First, let me whole-heartedly express my profound gratitude to all my teeming supporters both in Nigeria and Diaspora ranging from professional colleagues to Ordained Ministers of God and the average Nigerian who believed in the ideals the National Conscience Party represents-as the only Party in Nigeria with the interests of the masses at heart. As a result, supported my aspiration through spiritual, moral and financial support. To the Press who covered every of my activity all over the world without any financial demands but appreciated my involvement as the only alternative to the APC and PDP because they are both two sides of the same coin, I say a big ‘Thank you’.
September 19th 2020 Election: Any lessons learnt?
George Santayana it was who said: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes”
It is unfortunate that majority across the globe are praising the election as free and fair and very democratic. Such sentiments as far I am concerned begs the truth. How can you acclaim an election that witnessed the greatest monumental financial inducement of the electorates as free and fair? Prior to (and during) September 19, 2020 Godwin Obaseki turned the Edo State resources to his campaign ‘chest’ where billions of Naira were drawn by both his deputy Shuaibu and himself to buy their way as the candidates of PDP overnight. It will be very interesting to ask Mr Obaseki to provide to the public the accounts for his political expedition by way of income and expenditures, donors and their amount donated. The same request is extended to the APC Candidate-Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu. My nephew who voted at Emotan College opposite my family home, came home with 10k naira as inducement from agents of both APC and PDP. What about the bail of yards of clothes and cash that were brazenly distributed to women by these political parties just to vote for them? All these brazen acts of corruption was all over the social media and yet people would gleefully claim the election was free and fair. Max Romeo a reggae artist once sang-“stealing in the name of Jah…that his father house of worship has been turned into a den of thieves”. I will rephrase it as Edo State politics have been turned into a den of rogues. Any lesson learnt? None. First, those who collected financial inducement have failed to learn that once they did that, they have sold their consciences and lack any moral compass to demand for accountability from the politicians. The politicians on their part would first want to recoup all their expenses in multiple folds before thinking of embarking on any mass -oriented projects. And by the time you know it, four years are gone and we are back to square one with no meaningful project to show except refurbished edifices.
Godwin Obaseki to be disqualified, removed and jailed:
Section 118 (I)(d) of the 2010 Electoral Act stipulates that: A person who signs a nomination paper or result form as a candidate in more than one constituency at the same election is not only to be disqualified but liable on conviction to a maximum term imprisonment for 2 years.
It is global knowledge that Godwin Obaseki submitted himself for the 2020 governorship election first under the All Progressive Congress and thereafter after being disqualified in APC moved to PDP to buy his way in as their candidate. Meaning, Godwin Obaseki presented himself as candidate in two different political parties in the same election and same year. What are the implication of any such incident in the past? Suffice to mention that a similar infraction occurred in Imo State between the Action Alliance, AA, and its governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Uche Nwosu, should have served as a lesson to Obaseki and his Deputy, Phillip Shaibu. Uche Nwosu was sacked by the Supreme Court because he submitted himself as candidate to two different political parties in the same election. Obaseki should be preparing to go to jail for breaching the Electoral Act.
September 19, 2020 Edo Elections to be annulled
Come October 13, 2020, the Court Case between the National Conscience Party of Nigeria and the Independent Electoral Commission-INEC and the Attorney General of the Federation over the illegal exclusion of my candidacy in the just concluded Edo 2020 governorship elections and unconstitutional deregistration will be heard by Hon. Justice Liman’s Court in Lambo Hall, Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. In the worst-case scenario, the matter may probably end up at the Supreme Court just as it did in 2002 and we are sure of victory. If and when the Court upholds our argument, INEC will be left with no choice than to conduct a fresh election to include my Party and other political parties that were illegally excluded.
To support the above position are the series of Court rulings against INEC by Courts of competent jurisprudence. For example, on August 10, 2020, the nation was relieved by the bold statement and ruling of the Appellate Court with competent jurisdiction and jurisprudence when it overruled INEC on its illegal deregistration of 74 duly registered political parties in Nigeria-including the National Conscience Party (NCP). In the unanimous ruling as delivered by the President of the Appeal Court in Abuja, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem which was highly commendable demonstrated that Nigeria still have many judges of honour and integrity left in them, ready to keep the last hope of the common man alive. That is the Rule of Law and not the reign of tyranny and authoritarianism. Till date, INEC is yet to appeal the above ruling.
