Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, yesterday, defended his condemnation of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, during last Saturday’s election in the state, saying he needed to raise alarm in order to thwart the efforts of those who were determined to rig the election.
Speaking with State House correspondents when he visited President Goodluck Jonathan, Gov. Oshiomhole commended the president for ensuring that the votes of the electorate counted, by deploying enough security personnel in the state to maintain law and order.
According to Oshiomhole, “the President warned that there will be no rigging, no manipulation, no ballot snatching and orders were given to the army to ensure that none of those things happened and the army carried out the order.
“The Police IG was similarly instructed, he deployed his men probably much more than we probably needed and they delivered on the President’s orders. The SSS were fantastic because they were always at the collating centres where some of the manipulations could take place. I have been a victim and so you would understand why I am familiar with it. And the SSS did a fanastic job, two plus two was four not five, not 15 and that made a lot of difference. So we need to appreciate the President and encourage him to sustain this principle of truly reminding all of us who hold political office.”
On allegation against INEC
Speaking on his allegation against INEC, Oshiomhole who waxed philosophical pointed out that “ in my own part of the world the fact that you got home safely does not mean you should not investigate an accident scene. We had several meetings, I informed INEC in a petition about two months ago that my opponents in their strategic meeting sent out their men and they reported back that it would be impossible for them to win.
But then, their leader insisted they must win and that this is his last time. They then agreed on a number of issues. “One of them was that my support base in Benin City is very strong and incidentally, Edo South accounts for 55 per cent of the total registered voters. And so they agreed that they were going to work with some people in the INEC on election day to delay supply of materials.
“So, when you supply materials late, two things will happen: the number of persons who had queued up since 8 o’clock to wait for five hours will grumble if materials don’t come, the average person will say, well I have done my best, if the material has not come I have to go home.
“Don’t forget there are no eateries around the area and so people would have been compelled to fast. So the immediate implication of that is that you will find so many people would not able to vote. “Number two, when you then push the elections into the dark hours in a country where you are not sure of power supply, when it is dark, it becomes easy for election manipulators to change numbers.
So these I conveyed to Prof. Attahiru Jega and we raised it in the various stakeholders meeting that we had with him. “I mean the reason Nigeria is not making progress is that we are afraid to tell the truth. It is not a big deal to be a governor but it is a big deal to tell the truth and to harass anyone who is responsible for dragging Nigeria backward.”
Promises to carry all along
Oshiomhole promised to carry every Edo indigene along not minding their political affiliation, adding: “But you see I made this point yesterday (Sunday), even when I was rigged out in 2009 I did try to work with everybody. If you remember, I appointed three commissioners from the PDP in my first term because I was anxious to make the point that, yes as a trade unionist my business was to voice and to speak through to power and even to harass power if I thought it was being misused. I have done that all my life. So not a few were curious as to how I will now manage.
“I was always conscious of that and to avoid continued protest and diversions inside I want to carry everybody along and I demonstrated that by asking them give me three PDP commissioners. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and everybody has to go his way.
“I’m humbled by the fact that across the state, this is the first time in our history probably the only place this has happened, that a governor won election in every local government. This, for me, entails a huge responsibility when the people speak with one voice and say we prefer you, you have a duty to service that trust.”
“Like I told many of them, you did not vote for me the last time yet I built this beautiful school, I constructed this beautiful road, I built the beautiful health center then imagin when you vote for me, I can only do more. And you know I am conscious that people like you are interested in what is happening in a Edo State. I am not like other governors whose constituency is limited largely to the boundaries of their state.
I’m conscious of the fact that though I’m a governor in Edo State but the average Nigerian is keen to see what is Oshimhole is doing now, now that he is a governor. And that explains why I can’t afford to relax even when others do. And I’m so grateful to God that He has blessed everything that we have asked for” he said.
Oshiomhole – Why I raised alarm on election day