About 1.7 million Edo State voters are expected to cast their ballot Saturday to elect a new governor for a four year term.
Fourteen political parties are fielding candidates for today’s election with the Candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Pastor Ize-Iyamu and the incumbent Governor of the State, Godwin Obaseki flying the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
There was uneasy calm Friday in most parts of Edo State ahead of the governorship election holding today.
Though a total of 14 political parties are participating in the polls, the battle for Osadebe House seems to be between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC)- battle for the soul of the state, with intermittent clashes of members and supporters, especially during the campaigns.
A late evening rain in some parts of the state Friday helped to douse the atmosphere, as the people prepared to troop out to cast their votes this morning.
Ahead of the poll, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has charged the Commission’s staff to be neutral in today’s governorship election in Edo State.
Yakubu in a message to the electoral officers deployed for the poll, yesterday, said: “All eyes are on INEC to deliver a free, fair and credible process.”
He urged the electoral officers to ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other, adding that the international community is watching.
He said: “I have no doubt that our staff members will rise to the occasion. We have done it several times before and we can do it again.
“The Commission deeply appreciates the never ending sacrifices made by our staff at all times, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure that we carry out our mandate. The management will continue to improve the welfare and conditions of service of staff within the available resources.
“Let me appeal to all of you to remain steadfast and committed to the ideals of the Commission; Nigerians and the international community expect so much from us. They are watching. It is important that we all remain above board in the performance of our respective duties.
“We must ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. We must be neutral at all times and stick strictly to our code of conduct and oath of neutrality to which we have all subscribed. For, at the end of the day, we would have all contributed to the sustenance of democracy and a strong electoral process that all Nigerians can trust.”
The main actors in today’s governorship election, apart from the voters, particularly the INEC, security agencies, led by the Police, and politicians would determine how the exercise pans out.
On Thursday, the Police organised a show of force, while INEC distributed materials, but despite the diligent deployment of materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office in Benin City, there were reports of intimidation in some areas.
INEC had always complained of logistic challenges, in term of terrain, and how far the commission sustains the transparent distribution of its men and materials this morning would determine how prepared they are to organise a credible process.
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