Governor Saidu Dakingari
Result of the recent local government elections in Kebbi State is no other thing than a strong signal to the opposition in the state of what to expect in the 2015 elections, writes Saka Ibrahim
The Kebbi State Local Government elections may have come and gone, but the outcome of the exercise has left behind, a message that would resonate till 2015. From results of the election, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cleared most of the seats in all 21 the local governments in a landslide. The 21 Local Government Areas are Aliero, Jega, Zuru, Birnin Kebbi, Kalgo, Argungu, Gwandu, Suru, Yelwa Yauri, Ngaski, Danko Wasagu, Sakaba, Bunza, Dandi, Arewa, Koko Besse, Maiyama and Shanga.
A few hours to the elections, the main opposition party in the state, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), was full of optimism that poll was it to lose. It was, however, jolted at the end of the day. The result contradicted what it expected. The CPC had sponsored 16 chairmanship candidates and 159 councilors while the ruling PDP fielded candidates for all 21 chairmanship and 225 councillorship positions that were there to vie for.
“We are fully prepared for the election. We have sponsored the most credible and popular candidates for the poll. With the credibility of our party and our candidates, victory is ours. We are coming out with strength from the mass exodus of our members shortly before the last governorship election in the state to the PDP. We are waxing stronger now by day,” said Hon. Suleiman Mohammed, CPC chairman in Kebbi, shortly before the election.”
But when the State Independent Electoral Commission (KESIEC) announced result of the election, the optimism was deflated. PDP won all the seats contested except four councillorship seats.
Chairperson of KESIEC, Hajiya Ada Ka’oje, said PDP won all the 21 Local government seats and that out of the 225 councillorship seats contested for, PDP won 221 while the CPC struggled to secure the remaining four seats: one in Aliero, two in Augie and one Birnin Kebbi.
Describing the election as the best ever conducted by her commission, Ka’oje said: “We worked round the clock to ensure a hitch-free election and we conducted it to the best of our ability. There is nowhere in the world that election will be conducted without complaints or hitches but this is the best ever conducted by my commission.”
She faulted reports that there was low voters’ turnout during the election, saying the peaceful manner the elections were conducted encouraged the electorate to troop out and exercise their civic rights.
Prior to the last governorship election in the state, CPC was a party to reckon with. But Senator Adamu Aliero, the Kangiwa brothers and Alhaji Abubakar Gari Malam, the CPC standard bearer for the election took away the glamour and life of the party when they all dumped it for the PDP, close to the election. Though CPC’s Secretary, Barrister Shehu Marshal, had ruled out their defection as contributor, observers believe that their dumping CPC is still affecting the party and that it would take a long time for the party to recover from the shock of their exit.
“If the election was fairly conducted, our party could have won all the seats we contested for. Honestly, there was no election at all in the state. We are not satisfied with the conduct of the election, it was too poor and marred by irregularities.
“In many places, the PDP machineries had already thumb-printed the ballot papers. The turnout was very low. They didn’t even allow the people to come out before thumb-printing for them. The people of Kebbi State were not given the opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights of voting for whoever they wanted. This is not good for our democracy,” Marshal said.
After observing the election, Secretary of the Amnesty Nigeria, Mr. Abubakar Hayyatu Girei, was of the view that until INEC as a federal commission conducts local government elections, ruling party will continue to win landslide.
He said even though the election was free of violence, Ka’oje was under intense pressure from the ruling party in the state, yet, she remained resolute and announced the four councillorship seats won by the CPC.
“We noted with dismay that enough logistics were not given to her to conduct the election. We are urging state governors who are yet to conduct election to give adequate resources. Though, the election was fair compared to what we saw in other states, we will continue to have this kind of mess as election unless local government elections are conducted by INEC,” he said.
But PDP chairman in Kebbi, Alhaji Mansur Shehu, described the election as the freest ever, saying the success recorded by his party was because of the numerous dividends of democracy the people of the state are enjoying, courtesy the PDP.
“PDP has been fulfilling all the electoral promises made to the electorate during our campaigns. This is why the electorate is always voting for us at any time. Success is ours. We are not afraid of any opposition. The election was fair and free of any malpractice,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kebbi State Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Umar, had inaugurated an election tribunal for the local government election. Inaugurating the tribunal at the High Court complex in Birnin Kebbi, the Chief Judge charged members of the tribunal to ensure expedition of cases filed before them and that they should shun temptation from politicians.
Consequently, Marshal had hinted of his party’s intention to challenge the elections which he said was marred by irregularities. “We are weighing our options on how to challenge the election. We are not satisfied with the conduct of the election. If people were allowed to vote for people of their choice, the result wouldn’t be what they are saying,” he said.
In the meantime, Governor Saidu Dakingari, has sworn-in all the 21 local government chairmen and appealed to them to be prudent in the management of scarce resources. He specifically told them to handle primary education with care so as to improve on the present standard of education in the state.