EDO STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION: HOW OSHIOMHOLE WON
EDO STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION: HOW OSHIOMHOLE WON
By Adewale Barshar
In 2007, Adams Oshiomhole, the ex-labour leader, won the Edo State gubernatorial election, breaking the gridlock of 8 years misrule of the PDP. But it took a whole year of sweats, stress and blood of the poor masses in struggle to reclaim the mandate that had been so brazenly stolen by the PDP. In those days, it was claimed that he won about 13 of the 18 local government areas.
Now, four years have passed with lots of lessons for both the rulers and the masses. Four years, they have seen the limitations of a radical without a socialist understanding and, at the same time, they have seen the resurgence of a gang of old hawks coming with venom to devour the relative gains of Adams’ four-year rule.
The July 14, 2012 election was won affirmatively by Adams Oshiomhole in all the 18 local governments of the state. It was a reward for good developmental efforts of his regime and an astounding rejection of the PDP misrule at federal and state levels. This is the first time in recent history where a candidate would win in all the local governments and so massively. It is only comparable to 1983 when Lateef Jakande won over 90% of votes in Lagos State. Perhaps, what was more historical was that Adam won in all the 192 wards in the state, beating all the big wigs and the candidates of PDP, other contestants and the big men in their own wards. In the 15 local government areas which are lesser cities and villages, Adams won 301,524 to PDP’s 125,163 out of the total 426,687 votes cast.
In the 3 main urban local government areas of Oredo, Egor and Ikpoba Okha, Adams won a total of 175,954 as against the PDP’s meager 19,074 out of 195,026 total votes cast. Following the leadership of the city dwellers, the masses of the villages followed suit. In all, Adams won a total of 477,478 votes of about 621,713 votes cast leaving the rival PDP with only 144,235 or about 25%.
PERFORMANCE DID ITâ€¦BUT
The rare ability to unite the villages and the cities together in an onslaught against backwardness and the PDP is a tune which the ear will like in future. Adams’ 3 years of infrastructural development â€“ over 53 roads across the 18 LGA, provision of potable water, health facilities, schools, etc â€“ has drawn massive support all over. This record of performance is a pool of water compared to the aridity of the past. Workers, students, youth, market women, bike riders, etc in solidarity jointly canvassed and vote Adams and unmistakably signaled a warning to the riggers that they would not take a repeat of 2007.
Against what most people have reported as free and fair elections by INEC, it is none of it. INEC, the official organizers of the election did nothing to correct the various mistakes and errors inherent in the past elections. For instance, according to Adams Oshiomhole, “election materials did not arrive at polling units at 9.00am, 10.00am, 12 noon” in so many riverine and remote areas. In Edo central senatorial district, most people could not vote as a result of late arrival of voting materials. Most voters, who trooped out en-masse in Oredo LGA were deprived of voting because of one problem or the other. In one area, only 66 voters could be accredited out of the over 2,000 registered in the polling areas. The same thing could be noticed in many other areas of the state. Voters’ Registers were not updated, depriving new voters who saw reasons to vote their civic rights. The enthusiasm of the masses to reward Adams Oshiomhole with their votes was by this wicked negligence dashed. In all, only about 630,000 of about 1.6 million voters were rigged out.
SECURITY FORCES AND ELECTIONS
The deployment of about 3,500 soldiers to monitor the election was unnecessary. Apart from the possibility of cowing and intimidating the masses psychologically, it shows how fragile and immature the whole gamut of capitalist democracy is. In other times, the same soldiers, like in some cases in the past, can become a real threat to peaceful election and rigging machines. They actually intimidated, molested and oppressed some voters. Without the determination of the masses to vote and protect their votes, the heavy presence of security men was enough to scuttle the election. In an election where left and socialist forces contest and has the prospect of winning, the capitalist would not hesitate to unleash their armed wing on the masses. Only an organized mass can secure their votes.
The masses of Edo State have shown the way by which election can be protected by individual and communal vigilance.
THE HATED PDP
It may not be quite right to say Adams Oshiomhole won only because of his performance in office, although, it is largely due to that. The other factor is the PDP which is hated by the masses. The arrogance of the three fat cats (Anenih, Igbinedion and Ogbemudia) who are the acclaimed leaders of the PDP could not but put people off. Boisterous, vain and soiled all over, the masses have come to regard them as solid metaphors for incorrigible corruption. Though erroneous as the capitalist system is the main cause, they are regarded as the main obstacles to Edo State progress in the 8 years of misrule of Lucky Igbinedion and 1 year of Prof. Osumbor. In the nine years of PDP rule, it was a chilling experience for the poor as hospitals and schools and most public utilities collapsed. To think of bringing back that 9 year of torrid experience was imaginable. It is the masses’ way of saying no way again to Anthony Anenih, “Mr. fix it” that enough is enough.
Mr. Anenih, who has been on the turf since 1981 as Chairman of the same reactionary National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and is infamous for rigging out Prof. Ambrose Ali of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1983 and for betraying MKO Abiola as Chairman of defunct Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) in 1993. It is true that the PDP lost woefully to ACN. It will be over-ambition to affirm like Oshiomhole that “riggers are finally out of business”. Corruption, rigging, etc are deadly cankerworm produced by decadent capitalism. It will still rear its head unless the masses are on guard and the system is nailed. So, people like Bello Osagie, who, commenting on Adams’ victory said “I believe that all the forces that have always subverted the process of free and fair election have collapsedâ€¦” will do well to remember that it is not the first time they have failed.
Only policies that advance the interest and needs of the poor masses can push dark forces out of the system. To do this, the state will need to further provide water, schools, healthcare, etc. for the people. Most of the collapsed industries like the Okpella Cement Factory, Bendel Hotel and Insurance Farm Centre, etc. will have to be woken up to provide needed jobs for the teeming unemployed and school leavers. While this is a sine-qua-non, the government of Adams Oshiomhole will realize and they must have learnt one or two lesson that most of the intractable problems of unemployment, infrastructural decay, mass poverty will need the resources of a united socialist Nigeria to resolve. With a working people government, run on socialist program, on a national scale, the masses themselves will be on the level to decide their fate. This is why they will need to jettison the pseudo-radical ACN which in its true sense is just but the second faction of the PDP.
According to Sam Omotseye, a columnist of The Nation, “the masses did the job” in Edo. The masses who did this job must be prepared to do the job for themselves. We need to be ready to make the sacrifice necessary to build a party of our own in ideas and method. Organizing groups around the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) will be a good start as a step towards building a pan-Nigeria mass working peoples’ party.