NO election is perfect, anywhere in the world. The Osun State gubernatorial election which took place last Saturday, 22nd September 2018, was no exception. But it has been generally acclaimed as free, fair and peaceful though highly tension-soaked.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, declared the election inconclusive after the collation of the results from the 30 local government areas showed that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ademola Adeleke, scored 254,698; followed by Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who polled 254,345 votes.
INEC felt compelled to declare the poll inconclusive when it discovered that the number of votes cancelled in seven polling units (3,498) was more than the difference between the first and second placed candidates (353). It reached this decision based on INEC Election Guidelines made pursuant to Section 153 of the Electoral Act 2015.
The scale of the recorded evidences of vote-buying was much less than the reported cases in the Anambra, Edo and Ekiti elections. This implies that the prohibition of the use of smartphones inside the polling booths by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was effective. Also, beyond the usual suspicious speculations that characterise elections, there were virtually no provable evidences that the electoral umpire compromised the process in favour of any political interest.
The poll was keenly contested, which was why it resulted in a near photo-finish between the frontrunner and the first runner-up, with the third-placed candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, making a good showing (128,094). Even when supporters of the PDP initially smelt victory and went on a jubilation spree, the generally acceptable conduct of the election prevented possible outbreak of violence.
We commend all the stakeholders to the exercise of last Saturday – the electorate, the political parties, INEC officials, security agencies, the media and election monitors – for a job well done. Whatever misgivings anyone might have about it should be followed up through the due processes prescribed by the Constitution and the Electoral Act. No one should take the law into their hands.
Tomorrow’s rerun elections in the seven polling centres in which cancellations took place last Saturday, may appear a tiny challenge but it requires the absolute cooperation and peaceful comportment of all concerned for the Osun governorship election 2018 to be brought to a logical conclusion.
INEC, the concerned political parties which will participate and the security agencies must be vigilant and ensure that the rerun election will not go to the highest bidder. The true electoral will of Osun people must prevail to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
The Osun State governorship election is a precursor to the 2019 general elections and must be handled with utmost care and patriotism.