By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Dapo Akinrefon, Rotimi Ojomoyela,  Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omezia Ajayi, ADO EKITI

The Social Democratic Party, SDP, Governorship Candidate, Engr Segun Oni, yesterday rejected the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election won by Mr Abiodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Spokesman of the Segun Oni Campaign Organization, Mr Moses Jolayemi, in a chat with Vanguard, accused the APC of engaging in vote-buying and security agencies of compromise during the election, adding the SDP candidate will not concede defeat, and the party will meet to take necessary steps.

Oni kicked as the APC taunted the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which came third in the election of being rejected by Nigerians just as  Oyebanji urged opposition political parties that participated in the exercise to join hands with him to develop the state.

Congratulatory messages, however, continued to pour in for the governor-elect as President Muhammadu Buhari, the South-West Governors’ Forum and National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, among others, said Oyebanji’s victory was well-deserved, considering his contributions to the development of the state and the party before his nomination as the standard-bearer.

They also urged him to be magnanimous in victory in the interest of the people of the state. 

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Oyebanji,  winner of poll, after polling 187,057 votes to defeat the candidates of the SDP, Mr. Segun Oni (82,211 votes) and the PDP, Mr Bisi Kolawole, who scored 67,457 votes.

Oni won’t concede — Campaign spokesman

Jolayemi said: “The outcome is unacceptable to us as a party because it is a travesty of democracy; it is a rape on democracy and clear daylight robbery. The APC has taken advantage of the peoples’ pathetic state of poverty, and that is why the APC refused to campaign. They were not going round doing rallies; we were the ones campaigning because they knew what they wanted to do.

“Their strategy was simple: buy these peoples’ votes and that is why they kept the people in perpetual poverty so that they can be of use every four years.

“They know that it is difficult for someone who is very hungry to resist cash. Some of them have children that are of voting age; some have four children plus their wife and themselves. “If you multiply N5000 by six, it gives you N30,000, which is a huge amount to these people.

“The security agencies compromised. The ‘see and buy thing’ was going on while the security agencies looked the other way.

INEC is also culpable because the arrangement of the polling booth and the ballot boxes was awkward. You wonder why this should be so. The election may appear free but it was not fair.

“It was not free of violence anyway because the third thing they did was to make use of their thugs.

“We have videos of some of their thugs snatching ballot boxes. What did the security agents do, they looked the other way.”

Asked if the SDP will be approaching the tribunal to seek redress, he said: “The decision will be taken in the next few hours. We are going to meet but the central message here is that this election is rejected. Segun Oni is not accepting the results, he is not conceding and he is not congratulating anybody because this is not an election.”

PDP’s distant third position shows Nigerians have rejected them — APC

The APC described the dismal performance of the opposition PDP in the election as an indication that Nigerians have rejected self-serving partisans who make up the PDP.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Felix Morka, the APC said Nigerians are not deceived by PDP’s claim of being on a rescue mission of the country.

“Unsurprisingly, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party finished a distant third position in the just-concluded election. Despite its claim to a self-serving and self-assigned rescue mission of Nigeria, the people of Ekiti State and, by extension, Nigerians are not, in any way, deceived by the ceaseless propaganda of a desperate party that only seeks a return to power to continue its ruinous escapades. 

While it thanked Ekiti people for reaffirming their confidence in her by rallying round the Governor-Elect, Biodun Oyebanji, APC said without a doubt, “the well-deserved victory is an eloquent testimony of the acceptance of our party under the visionary leadership of President Buhari, the sagacity of our National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and the uncommon commitment of other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of our great Party.”

Let’s build Ekiti together, Oyebanji urges opposition

Oyebanji, in his acceptance speech at his Ikogosi-Ekiti country home, thanked Ekiti people for offering him the chance to lead them, and lauded those who competed with him for accepting the outcome of the election.

The governor-elect also appreciated those who did not to vote for him, promising to earn their trust and cooperation as time goes on.

His words: “We recognise all those who did not vote for us, but whose participation in this important democratic ritual of the election enriched the process, especially with the gracious manner in which you accepted the outcome, and helped maintain the peace during and after the exercise.

“We are hopeful that though we did not have your votes at this time, we would earn your trust and cooperation as we begin the journey of keeping Ekiti working.

