Last week the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Plateau was at the Plateau State High Court in Jos challenging the democratically illicit and illegitimate, politically nefarious plan to exclude the party from the October 2021 local government elections on flimsy accounts of normal intra party squabbles.
The APC led state government, in collaboration with the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) is looking for all possible means to exclude the PDP and all its chairmanship and councillorship candidates from the October local polls. It is very obvious, that the fear of loosing the elections to the opposition PDP that conducted the most noiseless, rancor free, transparent and freest primary elections ever in the history of the state is the only reason.
It would have been discouraging for the PDP in Plateau to participate in the coming local polls going by what happened in the previous polls. But this is democracy and people will never give up because they want change. Anything can happen especially that the APC in the state is enmeshed in series of crisis following the outcome of its primary elections in many LGAs.
Led by its counsels, Hon Edward Pwajok, SAN and SG Odey, among others, the PDP has since filled a 4 point originating summons at the State High Court. The demands of the claimant (PDP) against the defendants (PLASIEC) include the following: A declaration that any conduct of the local government elections for the various offices of Chairmen and Councilors in Plateau state without the participation of the PDP candidates is null, void and of no effect, an order of mandatory injunction directing the defendants to issue nomination forms to the claimant and its candidates, and allow them to participate and canvass for votes, an order setting aside any conduct of the LGA elections without the claimant and its candidates, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by itself, is agents, privies or assigns or any other person excluding the claimant and its candidates in any manner whatsoever from participating and contesting in the election.
It is very shameful that democracy is being bastardised and ridiculed in this way without according it its rightful place. How can an exercise be called a tournament when only one team is allowed? How does it look like for democracy or politics to be given its due place in the developmental life of a nation or community if such actions are defiantly promoted?
If PLASIEC and the state government can go this far to ridicule and disrespect the institution of representative democracy, the judiciary should not allow such to happen. The judiciary as the last hope of the society must live up to its expectation to correct the misnomer. This political attitude is strange to Plateau and must not be allowed to find its way as precedent. It will be dangerous for the State and the nation if the respective Lordships of the various State High Courts allow this to happen. Where then is the justice for the people and society?
The judiciary must not get involved in the partisan politics of the state. The Lordships should frown at such strange and politically despicable practices and allow fair play and due process to prevail, allow the democratic process to flow smoothly and the true winners to emerge thereby strengthening democracy on the Plateau. PLASIEC and the APC don’t need to do otherwise to feel any sense of belonging. Every democracy should be locally nurtured and protected. Let the people feel the impact of participatory democracy at all levels. Let the people know the value of democracy and what it stands for. Let them demonstrate that we are moving forward as a democratic country, and not recycling ourselves. The fact is that if we continue this way, democracy will surely suffer and politics will become the survival of the fittest.
Am sure the state judiciary is watching unfolding political events with keen interest, as the state is watching what they will do to save democracy from the hands of PLASIEC. Their Lordships must not allow the state electoral body to violate the laws of its own creation which demands that it is neutral and independent in every electoral activity. As it is now, PLASIEC has clearly taken sides with the APC in Plateau. The hope of other political actors lies with the firm determination of the state judiciary to do justice and grant the prayers of the PDP so as to protect democracy and allow a level playing field. Only by doing so, will the hope of the people in democracy be sustained. Doing otherwise is an unprecedented precedent allowed for the destruction of public governance. This is because it is also an act of injustice and perversion which creates animosity and conflicts in society.
As I write this piece, there are palpable apprehensions across the state and tension among all the active political parties in the state because of the body language of PLASIEC. There are suspicions that the electoral body plans to use flimsy excuses to disqualify every other candidate, especially those of the PDP to provide a smooth access to victory for APC candidates. The previous experience was painful and frustrating.
The plan to repeat same game plan is already building serious tension.
What is happening in Plateau now is a serious cause for concern for democracy. Democracy loving Plateau people are watching, and with all available facts before their Lordships, yours sincerely believe that justice will be done and served.