By Monday Ajogun
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the Edo governorship election, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, on Sunday said the perception with the public and the people is that the election will be manipulated.
Obaseki stated this when he played host to the Senate Committee on (INEC), on a courtesy visit to the government house in Benin.
According to him, as government we have made all the resources at our disposal available to all agencies of government that are going to handle the conduct of the election whether INEC or the security agencies.
“We want to believe that INEC, the umpire, will conduct a free, fair and credible election.
“This has been the rhetoric of the opposition.
“And that it doesn’t matter what happens in the polling units, because of what they term federal might, and that federal might may be deployed to the state.
“Fortunately, also that perception has been reinforced by the the calibre of people who are leading the campaign on the side.
Obaseki made references to Kano, Imo and Kogi and the alleged roles their governors were playing in Edo.
“The governor of Imo came into the city with a full convoy of military men two days ago.
“So, with those kind of people around it doesn’t help the confidence.
“There is a massive fear that Edo election will be manipulated.
Obaseki also alluded to some survey reports that showed the respondent’s belief that they will not get fair outcome.
“INEC has to convince the people even when they had made all preparations and put all the process in place.
“The issue of perception must be addressed. INEC must come out very clearly to prove that they are truly independent.
“Even when we are the opposition party at national level, it does not mean that we will not get justice.
“The other area of concern to us is the issue of security.
“We had the opportunity to visit Inspector General of Police after our ward-to-ward rally and also to present a report to him.
“There were about 12 attacks on us the PDP.
“I appealed to him to make sure that people are apprehended and prosecuted, but if these people are not being prosecuted they may just do same during the election,” he said.
He, however, expressed belief that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would conduct free, fair and credible elections in Edo.
In his remarks, the Chairman Senate Committee on INEC, Sen. Kabiru Gaya, said that the visit was part of its oversight function to see how prepared INEC had been before the election.
“We went round the INEC headquarters in the state, and we plan to visit one of its local government offices to see how prepared they are.
“They told us that all the necessary materials are 90 per cent ready and they are expecting more of these materials before Thursday.
“We, the members of the committee, have seen and from the record they gave us I believe that they are ready for the elections.
“We have some of the areas that are riverine that they have already deployed boats that will be used in such areas.
“We are concerned about the issue of security, we expect there should not be any form of violence during the election.
“The governor here is the chief security officer in the sate, but here they are bringing more security officers into the state to assist him in maintaining peace.
“We will not tolerate any violence in the state, we will not tolerate any trouble because we believe that if there is any violence INEC will prospone the election which will not be good for us as Nigerians.
“Therefore, I am appealing to government and the people and all political parties to make sure that the election is trouble-free, violence-free, so that people can go and exercise their rights to vote for whom they want. (NAN)