The Osun State governorship election has come and gone successfully. That the conduct of the election is reported to be free, fair and devoid of rancor is a victory for democracy and the rule of law. We commend the Osun electorate for carrying out their civic responsibility despite the over-militarization of the electioneering process by the Federal Government.
But there are some serious issues arising from the conduct of the election that can not be glossed over. First is the allegation by Marilyn Ogah, Deputy Director of the Department of State Security (DSS) in charge of publicity, that a politician in one of the political parties offered operatives of the department N14 million to compromise security during the election. Added to that is her revelation that the hooded security operatives were of the DSS.
This Newspaper, in as much as it commends the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the relevant security agencies for a job well done, would want to know if the DSS has made any arrest in respect of the bribe offer. If not, is it then a mere case of crying wolf where none exists, just to justify the inexcusable presence of frightening hooded operatives of the department? That allegation is certainly too grave not to warrant an arrest. Nigerians deserve to know. Besides, there is also the need to ponder the continued militarization of the electioneering process. More so, because there was no air of freedom in Osun State while the election lasted. Will it continue to be a factor in our polity, even in the forth-coming general elections?
Indeed, it needs to be stated that Nigerians are fast growing a culture of an enlightened polity; where the citizenry will not be intimidated by any brute force, and the people demand that their votes must count. That exactly was the lesson from Osun State. Furthermore, we believe that electioneering is a process. Therefore, the idea of arresting and or restricting the movement of political leaders before and during election can only be seen as an attempt at intimidating the opposition party. There should be an end to that, forthwith; as it does not augur well for a vibrant democracy.
We also urge INEC to hold onto the Revised Option A4 – the on-the-spot counting and announcement of result at the pulling booths – which was used in Osun State. Obviously, it brings a lot of credibility to the election process. At least, no one has faulted the process or the result. We therefore need to improve on it and make it a standard for all future elections.