A former vice president and opposition Peoples Democratic Party presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, and Senate President Bukola Saraki have extended support to the party’s Osun State governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke.
Mr Abubakar in a statement Sunday urged the people of the state not to be cowed, following the declaration of Saturday’s election as inconclusive.
Earlier, the presiding officer of the election at the INEC headquarters in Osun, Joseph Fuwape, declared the election inconclusive.
At the end of the collation of votes, the PDP candidate won majority votes of about 254,698 votes while Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressive Congress came a close second with 254,345 votes. Mr Adeleke led his rival by 353 votes.
“Unfortunately as the returning officer, it’s not possible to declare anybody as the clear winner of the election on the first ballot,” Mr Fuwape, vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, said.
He explained that the total voided votes in the five polling units where elections were cancelled was 3,498. Since that figure was higher than the difference between the votes of the leading candidates, a re-run election had to be conducted, the INEC chief explained.
INEC’s election guideline made pursuant to Section 153 of the Electoral Act stipulates a rerun if the margin of victory in an election is lower than the number of voters in units where elections are cancelled.
The affected LGAs are Irolu, Ife South, Ife North and Oshogbo.
The commission announced that it will remobilise and return to the affected polling units on Thursday, September 27 to re-conduct the elections, conclude collation and make a return.
But Mr Abubakar asked the electoral commission to resist any temptation to be used to tamper with the will of the people of Osun State.
He accused the APC of attempting to compromise the election.
“I told our people in Osun that their years of underdevelopment and backwardness will end with the election of Senator Adeleke and the PDP, and I stand by that promise.
“The attempt by the All Progressives Congress to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat will be resisted with every legitimate and democratic means at our disposal.
“I hereby offer Senator Adeleke and the Osun State chapter of the PDP my right hand of fellowship as they work to retrieve their victory, which is already in sight. The vote against APC was overwhelming; the people are not happy with status quo.
“We must all stand united at this point in time. The PDP secured a simple majority, even with the ₦16.7 billion (Paris Club refund) that the federal government surreptitiously paid to the incumbent Osun State APC government, and the desperate Tradermoni bait that Vice President Osinbajo dangled at the electorate in Osun. This is a testament to the fact that the APC has lost favour all over Nigeria,” he said.
He described the election in Osun State as a turning point and asked INEC to do the needful.
“Nigerians need jobs, opportunities and security. Once again, I assure Senator Ademola Adeleke and the people of Osun State that the PDP and I will stand with them to ensure that the victory freely given to Senator Adeleke by the people of Osun State is not taken away from them by people from outside the state,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Saraki has reacted to the development.
Mr Saraki, who is also the chairman of the PDP presidential council on Osun State gubernatorial election, faulted the commission.
“In my lay man’s opinion, the INEC was wrong in declaring the election as inconclusive because the votes in certain polling units were cancelled.
“The decision of INEC to cancel the election in those areas after voting had taken place means INEC had already excluded the votes in these areas from the election process and therefore those units should have no place in the overall results.
“My opinion would have been different if the election in the affected units did not take place at all, may be as a result of malfunctioning of the card reader machine or unavailability of the electoral materials. Since the voting took place and was cancelled, only the courts could reverse the initial decision by INEC to cancel the votes in these areas,” he said.
He called on the PDP and its candidate to seek further legal interpretation on this decision.
“If the places were reversed and the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is the one leading in the election, will INEC take the same decision it has taken now?” he said.
He also called on INEC to display courage, boldness, independence, neutrality and patriotism “so as to send signals to the world at large that Nigerian electoral system has come of age and that our democracy has matured”.
“The electoral body needs to reassure all and sundry that the 2019 election and other elections will be free of manipulations and undue interference.
“The INEC should note that the Osun gubernatorial election is not only about that South-western state. It is about our country and the entire world is watching. Our national interest is at stake. The integrity of our electoral system is at stake. The future of our democracy is on the line.
“The way INEC conclusively handles the Osun election will determine global expectations from our political process. It should therefore ensure that the wish of the Osun State electorate eventually prevail.”
In the same vein, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called on the electorate and all political camps to maintain calm.
It commended the public “for its very peaceful conduct before and during the election”.
The CDD, which partnered with Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) to observe the election, urged the electoral body and other security agencies to thoroughly investigate, and prosecute those responsible for acts, which undermined the electoral process in the affected areas.
“The INEC staffs to be investigated and prosecuted include those involved in the destruction of electoral materials, particularly the staff that tore the Form EC 8A result sheet in one of the Polling Units that was cancelled. Also, other ad-hoc staff that engaged in subverting the electoral process must be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
In a statement by its Director, Idayat Hassan, CDD stated that proper investigation will enhance the credibility of the process and boost public confidence in the commission not just in the Osun governorship supplementary elections but the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
The centre also said the speedy prosecution of those found culpable would not only sanitise the electoral process but would deter future offenders.
CDD equally called on the electoral umpire to put in place stringent measures to ensure incidents like the case of the presiding officer who absconded from his duty post with dire implications for the election, are not repeated in the coming supplementary poll.
It urged INEC to make open its results collation processes and publicly release the material tracking report “in the spirit of openness and electoral transparency”.