I AM NOT TOO CERTAIN IF INEC IS PREPARED FOR DELTA RERUN ELECTION, SAYS EGEREGOR
A chieftain of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and member of the media and publicity committee of Chief Great Ogboru's Sunshine Campaign Organisation, Babor Egeregor says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not really prepared for the rerun governorship election in Delta State. He told CHIDO OKAFOR that Ogboru stands a better chance of winning the election if there is a level-playing ground. Excerpts:
As a leading member of the Great Ogboru Campaign team, what is your reaction to the January 6 date INEC has fixed for the re-run election?
If you look at the January 6 that INEC has fixed for the rerun election, it all looks like a joke. Election is a process and if anyone is building a house such a person must have a plan. Normally, a political party will analyze its plans and compare it with INEC schedule. The party will make observation of what they want and what they do not want but when there are plans to compromise election, politicians usually start by doing all they could to manipulate voter register. We should all realise that it is impossible to conduct credible election anywhere in the world without a proper voter register and that is the biggest challenge confronting the re-run election in Delta now.
Are you saying it is not likely possible for INEC to conduct credible election in the Delta re-run election?
Precisely, the chairman of the commission, Prof. Attaihiru Jega is only trying to hide his head in the sand like an ostrich. Since many Nigerians see him as a man of integrity, he should use the Delta re-run election as a test case. His appointment was well celebrated both nationally and internationally. Nigerians considered his appointment the beginning of a new era in the electoral process but the man has not been able to address issues.
What are the issues?
Jega is supposed to have developed a proper voter register before now for the re-run election. As at now, Delta does not have a proper voter register. There is need for the display of the voter register for people to do verifications. In 2007 when the Ogboru Campaign organization requested to see the voter register from INEC, they gave us a blank Compact Disk. When we complained they gave us another CD. In the CD we saw details of 14 Local Councils out of the 25 councils. For instance in Ethiope East Local Government where Ogboru came there is supposed to be 14 wards but only the details of six wards were recorded in the register. As it is now the voter register is an issue and a challenge to the rerun. They have announced that the election will take place on January 6th yet voter register has not been displayed for claims and objection. INEC has not also published the names of candidates that will run in the election about seven days to the exercise. It is development we expected Jega to have addressed.
We are six days away from the rerun do you think it is possible for INEC to compile a voter register between now and then?
This is a serious issue. Imagine the Direct Data Capture machines are lying idle in the country how many days to the election? It is a real test case for Jega. There is need for him to speed up actions because time is no longer on his side. I am not too certain if INEC is prepared for the election. What my organization is trying to do is to assist Jega organize a proper registration exercise and a proper election in Delta. There was never a time we had credible election in Delta, all we are saying this time is for INEC to do everything possible to ensure one man one-vote so that we can express our wishes, elect our leaders whom we want to preside over our commonwealth.
There are rumors that some influential people in the state are putting pressure on INEC to hasten the election to favor a candidate of the PDP
There are insinuations everywhere but that is not an issue to me. Some people felt that Delta is too important for the PDP to loose but we are counting on the integrity of the INEC boss. I believe that Jaga will not dabble into anything that will compromise his integrity. We also expect President Goodluck Jonathan will leave a legacy of free and fair election in this state.
What is the reason behind the worry of other political parties about the PDP in Delta?
In the last 12 years the state has been in a political wilderness. Former Governor, James Ibori ruled for eight years and was succeeded by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who ruled for three and half years. After the Court of Appeal cancelled the election in November, Chief Ogboru believed that he stood a better chance because Uduaghan did not perform well enough in government to deserve the vote of the people. He said there is nothing on ground to reflect the huge funds that are coming into the state. When Ogboru staged his first rally in Effurun, there was huge crowd. The large turn-out supporters was not a rented crowd. People spent their money to get vest with Ogboru's label and they all said he is the right person to lead them. The point is that those in government today do not want opposition and Ogboru represent that serious opposition in Delta today as he is set to take over governance through the ballot next year.
What are the critical things you think INEC should have done in Delta?
INEC should display the voter register for us to go and crosscheck our names. The election was ordered by the Appeal Court, which made certain observations that there was no election in Delta in 2007. The court also debunked the commonly held view that an election is a step by step process which embraces the entire gamut of activities from voter accreditation, voting, collation, recording all relevant INEC forms and finally the declaration of results, that was the court position. Having failed in displaying the voter register till now, INEC has ignored section 30 and particularly section 34 of the 2010 electoral act. I wonder what could have informed INEC rush to conduct the rerun election when we still have almost a month to the 90 days expiration order for INEC to conduct a rerun. The Court of Appeal annulled the election in November 9, 2010 and gave INEC 90 days to conduct a rerun that will expire on February 8, 2011. For INEC to conduct a proper election it must take into cognizance on what premise the court annulled the election. All through the court processes INEC could not produce the voters register used for 2007 election. When there was no voter register how did the commission come about the result it declared in 2007 in favor of Uduaghan?
Is it possible for Ogboru to really defeat or match Uduaghan in the election?
Ogboru has antecedent. When we went to visit the Asagba of Asaba, Obi Prof. Joseph Chike Edozien a young man from Anioma took the microphone and said to Ogboru, 'Sir you might not know me but many years ago I came to your office in Apapa with a popular musician, Mike Okri and you gave him money, which he used to produce his album. Ogboru is a man that has given his entire life to the service of humanity. In 1989 in Benin he was the single largest donor to the Namibian course. The man has antecedent and a heart to help people. Ogboru said he wants to turn Delta state into a huge construction site and would give each of the local councils N100 million monthly but he was rigged out in 2007.
How do you see Ovie Omo-Agege's entrance into the race?
Omo-Agege is only desperate but our candidate Ogboru went to court and we appreciated his tenacity. The reward for his effort was his victory at the Appeal Court. The interesting thing about Ogboru is that he is the candidate of the people. Omo-Agege was never part of the process in 2007. Election is not about voting, it is a process. Now the court said they are ordering fresh election Omo-Agege was with Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) after he left PDP, he used to belong to the Ibori family. When the Appeal Court annulled the election, Omo-Agege moved to the Republican Party to seek a platform to contest. He said that the candidate of the Republican Party for the 2007 election passed on this gave him opportunity to maneuver the party process to secure its ticket as candidate. The deputy governorship candidate in the voided election, Nkem Madezia is now claiming rightful ownership of the ticket. She wanted the party to allow her run for the governorship election as the legitimate candidate but the party would not allow her and she went to court. The court said the right of the woman must be persevered until January 11, 2011 when the case would be heard. This is why INEC must be careful, when Madezia case is still pending in court. If INEC had published the names of the candidates to participate in the election the matter would have been put to rest. INEC is a bit shifty here. Everybody is confused because INEC has not come up with a definitive statement to let the people know who the candidates are.
The Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) is often criticized for lacking the structures to give Ogboru victory in Delta?
The mammoth crowd that came out to grace the arrival of Ogboru's during his Restoration Rally recently was an indication of the DPP popularity in Delta. A journey of five minutes from the airport to the venue of the rally took about two hours due to large number supporters and traffic. I do not really understand what people meant by structure but to me structure is the people. Structure