There were indications last night that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ademola Adeleke, was coasting to victory in the governorship election held yesterday in Osun State.
According to early results from the keenly contested election that recorded high turnout of voters, the PDP candidate trounced the incumbent governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Adegboyega Oyetola, in most of the 30 local governments in the state.
As of the time of filing this report in the early hours of today, results uploaded on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) portal showed that PDP had won in nine out of 14 local government areas, while governing APC won in six.
The election which was held in 30 local government areas, comprising 332 wards and 3,763 polling units in the state, also saw the APC losing the state capital, Osogbo, specifically the polling unit in the Government House.
The results showed that PDP was leading with over 10,000 votes, just as the portal also showed that over 87 per cent of the results have been uploaded.
The local government areas whose results had been fully uploaded as of press time are Ilesa West, Atakumosa West; Ayedire; Ifelodun; Orolu; Osogbo; Ife Central; Ede South; Ayedade; Olorunda; Boripe; Ife North; Iwo; Isokan.
The INEC collation center in the state opened at about 12am.
In a reprise of the 2018 governorship contest, the election was a keen contest between Oyetola and Adeleke who won their polling units and local governments.
Apart from Oyetola and Adeleke of the two major parties, other contenders in the election are Lasun Yusuff of Labour Party; Akin Ogunbiyi of Accord Party, and Goke Omigbodun of Social Democratic Party (SDP) among others.
Meanwhile, Osun electorates yesterday came out en masse amidst tight security to elect a governor for another four years.
Voters in their numbers besieged their polling units as early as 7:00 am to cast their votes despite the early morning showers of rain in parts of the state.
The exercise witnessed early arrival of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC (INEC) officials with voting materials.
Earlier in the day, law enforcement operatives enforced the ban on vehicles that are not on INEC assignment and essential matters.
Officers of the Nigerian Army mounted road blocks on roads in strategic locations across the state, while other security operatives were on ground to ensure peaceful conduct in all the polling units.
Except for pockets of skirmishes in few polling units, the exercise was generally considered peaceful across the state, as voters conducted themselves within the ambit of the law.
Though vote buying and selling was done discreetly, political parties appeared to have devised another means of vote buying that cannot be easily captured.
Meanwhile, to stem the trend, men of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) stormed some flash spots in the state for the election.
The officers were spotted at Iragbiji, home base of APC candidate, Oyetola in Boripe local government and Ede the home base of PDP candidate, Adeleke.
The officers were seen observing the voting process and anyone engaging in vote buying in the areas. Two persons were arrested.
The police however declared yesterday that it would probe vote buying incidents.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said its officials arrested three persons for their alleged involvement in vote buying in Osun state.
According to a statement by the ICPC, its officials were also attacked by thugs while trying to arrest one of the suspects in Ibokun local government area.
The agency added that one of its officials was seriously injured during the attack, but no fatality was recorded.
The statement reads: “Operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on election monitoring duties have arrested 3 persons suspected of vote buying in the Osun State gubernatorial election.
“At Ife North & Central Local Government Councils, Osun East Senatorial District, precisely at Polling Unit 7, Iremo Ward IV, one Dapo Olayode (M) was arrested by one of the Commission’s teams. Olayode was arrested with a list containing the names of voters while an Android phone was also collected from him.
“At Egbedore Local Government, Osun West Senatorial District, precisely in Polling Unit 003, Ward 10, Osunbukola Junction, Kamorudeen Nafisat (F) and Ojuade Musbau Olaniyi (M) were arrested by another team for alleged vote buying. Items collected from the duo included one Android Phone and a notebook containing a list of names of voters.
“A third team was attacked by a popular thug and his gang while attempting to effect the arrest of a vote buyer. The attack was at Polling Unit 1, Ward 7, opposite Polaris Bank, in front of Oba’s Palace, Esa-Oke, Ibokun Local Government Area.
“The vote buyer was caught with a list containing names of 100 persons expecting to be paid N5000 each. The team leader sustained serious injury in the fracas that ensued, but the team was able to retrieve the book containing the list of 100 voters.
“The statements of all the suspects are being taken under caution, and investigations are still ongoing.”
Meanwhile, a viral video on social media platforms showed a party chieftain being booed out of a collation center.
However, Oyetola who voted at Ward 1, unit 2, Popo, Iragbiji said “considering the time frame we have for voting, they need to speed up or increase the number of machines so as to ensure that the process is completed within the time frame.
“The security agents are doing well. Seeing the enthusiasm that voters have displayed to cast their votes, I’m particularly very grateful to them and that shows that people are conscious of the need to participate in the process. Once the process is transparent enough, people will be persuaded to vote, there will be no voter apathy.”
