In this report, JOSHUA DADA writes that mixed reactions have continued to trail the declaration of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, winner of the recently held Osun State gubernatorial election.
The September 22 gubernatorial election in Osun State was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after collation of results showed that the margin between the leading candidate, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s Senator Ademola Adeleke and runner up, All Progressives Congress, APC’s Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola was a paltry 353 votes, whereas over 3,800 votes were invalidated as a result of sundry irregularities.
INEC subsequently rescheduled a rerun poll for the following Thursday, September, 27 and after the conclusion of the rerun poll, the electoral umpire declared APC’s Oyetola the winner of the contentious poll and the governor-elect.
Announcing the result, the state Returning Officer, Professor Adeola Joseph Fiwape, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, said Oyetola scored 255,505 votes while the runner-up, PDP’s Senator Adeleke polled 255,023 votes.
Fiwape also announced Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party, PDP, who had 128,053 votes as coming third out of the 48 parties that participated in the election.
During the process of declaration of the result of the rerun election, the PDP agent at the collation center, Mr. Dele Adeleke, lodged complainant about issues that bothered on errors in calculation, violence and intimidation of voters, among others.
He was however advised by Professor Fiwape to seek redress at the appropriate quarters, if he is aggrieved by any contentious issue.Subsequent upon the declaration of Oyetola as the winner and governor-elect, congratulatory messages started pouring in from the high and the low.
Among such goodwill messages were the ones from President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Chairman of the ruling APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, the incumbent governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, among numerous others.
Agains expectations from many quarters, Osun State, however, has remained calm as residents received the announcement of Oyetola as governor-elect with mixed feelings.
Reacting to the declaration by INEC, the PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the PDP candidate, Senator Adeleke spontaneously rejected the result.
Adeleke at his post-election press briefing at his Ede country home told his supporters and the people of Osun State to remain calm, as he promised to restore through legal means what he described as their stolen mandate.
He said, “Your mandate was stolen, we were temporarily robbed of victory, my good people of Osun State, don’t be downcast. By the special grace of God, your mandate will be restored. We will jointly retrieve our stolen mandate.
“We will through legal and civil means: we will unite against electoral oppression: electoral robbers will face justice. So, I urge you to gear up, don’t be low spirited. We just had a temporary setback.”
Also reacting, the South West PDP zonal secretary, Rev. Bunmi Jenyo, described the supplementary election as the most brazen assault on democracy and the biggest political robbery ever witnessed in the history of the state in particular, and Nigeria as a whole.
He said the open robbery perpetrated by the APC, aided by security personnel will be resisted by the party.
Jenyo explained that thousands of eligible voters were chased away from their homes in Orolu, Ife North and Ife South local governments in the early hours of the Election Day.
He said, “We reject any returns of results from this sham and call on the INEC authorities in Abuja to direct that the so called supplementary election result collation be cancelled out rightly.
“We equally invite leaders of thought in Nigeria and the international community to rise up now to rescue Nigeria’s democracy from being ruined.”
Though initially, there were no visible traces of jubilation across the state, there was equally no report of violence anywhere across the state, as residents went about their normal businesses discussing the development.
Oyetola in his acceptance address to the people of Osun State expressed his appreciation to them for giving him their mandate to lead them and promised an inclusive government, pledging his resolve to fulfill all his electioneering promises.
The governor-elect said, “I will run an inclusive and participatory government. I will consult with the party, workers, communities, traditional rulers, the civil society and the people of the state in their heterogeneity. I will engage the youth, tap into their ideas and enable them to unleash their creative energy in a positive way.”
Following the condemnation that trailed the announcement of Oyetola, especially from the camp of the opposition PDP, the APC in Osun State, threatened to expose the secret of alleged manipulation of the election by the PDP at the tribunal, just as Forum of Senior Special Assistants to Governor Aregbesola asked INEC to probe fake returns from Ede.
