By Remigius Akinbinu
The eventual victory of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state in last Saturday’s supplementary gubernatorial election has once again thrown up serious issues about our seriousness as a nation in keeping up with the vital ethos of Democracy via electoral transparency.
When the election was first held in December, the announced outcome in seven of the eight local Government areas of the state indicated that the incumbent governor flying the PDP flag had a seemingly unassailable lead of about 65% against his APC counterpart Timipriye Silva’s less than 35%.
Shockingly, rumours had it that the votes garnered by Silva in the only remaining local government had upturned Dickson’s lead.
This was followed by protest from the PDP that the result in that local government was grossly manipulated to favour the APC.
The INEC seemed to have concurred when it cancelled the election in that local government alone and ordered a supplementary election which was held on Saturday.
The PDP’s claim that the result of the election in Southern Ijaw local government has been manipulated to favour the APC candidate seemed to be valid when it was said that the APC cleared all available votes in a particular ward with over a thousand votes.
This and many other evidence of irregularity compelled INEC to cancel the result for the particular Local government area and order a supplementary election.
If anything, the outcome, last Saturday of the election in same local government which was at variance with the earlier manipulated one in the sense that Seriake Dickson now won where he was said to have lost by a landslide margin such as would have overturned his landslide margin in the remaining seven LGAs, seems to have confirmed that there was indeed an active but abortive connivance between the electoral commission and the ruling party to manipulate the Bayelsa election.
It’s really of serious concern that the APC, within a short time of assuming power at the centre, appears to have developed an uncanny resolve to winning at all cost and winning all against the very spirit of Democracy they’re grandstanding.
Against the backdrop of the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the Taraba governorship race which upturned the APC’s earlier Tribunal victory, I tend to agree with those who believe that the ruling party is bent on winning everything on ground by hook or crook both electorally and judicially.
This is a sad commentary on the Nation’s polity and a setback for Democratic development given the fact that there have been reasons to assume, to a reasonable extent, the credibility of elections in recent times.
I also find it disturbing that President Muhamadu Buhari has not deemed it necessary to congratulate the winner of the election, five days after his declaration by INEC.
It goes without saying that, the President would have been among the first set of people to send congratulatory message to his Party’s Timipriye Silva if he was the one declared winner by INEC.
This is an unwelcome development on the part of the President.
He should not only be seen but should also be heard, as the father of the nation, to be an advocate of politics without bitterness.
This omission, whether deliberate or not, falls short of expectations of the Nigerian people in their estimation of their leader.
I do hope Mr. President’s political advisers will still encourage him to do the needful as it is still not late do so.
For Seriake Dickson, it was really a hard fought battle and a victory well deserved as information had it that he did well in the key areas of development of Bayelsa State in the past three and half years that he has been in the saddle.
It will also be cheerful news and of great relief to former President Goodluck Jonathan that the election went the way of his party as it might be a pill too bitter to swallow for him to lose his home state in the wake of his losing his position as President.
BUDGET 2016 DEBACLE
What is it about this budget that is indicating that we are not only getting it wrong headed as a nation but that those at the helm of affairs do not know how to go about the act of leading the nation?
First, it was the news, so unprecedented, that the Presidency was seeking to withdraw the budget after submitting it to the National Assembly because it detected a lot of errors in it.
Next was the awkward response of the minister for Information to the effect that there was no such attempt to withdraw the budget only that errors detected were only being corrected. Such a discordant and preposterous statement from the Nation’s No.1 spokesperson!
And now, local and international media is awash with the news that the Budget documents are now from the ‘hallowed’ chambers of the National Assembly.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) two days ago,” Hundreds of copies of Nigeria’s 2016 budget have gone missing at the country’s parliament, an MP who requested anonymity has told the BBC.
The senate was unable to start considering the proposed budget because of the missing documentation, he said.
The delay could worsen the country’s economic crisis as it deals with the impact of plunging oil prices.”
This, to me, has brought needless international opprobrium upon the Nation as it appears laughable and unheard of that such a thing could happen at such high level of governance in any country.
Such occurrence, in the beginning of the year doesn’t portent a good omen for the nation in the New Year.
I do hope both the Presidency and the National Assembly will get their acts right and settle down for business.
The incidences of dwindling oil prices and incessant falling of the Naira against foreign currencies have determined already that the Nation’s Economy will face harsher times this year.
Thus, absurd distractions like errors in budget and budget documents getting missing are rather unfortunate at this particular point in time.