* We are not afraid to go back to the trenches
* It is obvious we are back to the Abachar days
By Olumide Ajayi
Peeved at what he described as an ‘electoral sham’, Prince Ifagbemi Awamaridi, the State Chairman of the Labour Party (LP) and also the gubernatorial candidate of the Party in Lagos State. in this interview, he lampooned the electoral umpire for conspiring with ruling party right from the time they were accompanied by party agents obtain sensitive voting material s from CBN strong room among other issues. Excerpts: .
How will you described the electoral process that the APC candidate Babajide Sanwo-Olu emerged as winner?
The process is a sham and even worst than the Presidential elections. The reason being that election should not have been held in Lagos at all. That is why I didn’t sign the result sheet. They saw me objecting the returning officer, and they did not even allow me to talk. Most of the party chairman present at the collation centre, were at Acme APC office and they gave them N200 thousand each just for them to support APC. Most of the party agents at the collation centre sold their cards to APC. That is the extent of impunity and fraud in the electoral process.
What actually transpired at the CBN when party agents followed INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner to retrieved the sensitive materials for elections?
For the Independent National Electoral Commission ,INEC, to invite us, to witness the collection of sensitive voting materials, that means the materials are ready and complete for collection. But when we got there, we were taken to the strong room where the materials were kept, the INEC boss showed us the material and they acknowledged that the materials were not complete. I then asked; what they wanted us to inspect when the materials are not complete? So we all left the strong room to reception, then they said the Resident Electoral Commissioner ,REC, will come to address us, the later REC came, and I asked him saying: the normal thing is for you to allow the sensitive materials to be complete before inviting us. But the REC said , he was going to move it because of time factor. And I told him that if he moves incomplete material , it is against the electoral act, because you cannot conduct elections with incomplete materials but they went ahead and started distributing to all the local government across Lagos. He later promised us that he (REC) was going to call us when they want to balance the incomplete materials. But as we speak, we have not been called to be informed about the remaining materials .For me such move by the commission is fraudulent, is evil, and indescribable by the REC.
What does that says about our democracy?
What I noticed is that rigging in this governorship election has advanced beyond . In other words, INEC started the rigging from CBN strong room. How then will INEC go ahead with the elections without complete materials. Imagine the impunity and fraud in the election. The elections should not have held because the materials were not complete.
What about the low turnout in the elections amid humongous registration in Lagos?
It is obvious. I saw Soldiers beating and tormenting people at the eve of the elections. In the previous election, the president ordered a shoot at sight, and in the governorship elections we noticed soldiers everywhere in Lagos state harassing people. If you were to be in their shoes what will you do on the election day? They deliberately scared people away from the election. And low turnout it will be easy for them to rig. So they already compromised the materials from CBN. So what they did is to slip in the remaining materials to the ruling party.
We have heard so much about their tactics, but I am a self determination activist and I believe in the autonomy of the Yoruba nation. The People we were together in the struggle believed that I am wasting my time for venturing into politics. What INEC and the ruling party have done is that they are telling us that it is foolish to get involved in politics with them, by this we have to go back to trenches! Because you cannot expect us to submit to people who are not in the interest of Yoruba nation. Somebody will called himself a leader and he cannot point to his father land, and you called that person a Yoruba person, or that person is leading Yoruba people and you want to be subservient to that person! Somebody said the person that gave birth to him is a barren woman and that person will be the only one to lead the Yoruba nation. Somebody is to become the governor of Lagos state whose part is suspicious, where he was born, we were told he was a bastard. They have proved that they are bastardizing the whole republic and what we called the Yoruba nation. I was one of those that fought for democracy in this country. I was among those that fought late Gen. Sani Abachar to deadlock . Before we die we have to bring democracy back to what its suppose to be. If they say we should go back to the trenches , then we have no choice than to go back to the trenches. As an activist I know what I mean because this democracy is fraud! My colleague in the self determination has said that I am wasting my time and with this electoral process, they have proved my colleagues right that I am truly wasting my time. We started the self determination in 1988. this election is just portending calamity for Nigeria.
What is the way out?
The way out is revolution! And revolution can take any form. So it is a change from a fraudulent system and it can come in anyway.
Some have argued that electronic voting is the only way out of electoral fraud, what is your stand on electronic voting?
You are still coming back to the basics. I earlier told you that the fraud started from CBN. It is not a theoretical problem, it is systemic, so it is obvious we are back to the Abachar days, in the sense that we are back to tyranny and everybody should be prepared for tyranny. I am the former DG of the Yoruba Intelligence agency. So if they want us to go back to the trenches, we are not afraid to go back to the trenches.