fact that elections held under the conditions of an emergency rule would not be free and fair, the general elections would not hold in the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, unless the state of emergency declared by the Federal Government to fight the Boko Haram insurgency ends before 2015 He said: "You can't conduct elections under emergency rule, because emergency rule is generalised insecurity and if there's insecurity, how can you do election? If you do election, the situation is that you can't have free and fair election under emergency rule ' He added that if the commission were to go ahead with elections despite the insecurity in the states, 'you will be going through the rituals - either the election will be disrupted or people will not come out to vote Ideally, elections can't hold under emergency rule ' Immediately Jega came out with this statement, the Yobe State Government added a voice to the growing criticism of his suggestion with a press statement by Abdullahi Bego, the Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, insisting that there was no need for such a decision and that the suggestion was just a mere pessimism of the state of affairs in the three states Bego in the statement had said: "His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has received with so much incredulity and consternation information about statements credited to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, that INEC might not conduct election in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States because of the emergency rule currently in force in these states Borne apparently of a pessimistic view of the situation in the three states, the INEC Chairman's position is mind-boggling in several respects " He stated further: "First, the State of Emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States, renewed for additional six months last November, is due to expire in April, 2014 By INEC's own estimation, the 2015 general elections will hold in January-February 2015 That's at least eight months after the current State of Emergency would have lapsed Is the INEC National Chairman therefore predicting that the emergency situation will extend indefinitely? "Second, the Federal Government has told Nigerians that the Emergency Rule was extended by six months to enable security agents on the ground finish the work of routing out Boko Haram insurgents With a lot of caveats about the efficacy of the extension, the Yobe State Government had called for massive deployment of advanced military and communications hardware to ensure the total and irreversible defeat of criminals and insurgents within the Emergency Rule time-frame Is there thinking now that, two months into the extension, the entire effort will not be a success?   Significantly, we are concerned about how widely held this pessimistic view is at the federal level "Third, does the INEC Chairman not think that criminals and insurgents, who are bent on disrupting life as we know it, would entertain a feeling of triumphalism for all the despicable and barbarous acts they have been committing against innocent people and the Nigerian nation? "While the answers to these posers are obvious, the Yobe State Government believes strongly that there is no reason not to conduct election in the state or in Adamawa and Borno States "The Yobe State Government also believes that there is no reason why Boko Haram terrorists would not be routed, their activities stopped and peace and stability restored within the remaining months of the current Emergency Rule " The Yobe State Governor did not only respond to insinuation of the INEC Chairman that the national election might not hold in his state but took exception to any suggestion that the proposed local government polls should not be held In the same statement, he said: "Professor Jega has also spoken about the Local Government election due to take place in Yobe on December 28th 2013; with the news media quoting him as 'insisting' that the election should not go ahead For the avoidance of doubt, the Yobe Local Government election will go ahead as scheduled The people at the grassroots level have yearned for this for long and the state government is determined to give the people the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and to elect their leaders " He added that: "The State Independent Electoral Commission has made and completed all the necessary arrangements for the election With the support of the people and the help of the Almighty God, the election will be a success "Finally, the Yobe State Government is of the opinion that given the necessary federal support, logistics and equipment capable of making our armed forces more stealth, agile and lethal in their capacity to fight the insurgency, the Boko Haram problem can and should be fully addressed within the remaining months of the current Emergency Rule The Yobe State Government therefore joins its partners in Borno and Adamawa States to take the strongest possible exception to the statements credited to the INEC Chairman and to ask INEC to prepare fully for elections in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States along with the rest of the country come January-February 2015 " That was words from Yobe State, but to show that action was meant and that the state took exception to the suggestion of not holding the general election in the state as well of the advice that the election into the councils should not be held, a massive political rally was organised at the August 27 Stadium on 21st December, 2013 to show that the people of the state will hold the council polls a week later and will go to all length to ensure that they are not disenfranchised come 2015 The political leaders in the state spoke with one voice and threatened action against any one that would want to stop them from assuming their right of voting and been voted for Led by their governor, who used the occasion to present flags to the flag bearers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and welcome prominent politicians from the fold of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) who led their supporters to jump ship into APC, the political elites showed they were ready for action and would stop at nothing to take their rights and bring Jega to eat his words Gaidam reminded the gathering that during his presentation of the 2013 Appropriation and Financial Bills to the State House of Assembly, he had promised to