The action of INEC is a reflection of the actions of the ruling class towards obeying court rulings. INEC would again be shooting itself on the legs by going ahead with the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State when there was a subsisting ruling of the appeal court to reinstate the deregistered political parties including the NCP. Just as it ignored the injunction of the High Court when the political parties prempted INEC from deregistration and instead of INEC responding to the injunction, it went ahead to announce the deregistration. That was an abuse of court process and total disregard to the Rule of Law which was why the Appellate Court ruled against it. By not appealing that judgement of August 10, 2020, or asking for a stay of execution and still went ahead with the September 19 2020, INEC is doomed to fail at the Supreme Court. It must be recalled that, it was the same flagrant disregard by Oshiomhole of the High Court ruling when it upheld his suspension by his Ward Executive that led to his political dilemma today. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.
Implications for the Image and Integrity of Nigeria as Nation
From the foregoing, one can only deduce that, INEC do not have the interest of the Nigerian people at heart but to serve its masters in APC and PDP both in the Presidency and the National Assembly that colluded together to insert the fraud called Section 225 into the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended. That was why INEC engaged in the waste of public funds in organizing the September 19 2020 elections characteristic of the APC and PDP government by initiating plans to challenge the ruling and like it was shamed in 2002 under their first chairman, Late Dr Abel Guobadia, so would it be disgraced again this year if it goes to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court knows that it is not about INEC and its paymasters in APC and PDP, but it is about the soul of this nation and democracy. The world is tired of the continuous shameless behaviour and attitudes of our elites and their ‘selected’ members at the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly nationwide.
May I remind INEC and the elites that democracy is not all about elections. ‘Democracy goes beyond opportunity of election. Although, the centrality of elections to democratic process cannot be over-emphasised, democracy is not wholly centred on election. For democracy to evolve good governance, it must be liberal and participatory. In this sense, Liberal democracy entails not only free and fair elections in terms of voting administration, it requires a more comprehensive fairness of political competition embodied in the concept of a just and open competition. In a liberal democracy, the electoral arena is open, and the playing field is reasonably level. Only in a free society with opportunity of free participation and respects for citizens’ rights can good governance be achieved. True democracy places emphasis on freedom, and open competition, popular and meaningful participation, responsiveness, transparency and accountability. Freedom to organise, freedom to protest anti-people policies and freedom to demand and assert citizens’ rights and interests, freedom of the press to report, investigate and expose government policies and actions without fear or favour. According to Diamond (2005), “Only in a climate of true political and civil freedom can a country achieve the absolute fundamental condition for development: responsible government—that is government that is committed to the advancement of the public good, rather than the private interests of its own officials and their families and their cronies”.
In concluding, I will love to reassure my teeming supporters all over the world and my party members in Edo state that, the LAST is yet to be heard about the Edo State Governorship election. We shall continue with our legitimate pursuit of our goals and aspiration for an egalitarian society by advancing the causes of the common Nigerians on the streets who can barely afford three square meals a day, and yet the insensitivity of the ruling elites have further increased the hardship of the Nigerian masses with the increase in the price of petrol, electricity tariff, taxes when the government is refusing to pay them living wages. Both the PDP and APC governments and agents are not protesting these obnoxious anti-people policies except the National Conscience Party. The credibility of INEC in the eyes of the Nigerian people and the world at large does not present a position of honour as far as electoral process is concerned. It is sad to recognize that INEC acting as agents of PDP and APC are using public fund to transverse justice of free and fair election in Nigeria.
It will be in the best interest of Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki to honourably resign with his dignity and honour still intact after defeating his political godfather than to be sacked by the Court and made to face the possibility of a two year jail term. As for INEC, it should be preparing itself for a RE-RUN OF THE EDO STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION as it is going to happen in Bayelsa. Learn from History.
Pastor Peters Osawaru OMORAGBON (RPN, RN)
Governorship Candidate, Edo State, 2020.