By Emmanuel Aziken, Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Gbenga Olarinoye, Yinka Ajayi & Henry Ojelu
OSOGBO — High-wire political intrigues by chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to outsmart one another ahead of Thursday’s governorship re-run in selected polling units in Osun State were yesterday unfolding.
Social Democratic Party, SDP, candidate in the deadlocked election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who had become the beautiful bride of the two parties was yesterday weighing his options after receiving emissaries from the two camps.
The intrigues aside, both parties were also physically guarding their fortresses, a development that led to a chieftain of one of the political parties being attacked with machetes after supposedly encroaching to canvass for votes.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, head of the media council of the APC Governorship Campaign Council in his reaction affirmed that the APC would overturn the lead of the PDP.
The Osun State governorship election was announced as a deadlock following the declaration of Senator Ademola Adeleke with 254,698 votes while his closest rival, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, of the APC, was accredited with 254,345 votes and Omisore of the SDP was credited with 128,049 votes to take the third position.
The re-run was declared by the electoral body following the fact that the 353-votes difference between Adeleke and Oyetola was less than the 3,498 cancelled votes.
The re-run is to be conducted in Orolu LGA (three units, 947 votes), Ife South (two units, 1,314 votes), Ife North (one unit, 353 votes), and Osogbo (one unit, 884 votes).
Yesterday, high officials of the APC launched out in three ways. One: Senior party officials, Vanguard gathered have been approached to prevail on the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Yusuf Lasun who represents Orolu Local Government Area to work on him to help mobilise for the party to win the remaining 947 votes. The PDP had won the council area by 7,776 votes compared to the APC which won 5,442 votes and the SDP which got 2,043 votes. That is despite the fact that the area is represented by Lasun, an APC stalwart.
Lasun contested in the APC primary and lost out to Oyetola and is perceived to have been lukewarm towards the election. One source said yesterday that Governor Rauf Aregbesola was unwilling to talk to him but that some political stakeholders had volunteered to speak with him.
The party has also launched moves to entrench its hold in the Osogbo area where the APC got the upper hand.
APC, PDP woo Omisore
However, in an apparent sign of desperation, Vanguard also gathered that the APC stakeholders had also approached Omisore, until now an unforgiving foe of the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu-led tendency in a bid to cut a deal.
The emissaries from the APC met with Omisore before the PDP emissaries led by Senate President Bukola Saraki met the former PDP senator and deputy governor.
48 per cent of the votes are to be contested for in Ife North and Ife South Local Government Areas which are generally regarded as Omisore’s stronghold. Though the APC won in the two Local Government Areas last Saturday, however, the Omisore factor combined with the PDP local strength, it is believed could be a threat.
Following the meeting with Omisore, Saraki said:
“We had a fruitful discussion with Senator Omisore. He used to be with us. And we believe he is helping us now. I am optimistic of a good outing for PDP.
“After meeting with him, I am more optimistic now that with his support, PDP will win. We are confident of a good outing. I am more confident now.
Speaking on his twitter @bukolasaraki, the Senate President said: “I thank Sen. Iyiola Omisore (@iyiomisore) for the warm reception he and his people gave me and members of my entourage in Ile-Ife today.
“We have agreed to work together because our goals are the same. We all want good governance in Osun State. Over the next 24 hours, we will work out the details.
“Our discussion will definitely be useful for the growth of democracy in our country; the development of Osun State and its people; as well as for future engagements among political players.
I’ll back any party that’ll implement my agenda — Omisore
On his part, Omisore said he would be willing to support any political party that would implement his agenda of good governance, payment of full salaries to workers and prompt payment of pensioners’ allowances.
Omisore said: “I have given my programmes to both APC and PDP. My programme is like this; payment of salaries and pensions. Good governance is what is important to me.
“Anyone between the two that will do that will get my support. I am passionate about Osun, and my interest is the welfare of the people of this state. I have told those sent to me. At the appropriate time, we will tell you where we are going.”
Omisore’s father, Oba David Omisore, is the ruler of Garage Olode, a town in Ife South, where the election in two units were cancelled.
Besides, Adeleke’s running mate, Albert Adeogun is said to be from Ife.
Speaking on their approach towards the re-run election yesterday, stakeholders from the two parties expressed confidence on claiming victory.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, chairman of the APC media committee of the APC Campaign Council, said the APC would surely upend the lead of the PDP.