set the machinery in motion for the conduct of local councils election in June but was compelled to shift the day for no other reason other than the merger arrangements between the now defunct All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) and other parties which left the party with no platform to partake in the election but with the APC consummated and established, the reason was no longer tenable and as such all the clog in the wheel of the election machinery was done away with And seeing this, the governor had during the swearing in ceremony of the last Local Lovernment caretaker committees on 30th August, 2013 promised that it would be the last of such arrangement and that the next occupiers of the offices would be elected officials He told the gathering that: "In keeping with that pledge, I am glad to note that the Commission has completed preparations relating to the provision of election materials, sales of forms for candidates, screening of candidates among others and is now fully ready for the conduct of the exercise " He added that these impending elections to the local government councils "will once more put our democracy on trial, we as a people and state are determined to prove the skeptics wrong that we in Yobe State can conduct peaceful and hitch free elections, security challenges notwithstanding In-sha Allah, we shall put them to shame "Our resolve to conduct local council elections is geared towards restoring hope and confidence in local governance and to providing grass root link for our new party, the APC " The governor was supported by the other prominent politicians given a chance to speak and they did not fail in sending messages to both the INEC and the PDP, the grandfather of Yobe politics and presently a Senator, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, said the suggestion that election will not be held in Yobe and two other states were borne out of fear and realisation of PDP that its time was over and it has May 29, 2013 dateline to vacate Aso Rock, stressing that "progressives have never ruled Nigeria before but we have gone round the country and established our presence " He thanked the governor for his achievements in the state and the people of Yobe for accepting APC and Nigerians as a whole for opening their hearts and hands to the new party He equally thanked those from PDP who have aligned with the APC And Senator Ahmed Lawan have this to say: "The governor has expended a lot to bring peace and happiness to the state and we have come to give you our support and it is our wish that you run and win in 2015 "It is a general consensus that PDP has failed " He added that: "The federal Government owes us a lot for the contribution towards security of the state The presidency needs to come in and assist the state " The third senator from the state, Alhaji Alkali Jajere, who is the Vice Chaurman of the Senate Committee on INEC, insisted that Jega's statement was a wake-up call and instructed the INEC chairman to revisit his law books as the suggestion has no constitutional ground He said Jega's statement was being influenced by the PDP which is envious of the achievements of APC in Yobe and looking for way of truncating the forward movement The members of the House of Representatives from the state were also loud in their condemnations So vocal was Hon Goni Bukar Lawan who described the state of emergency on the three Northeastern states as an imposition of President Goodluck Jonathan as it was not with the full support of the National Assembly He asked the National Security Adviser (NSA), Inspector General of Police and the President that of what use is the state of emergency in the states and what has it achieved so far He told the NSA that with much of the financial contributions toward restoring peace to the state from the state government, the state has witnessed calm and to the IGP He said as a member of the Police Committee of the House, "we have never received any report on the security of the state and nothing concrete has been done by the Police to take charge of the security situation in the troubled states " According to him, "There is nothing to warrant the decision not to hold election in Yobe, there is security in Yobe and peace is returning to the state " He warned the Federal Government that the people of the state will not allow it to go ahead with the purported decision not to hold election in the state as well as the continued imposition of state of emergency " Lawan lamented that while just "N150 million was given to Yobe State due to the insecurity, N30 billion was given to Nollywood " To another member of the House of Representatives, Hon Hassan El- Badawry, "Nigerians are tired of Goodluck Jonathan leadership that promotes corruption and violence which is the reason for the creation of APC " He insisted that "The Federal Government has not shown the desire to protect the people of Nigeria particularly the people of the Northeast " He said both Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed that there will be no further extension of the state of emergency in the three states and can not just come to term on how Jega came up with the suggestion that election may not hold in the three states Another prominent politician in the state, Alhaji Sidi Karasuwa, who was the chairman of the defunct ANPP in the state and presently the commissioner for water resources, said the PDP is no where to be found in the state and the known members of the party are only trying to manipulate Abuja and cause trouble in the state He said: "The PDP is playing Abuja politics, many of these celebrated PDP chieftains in the state cannot win their ward but would remain in Abuja painting the wrong image of Yobe and believe they can smuggle themselves into government As the political elites of Yobe state, we are talking on the podium, the followership were shouting their affirmation with a loud shout on the ground of the Stadium and equally came out with their placards suggesting that Yobe will take it as a crime against the state should they be disenfranchised in 2015 The people of Yobe have spoken that they will not allow their franchise to be taken away from them on the excuse of insecurity Today will provide the chance for them to prove that they can leave everything else and allow election to hold and put a nail on the coffin of the suggestion that elections cannot hold in the state The rest of the nation and world is indeed watching By Bode Olusegun