One horse race in Kogi House of Assembly election

It will be a one-horse race in Kogi State House of Assembly election slated for this Saturday.

DAILY POST reports that the seventh Assembly in Kogi State consists of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) occupying all the 25 seats in the house.

Similar things might play out in this Saturday’s House of Assembly election.

Barr. Hilary Collins, Lawmaker representing Igalamela Odolu Constituency, late Jimoh Omiata, (Yagba East), Ahmed Mohammed, (Ankpa II), Bello Hassan Abdullahi Balogun, (Ajaokuta) among others are some of the current lawmakers who will not be returning to the Assembly.

In the 2019 House of Assembly elections, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), including observers alleged that it was marred with intimidation of voters, ballot box snatching and falsification of results.

In the build up to this Saturday election, political analysts, including the opposition PDP, are expressing fear that there won’t be a transparent, free and fair election.

According to them, despite the assurance given by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), that the National Assembly and Presidential election conducted on 25 February will stand the test of time, their hope was dashed.

For them, the possibility of INEC conducting credible elections is zero percent.

A chieftain of the PDP in Kogi State, Abdullahi Arome, who spoke to our correspondent, said the party had lost confidence in INEC both in the State and the National level.

“INEC has lost the credibility of conducting a free and fair election in Nigeria. The past National Assembly and Presidential elections are a clear example that they don’t want the progress of our democracy. INEC has taken us 30 years backward.

“As far as I am concerned, this Saturday’s election, we don’t trust them. We won’t be surprised if they write the result and announce it to favour the Kogi State Government led by Alhaji Yahaya Bello. That was the same thing that was done in 2019. There was no election as far as we are concerned. It was a selection. As for me, we don’t have hope for this Saturday’s polls.”

Low turnout of voters

There is a high possibility that there might be low turnout of voters following the outcome of the just concluded election.

DAILY POST gathered that during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, materials arrived late in various polling units across Kogi State, which led to the disenfranchising of many voters.

Some election materials arrived at about 3-4PM, which later discouraged the electorate from exercising their franchise. Some election observers accused Kogi INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Hale Gabriel Longpet of sabotaging the effort of the commission in conducting an acceptable election.

In a chat with Idris Miliki, observer with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, he called for the resignation of the REC for alleged gross misconduct and negligence of duties.

Fear of intimidation and Vote Buying

There is already fear from the PDP, Labour Party, New Nigeria Peoples Party, and others that voters might be intimidated if they attempt to vote for any political party outside the ruling party in the state.

It was also gathered that political appointees, Local Government Chairman under the present administration have been directed to deliver their polling units and Local Governments to maintain the 100 percent record in the State House of Assembly.

It is time for action

Meanwhile, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET) has admonished People of the State to defy all odds and throng out in their numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice.

The organisation, in a statement jointly signed by its Chairperson, Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Mrs. Ibiteye Bola, the Assistant Secretary, said it had observed with keen interest over the years the decreasing interest of electorates to participate in the process.

The statement reads in part: “KONGONET wishes to congratulate Kogites for largely conducting themselves in a peaceful manner during the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly General Elections held on Saturday, the 25th of February, 2023.

“The election came at the heels of harsh economic realities occasioned by Cash Redesign and Cash Withdrawal Limit Policy of the Federal Government, as well as the semi-scarcity cum inflated rates of the price of the Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) in the country and the State.

“Likewise, it did not escape our notice the various challenges experienced by Kogites as a result of the late arrival of materials and staff of INEC to some polling units, the last-minute shuffling of designated polling units of voters (Migration of voters to new polling units), and other technical difficulties experienced during the elections. We wish to commend Kogites for exercising restraint in the face of all these challenges and for maintaining law and order as they exercised their franchise.

“We wish to use this medium to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the obvious gaps, technical failures and logistics deficiencies as this will go a long way to restore the faith of the electorates in the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

“This is very vital to the health of our nascent democracy. INEC must recognize that Kogites, and indeed Nigerians, are holding them to a high standard, and that it is not enough to be supposedly transparent, they must also be seen to be transparent as perception plays a key role in winning the confidence of the electorates.

“We do not fail to observe the disappointment and displeasure of Nigerians at the failure of INEC to adhere strictly to its guidelines, thus throwing shadows on the credibility of the Presidential results declared.

“Again, a viral video clip showing an elected political office holder destroying election materials should be investigated and if found guilty should be made to face the consequences. This time around, such obvious infractions should not be swept under the carpet.”

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