Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




By Olisa Penny (DSM Edo State Chapter)

The recent Etsako Central rerun election in Edo State was won by Action Congress candidate Ogbuna Johnson. This election on January 23 was mainly between two of the four political parties that fielded candidates, but principally a fierce contest between Chief Tony Anenih, a national leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Adams Oshiomhole. In recent period, owing to a break in friendship or allegiance, the two gladiators have stretched their limits to prove that one is stronger than the other.

In this fight no basic ideas have been canvassed that were ideologically different by either person. In two recent rerun elections in Edo State the propagandist Oshiomhole have bruised Anenih badly thus far, not only electorally but also in popularity. Chief Anenih represents the decadent, old fashioned brand of the political thieving class which is defined by electoral fraud, insolence and gross disrespect for voters. Elements like this are infamous for their capacity to guarantee electoral victory by deploying combined force of federal might (the police, army, electoral commission, etc) and paid thugs to scare electors, snatch ballots, maim or kill opponents or virtual disruption of elections.

The major campaign by bourgeois opposition parties in Nigeria now is for electoral reform anchored on Uwais electoral reform report. By that report, major opposition elements hope to check the rigging machines of PDP. But all of the parties have been short-changing the masses of electors in their different areas of influence. This reform has been the platform Oshiomhole has been canvassing. His propaganda on ONE MAN-ONE VOTE and using the masses to prevent election rigging seems to be gaining some echo. He has enough credentials to carry out such campaign on a national scale having been NLC President for eight years with significant élan. Oshiomhole happens to be the only governor to have truly won election with the poor masses marking every step to his victory. This is the face of politics he ought to represent. However, reformist politics which allows for radical orations and the old board room maneuvers and compromise has diluted his ideas and personality. This has grossly affected his ratings, still popular but with doubts hanging on him. Questions are being asked of Oshiomhole. For instance, if you are campaigning against looting why it that you have not prosecuted those caught stealing by Oseni-water report? If you love the masses and work for them why be the exponent of privatization and deregulation and protecting capitalist insolence? Perhaps, the masses need four years to know his type.


The Etsako Central election was reported “free and fair” .Unlike many others where vote-zones were turned into war zones with bullets tearing acres of silence, this election “did not witness any gunshot either from police or thugs”. Perhaps this is the reason the election was adjudged free and fair. People are not bothered that only two parties, AC and PDP, actually participated out of over 50 parties and why it was only 1 and 6 votes that the ANPP, the third largest party in Edo State, and DPP won respectively despite having a full executive body in the local government area. Did they not vote for their parties or the candidate of the ANPP has no family and relations who bought into his ideas?

The PDP won 3,712 votes to Action Congress’s 7,884. Jointly, with the 2 “attaché” parties the total votes were 11,603 of the 29,971 on the INEC registration list. This represents roughly 39% of the voting public. AC’s 7,884 votes are 59.1% of total votes cast but just representing 26.3% of total Etsako registered voters. Together with the 2,146 rejected or invalid votes the total number who voted were 13,337, leaving 16,634 people who are on the voters list but refused to vote .That is 45% voted as against 55% who refused to votes. Is it accurate to say then that the election is “free and fair”?

Generally speaking this has been the pattern of elections in Nigeria since 1964 and in most of Africa. It means that Adams Oshiomhole, while he has conquered temporarily the big riggers like Tony Anineh, has not actually conquered the fortress of voters’ enthusiasm needed to jubilate. The reality is that the masses of Etsako people, who stood still for Adams during the turbulence of April 14th 2007 election and the intervening struggles to realize the mandate for one solid year afterwards, have not been inspired to vote. Those who voted for AC actually wanted to reject suckers like Anenih but are caught up in the web for lack of other inspiring parties. That is why Anenih and his co- travelers received a token 12. 4%vote.

Adams has a huge work to do. He has to abandon his middle- of- the- road politics and genuinely side with the masses of poor workers, peasants, market people and mass of jobless people and stop defending a sick perspective of deregulation and privatization. He can do this by renewing interest in a class oriented labour party that is pillared by NLC and TUC and other organizations of poor people.

The vacuum created by the non- voting public of 55% can actually be filled by a fighting Labour Party (LP) on working class perspective of socialism .Those who genuinely want to build LP should agitate for an internal election before end April so that the party can forcefully contest elections and not become a monitoring team for AC.