There is no denying the fact that as the political events in Edo state continue to unfold by each passing day ahead of the September 10 Governorship election that the state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole has at a political rally in Jattu, Etsako west Local government Area fired a verbal salvo at unpatriotic and mischievous politicians who are wont to buy or mop up Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC, from gullible and vulnerable registered voters.
The Governor recently at a political rally in Jattu accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of buying PVCs from voters in different parts of the state with a view to rigging the September 10 Governorship election in the state.
If there is any electoral malpractice that is capable of truncating the ongoing electoral process in the state, it is unarguably the illegal act of buying PVCs from vulnerable registered voters.
Given the strength of the allegation that was openly made against members of the opposing party by no less a person in the state than the number 1 citizen who invariably doubles as the Chief Security Officer of the state, it is incumbent upon the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to enter into an ad hoc collaboration with the National Orientation Agency towards the process of sensitizing the electorates on the levels of deprivations they are bound to be subjected to by selling their PVCs.
In carrying out the sensitization exercise in the next few weeks that is left for the election to hold, emphasis should be laid on the fact that that selling PVCs would automatically render the sellers disenfranchised in both the September 10, 2016 election and the 2019 General Election.
Since the Governor let the Cat out of the bag, it may not be wrong to guess that rather than a spectrum of the electorates to be cowered by the threat made by the governor, that the are already thinking of how they would sell the PVCs that were issued to them by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). If I may still guess they have been obsessed with the unholy thought of selling it to desperate politicians that have do-or-die mentalities toward the much-awaited September 10 Governorship election. The foregoing view is a trite fact that is presently and widely communicated in hush tones by registered and card-carrying voters within communities across the state. The trite fact that PVC is sellable may be seen as unfounded by some doubting Thomases but that does not rule out the fact that INEC, as the umpire that is legally and constitutionally recognized to conduct the election, should fold their hands without rising up to the occasion to find out the degree of veracity of the fast circulating electoral information. Even if INEC officials decide to ignore this issue by waving it aside, the fact remains that it is an issue that need to be addressed.
This issue should be considered against the backdrop of the fact that it is the number 1 citizen that said it at a campaign rally.
As widely reported in the media, the Governor “said anyone caught selling or buying PVC would be prosecuted and jailed, if found guilty. He emphasized the fact by saying “They are going round, collecting PVCs and dropping lies. Please, don’t sell your PVCs. Poverty cannot be cured with a dash, it has to be fought on a systematic basis”.
He added by saying “In Agenebode, they are buying PVCs. They would say “Bring it, we will give N5,000. Ask them, if they sweat to make the money, will they use it to buy PVCs?”
The Governor warned by saying “Don’t allow them. After impoverishing you, they take N5,000 and stop you from voting. I’ve told the security agencies to monitor them. When we catch them, they will be prosecuted and jailed. But please, N5000 will not bail anyone out of poverty.”
To me, the strength of the allegation from the number 1 citizen in the state is enough reason to prod INEC officials into action to stem this undemocratic tide in the bud. In this context, sensitizing the electorates on the dangers that are inherent in the illegality of PVC racketeering should not be miscontrue to mean arresting and molesting poor voters that are ravaged by hunger. Rather, as soon as this piece gets to the knowledge of senior INEC officials in the state, they should put the public information and enlightenment campaign machineries into action without delay and ensure that all Edolites of votable age in the rural areas are sensitized in their native tongues for them not to sell their PVCs.
All PVC carrying Edolites should be told that selling their PVCs could be likened to the case of Esau selling his birthrights to his twin brother, Jacob, as he was completely ignorant of his right of primogeniture. From this perspective, there is no denying the fact that those who have sold their PVCs or intend doing so are not wiser than Esau.
There is no denying the fact that the sensitization process may appear belated at this time towards the much-expected Governorship election but the fact is that just One Week sensitization activities can go a long way in changing the minds of those that have remorse dispositions. They should be made to realize how powerful their votes would be in influencing the outcome of an election and leading to the future development of the state by credible leaders. They should be told that a margin of less than one vote in a poll result can make a huge difference in an election.
The point that need to be highly emphasized through the sensitization that is advocated in this context should rely more on Broadcast in native tongues that are spoken across the 18 local government areas,Online and Print media in other to let the people know that possession of PVCs without selling it for a pot of porridge would enable them to exercise their civic responsibility during the election.
It is not an exaggeration to metaphorically opine that many Edolites of votable age are yet to appreciate the value that is inherent in their voter’s card just the same way Esau was unable to appreciate the value that was inherent in his porridge. In my own context, “PVC means the Power, Vision and Conscience that a voter need to exercise during any election that falls within his constituency or ward of residence”.
The reason on why action should be expedited on this critical electoral issue is that some mischievous politicians can exercise their financial muscle in buying off the PVCs of famished supporters of their opponents and thereby disenfranchised them from participating in the next general elections. Action should be taken now that the price of rice is going out of the reach of the common man. The common man could be lured to sell his PVC with just a “Derica” of rice. Yes! It is possible given the intensity of the hunger in the land.
In my view, this unpalatable scenario would be very unfair and can further exacerbate the political playing ground that is literarily littered by muddy pot holes. There is no denying the fact that this would be seen as unfair and unjust by other contestants that may not have enough money to waste like their “super rich” opponent. This alone, may compel some contestants that have less money to spend during the election to resort to violence.
Be that as it may, I am using this medium to urge INEC to look into this issue without any delay.
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