Former Labour Party governorship candidate in Kwara state, Comrade Issa Aremu, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Edo and Ondo state gubernatorial elections in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic to safeguard people’s lives.
Speaking on Sunday in Kaduna, even as political parties rounded up their primaries ahead of the Edo state gubernatorial elections scheduled for September, the labour leader said considering the huge spike in the number of Covid-19 cases and rising deaths across the country, it would be imperative for INEC to postpone the elections as only those who are alive can vote and be voted for.
According to Aremu, “The death of former Governor of Oyo state, Senator Isiaka Ajimobi, who died of Covid-19, and the figures of fatalities reeled out daily by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 showed that the disease is real and is killing Nigerians. There are enough reasons for INEC to consider the spike in the number of cases and fatalities across the country and postpone the elections in Edo and Ondo states.
“I monitored the recent party primaries in Edo state and there was no semblance of Covid-19 protocol of physical distancing or use of face mask by either APC or PDP, not even our own Labour Party. INEC can take recourse to the Constitution and consider the pandemic as an emergency to shift the elections in solidarity to those that have been killed by the disease and to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.
“Nigeria is not short of governors but governance, postponement of the elections will not cause a shortage of governance. Every tear we shed for the death of Ajimobi and other victims of Covid-19 will be hypocritical if we cannot postpone the elections in Edo and Ondo states. Some countries have postponed their elections due to the pandemic. And Malawi and Burundi who held elections during the pandemic are regretting their actions.”
The Vice President of Industriall Global Union and former two term vice president of Nigeria Labour Congress also called for quality control in the democratic process in Nigeria through systemic and strategic inculcation of national ethics of discipline, integrity, religious tolerance, dignity of labour, patriotism, social justice, probity and self reliance among the leaders and the people.
Speaking on the recent crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Aremu said with 80 million registered voters and 18 political parties, Nigeria leads Africa in quantitative democracy but needs to improve its democracy qualitatively. He berated politicians for not imbibing the ethics stated by the Constitution leading to the crisis, while commended President Muhammadu Buhari for ending it and saving the party from self-destruction.
Comrade Aremu observed that a crisis within a ruling party must be of grave concern because of it’s adverse implications for good governance adding that, “a ruling party in crisis means actually a nation in ‘governance hemorrhage’. The internal crisis which rocked the ruling PDP in 2014 created an atmosphere for deepening security challenges, the worst expression being the kidnapping of Chibok girls by Boko Haram.”
“President Buhari has not just saved his party from self destruct but has inadvertently refocused the attention of all Nigerians to the current challenges of governance the worst manifestation being the huge spikes in Covid-19 infection and fatality rates, ongoing commendable Presidential Task force interventions and the newly announced complementary economic sustainability agenda.”
Comrade Aremu lamented that “political entrepreneurs and insular political warriors had since replaced genuine patriotic farsighted politicians of the first and second democratic republic. Most today’s politicians stood for no principles making them vulnerable to everything dysfunctional inclusive of self destruction. It’s time for a quality democratic process in which values and ethics in terms of ideology must return to politics and politics must return to ethics and ideology.”
He said more than ever before, “Nigerian political class suffers insufficiency of tolerance, blind ambition without vision, much needed compromises, patience and unacceptable deficits of patriotism and cooperation needed for nation building.”
Aremu, who called for more comrades, more professionals in Nigerian politics, said there is a need for a new political movement for a truly progressive Nigeria with a new Democratic culture that serves the people before self.