In their separate press conferences in Osogbo, the APC Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famoodun, and Engr. Bashir Lawal for Forum of SSA alleged that the opposition PDP inflated results of the election in the hometown of the PDP candidate, Senator Adeleke.
The APC also alleged heavy inducement of voters that informed the withdrawal of a whooping N18 billion cash from the banks in Osun and evidence of alleged withdrawal of N13 billion from a single bank.
Famoodun said, “We have indisputable evidence that for the last election, indeed one week to the vote, the PDP withdrew cash from the banks in Osun to the tune of N18 billion. From one bank alone, they allegedly withdrew N13 billion. This is money laundering and a crime against our banking law.
“This money was used to buy PVC, influence voters, corrupt electoral officers, other political party agents and law enforcement officers, particularly in Ede North and Ede South local government areas, where they returned an outrageous 35,537 combined votes for PDP.
“Where security was imperfect or inadequate, the PDP used hundreds of voters’ cards which they had bought from their owners to vote multiple times in several locations.”
Also, the Forum of Senior Special Assistant urged security agencies to stem the trend of harassment and intimidation of members of the APC by PDP thugs, particularly in Ede, especially when APC was not doing same in their strongholds.
It is worthy of note that the APC was not alone in the defence of the outcome of Osun election, as some political parties also endorsed it.
Some political parties in the State of the Living Spring, under the aegis of Council of Collaborative, and led by Prince Adesoji Masilo, described the election as not only free, and fair but indeed credible.
However, some youths under the aegis of Ademola Adeleke Youth Empowerment Scheme, A-YES, took to the street days after the declaration of Oyetola as the winner of the poll and as governor-elect, to protest the non-declaration of Adeleke as the governor-elect at the first balloting and the alleged intimidation of voters during the rerun.
Speaking with newsmen, one of the coordinators of the A-YES, Mr Adewumi Isaac, said that though, they were not really happy about the outcome of the election; they were impressed by the large turnout of the electorate who deemed it necessary to cast their vote for Adeleke.
In his reaction to the protest, the PDP Chairman, Soji Adagunodo, said the protest was an indication that people of the state were dissatisfied with the outcome of the election result.
Adagunodo stated that judging from the results from the polling centres across the state, it was obvious Adeleke won with a ‘comfortable margin’.
This was just as no fewer than 30 political parties in Osun State, under the aegis of Council of Political Parties With Integrity, CCPI, rejected the declaration of the APC, Alhaji Oyetola as governor-elect in Osun State.
Addressing newsmen in Osogbo, the convener of CCPI, Prince Tajudeen Osunrotimi, who is also the Chairman of Nigeria Elite Political Party, NEPP, asked the INEC to declare Senator Adeleke as the duly elected governor of the state.
Osunrotimi averred that the peaceful conduct of voters at the various units on the election day was subverted by the duplicity of the INEC in the alleged awarding of unearned votes to the ruling APC at the collation stage in the September 22 election, as well as the violent conduct of the rerun election.
Observer groups expressed divergent opinions on the outcome of the election, while some of them faulted the outcome of the election, particularly the rerun election on the basis of allegation of violence and intimidation of voters, others praised the INEC, the electoral umpire for a well done job.
For example, the European Union, EU, British, and United States of America, USA election observers along with an indigenous non-governmental organization in Osun State, Hope for Family Development Initiative, HFDI, lamented the violence and intimidation that rocked the rerun election.
However, the electoral umpire, INEC, through the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, declared that it has put in its best to conduct a free, fair and credible gubernatorial election in Osun State.
Speaking at the presentation of Certificate of Return to the governor-elect, Alhaji Oyetola, Agbaje threatened to resign his appointment from the service of INEC if the election tribunal nullified the outcome of the election as a result of the Commission’s culpability.
However, as vowed by the candidate of PDP, Senator Adeleke, his party has challenged the outcome of the election at the tribunal and the process is ongoing.
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