By Emmanuel Enebeli
The activities of the Delta State Local Government Election have heightened with the publishing of the election time table, and parties (un) Successfully holding their primaries. The local government system in Nigeria, despite its shortcomings is still the closest to the average Nigerian, because that is where they can have easy access to government activities and policies.
The history of elections conducted by the states, since 1999, had been nothing but perfect in the eyes of the umpires, which is the state independent Electoral Commission, whom the 1999 constitution empowered to oversee elections into the local government administration.
The constitution allowed the states to set up their own electoral commission that will liaise with Independent Electoral Commission, (INEC) in the area of voters register to conduct successful elections into the local governments in the states of the federation.
In Delta state, this falls on the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, DISEC, who give the time table for all the electoral processes that will lead to a successful election into the 25 local government areas in the state.
However, despite the supposed independence of the state electoral commission, the story at the end of each election conducted is always trailed with complains by the opposition parties, who complains of rigging and frustrations by the ruling party in the state.
Few weeks ago, the tenure of the local government chairmen and Councillors ended, now awaiting the election and swearing in of another set of local government executives for another three years, which the people expects a better representation if the elected will be men and women who will have the development of their areas as their agenda.
While it is on record that when these men and women like any other politicians are seeking for election into offices, the state government always use the local government elections as an avenue to install their faithfuls who will use the machinery of authority with them to ensure their own party wins in a general election. This is one of the hindrances which is witnessed throughout the federation.
But despite the supposed interest of the ruling party in any state, like Delta to ensure they win the next major election come 2019, it is expected that due process is used to pick those that will bear the party flag, and those that will not only be the party leadership choice, or party members, but will be acceptable by the electorates, bearing in mind that the main election will not be organised by state electoral commission.
The 2018 Local Government Election, to many political pundits is pregnant. The wind can blow to any direction, as many, not only party members, especially the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), in Delta, but the expected voters are waiting to cast out the unwanted elements, and they had vowed that even if they are muscled in as Councillors or chairmen of councils, the 2019 general election will decide what happens in Delta Politics henceforth.
Presently, their agitations by party faithfuls especially in the PDP of how the candidates had been deprived of fair competition by the party leadership, as they conducted what many had termed mockery of electioneer process as there was no primaries conducted, is an issue that party leaders has to consider, especially for future elections.
To many political observers, it is expected that the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, will be wiser to ensure that the best candidates emerge, who will be accepted by not only party leadership, members but the entire electorates. But rather, the processes from the candidates’ selections were nothing, but filled with grudges as there had been complains against the selection process. The credentials of those selected are filled with questionable isues, many who cannot write their names or be able to occupy leadership positions of such magnitude.
If Governor Okowa had proper briefing after the Local Government Bye-Elections of 2016, and knowing how the party narrowly won in an election organised by him in some wards, and lost in some, he would had called for proper process to select the people’s choice candidates.
The main opposition party, All Progressive Congress, (APC) did not as an opposition have any formidable strength in the state, but in the last local government bye-election, they showed their strength, by the defectors who were not happy with the PDP selection system, which was not democratic. It was same story in all the wards where the election was conducted. The ruling party in the state was giving the runs for their money. They won in places they won, narrowly, while the opposition even won out rightly in some wards.
The problem with the ruling party is that they create opposition within the party fold, by undemocratic practices since inception. The party in all its actions is always against democratic growth. Imposition by the party members, especially the leaders and they do not consider the populace they want to govern.
In all this it becomes pertinent to ask, with this attitude and preparation for the January 2018 Local Government Election in the state, where is Governor Okowa’s faith. He at different forals asked the party to ensure that the people are allowed to pick candidates of their choice, and can win elections. But with all the charades of the primaries, it is very doubtful if the members of the party are considering the 2019 General Elections. If as it is being pursued, “Okowa for 2019”, the party leadership in the state, are they planting good seed for 2019. These are the things the governor should sit and reflect on. Especially with the fact that the general elections is going to be conducted by INEC. Can these imposed now candidates, and tomorrow elected chairmen be able to hold the fort for him, knowing that Deltans will be the once voting and not PDP members. Did the governor consider the electoral factor of protest-vote by party faithfuls, and the electorates who are not card carrying party members?
The party may be rejoicing for effectively conducting their primaries, but can this joy last? Only time will tell.