By Eric Elezuo

With the conclusion of party primaries to determine who flies their party’s flag in the November 2, 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the duo of incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello and Mr Lyon have emerged for the All Progressives Party (APC) respectively.

In the same vein, Mr. Musa Wada and Duoye Diri were triumphant to represent the Peoples democratic party (PDP) in the two states. Many other flag bearers have also emerged from other parties, but it is obvious that the contest will be between the APC and the PDP in both states. This is because the two parties are arguably the parties that can boast of the greater followership in Nigerian politics today.

However, it is a known fact that each of the parties control one state each, and there is the tendency for power to remain with of them in their respective states. this is not because of the political strength in most cases, but their ability to coarse the voters through vote buying and win over the electoral umpires through loyalty buying or outright intimidation. Many bookmakers have predicted even with their eyes closed that APC will win in Kogi while PDP will win in Bayelsa.

But none of the bookmakers have posited clear cut reason to give victory to the parties other than the power of incumbency and the control of security and electoral apparatuses. These, it is believed will be used to maximum to oppress the opposition.

The independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has another acid test on its hands, and much as their verdict remains final, at least before the courts take over, it is imperative to note that a lot of damage is being done to the body as a whole and to the individual officials each time there are marked discrepancies in the method of voting or in the announcement of results.

INEC should use this opportunity to redeem itself even as more cases of electoral fraud or otherwise concerning the 2019 General Elections are still in the courts. The case of the presidential election case between PDP’s Atiku Abubakar and APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari is still causing ripples, and most causing unwarranted jeers against the country’s electoral and judicial systems.

In kogi State, Governor Yahaya Bello, who was berated for poor governance, even by his own party, managed to pick his party’s ticket. The same is not with the PDP, who against all odds handed the party ticket to Musa Wada in spite of Senator Dino Melaye, who was believed to be the chosen. The battle is therefore, a straight forward fight, and may become dicey if Melaye’s anger gets the better of him.

In Bayelsa, Timi Alaibe’s loss despite his efforts to see that Governor Dickson’s favourite was not selected may make for a lukewarm support from him and his supporters. Whichever feeling anyone has, it all boils down to the INEC to ensure that a level playing ground is created for all players and that he that scored the genuine greater number of votes should be declared winner, not he that has the greater number of soldiers or cash.

As November 2 draws closer, all eyes are on INEC, and INEC must deliver to restore its dwindling glory occasioned by the February/March general elections.

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