The governor who was optimistic of victory said, “I’m confident that I will be reelected by the grace of Almighty God.”
Also, Senator Ademola Adeleke who voted at Ward 2, Unit 009, Abogunde,/ Sagba, in Ede North local government expressed satisfaction with the turnout of voters noting that the election was peaceful.
Adeleke, who expressed optimism that he would win the election, said the process was commendable.
He added that early feelers he got was that the process is calm, adding that the people love him and would vote for him.
A chieftain of the APC in the state and minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was not available for the exercise.
One of his aides, Mr Sola Fasure who spoke on the development said the immediate past governor was not in town.
Aregbesola however won his ward with 164 voted APC 164 against PDP’s 134 at Ward 8, unit 1, Ifofin, in Ilesa East local government area of the state.
Former APC national chairman, Bisi Akande, however lost his local government, Ila, to the PDP.
Meanwhile, the candidate of the Labour Party, Hon. Lasun Yussuff debunked the story making the rounds that he collapsed his structure with that of the PDP.
A statement he personally signed said that he was solidly in the race and that he would win the election.
Meanwhile, in its on the spot assessment of the exercise, Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote urged electoral umpire to extend the duration of the exercise considering the numbers of voters in some units.
A statement by the NGO stated that there was an imbalance in distribution of voters to polling units which they say may have grave consequences for voters participation.
It commended INEC for its improvement in logistics management for the election in terms of prompt deployment of officials and materials to polling units.
Signed by Hussein Abdu, board chairman and Samson Itodo, executive director, Yiaga also observed with satisfaction the provision of extra machines in some polling units as well as facilities for persons with disabilities.
Yiaga Africa said inducement of voters by parties was noticed on some polling units while intimidation of voters was also observed where parties have upper hand.
APC, PDP Trade Words Over Claims Of Victory
Meanwhile, the PDP and the APC yesterday engaged in a verbal war over claims of victory in the governorship election in Osun State.
The Osun state chapter of PDP had said that collated results from the polling units confirms that the party was winning at the poll.
In a statement issued at Osogbo yesterday evening, the caretaker chairman of the party in Osun state, Dr Akindele Adekunle declared that the party has secured a majority as well as more than two third spread across the 30 local governments and area offices.
But in a swift reaction, the Osun Chapter of the APC described the claim by PDP as irresponsible as collation of results was still ongoing.
A statement issued by the director general of the campaign council of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola reelection, Senator Ajibola Basiru, warned that such a statement is capable of setting the state on fire.
But PDP claimed that Ademola Adeleke has won the election overwhelmingly, going by results at their disposal.
“We warn against any plot by some agents of chaos to doctor the results. We specifically call on the Electoral commission to watch fifth columnists within its fold who may have been contracted for hatchet job Osun people have decided and their votes must be respected” PDP stated.
The statement noted that the victory of the party at the poll is a product of mass mobilisation and grand coalition of people of Osun state against bad governance and insensitive leadership.
The party specifically called attention of the commission to a paid agent of the state government who is presently working round the clock to tamper with the results, vowing
that any attempt to subvert the will of Osun people will be strongly resisted.
However Basiru called on security operatives to take appropriate actions in dealing with the peddlers as they are setting the stage for violence and chaos.
Rushing to Abuja Cannot Save Oyetola, PDP Tells Tinubu
Also, the national leadership of PDP yesterday told the APC Presidential Candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that rushing to Abuja in the face of the defeat of his party in the Osun State Governorship election cannot overturn the people’s will at the poll.
The PDP said it was aware that APC leaders are rushing to Abuja in a desperate move to manipulate the process and frustrate the smooth conclusion of the election, having realized that the APC has been rejected by the people.
National publicity secretary of PDP, Hon Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, said “Asiwaju Tinubu must know that the people of Osun State have spoken and that his running to Abuja cannot save the deflated Governor Gboyega Oyetola from the reverberating verdict of the ballot box.
“Our Party charges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC leadership in Abuja to note that the course of the election is already known to all and that the people of Osun State will never accept any outcome to the contrary.”
The PDP further charged INEC to resist the manipulations and pressure from the APC by sticking to its assurance to the people that the election will be transparent and conclusive at the first ballot.
The PDP congratulated the people of Osun State and urged them to remain at alert, protect their votes and ensure that the results declared at the polling centers are not altered but duly reflected at the collation and final declaration.
“We also congratulate all democratic institutions, stakeholders and all patriots who stood by the people to achieve this great shift,” the party said.