By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to postpone the Edo State governorship election originally scheduled for tomorrow came out of the blues after the election management body initially resisted the urge by the police and the Department of State Services, DSS.
In first snubbing the advice of the two security agencies, the INEC had sought to portray its independence given its claim that it had prepared and already deployed its men and logistics for what it had promised to be the best election in recent times. The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG which had already deployed in Benin was also quick to flay the call by the security agencies saying it was a throwback to a similar counsel by the security agencies just before the 2015 Edo election .
Speaking to newsmen in Benin, the chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Afolabi-Akiode said:“This clear interference in the electoral process by security agencies is a throwback to the 2015 general election, which was postponed at the behest of the nation’s security chiefs. We feel strongly that this tendency could undermine the confidence of voters and precipitate apathy and capable of building tension in the electoral space. This could lead to electoral violence, which the security agencies are supposedly trying to prevent.”
The postpone-not postpone postpone drama between the security agencies and INEC was itself like a circus that kept many stakeholders enraptured for most of yesterday. INEC officials at the beginning of yesterday had quietly pushed to go ahead with the elections irrespective of the security advise which most members of the civil society and even the PDP viewed with suspicion. The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC had, however, welcomed the decision as only a postponement of the final burial of the PDP, the party which governed the state for 10 of the last 16 years.
The national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who incidentally was the first civilian governor of the state had said that the party was “stunned, shocked and surprised” by the decision of INEC to go ahead with the poll in the face of the security advise. He, however, affirmed the party’s readiness to win the election but with the counsel that the security services be vigilant against the alleged efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to foment violence. The PDP, on the other hand, had claimed that the plan to postpone the election was a conspiracy by the APC to avert defeat by extending the time to work on how to compromise election officials and its own polling agents. Nonetheless, the decision to postpone the election leaves the state, nay INEC at the mercy of the exigencies that may erupt.
Under the Electoral Law, the election must be conducted not less than 30 days before the end of the tenure of the outgoing governor. Given that Governor Oshiomhole was inaugurated for a second term on November 12, 2012, it means that the election must be conducted on or before October 12. The decision of INEC to postpone the Edo election by two weeks still gives the election management body the leeway to resolve all issues that may arise such as runoffs, inconclusive polls or other exigencies. However, should the security situation as perceived by the police and the DSS deteriorate it would open the country’s electoral system, nay the constitution to unforeseen stress.
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/09/edo-election-last-minute-intrigues-behind-postponement-two-weeks/