*INEC dismisses it
By Gbenga Olarinoye & Dapo Akinrefon
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has alerted Nigerians to what it described as a plan involving an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwarts to rig Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Osun State.
INEC immediately dismissed the allegation.
The allegation came on a day the APC also said United States Aid Agency (USAID) had contradicted the claim by the PDP that a poll conducted by USAID favoured it to win the Osun poll.
In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC said under the alleged plan, an INEC IT staff handed over the electoral register for the state to a special assistant to a top PDP national official, with a view to manipulating it to disenfranchise many voters in the Osun election.
’’For those who may see this as outlandish, they should recall that an INEC official tampered with the voters register used during the last gubernatorial election in Anambra State to remove the names of many voters,’’ the party said.
APC said the plan to tamper with the electoral register for Osun, coupled with INEC’s delay in issuing Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to registered voters, especially those who are APC members in the state, highlight the desperation of the PDP to win the governorship election at all cost.
’’The truth is that the PDP knows it cannot win a free and fair election in Osun State. Everything so far points to the fact that our party will win by a landslide if the election is free, fair, credible and transparent. In fact, a highly-credible opinion poll carried out by the globally-recognized TNS-RMS shows that the APC leads among voters in the state by 73%, compared to a paltry 19% for the PDP”, it stated.
’’Apparently stunned by the reality on the ground, as against the propaganda by the PDP, the party’s candidate, Iyiola Omisore, quickly conjured his own opinion poll, purportedly carried out by USAID, showing that he is leading the APC candidate and incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
’’Fortunately, USAID has denied carrying out any opinion poll in Osun State, thus putting a lie to the PDP’s claim. There is no better indication of desperation than this.’’
It called on all the people of Osun and APC members and supporters to be very vigilant in other to thwart the evil machinations of those who are averse to credible and violence-free elections.
’’As we have said repeatedly, we ask for nothing beyond a level-playing field for all the candidates in the Aug. 9 election in Osun State. Also, we want all registered voters to be able to exercise their franchise without hindrance, since popular participation is the bedrock of democracy.
’’If the voting is done in the best tradition of free, fair and credible elections, whoever wins or loses will have no problem accepting the outcome.’’
‘It’s a lie’
When contacted, yesterday, Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to INEC chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, pointed out that the register is a public document that had been issued to all parties and is even on INEC website.
“One doesn’t know what to make of the allegation”, Kayode Idowu stated.
Also reacting to the rigging plan allegation, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Osun State, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, yesterday, faulted it, saying “it does not mean anything to me.”
“Anybody can just say anything and, to me, it doesn’t mean anything. If they say INEC wants to rig the election, you as a journalist should ask them how and where would they carryout the rigging, not just to make allegations”, Agbaje said.
”I have said it times without number that we (INEC) are committed to conducting a free, fair, credible and acceptable election come August 9. So, if anybody says INEC wants to rig the election, such person should let us know the means of doing so in order to know how to confront it.
“To me, such person is on his own because we are presently training staff and ad-hoc staff of INEC that will, work during the election and we are going to conduct an acceptable election.”
USAID poll controversy
In another statement, yesterday, APC said USAID disowned a poll in which PDP’s candidate in the Osun election, Dr Iyiola Omisore, is tipped to win.
The statement by Osun APC Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Barr. Kunle Oyatomi, said: “In a desperate bid to create the impression that its candidate is popular, the PDP told a terrible lie, a couple of days ago that the United States agency had tipped its candidate, Iyiola Omisore, to win the election in a poll that the country’s international agency conducted.
“But the PDP’s lie has been refuted by the Acting Public Affairs Officer of the US Consulate General, Lagos, Rhonda Watson, who said that ‘No USAID poll was taken in Osun”.
Reacting, yesterday, the Director of Media and Strategy of the Omisore Campaign Organisation, Prince Diran Odeyemi, ?accused the APC of an attempt to use the opinion poll as a propaganda.
Odeyemi said?: “An opinion poll is an opinion poll. It is the opinion of some people. The fact on ground is the vote of the people and that is what we rely on. We don’t even want to talk about opinion at all because the whole thing is messed up. It is becoming another propaganda by the APC and we do not want to get involved in it. We are no longer concerned about? any opinion poll because the election is just seven days away.”
He added: The election will be the deciding factor and that is what we are concerned about.”