BY ADEMOLA YAYA
ELECTION Day also known as Polling Day is a day when general elections are held. It is the day that the electorate handover affairs of their lives to a party and its candidate. This day of mandate transfer is supposed to be a political festival for the electorate to choose the political parties and candidates they prefer to pilot their affairs for a specific period of time, mostly four years, after the political parties must have rigorously campaigned to sell their programmes and manifestoes to the electorate with a view to harvest it on election day.
Preceding the general elections, political parties would have instituted their internal parties’ machinery to choose their flag-bearers from various aspirants. The process in determining the candidate could be through consensus, open primary or delegate primary. Whatever process taken, the rules for nominating candidates for elections must be transparent and known to party members and not limited to preferences of a clique within the party. This is what internal democracy in party means. In the process of subverting internal democracy, politicians, especially of the right-wing tendency, make use of unethical means like use of thugs and violence to suppress internal democracy and impose minority and unpopular candidate on the party. Under this milieu, the party may factionalise between those who want internal party democracy and those who want imposition of unpopular candidate. Overtime, balance of forces will ultimately determine final resolution or outright breakup if it is not well managed. This is the true x-ray of what played out in Osun APC.
As the struggle to rescue the soul of such party ensued, the police were expected to be neutral by attending both factions meetings, especially state congresses, where party leadership would be chosen via whatever procedure adopted by each of the factions so as to maintain law and order which is their primary responsibility. Instead of playing neutrality, Osun State Police Command under the leadership of CP Olawale Olokode attended only Oyetola/Famodun state congress of 16th October, 2021 to provide security but ignored Aregbesola/Salinsile State Congress slated for same day but different venue.
To claiming his neutrality, the Osun State Police Command via CP Olokode, called a press conference on Sunday, February 6, 2022 to refute allegation of partisanship and deliberate refusal to honour Aregbesola/Salinsile parallel congress for same day but different venues. According to the CP at the press conference on why his men were not present at the Aregbesola/Salinsile State congress, “It is a known fact that the congress of the APC was a national affairs and a letter was sent to the Inspector General of Police. The venue of each State was stated and no other venue other than the Osogbo township stadium was stated in the letter I received. The Committee from Abuja, including INEC officials were at the stadium and that’s why we mobilized our men to the stadium to provide security. No other letter was sent to my office by any other group.”
The CP concluded that allegations of TOP against him and his command were attacks to malign his name and bring his command to disrepute. However, Napoleon Bonaparte said, “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.” As far as CP Press Conference was concerned, one thing was very clear: it was either the CP outrightly lied or he was being sabotaged in police administrative office not to have availed him the received copy of the Aregbesola/Salinsile congress invitation letter. As I write, I have with me a letter of invitation addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Osun State Command, dated 15/10/2021 with reference OSAPC/123/07/49 signed by Rasaq Ayobami Salinsile, Secretary APC as at then, citing the venue of the congress at Open Space, opposite LADSOL Pure Water Factory, Ogo-Oluwa area, Osogbo. This said letter was received with signature and received stamp of Police Headquarter, Osogbo, Nigeria on 15th October, 2021.
As a result of police absence at the said congress, hoodlum used the opportunity to attack the congress and shot two party members – Ismaila Akinade and Dolapo Atobatele, who were quickly rushed to the hospital. But for prompt intervention of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, many more casualties would have been recorded.
In the run up to 16th July governorship election in the state, politicians will do everything to bend the rules and engage in foul activities to gain underserved advantage over another; they will do everything to compromise electoral laws, INEC and their ad hoc staff and the security officials in their desperation to win at all cost. Police and other security agencies should be professional in their line of duty; they should not take or be seen taking side; they should be fair to all as anything short of this will generate atmosphere of fear and tension, which may discourage electorate from coming out en mass to fulfilling their civic and constitutional responsibilities. We don’t need soldiers for elections as it is no war. Police have capacity to get it right, once its leadership is impartial and incorruptible. Hence, there is need for Police and allied security agencies to develop an impressive security template for Osun July 16 governorship election. A single drop of human blood does not deserve to be shed on Election Day.