After our collective political experience, one would expect that any exercise that encourages political expression through the ballot will be a collegial one where competition over intimidation will be at the forefront. Unfortunately, the tragic filaments of our political past, reared her ugly head again as the ruling People’s Democratic Party, held her Ward Congress, last weekend.
While the State Chairman of the party, John Okon, and a few others have embarked on the dangerous gamble of expressing satisfaction at the conduct of the congress, even though the narratives on the ground point in the other direction, it is important that we make no attempt to encourage gangster logic or seek to cover up a mountain of mole; the consequences are always dire.
The first signs that our political whitlow was still with us emerged in the avoidable rancour that was the collection of nomination forms for the Congress. While the leadership of the PDP in CRS is thought to have made attempts to unlawfully bar a few persons from contesting by insisting that only nomination forms obtained from the state secretariat will be recognized, those considered as the ‘other’ members, swiftly obtained nomination forms from the party’s headquarters in Abuja, sensing perhaps the earnest embossment of an anomaly, designed to selectively exclude them from participation. It took the intervention of the national secretariat of the party before modesty prevailed. This is unfortunate because the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the party’s guidelines for elections, state clearly the circumstances under which an aspirant can be denied participation in the electoral process. What a few unpatriotic members of the party tried to do has all the trappings of an illiterate understanding of the Constitution and party guidelines.
Across the length and breadth of the state, most politicians have begun arming ferocious bands of youths in readiness for the 2014 elections. This nefarious exercise is in part emboldened by the singular attempt within the party to deny several aspirants a level playing political field on which their popularity can be tested. Something of a dry run took place during the Congress as these youths were seen brandishing offensive weapons, to instill fear in perceived political opponents. While government has seemingly demonstrated zero tolerance for cult activities, it appears reluctant, even undecided on how to discourage this supply route to cultism. We are of the opinion that the consistent practice of foisting aspirants on the electorate has overtime yielded no benefits. If the energy expended in perfecting and cranking to life the negatives of an election are directed at conducting credible elections, we will produce leaders in Cross River state who will return our state to the glory days.
In Ikom LGA, like several other instances, the exercise was conducted not on Saturday, but on Sunday. Those in the know say the materials arrived Ikom from Calabar, late on Saturday; Ikom is roughly two hours away from Calabar. The question is, when were the materials released? Why were adequate arrangements not made for the materials to leave as at when due so the exercise can be conducted on the specified date? It is for avoidable technical reasons like this that lawyers are already preparing for the tribunals even before the vote. Indeed prolonged procedural arguments at the party’s secretariat in Calabar, were responsible for the late arrival of materials in several places. Stories are told of how arrangements were being made by party officials to convey materials in the vehicle of an aspirant in Calabar; this should not be.
Painfully, while fake results from the Congress are making headlines, the party seems to demonstrate negligible commitment in serving up the actual results that were captured through several electronic devices, bearing more the marks of authenticity, compared to the figures being thrown at us. We are afraid that the pattern and outcome of the 2015 elections in CRS will tow this shameful path if concerted efforts are abandoned for fleeting political ‘largess’.
All men and women of goodwill must begin to think up and perfect strategies that will checkmate the ignoble actions that have been test run in the Congress, that way, it will become extremely difficult for an inefficient few to decide for an efficient majority.
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