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Not war, just routine election – The Nation

By The Citizen
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Someone following news of the governorship election in Ondo may be excused if he thinks a war is about breaking out: Police deploy 26,000 troopers, three helicopters, 12 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and 20 gunboats!

Yet, it is only a routine governorship election, fixed for tomorrow, to elect a successor to Governor Olusegun Mimiko.

But can you blame a government's determined effort to secure an exercise that ought to be a merry celebration of free choice, in the face of flawed politicians, sworn to running a democracy without democrats?

That is the state of Nigerian democracy; and the war cries and whoops, en route to the election, is proof Nigeria has a long way to go in democratic processes.

On this score, the opposition's allegation, as symbolised by the Alliance for Democracy (AD), that some All Progressives Congress (APC) elements are 'plotting' to 'rig' the Ondo election would appear predictable. That was APC's call too, when it was in opposition.

But we wish these allegations could be roundly dismissed as crying wolf when there was none. Nevertheless, no one, in all fairness, can do that.

Inasmuch as opposition parties tend to be hysterical in their allegations on election eves, hardly anyone can vouch for the ruling parties themselves to play fair and square. All these, with jumbo conspiracy theories, are playing out in the run-up to the Ondo polls.

At the end of the day, however, it is only a routine election, with a wide field, even if some four parties appear visible and dominant: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Ondo ruling party, with Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, as candidate; All Progressives Congress (APC), with Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, as candidate; Alliance for Democracy (AD), with Olusola Oke as candidate; and Social Democratic Party (SDP), with Olu Agunloye, as candidate.

Clearly, Ondo's political temperature shot up a few Fahrenheit because of faction dissonance, in both PDP and APC.

In PDP, Jimoh Ibrahim, from the Ali Modu Sheriff faction, had a go at the ticket of Mr. Jegede, Mimiko's protégée, who also belongs to the Ahmed Markarfi faction of the party. It is good the courts have resolved the issue and the election can go ahead as scheduled.

In APC, feuds from a disputed primary are also posing a big challenge to the Akeredolu candidacy. Indeed, Mr. Oke's defection, consequent upon that feud, seems to have gifted AD the momentum it probably never could have boasted of.

At the end of the day, however, partisan intrigues and electioneering passion would matter less than a people's cold and reasoned decision of what deal is best for them. That is what is required of the Ondo people tomorrow. They will swim or sink, in the next four years, by their decision.

But while the people do their civic duty, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) too must do its. It must conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible election. That is its sacred duty by law.

The security agencies should rise up to the occasion. The state's security apparatus to this election is awesome. But all that would be useless if it ended up siding one side against the other, thus illicitly tilting the polls. That would be completely unacceptable, for it would be tantamount to electoral subversion, the most brazen crime in any democracy.

So, let the people freely make their choice and let every vote count. Finally, let the people's will be respected. That is what is expected tomorrow.

As for politicians with do-or-die mentality, let the Ondo experience serve as their latest learning curve. Only one person wins an election. But his win is invalid without votes against him. Besides, who wins today may lose tomorrow and vice-versa.

That is the spirit of democracy that must be imbibed by all, if our democratic polity must survive.