CONDUCTING CREDIBLE GUBER RE-RUN IN DELTA STATE
UNDOUBTEDLY, these are critical times for the electorate in Delta State. Unless any of the eligible candidates for the governorship re-run ordered by the Court of Appeal in Benin, on November 9, 2010, secures an injunction from the court, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC), in Delta State, Dr. Gabriel Adaku, will conduct the gubernatorial re-run on Thursday, January 6, 2011.
Deltans are further bewildered by INEC's volte face because Dr. Adaku, had in his maiden meeting with the representatives of political parties who fielded candidates in the April 17, 2010, gubernatorial election asserted that the voters' register used in that election would be verified and updated.
The REC had declared in the seventh paragraph of his seventh point statement that: 'There will be a comprehensive voters' verification and updating of the Delta State INEC voters register before the Governorship Re-Run election where every Deltan will be FULLY REGISTERED'.
On Wednesday, December 22, 2010, INEC suddenly announced that the governorship re-run will be conducted on Thursday, January 6, 2011. The statement was, however, silent on the 'comprehensive voters' register and updating to be conducted before the governorship re-run where every Deltan will be fully registered', earlier pledged by Dr. Adaku at Asaba, the state capital.
Now, Deltans are asking: Why the sudden volte face on the verification and updating of the existing voters' register? If the current voters' register was reliable, would Adaku, had assured party officials in Asaba that it would be verified and updated?
There were wide-spread complaints by eligible voters in 2007 that their names were missing from the voters register because some unscrupulous electoral officers in connivance with ill-intentioned party agents had illegally tempered with the original voters register, adding fictitious names and removing the names of authentic voters, who they presume, are not supportive of their party and candidates.
The upbeat mood in Delta State, elicited by the Appeal Court judgment, has been severely dampened by the sudden inexplicable decision by INEC to jettison its earlier averment to conduct 'a comprehensive voter's' verification and updating of the Delta State voters register to be conducted before the governorship re-run election where every Deltan will be fully registered'.
How can INEC Chairman, Prof. Atahhiru Jega, justify his resolve to conduct a 'free, fair and credible election in 2011', if the Delta State governorship re-run which offers Jega a priceless opportunity to test-run his strategies for a credible poll in 2011 is conducted on a very faulty and indefensible note?
Clearly, if the governorship re-run is held without a proper verification and updating of the Delta State INEC voters register, hundreds of thousands of eligible voters whose names are missing would be disenfranchised.
Indeed, what is the difference between an electoral charade that produced a victorious candidate without an election and a sham election that was conducted with a fraudulent voters' register that was deliberately set out to omit or deviously place the names of eligible voters in polling units in communities, towns, or even local governments, far away from their homes and where they cannot vote on election day.
If Prof. Jega is truly willing to conduct a free, fair and credible election in 2011, he should as a matter of duty and responsibility see the Delta State governorship re-run as a test-case scenario and ask the REC at Asaba to 'conduct a comprehensive voters' verification and updating of the Delta State voters' register where every Deltan will be 'fully registered' to vote for their preferred candidate.
Mr. Nath OMAME,Jr, a commentator on national issues, writes from Lagos