“PDP descended into hysteria after INEC announced that the election was inconclusive, saying this reinforced the Council’s earlier statement that the opposition party was in the panic mode prior to the election and that it had no confidence in the institutions saddled with organizing the polls.’’
“Rather than resort to threats, the PDP could either go to court or decide not to participate in the supplementary election of September 27th. What the PDP cannot and must not do is to engage in its trade-mark brigandage or to employ tactics that can short-circuit the democratic process.’’
Stating that APC’s confidence in the ability of the relevant state institutions involved in the Osun election remains unshaken, he said party’s belief is that that “every disagreement resulting from the election must be resolved through the democratic process, rather than a resort to threats of fire and brimstone.”
Recalling that the APC was leading the PDP by over 40,000 votes in the 2015 Kogi governorship election when INEC declared the election inconclusive, he said ‘’rather then resort to threats, like the PDP is doing now, the APC simply submitted to the democratic process and the supplementary election was peacefully conducted in 91 polling units across 18 of the 21 local governments in the state.’’
Our plan is an internal matter—Igbokwe
Spokesperson of the APC in Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said: “We will do everything to keep our plans as an internal matter. PDP has been saying that they have opened lines of communication, but we have not heard from the other side that they have approached them. People should not expect us to disclose our winning plans. PDP has been talking about alliances, but ours is something we cannot disclose. We are winning the election, but our war plans are known to us alone. Negotiations do not happen in a marketplace, so we are not revealing our plans.”
We’ll woo voters legitimately — Okanlawon
Special Adviser to Aregbesola on Information and Strategy, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said: “I can tell you that we are doing everything legitimately as a party to win the votes that declare our candidate the winner of the election.”
APC inducing each voter with N20,000 — PDP
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Diran Odeyemi said that the PDP was optimistic of winning the rerun election but expressed worry over allegations that the APC was inducing voters.
Odeyemi said: “INEC has the voter’s register for those particular units and every political party is in possession of it. What we are doing is to call them individually, our leaders live among them, and they have been reaching out to them.
“What we are afraid of is that the APC is offering N20,000 to the voters in those areas where re-run will be held, and they collect their voters’ card so that they will not come out on the day of the re-run election or when they come out, they will not be able to cast their votes. That will reduce the number of people that may want to vote against them. What they will now do is ensure their strong supporters will be the ones to come out to vote.
“As a matter of fact, they have camped voters in a particular place till Thursday after which they will convey them in a bus to the voting centres. That is what they’re planning to do.
“What we also heard is that they are using security men to intimidate and harass our members.
Already, one of our leaders, Fatai Diekola was beaten up, and they now tried to justify his arrest by lying that he was in possession of voters’ cards. There is nothing wrong in him canvassing for votes, INEC allows us to canvass for votes till Wednesday. If he was in possession of voters’ cards, he should have been paraded, but that did not happen. In fact, we later got to find out that those arrested on Saturday in Iwo were not PDP members.”
Thugs attacks PDP chieftain in Osogbo, whereabouts unknown
Sources told Vanguard that Diekola was attacked at Alekuwodo area of Osogbo where he had allegedly gone to canvass for votes for his party ahead of the Thursday re-run election in some parts of the state.
He was said to have been attacked at Ward 05, Unit 17, Adewale Street, Alekuwodo in Osogbo, one of the units where Thursday’s rerun election would take place.
Suspected gun-wielding thugs allegedly shot sporadically into the air when they got to the area to scare the people.
It was gathered that the incident happened around 11.30am and residents of the area scampered when they heard gunshots.
Vanguard reliably gathered that two of his (Diekola’s) aides who were in the vehicle with him were shot, while he was attacked with axes and sustained deep cuts.
He was, however, taken away by officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC.
One of his political friends and a former commissioner in the state, Mr. Sunday Akere confirmed the attack and expressed worry that Diekola has remained incommunicado.
When contacted, the state commissioner of Police, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye did not pick his telephone.
Protesters storm INEC office over Osun election
Supporters of the PDP also yesterday, stormed the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to protest the state re-run governorship election billed on Thursday, 27 September.
The protesters, who stormed the venue were carrying placards with various inscriptions such as ‘No To rerun, ‘INEC don’t conspire with APC’; ‘The people spoke on Saturday, announce the results’, among others.
Ooni lauds electorate, begins Olojo festival with 7days seclusion
Meanwhile, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has commended the people of Osun State for conducting themselves maturely before, during and after last Saturday’s governorship election.
