Since after the 2015 General Elections, the orthodox and social media have been awash with malignant publications on Dame Gesila Khan, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Rivers State.
Ordinarily as one of the few women Resident Electoral Commissioners in the country it is expected that Dame Gesila Khan should be eulogized for attempting and succeeding in the coordination of elections in places regarded as hot political beds in the nation.
The Bayelsa born woman who holds a degree in Philosophy and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Lagos had before her deployment to Rivers State worked as Resident Electoral Commissioner in Delta State.
In Delta State she successfully conducted the Senatorial bye-elections in Delta Central Senatorial District in an area widely described as a difficult and volatile terrain.
The question that should be agitating the minds of Nigerians is why should a hard working and committed woman be singled out to be vilified by persons who felt she was an obstacle to actualizing their self serving motives at the just concluded general elections in Rivers State.
It is on record that despite various investigations into her activities during and after the just concluded General Elections in Rivers State nothing incriminating has been recorded against her.
Even when three National Electoral Commissioners were sent to verify the results of the Presidential Elections in Rivers State before it was announced nothing dubious was pinned on her.
All that had led the former INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega to publicly announce the results before Nigerians and the international community.
To clear doubts and suspicions Professor Jega also sent another set of commissioners to conduct the Governorship Elections in that state. The team returned to Abuja without indicting the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dame Gesila Khan.
Not withstanding, she has continued to be pilloried and insulted on the pages of Newspapers and the social media.
The role of the INEC Resident Commissioner is essentially supervisory. A Resident Electoral Commissioner to the best of public knowledge does not collate results neither does he supervise or oversee a local government area to generate results.
Furthermore, it is also interesting to note that the Resident Electoral Commissioner does not appoint a returning officer for any elections at any level.
At best what Resident Electoral Commissioners do is to ensure that election materials are effectively and evenly distributed through the appropriate officers to the polling units. That puts to question all the name calling, insults and allegations and counter-allegation that have trailed Mrs Khan.
It is only natural that where there is a contest only one emerges as winner and that is why it is unacceptable for some group of persons to apportion blame where it should not exist.
No matter the insinuations that people would make for failure to achieve their selfish motives, Gesila Khan has stood out as one of those few women that should be accorded national respect
It is not new that most politicians would go any length to portray election umpires in bad light in order mislead simple minded Nigerians.
It is imperative that Nigerians must be careful in swallowing what is thrown at them via the media by desperate politicians
It is on record that Dame Khan on arrival prepared the ground for a free and fair election by embarking on meetings with different stakeholders including the Rivers State Government, religious leaders, political party leaders, youth leaders, traditional rulers, women groups, the NUJ, market women, inter-agency committee on voters’ education and publicity as well as persons with disabilities.
She transversed the local government areas in Rivers State to educate people on the need to participate effectively and actively in the election.
A person who had not the motive to conduct a credible election would not take such pains. That is why the castigation and peddling of false allegations against Dame Gesila Khan should stop.
Persons who feel aggrieved by the outcome of 2015elections in Rivers State should seek redress through tribunals and spare Dame Khan from mudslinging.
Nigerians have watched with keen interest how the former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi and the Rivers State APC Chairman as well as some disgruntled individuals have employed every means to discredit Dame Gesila Khan.
That does not augur well for the nations politics and overall democratic growth.
Using the security agencies to intimidate and harass INEC staff in Rivers State is uncalled for and if not checked could snowball into unhealthy crisis.
Indeed if Dame Gesila Khan had performed so poorly, why did Professor Jega who is acclaimed to have conducted a free and fair 2015 elections not redeploy her.
Why did the former INEC National Chairman allow the Rivers State REC to conduct the 2015 General Elections despite protests from some quarters calling for her sack or redeployment?
That she remained in her post till now in the midst of the controversies is a proof that the allegations were baseless and lacked merit.
Politicians should learn to be magnanimous in defeat and patiently re-strategize to actualize their aspirations in the future.
Journalists on their part should avoid being used as tools by politicians to sway public opinion and deceive many to believe unfounded allegations.
The time has come for all to concert effort to grow the Nations democracy to be an international example.
Name calling, mudslinging as presently done with Dame Gesila Khan will do no good to national political growth.
*Contributed by a Media Consultant
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