As Edo state prepares for its gubernatorial elections on July 14, 2012, we have watched with keen interest some very disturbing political developments in the state , and feel concerned as these developments portends dangerous signals to our young democracy.
While decent leaders continue to echo the need for our politicians and their political structures to adjust to fair play in political activities, including elections, some prominent politicians have continued to perpetrate actions that are clearly adverse to democratic norms.
One of the contestants, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is the sitting governor of the state, has publicly complained at various times about sinister plans by some politicians to manipulate the elections, while a staff of the Edo State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was apprehended by vigilant youths in Benin City. The fears expressed by the Edo state governor are yet to be fully investigated to douse apprehension in the state.
Some weeks back, some politicians from the state led by the leader of a major opposition party in the state were reported by the media to have had a meeting with the Presidency to perfect plans for the manipulation of the election. We are still worried that the Presidency has not found it expedient to deny holding such meeting for this purpose till date.
On our part, we wish to reassure the entire Nigerian people of the strong commitment of the labour movement to free and fair elections everywhere in Nigeria, including Edo state, and will join other patriotic Nigerians to continue to promote and defend these ideals for sustenance of democracy in our country.
While we reaffirm our confidence in the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, we strongly advice its Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega to be extra vigilant and careful in the handling of the July 14th election in Edo State. He must not allow anyone, including INEC staff or commissioners to compromise his credibility. Every registered voter must be allowed to freely vote without intimidation. And all the votes must count.
INEC must not submit to the pressure coming from certain political quarters that federal civil servants should be used as adhoc staff for the election instead of members of the National Youth Service Corps. While the federal civil servants certainly have a role to play in electoral administration, the corps members have proved their capacity for neutrality and willingness to work for free and fair elections as was underscored in the last general elections in the country.
We call on all domestic and international election monitoring groups to gear up preparations for observing the elections in Edo state to ensure records of transparency and accountability of the electoral process at the elections.
We also urge the Inspector General of Police IGP to come out strong in reassuring the nation that all security agencies that will be drafted for the election in Edo state will be fully prepared, and to remember that they were recruited to protect lives and properties without bias.
We call on all political parties and their candidates to demonstrate their commitment and resolve to deepening democracy by accepting to play by the rules and avoid the consequences of being held responsible for the ultimate damage any negative actions will have on our democracy and national image as a country.
Acting President, NLC