He said: “We all have now observed through this election that power belongs to the people, by the grace of God, very soon the best candidate will emerge as the state governor of the state of Osun.
“Osun now sets the pace of peaceful political conduct in Nigeria because what presently happens here in our state has never happened in the history of Nigeria for the election has become successful without any bloodshed even though it is not yet concluded.”
Bode George flays INEC
Also, a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George has flayed INEC for declaring a stalemate in Saturday’s election, saying it was unnecessary.
George said in a statement entitled: ‘The people of Osun have spoken,’: “In a free and fair democratic process, the people of Osun chose Senator Ademola Adeleke as the next governor to preside over their affairs for the next four years.
“It was a clear, unambiguous victory well earned by the candidate of the PDP. Senator Adeleke was the people’s choice. Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, the APC Candidate, was defeated regardless of the narrow margin.
It is rather disturbing for the INEC to now concoct an unnecessary stalemate. Cancelled votes remain cancelled, removed from the total votes. Where then did they manufacture a so-called inconclusive election? It has no bearing with our electoral law. It is a blatant fraud which may trigger a dangerous recourse for our democracy.
“INEC must as a matter of justice, fairness and the codification of the rule of law and constitutional primacy declare Senator Adeleke as the rightful winner.
The will of the people must prevail. We must not conflagrate this nation.”
Yesterday, lawyers reacted to the seeming conflict between the provisions of the constitution and the electoral guidelines in the declaration of a winner in an election.
Lawal Pedro, SAN:
What politicians are doing is simply politicizing an issue that has been settled by law. The INEC guideline which no political parties has challenged was made pursuant to the electoral act. No political party has gone to court to challenge that guideline. The guideline stipulates that when the number of canceled votes are more than the difference between the two leading parties, then the election is inconclusive. In the case of Osun election, INEC simply applied its guideline and declared the election incolclusive.
Mr Solomon Bob, Former special assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State:
INEC’s declaration of the gubernatorial election in Osun State as inconclusive is akin to attempting to reinvent the wheel. It constitutes an audacious assault on the Constitution of Nigeria, particularly section 179(2).
It also violates the clear provisions of section 69 of the Electoral Act. A reading of these provisions would show that for purposes of determining a winner in an election, only lawful and valid votes matter, not cancelled or invalid votes.
INEC cannot rely on its guidelines or any subsidiary legislation to override the provisions of Nigeria’s supreme law – the constitution. INEC is not an elections tribunal and cannot perform the functions of one by delving into cancelling and uncanceling votes.
When votes are cancelled they remain cancelled and only a tribunal or court can decide otherwise. As the law stands, a winner has already emerged in the Osun polls and that’s the candidate who met the requirements of spread and plurality in lawful votes cast – Senator Ademola Adeleke.
Monday Ubani, Former 2nd Vice-President, NBA:
The electoral act gives INEC the power to enact an electoral guideline for every election. So whatever INEC has done in Osun state is in accordance with the electoral act. Part of the guideline stipulates that whenever an election is conducted and concluded, and there are areas where result are canceled, INEC reserves the power to determine if the differentials between the two leading candidate or parties would have been affected by the canceled votes. If the number of registered voters in the areas where they have canceled result or where election did not hold is more than the marginal figure between the two leading candidates, that election must be regarded as inconclusive. The number of registered voters in the four polling unit where elections were canceled is more that 353 which is differential.
It is a different thing entirely if one has to determine whether INEC exercised its discretion properly in canceling election in the four polling units. INEC could have canceled those elections deliberately, they could have done it with ill motive. They would have also done with good intention having observed that election never took place in those places. It can tell where INEC took the decision it took but all I can say it the it acted within the law.
Dele Oloke, Chairman, NBA Ikeja Branch:
It is a point of fact that the Supreme Court in Faleke and Abubakar Audu has confirmed that INEC can declare an election inconclusive. I must say that we Nigerians must not sleep with our eyes close when an arbitrary power is given to an electoral body that is a creation of the constitution, to abuse the process of our elections. For me, it is too late for anybody to cry. How can we put an election body in place and still give it power to declare an election it conducted as inconclusive. Don’t forget that INEC registers are their own creation.
Why must we have this kind of problem especially when you realize that the number of registered voters does not represent the number of voters that have PVC. You cannot compel anybody to come and vote. Why must INEC be allowed to have such powers to say because the margin between A and B is ineligible then the election is inclusive. What this means is that all INEC need to do the bidding of any political party, is just to declare elections in some polling units inconclusive.