President of the Senate, David Mark, said on Tuesday that the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State was a hard lesson for the Peoples Democratic Party.
Mark, who spoke at the confirmation of three Resident Electoral Commissioners, said the re-election of Governor Adams Oshiomhole offered some lessons for the PDP in the conduct of free and fair elections.
The Senate President’s position coincided with an admonition by an aide of President Goodluck Jonathan that state governors should take a cue from Oshiomhole’s victory.
Mark said, “I believe that the legacy all of us here would like to leave behind is that elections in this country will be free. They will be fair and they will be credible and everybody’s vote will count and they should be allowed to choose their own leaders. No imposition of any kind whatsoever should surface any more in this country.
“And I think that is a hard lesson that the ruling party has learnt from the Edo election. We hope that when these three nominees go there, they will ensure that elections are free, fair and that they are credible and that the PDP government will like to ensure that.”
Oshiomhole defeated the PDP candidate, Maj.-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, with a wide margin. While the Edo governor polled 477,478 to secure his re-election, the PDP candidate scored 144, 235 votes.
The three nominees cleared by the Senate as RECs for the Independent National Electoral Commission are: Mr. Habu Zarma Hinna, Gombe State; Mr. Ikoiwak Aniedi-Abasi, Akwa Ibom State; and Mr. Baritor Lenusikpugi Kpagih, Rivers State.
The Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, urged state governors to exploit the opportunity offered by their exalted positions to bring democratic dividends to their people as a way of sustaining their positions.
Nwankpo made this comment while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that the return of Oshiomhole as the winner of the Edo State governorship election under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria showed the level of seriousness Jonathan attached to ensuring the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
He said the President was determined to stand by INEC and the security agencies to ensure the transparency of electoral conduct in the country.
He said, “Jonathan is a President of Nigeria and not that of a political party, and his party is the fastest learner in this process.
“The governors should be aware that the President is determined to conduct free and fair elections and they should rule to make the people of their states happy to be re-elected into office.”
Meanwhile, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum said on Tuesday that the people of Edo State were solidly behind Oshiomhole.
The governors said this was the reason the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress was re-elected during Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
Apart from this, they also said that the election exemplified the confidence of the people of Edo in his leadership.
The governors, in their congratulatory message to Oshiomhole, which was signed by the Forum’s Director-General, Mr. Asishana Okauru, also extolled the virtue of the voters during the election.
The statement reads in part, “The election (of the governor) exemplified the confidence of the people of Edo in his leadership.
“While we congratulate the Governor for his victory, we congratulate the people of Edo state for their conduct during the election.
“The people of the state have made all Nigerians proud by demonstrating, again, that Nigerians, on their own can choose their own leaders on their own terms, in an ordered manner.”
It added that the peaceful conduct of the election further assured that the future of democracy was bright in the country.
The forum called on Oshiomhole to see the election as one in which there was no victor and no vanquished.
“As the governor is inaugurated for a second term, we urge him to put behind him the acrimony and controversy that characterised electioneering in the state in the past few months and begin earnestly to give quality governance to the people of the state,” the Forum added.