By Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru, Ben Agande & Dayo Johnson
ABUJA—THE national hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, rejected the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State and directed its candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, to head for the tribunal to cancel the poll.
Stating why the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu should not be governor of the state, the party described the outcome of the election as declared by the Chief Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali, as a “charade and not the true reflection of the will of the people of Ondo State.”
Mr. Ambali had, Sunday, declared the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, winner of the election, having polled 244, 842, to defeat the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, who rallied 150, 380 votes to place second in the race.
The spokesperson of the PDP, Dayo Adeyeye, yesterday, said the electoral umpire aided the APC to rig the election, adding that INEC has now “graduated from inconclusive elections as seen in Kogi, Bayelsa, Osun, FCT, Imo, Nassarawa and some other previous by-elections in the country to ‘Advanced Election Rigging’, as in the case of Edo and Ondo states’ governorship elections.”
This came as Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, a PDP governor, congratulated Akeredolu on his victory, just as factional National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, said but for impunity, the PDP would have won the election.
The Alliance for Democracy, AD, candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, SAN, also saluted Akeredolu while decrying the incidence of votes-buying that he said characterised the election.
Meanwhile, policemen deployed to Ondo State, yesterday, protested in Akure over non-payment of their allowances.
How INEC rigged for APC in advance – PDP
Mr. Adeyeye, in a statement, said: “It is common knowledge that APC agents openly bought votes in the full glare of security operatives, who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the electoral law.
“It is not surprising that the electorate in Ondo State became so vulnerable to the corruptive influence of the APC because of the hash economic situation in the country inflicted on Nigerians by the APC administration, which has indeed made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own country.”
Adeyeye said PDP had persistently called for the postponement of the election before Saturday, for at least, two weeks to enable the party campaign and prepare properly for the election but the electoral umpire refused.
“The actions of INEC in collaboration with the APC-led administration left us no time to campaign and sell our candidate and party manifesto to the electorate in Ondo State. Our persistent calls for the postponement of the election, which was backed and supported by more than 20 other political parties were all rejected by INEC, acting the script of the APC.
“It was a carefully planned and well-orchestrated strategy to rig the election well in advance by preventing the PDP from planning and campaigning for the election. The APC has hereby introduced a new formula of rigging elections in Nigeria.
“In view of the fact that the election was blatantly manipulated from the beginning to the end to favour the APC, we vehemently reject the results of the November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State,” he said.
He also said Saturday’s election and all actions leading to it fell short of laid down principles guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria.
“We have instructed our candidate and the Ondo State chapter of our party to proceed to the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election. We call on the Judiciary to redeem Nigeria’s image on this matter as we request for the total cancellation of the election in Ondo State,” the party said.
Mimiko assures of smooth transition
Congratulating Akeredolu on his victory, Governor Mimiko, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Eni Akinsola, said it behoves of him as the Governor of Ondo State to congratulate the governor-elect and wish him success in the challenging task of governing the state.
“It is incumbent upon me as Governor to facilitate a smooth transition between my government and the incoming one. I will, to this end, provide the ambiance for a smooth and seamless transition process,” he said.
While promising to continue to provide leadership to the state till the takeover date, Mimiko expressed his appreciation to the people of the state for the peaceful manner they conducted themselves throughout the election period.
He enjoined residents to strive to sustain the peace enjoyed in the state for the past seven years, promising to speak with them as occasion demands as his “eight year tenure inches to an end.”
Oke decries vote-buying
Oke, in his congratulatory message to the governor-elect, however, decried the alleged heavy monetisation of the election process that produced Akeredolu, regretting that “the open and free use of money to purchase votes during the election by the ruling parties remain a sad commentary on the nation’s electoral process.’’
He said in a statement: “This development required the urgent intervention by government if the much publicized anti-corruption agenda of the Federal Government must have meaning to Nigerians. Offer of money for votes is worse than looting the government’s treasury. Apart from compromising the dignity of the people, it provides a fertile training ground for future looters of government’s treasury.
