It is clear from the just concluded gubernatorial election in Edo State that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has devised an intelligent policy in order to uphold the integrity of elections and the Card Reader. INEC has resorted to cancelling results from polling units where the total votes cast exceeded the total of voters accredited by the Card Reader.
This practically leaves those opposed to credible elections with the aid of the Card Reader with a fait accompli. By cancelling such results, the election was determined based exclusively on electronic accreditation.
In any case, the total number of votes cancelled due to non usage of the Card Reader did not impact on the election. The Card Reader has come to stay. While the National Assembly is making efforts to give the Card Reader a definite legislative backing to undo the harsh effects of the Supreme Court judgments on the issue, INEC’s policy is commendable.
My impression is that the Edo election was largely credible. I will give three reasons:
First, the margin between the two leading candidates shows that there was indeed a real contest. The APC scored 319,483 while the PDP came second with 253,173. This is in contrast to the fraudulent and arbitrary culture of allocation of phantom votes as witnessed during the 2015 governorship elections.
Second, the election was generally peaceful and devoid of violence. No single life was lost in Edo State. This is also in contrast to the bloodbath witnessed in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States during the last election. The Supreme Court upheld both elections.
Third, the fact that there was no over voting shows that the election was largely credible. Edo State has 1, 900, 223 registered voters, while 662,039 of the registered voters were accredited with 613, 244 voters casting their votes in the election.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have up to October 19, 2016 to file a petition against the election of Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC). They should ventilate their grievances in court.
Since they are raising allegations of corrupt practices and violence, they should approach the tribunal with evidence and prove same beyond reasonable doubt.
Obaseki and the APC can conveniently cite recent decisions of the Supreme Court on governorship elections. The precedents are there and known to all.
Only the courts can determine whether an election complied substantially with the law. If the 2015 governorship elections in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Abia States complied with the law I do not know what will invalidate the September 28 election in Edo State.
Though the election was not without flaws, the process was substantially credible, free and fair.
I commend the people of Edo State for their peaceful conduct. This should be a lesson to the people of other South South States and the country at large.