2011 ELECTIONS WILL BE, TRADE BY BARTER EX-GOV. OSOBA ALERTS
Former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, has alerted the nation that notwithstanding the appointment of Prof. Attahiru Jega as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the 2011 election would still be another farce rigged to favour the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He warned Nigerians against premature jubilation over the appointment of some right activists into the board of the INEC, stressing, 'Jega and Olurode are surrounded by wolves and they would be powerless in the midst of so many wolves.'
The chieftain of the Action Congress (AC) alleged that card-carrying members of the PDP populated the new list of INEC national commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
Osoba revealed that one of those appointed as REC contested the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP in one of the northern states in the 2007 polls while another is a brother to a serving PDP governor.
According to him, 'what we will end up having in 2011 is trade by barter and a case of I scratch your back, you scratch my back.'
The former governor spoke with Daily Sun. Excerpts:
How do you see the appointment of Jega as INEC boss?
'I am not one of those optimists about the appointment of Jega. As a person I have no quarrel with his antecedents and pedigree. I am, however, not enthusiastic because Jega is going to be surrounded at the INEC by a lot of wolves. I don't know what one or two sheep can do in the midst of so many wolves.
The first shocking thing to me is that the appointments of the RECs were done through the governors. If that is so, we are going to have elections that will be based on trade by barter.'
What do you mean by that?
'If I appoint a REC from Ogun and you appoint yours from Sokoto and mine is posted to your state and yours is posted to my state, it is a question of me and you trading off and we arrive at predetermined results. Interestingly, it is what the REC collates from the state that Jega would work on at the national level.'
Are you putting a question mark on the REC's and the national commissioners?
'Yes. The lady who did the Ekiti electoral havoc is still in the INEC. Her Christian conscience told her not to do evil, but when the grandfather from Abeokuta told her to go and finish up her job, her conscience vamoosed. Which conscience is she carrying now? We know what happened in Ido-Osi and I can tell you that there is still going to be a repeat of the Ido-Osi incidents in many places.
'PDP card-carrying members are among those who are nominated as RECs. There is a particular member that contested the 2007 guber primary in PDP but today, he is nominated as a REC.
Will that one do anything other than PDP job at INEC? And will he not lobby others to favour his party?'
You don't seem to see the 2011 polls being free and fair then?
'The picture that I can see is that 2011 will be another farce and chaotic. The PDP has not changed, their system is to allow voter to go out and vote and create the air of smoothness and orderliness. But by 1.00 in the afternoon, garrison commanders would take control by sending out thugs and cultists to go and be snatching ballot boxes and replacing them with stuffed ones. They have not changed from that style.'
What advice would you give Jega?
'I will advise him to implement the Electoral Act to the letters in relation to the procedure of elections. The law says election will be by open secret ballot system. The secret part is to take voting paper and go to a secluded place and vote. The open part is that you come and do accreditation in the open and the number of those that did the accreditation is recorded and issued ballot papers. So if it is just 200 that are accredited, you issue ballot papers to just 200.
'The secret part is for each voter to go to the cubicle and vote according to his choice and the result is then counted in the open and the results announced. If you don't rig at the polling booth level, you might not be able to rig the election. The open secret system is easier because voting will stop everywhere by one o'clock, so thugs and cultists cant be able to move around snatching ballot boxes. The number of security men required would also be reduced.
'The Press must be free too. Copies of the results at the polling booths must be given to the Press and they should be free to publish, but not to collate and declare winner. Jega must insist on this procedure if he did not, then we should forget 2011 because with the body language of Obasanjo, we should be alert.
'I will advise Jega and Professor Lai Olurode that are on INEC that if they don't want to be rubbished, they must insist on implementing open secret ballot system between 8am and 1.00pm and by 1.00pm everything is concluded nationwide. There is no voting centre where you have more than 500 people at a polling booth and the attendance is always 30 to 60 percent and so Jega must insist on open secret ballot system.'