Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is accustomed to rigging and can’t boast of a transparent election in other states in the South-South geopolitical zone.
He said Edo is the only state that has been able to dismantle the PDP rigging machine and will do so again on the rescheduled date for the state’s gubernatorial election.
Speaking while receiving a team of European observers led by Ben Llewellyn-Jones, of the British High Commission, Abuja, at the Government House, Benin City, Friday, Oshiomhole said, “We do appreciate the interest of what I might call friends of Nigeria, those who help us to continually and continuously remember that although there are different nation states, but the world has increasingly become one small village such that events in any part can affect the whole. So, we do not underestimate the import of this election even as it is limited to Edo State.
“Edo State as we speak is the only State that can boast of a record of transparent elections since I came on board in 2007. Since I came, my campaign slogan was, we must dismantle the rigging machine.
“Having been a union member all my life, I couldn’t condone the situation where people are imposed at various levels, and our people gave up on democracy in this state, just like the rest of the South-South.”
He continued, “I am sure you have witnessed elections there and you can write volumes. They vote with bullets, not with ballots. Terror, not persuasion is the name of the game in the rest of the South-South. But since I came in, we have fought the forces behind rigging. We emboldened the people to challenge authorities, which is what I have done when I was in labour. And even as they still rigged me out and I fought them through the legal process, painstakingly established how I was rigged out I got my mandate restored. It never happened before, and nobody appreciates the essence of free and fair election more than myself.”
“The confusion yesterday, nobody is as troubled as me, first because we are fighting a people who have a lot of money and we simply don’t have such money and we made our preparations. Even as a sitting Governor, I have combed every village; we have 192 political wards across 18 Local Governments in three Senatorial districts. I have gone round all 192 wards.
“For us it has been a celebration of democracy, across the 192 wards in the course of our campaigns we were able to show what we have done in each of those 192 wards including standard roads, very beautiful schools, such that in a typical rural village the most beautiful building will be the school, such that the rate of out-of-school population in this state is the lowest in the South-South geopolitical zone. We are able to show where we have provided water and all of those basic things that of concern to our people. So for us, the election was easy. The campaign message was easy and our messenger is credible. He doesn’t have any baggage.
“Happily for us, our opponent was also in government before I came in for ten years. In this city, they can’t even tell you one thing that they did. If you find any dual-carriageway in this city, it was done by me, if you find any 6-lane road, and they are all over the place now, they were done by this government; if you any road with sidewalks they were done by this government. So we introduced a standard for our people, roads with walkways, six lanes, dual-carriageways with street lights. Even one traffic light, there was none before this government.
“So our people are able to look at the records and see what didn’t do for ten years and look at my own records for seven years and about nine months now and form an opinion. Even our hospital is enough.
“So we had a peaceful campaign and crowned it up with a grand finale on Tuesday. All of a sudden, this development leading to cancellation came.
“I am much more determined than anybody that having been here for eight years, I have a duty to sustain the tradition.
According to Oshiomhole, “For us, it has been a celebration of democracy. I do hope the security agencies will do everything possible and that INEC in making the decision carries stakeholders along. Again now, they have fixed a date. I heard two versions on television.
“You would expect that if INEC is in this territory holding a meeting that will involve the people of this state, and that courtesy demands that they should consult. Yes, they have prerogative but whoever has prerogative should exercise it with wisdom, and in democracy, no one is too good to have such power to impose without consulting with those you are fixing the date for.
“So, if you meet INEC, encourage them to consult more before decisions are taken, rather than they making the decision and trying to transplant it through the throat of people, and then you run into controversies that are completely avoidable and regrettable. I do welcome you and appreciate you for the election.”
Earlier, the leader of the team, Mr Ben Llewellyn-Jones said, “We have come to observe the election, but we are disappointed at the end of the day that it did not hold. Like you, we are disappointed. We have come to discuss with you the reports of the election holding on the 28th September, and the reports of the police and the security service, the reports of political party supporters, the reports of INEC. The political parties are doing their shift to ensure we have a conclusive and credible election, and the election observers are interested in the process.”
He said, “A new date has been set for Wednesday the 28th, and it is very important that you and your colleagues work carefully, the security services work carefully, the police work carefully, and INEC work carefully to ensure the election takes place on the 28th. We have very much enjoyed our visit to Benin City and look forward to coming back during the election.”