“The consequence of it is to render the anti-corruption fight a farce. There may be no economic matter more urgent, difficult to unravel and more sensitive to the pursuit of the average person in Ondo State than the current indignity foisted on the people by poverty, orchestrated by maladministration and priority misplacement of the current administration.
“We hope the incoming administration will address the problem of poverty so that the integrity of our electoral process will be restored.’’
Oke, who recalled the event leading to his defection to the AD, said: “Ondo State requires economic re-engineering, creative reform, materially changing the substance of its economic policy as well as the objectives of that policy in a way that the economic well-being of the people will be restored again. Therein lies the essence of progressive democratic governance and that is what our party, the Alliance for Democracy stands for.
“The incoming government, therefore, must urgently address the issue of ravaging poverty in the state through: Industrialization, job/wealth creation, rural integration, infrastructural development and security.”
He assured that as members of the opposition, the AD shall continue to contribute to the process of governance and would not hesitate to point out, in a civilized manner, the attention of the incoming government to any area where the masses seem not to have been considered in the policy framework of governance.
He, therefore, congratulated Akeredolu, wished him success and prayed to God to guide him “as he directs the affairs of our dear state.”
Kekemeke congratulates Akeredolu
Also, the Ondo APC Chairman, Isaac Kekemeke, in a statement in Akure told Akeredolu: “The victory is an unequivocal expression of confidence by the people of Ondo State in your personal ability to lead the party, the APC to effect change.
“Now that God and man have spoken, it is imperative for your Excellency to take the requisite steps to obfuscate whatever pre-primary and post-primary divisions that exist in our party to enable it effectively play its supportive role to your government. I have no doubt too that, your Excellency will also assure all the people of the state, irrespective of partisan proclivity, that your administration will reconstruct government for the benefit of all.
“The good Lord that saw you through the rigorous party and general elections will endow you with all the wisdom, knowledge and strength needed to successfully accomplish the task ahead.’’
Also, former Director-General of the National S ports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye, said that Akeredolu’s election was “victory for democracy, victory against tyranny and self serving leadership and victory against imposition and negative politics.”
“I hope his victory will put an end to politics of playing one community against others all in guise of a selfish agenda,’’ he said and described the Governor-elect as a brilliant, God-fearing and astute administrator that will bring his wealth of experience to bear throughout his tenure.
Police protest non-payment of allowances
Three days after the election, Policemen deployed to the state to maintain peace, yesterday, trooped to the streets to protest against non payment of their allowances.
Vanguard gathered that the protest took place in Funbi-Fagun area of Akure.
The protesters include regular and mobile police officers. They barricaded the popular Ondo/Ile-Ife Expressway with the patrol vehicles used for the election, causing traffic gridlock on the highway for several hours. The protesters vowed not to leave the road until their demands were met by the police authorities.
One of the protesters, who spoke in confidence, alleged that some high-ranked officers in the police denied them their allowances, which has made them to be stranded in the state.
“They refused to pay our allowances after the election. We all believe that the money was released by the Federal Government to our ‘Oga at the top’ but they refused to release the money to us. We will cause trouble and make them realize that they are the ones encouraging corruption in this country.”
Contacted, the Ondo State Police Spokesman, Femi Joseph, denied that there was protest.
“There was no protest anywhere, it was the senior officer that was addressing the junior ones,’’ he said, adding that they were addressed” for performing successfully well during the last Saturday’s election and in such a situation they may be shouting for joy and so some people thought it was a protest.”
Payment of allowance — Force Hdqtrs
However, authorities of the Nigerian Police, said, last night, that the allowances of the policemen are being paid, noting that those yet to get their allowances presented moribund account numbers.
The Police headquarters assured that the issues relating these account numbers were being resolved and the officers affected were now getting alerts.
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Don Awunah, in a statement debunked reports of Policemen going on rampage in Ondo, saying: “The Nigeria Police Force wishes to categorically state that the allowances for the officers and men of the Force that participated in the security operations for the election are being paid. The payments were done through the banks into the account numbers submitted by the personnel in compliance with the policy of Federal Government on Treasury Single Account (TSA) to ensure transparency and accountability.
