THE KOGI GUBERNATORIAL POLL
The December 3, 2011 gubernatorial election in Kogi State has been lost and won but the controversy it generated still persists. While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose candidate, Captain Idris Ichalla Wada (rtd) emerged victorious, lauded the process, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) whose candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, lost condemned and described the exercise as 'scientific rigging.'
As a result of the perceived shortcomings of the poll, the ACN agent at Jebba declined to sign the result sheet with claims that the declared result did not reflect the actual votes cast. Abubakar Audu has therefore rejected the result and alleged that the exercise was massively rigged in favour of the PDP.
Details of the result as announced by the Chief Returning Officer for the election and Vice-Chancellor of Nasarawa State University, Prof. Shamsudeen Amali, showed that Wada polled a total of 300,372 votes to beat his closest rival, Audu, who polled 159,913 votes to a distant second position.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, who believes that the poll was substantially free and fair, had in a swift reaction to the ACN allegations challenged the party to go to court if it was not satisfied with the outcome.
Also, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Election Monitoring Group rated the election as peaceful and transparent but noted that it has some grey areas that need to be improved upon in future elections. Some of the challenges the monitors observed include difficulties in conveying electoral materials from ward distribution centres to polling units, untoward behaviours of some party agents, non-uniformity of accreditation tags and large number of voters in some polling units.
Despite the misgivings expressed by the ACN and its supporters over the poll, the winner, Captain Idris Wada, has extended the olive branch to all his opponents in the electoral contest and urged them to join hands with him in moving the state forward.
We commend INEC for conducting a peaceful election in Kogi State and urge it to correct the observed anomalies in future elections. Good enough, the body admitted some lapses in the poll even though it was largely transparent. INEC should bear in mind that the quality of any election depends on people's assessment and perception. It is a fact that we have not yet perfected the electoral system. That is why those in charge of INEC should make the people's choices to emerge through their votes. The sanctity and integrity of the ballot box must be assured and respected. In other words, the election must be free and fair.
While the aggrieved parties in the poll have the right to challenge the result at the election tribunal, they should do so without engaging in acts that will disturb the peace in the State. Let them remember, too, that in whatever they are doing, the interest of Kogi people should be paramount because the state belongs to all of them. They should allow peace to reign in the state. There is always another day in electoral contest.
All the political parties should strive to allow internal democracy to evolve within their folds. The era of imposition of candidates should be done away with as it does not help the fortunes of any party or the candidate.