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KOGI GUBER POLL: Uncertainty as INEC collates results

Posted by By AUGUSTINE AVWODE on 2008/03/30 | Views: 660 |

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KOGI GUBER POLL: Uncertainty as INEC collates results


An air of uncertainty and palpable tension now hang heavily over Kogi, the state which prides itself as the ‘Confluence State’, as the result of the court ordered re-run gubernatorial election which took place Saturday, is being awaited.

An air of uncertainty and palpable tension now hang heavily over Kogi, the state which prides itself as the ‘Confluence State’, as the result of the court ordered re-run gubernatorial election which took place Saturday, is being awaited.

The run-up to yesterday’s polls had been characterized by strong determination by the two major camps in the contest to occupy Lord Lugard House, Lokoja. The cancelled election of April 14, 2007 had produced Ibrahim Idris, a.k.a Ibro of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), thus giving him his second term ticket in office.

OPPOSITION
But the opposition, spear-headed by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate at that election and former governor of the state from 1999 to 2003, Prince Abubakar Audu, went to court to challenge the validity of that election. Audu’s main grudge was that he was unlawfully and unjustifiably excluded from the election contrary to the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act.

He won at the Governorship Election Tribunal. And when Idris appealed, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the lower court thus setting the stage for Saturday’s rescheduled election.
Significantly, it was the first of the five governorship elections that have been cancelled by the courts. The others are Adamawa State, which comes up in April, and two others which appeal by the respective governors are yet to be determined. These are Enugu and Kebbi.

STRAIGHT FIGHT
The fight was a straight one between two former governors. Audu, who had occupied the Lord Lugard House, Lokoja, twice. Idris had also done that twice, except that the courts cut his second term short. Expectedly, the campaign was marked by tough talking and series of accusations and counter accusations. Advertorials were also used to send their messages to the public.

The candidates, who command a lot of respect and large following of fanatical supporters across the state, left nothing to chance. As at Friday, the candidates were running neck to neck. While Audu rode on the strength of the goodwill he enjoys as a two time governor and the candidate of the alliance of the major opposition parties of ANPP, Action Congress (AC), with the AC controlling 80 percent of the support base in Kogi Central and a host of others, Idris maximized the fact that he had just left office and still exerted the power and influence of incumbency through the Speaker of the State House of Assembly who had been functioning as Acting Governor.

VIOLENCE AND TENSION
On the dark side, the election had been preceded by violence and tension across the state. And Audu did not waste time in charging Idris with recruiting thugs and perpetrating violence in the state, a charge denied by Idris. Audu had told Sunday Sun that: "The challenge we have as far as Kogi state is concerned is thuggery. Government has recruited some thugs, trained them, armed them and gave them drugs. Apart from that, we don’t have any problem in Kogi State.

You can go out there and talk to a cross section of Kogites. They believe that this is no government at all. And if anything, it is an inept government that constitutes a disgrace to the entire state", declared Audu.
But in a quick reaction, Idris fired back: "I am a man of peace. I have nothing to do with thugs. They are the ones arming and recruiting thugs. I will do nothing to pull the state down. I don’t believe in this ‘I must be governor at all cost’ that Prince Audu Abubakar has. Why should people preach war because of power? See what they are doing? They are preaching war when there is no need for it," he told Sunday Sun.

POLICE AND SOLDIERS DEPLOYED
And as a measure to contain any breach of the peace, the police sent in 3000 regular men to the state and an unspecified number of anti riot Mobile Police men for Saturday’s election. But when there were still complaints by some individuals that the state is too large and 3000 police were inadequate, a detachment of 2000 soldiers were on Thursday deployed to the areas suspected to be flash points in the state. These include Okene, Ankpa, Ofu and a few other places. But generally, reports had it that security was okay a day before the election.

EXPECTATIONS
As the result from Kogi is being awaited, the heart desire of Nigerians is to let the will of Kogi electorate be done, at least, this once. And let the word go from Kogi to Adamawa and the country as a whole that an era of new electoral regime has begun. An electoral regime which will make it possible for the loser, whenever the results are announced, to congratulate the winner, knowing fully that the will of the electorate has not been violated or sabotaged by any foul means.

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