“The payments commenced few days to the election and most of the personnel confirmed receipt of payment alerts into their accounts before the election. However, those personnel who submitted incomplete accounts details and moribund accounts numbers have been rectified and they have started receiving their money.
“The report is entirely false and misleading, the members of the public are implored to discountenance and disregard it as no Police man went on rampage or protest on the street in Ondo town over non-payment of the election allowance.
“The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations for the election is currently in Ondo State and has debriefed the personnel after the election duties.
“The media as partner with the Nigeria Police Force in crime management are advised to always confirm their story before publication.”
CP wades in
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the town while report had it that the state Police Commissioner Hilda Harrison has waded into the matter.
Harrison, it was gathered, got in touch with the Police authorities on the grievances of the officers. She, according to a police source, has placated the officers and assured them that their allowances were delayed because of some logistics that would soon be rectified.
Impunity cost PDP Ondo – Sheriff
The Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the PDP, at a press conference in Abuja, said high-handedness of governors of the party, while seeking to control developments in the party, led to the electoral misfortune in Ondo State.
The text of the press conference signed by Wale Oladipo, the former National Secretary of the party was read by former Deputy Chairman, Cairo Ojuogboh.
According to him, the impunity in the party started in 2011 with the party’s loss in Nasarawa State which culminated in the 2015 election that the party lost to the APC.
“This was the first warning against impunity. It was ignored. Then in 2015, we had governors in Benue, Kogi, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi and Adamawa losing. We lost in all these states for a common reason, the governors were not unpopular but they imposed their surrogates and the people voted them out. We paid for impunity.
“An analysis of the 2015 general election shows that the entire 10 states above are in the North. The South-South would not have survived if President (Goodluck) Jonathan did not hail from the region. Of course, the figures that emanated from the South-East were abysmal.”
Speaking on the crisis in Ondo, which eventually led to PDP losing the state to APC, Ojougboh traced the crisis to when Mimiko returned to the party in 2014, resulting in mass exodus of PDP members from the party.
He said: “All the PDP members led by Olusola Oke left the PDP for him. In choosing a candidate to succeed him, he did not allow the PDP members to buy forms. He merely anointed Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, who was returned unopposed. Party members cried to the high heavens that Jegede is from the Central zone where Mimiko hails from. Their cries fell on deaf ears.
“On the other hand, the authentic primary was conducted where six participants were involved and Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim emerged. Jimoh hails from the South. He campaigned vigorously and convinced the people to vote for him. But alas, Mimiko will not allow him carry the party flag. Mimiko used the instrumentality of state government to overwhelm Jimoh but could not overwhelm the masses and voters. Of course the result is out there for all to see,” he said.
Victory wasn’t worth celebrating – Egoh
Also commenting on the outcome of the election, Rep. Oghene Egoh, PDP, Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency, Lagos said that APC’s victory was not worth celebrating because of the alleged collusion between the APC, INEC and the judiciary against the PDP.
He said: “I am not against APC winning election in any state. Indeed, for democracy to develop, there is need for government in power to be defeated by opposition, that way you know that democracy is developing.
“When you have victory, let the whole public see that there was really a victory. When you have victory and people begin to doubt the victory, it is not good for democracy and that is what we are having now.
“It would appear as if INEC, the judiciary and in some aspect, the APC combined to destroy the chances of PDP winning election in that state. This is exactly what happened. A situation where you decided the candidacy of a party on Thursday, election is on Saturday is wrong. The winning party cannot rejoice.
“Even the party that took second did not have enough time to pick their agents. They couldn’t submit agents for polling units because there was uncertainty, they did not campaign. So when you win like that, it is not the type of victory that is needed in democracy.
“APC is oppressing the democracy. Maybe APC would have won this election if PDP fully participated but the APC and INEC were clearly there to ensure that the right candidate for PDP did not emerge at least one month to the election.”