Reflections on 2019 Kogi Governorship Elections

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The 2019 guber elections in Kogi state may have come and gone but the echoes from that election continue to reverberate around the world. This is due to the occurence of many incidents that have made the state one of the worst state in the world, democratically.

Many concerned citizens have condemned the unfortunate incidents and inadequacies that characterised the election as they affect the state and the declared results. Indeed, the poor perception of the state is worrisome.

There continue to be a litany of accusations and counter accussations from the two major political parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

There were vivid incidents of violence in many of the polling units and those who have lost their loved ones due to the use of physical force during the last electoral process in the guber elections continue to remember the unfortunate and unexplained incidences that led to their unfortunate deaths.

At the last count, no fewer than 100 persons lost their lives during the last guber election in Kogi state and most of these deaths occurred in Abocho community in Dekina local government area and Adankolo community in Lokoja town and most of the deaths recorded are members of the PDP.

 The election was characterised by irregularities such as widespread violence, vote buying, voter intimidation, harassment of electoral officials and use of physical force. These irregularities, affected, to large extent, the outcome of the elections.

 A particular sad incident was the gruesome murder of a 60-year-old women leader of the PDP. The woman’s house was reportedly set ablaze killing her alongside her children. This incident happened at Achadamu in Ofu local government area of the state.

It is on record that the INEC’s declared winner of the gubernatorial election, Yahaya Bello, the incumbent governor of the state, when receiving his certificate of return, accepted that there were indeed irregularities that marred the election and its outcome.

To the winner, there was indeed nothing wrong with the election, even though innocent lives were lost during the election. But to Musa Wada, the PDP candidate in the election, as he stated in his remark rejecting the results and outcome of the poll, the election was a fraud, a war and a general oppressive tendency on the innocent people of the state.

It is true today that the people of Kogi state because of the violence and irregularities during the last guber election in the state, see our security agencies as a disgrace to the nation who are ready to be used to further oppress them.This is bad for our nation and the practice of democracy.

The candidate of the PDP, Musa Wada, as a true believer in the tenets of democracy and the rule of law, dutifully challenged the abnormalities and irregularities witnessed at that election at the tribunal to get justice for the people, as he promised. He has also in many fora described the police and their role in the last election as disgraceful.

 Many observers of the last Kogi state governorship election have severally described the exercise in their report as a sham. They also have severally called for a general cancellation of the whole election. What other proof is required to show that the last election in Kogi was a sham? It is a shame that we are far from what the world describes as a free and fair election.

While voters came out early, in most instances voters were made to wait for electoral officials for hours. After the commencement of elections, the elections were marred by many incidents of voters not finding their names in the voters registers.This sometimes led to violence and disruptions of elections for hours.

It was also observed that the election witnessed a general franchised rigging practices, ballot box snatching, and thumb printing and stuffing of boxes in the full glare of security agencies.This trend also affected the general outcome of the election.

Consequently, Musa Wada, who came into politics to serve the people and give them a new type of politics that emphasises the people as a centre of development, has been manipulated by the very institution that in good democracies were created to be just arbiters.

 Kogi state today, when peer reviewed, ranks among the worst state in our country because of the failure of leadership.Our people came out to vote for a man that has the vitality, programmes and policies to make life meaningful for them, but what did they get? A system manipulated against them by the organ of state that was statutory created to defend them.

Our people, so oppressed, got a golden opportunity to say it loud and clear that they wanted a change for development.They never got it because the lords of oppressions again manipulated the process.

Wada, because of his interaction with the people, felt the pain of his people, who daily battle with poverty, frustrations and hunger.

No doubt, the November 16, 2019 guber election would go down in history as the most controversial election in Kogi state. The controversial election witnessed a lot of death, manipulations and harassment of the people. This is true and cannot be controverted.

This same election generated national discourse due to the poor handling of the process by the electoral umpire, INEC, security agencies, and overzealous party stakeholders bent on returning Bello by force.

There were massive protests by the opposition PDP and their supporters due to the alleged vote rigging and manipulation of the results in favour of Bello. Meanwhile, the candidate of the PDP, Musa Wada, is already in court challenging the victory of Yahaya Bello.

– Jamila Musawa writes from Abuja.

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