Human rights groups, Option Without Borders (OWB) and Citizens Rights Campaign (CRC), yesterday hailed Taraba State electorate for what they described as “deepened electoral education among the rural folks in the state ahead of the 2015 general election.”
The groups said the state had become the 11th state in the country to benefit from the enlightenment campaign programme embarked upon by them to create electoral education among the people in the country ahead of next year’s general election. In a campaign aimed at testing electorate knowledge of the five politicians contesting for the gubernatorial seat from Southern Taraba next year, the groups expressed satisfaction that the level of political enlightenment at the grassroots in the state is impressive.
In a joint statement issued by Directors of OWB and CRC, Mr. Onome Richard and Mr. Kehinde Balogun respectively, the groups expressed delight that market women, artisans, students, farmers, civil servants and the unemployed across all villages and towns in the state showed that the people now knew their rights and civic obligations at the polls.
According to them, though they set out to drum more political awareness for the forthcoming polls, they met people determined to produce a candidate that can sell across the three senatorial divides in the state.
According to the statement, in a sample poll carried out among 520,000 respondents in the region which asked a simple question to pick a name among the five leading politicians gunning for the office, billed to be filled by the zone, the current Minister for Niger Delta Affairs and a major contender, Darius Ishaku, polled 81,000 votes, while a Senator representing the Southern Taraba, Emmanuel Bwatcha, got 75,000 votes.
Current Chairman of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Lt-Gen. Agbu Kefas (rtd), got 7,000 votes, while the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, got 112,000 votes, while the former Director of Finance and Administration in the National Assembly and a prominent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Chief David Sabo Kente, polled 221,000 votes.
In a related development, the Jukun Development Association (JDA) said in another opinion poll carried out on its facebook.com page, which sampled 256,000 respondents, 135,000 JDA Facebook friends voted for Kente, with 42,000 voting for Kifasi; 28,000 goes to Ishaku, while the NIMASA chief, Kefas and Senator Bwatcha got 25,510 and 12, 226 votes respectively.
Disclosing this to journalists, JDA National President Mr. Benjamin Bako Danborno, said the association’s survey did not only confirmed the report of the independent rights groups but also vindicated the earlier endorsement of Kente by the Southern Taraba elders and leading stakeholders in the state.
Danburno called on the people of the Northern and Central Taraba who had a 12 and eight shot at the office to support the southern zone in their quest “to produce a worthy successor to the ailing but able and dependable Governor of the state Mr. Danbaba Suntai.”
He said Suntai during his second term campaign had assured the people of Southern Taraba that they would produce the next governor in the spirit of sportsmanship, fairness and justice.
The JDA chief also called on the federal government to ameliorate the suffering of the people of southern Taraba who have continued to bear the brunt of series of vicious attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen for more than a year.
Danburno therefore called on the people to continue to support the state government’s effort to restore peace and the security of lives and property in the state.