Keeping Ekiti working

“We are grateful for the privilege you have given to us to bear your sacred mandate at this crucial time in history. We recognise that on October 16, 2022 when by the grace of God we would be inaugurated into office, we are expected to immediately start to build on the legacies of those who came before us, and honourably govern our state in trust for the generations coming after us. 

“It is a duty we campaigned for, and accept with all solemnity and responsibility. In keeping with our covenant with you, we will work together with you, to keep Ekiti working.”

The Governor-elect said the Ekiti victory signalled what to expect in Osun State next month and the general elections next year. 

Thanking all stakeholders for the peaceful outcome of the exercise, he conveyed his “condolences to the families of our kinsmen who died in the pockets of pre-election violence. I join my voice with that of all well meaning Ekiti kete to the call for full investigations into the incidences and ensure justice is done.”

He continued: “In the coming days and weeks, our great party and the incumbent Kayode Fayemi-administration would be working towards finishing well and strong, and completing key legacy projects. We are immensely proud of the legacy our mentor and leader would be leaving behind and thank him for his labour of love and sacrifice for the homeland.”

He disclosed that a transition committee would be set up in earnest to ensure a seamless transition, and demonstrate our preparedness and clarity of vision with the effectiveness and efficiency with which we would hit the ground running on assumption of office.

“In the meantime, we would continue our consultations to seek more input into our blueprint for the state, and would in the coming days open formal channels through which you can send suggestions to us. We want to continue to listen to you and engage with you, so that as we have promised, together with you, we will keep Ekiti working.”

PDP candidate congratulates Oyebanji

The PDP candidate, Mr Olabisi Kolawole, has congratulated Oyebanji on his victory in the Ekiti poll.

In a congratulatory letter he personally signed, Kolawole said: “Following the announcement of your victory in the June 18 Ekiti Governorship Election by INEC, I, hereby, write to congratulate you accordingly.

“I believe that power belongs to God and He bestows upon whoever he chooses. I also believe in popular choice that the unfettered expression of the peoples’ mandate as one of the crucial hallmarks of democratic principle and practice.

“Democracy must, therefore, deliver to the people dividends of security or protection and enhance their social welfare and well-being basically, and among other deliverables.

“These were the motivation for my ambition in the governorship of Ekiti State which I feel strongly to reiterate here in view of the precarious situations of our people at the moment.

“Please take urgent actions aimed at redressing the plights of our people when you fully assume the mantle shortly.

“Finally, I wish you the guidance of the Almighty God in the onerous task ahead.”

Prosecute vote buyers in 7 days, SERAP tells INEC

Meanwhile, the  Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, gave the INEC seven days to prosecute those involved in vote-buying during  the governorship election.

SERAP’s Deputy Director,  Kolawole Oluwadare, asked the INEC Chairman,  Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to within seven days “gather information about reports of vote-buying by the three leading political parties in the just concluded Ekiti State governorship election.”

Oluwadare cited  undue influence, intimidation, ballot box snatching among the infractions committed during the election and urged INEC to “promptly and effectively prosecute those arrested, and bring to justice anyone who sponsored, aided and abetted them. 

The statement read in part: “Corruption of the ballot box intrudes on the freedom of Nigerian voters to make up their own minds. Vote-buying and other forms of electoral corruption freeze out the less wealthy candidates and parties.

“Wealthy candidates and their sponsors ought not to be allowed to profit from their crimes. We are concerned that impunity for vote-buying and electoral bribery is widely prevalent in Nigeria, as perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

“If voting is as important as INEC always claims it is, now is the time to end the buying of democracy by wealthy politicians and their sponsors.

“Vote-buying encourages poor governance and weakens citizens’ capacity to hold their ‘elected officials’ accountable for their actions.

“When political candidates or their sponsors decide to buy the support of the people rather than contest fairly for their votes, there are possibilities that such candidates and sponsors will show a disregard for democratic rules and a disposition to adopt illegal means becomes inevitable.”

Oyebanji’s victory, good omen tor 2023 polls — Buhari

Meanwhile, President Buhari, who congratulated Oyebanji, saying his victory was well deserved.

President Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said: “This is a good beginning for you and your team. The APC is getting stronger and more united. The victory of our party in Ekiti is an indication of the confidence of Nigerians in the ability of our great party to deliver quality governance to all.”

He charged all APC members across and outside the country to see this as a good omen for the 2023 general elections and work assiduously to ensure victory for the party, continuing the trend with Osun State governorship poll, next month. 

He also lauded INEC and the law enforcement agencies for the preparations put in place, urging them to keep the momentum for upcoming elections.

It’s a sign of what to come—Adamu

In like manner, the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the Ekiti victory is a sign of APC’s anticipated winning streaks in all future elections in the country.  “The victory is a precursor to expected victories of the APC at the Osun election later this year and at the 2023 general elections.”

Senator Adamu, in a congratulatory letter to Oyebanji, said the victory was the result of his popularity, as well as the strong campaign strategies put in place by the APC.

Ekiti won’t regret votingfor Oyebanji—Fayemi

In his remarks, an elated Governor Kayode Fayemi, said that Ekiti would not regret casting their votes for Oyebanji, saying the APC and the Governor-elect would live up to the expectations of the people and Nigerians.

Speaking while presenting the election results and declaration of sheets to Oyebanji in Ikogosi Ekiti, Fayemi described the victory as exciting, applauding President Buhari, the APC Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Progressives Governors’ Forum for their immense support during the electoral battle.

He said: “We worked hard, we planned and pulled all the strings because Ekiti is the precursor for our coming victories in 2023 and Osun State and this is because we have a sellable product. His trajectory has always been to make Ekiti better and this victory will be to the benefit of Ekiti people. 

“With him in the saddle, you may not likely see any abandoned project in our dear state. I really thank Ekiti people for investing this confidence in our party. They have never done it before. Our people believe in turn by turn, but that has changed now. 

“I know that Oyebanji won’t give Ekiti any course to regret. All we will do is to live up to the expectations of Ekiti people and Nigerians by making Ekiti a cynosure of all eyes and best destination of choice for investors and for people who are looking for a safe haven.”

Fayemi’s leadership made it possible for APC to retain Ekiti — Tinubu

Presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while congratulating Oyebanji, and the party for winning Saturday’s governorship election, said Governor Fayemi’s leadership made the victory possible.

Tinubu in a statement by his Media Office said: “I must commend the now outgoing-Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and his team whose progressive leadership in Ekiti made it possible for APC to retain government for the next four years. I am confident that the Governor will finish well and strong.

“While thanking the people of Ekiti once again for standing by APC, I urge them and indeed the generality of Nigerians to continue to maintain their faith and confidence in our party.”

Tinubu commended Oyebanji for the steadfastness and passion he brought into the campaign, which he said paid off with the emphatic and outstanding victory. 

He said: “I congratulate our Governor-elect Abiodun Oyebanji and his Deputy, Mrs. Monisade Afuye, for their great success at the election.   This victory is our victory as members of the All Progressives Congress. 

“I salute the people of Ekiti State for voting for progressive leadership and continuity. I commend the leadership of our party for leading APC to this major victory in Ekiti. Also deserving of praise are our party’s governors led by their Chairman and Governor of Kebbi for their hard work and tenacity to achieve victory for the party.  This feat should motivate and inspire us as we go for more victories in the coming elections.”

Ekiti elected best, most sellable candidate—PGF

Also speaking, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said that Oyebanji’s victory showed that Ekiti electorate were sophisticated enough to identify and go for the best

Governor Bagudu, who went down memory lane, revealed that for APC to have won the election with over 100,000 votes margin compared to less than 20,000 recorded in 2018 confirmed how well Fayemi has done in improving the lives of the populace.

He said: “We thank the people of Ekiti State for recognising our contributions and for rewarding us with this victory.”

Oyebanji’s victory, symbolic — Akeredolu

Similarly, Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu,  described Oyebanji’s victory as a testament to the acceptability of the party and performance of Governor Kayode Fayemi in the state.

Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, said:  “I congratulate my brother, Biodun Oyebanji on this victory. I rejoice with our great party, the APC. I salute the people of Ekiti for their resilience and peaceful conduct. 

“This victory is for the people of Ekiti State and all lovers of democracy across the country. It is a mark of renewed commitment of the people to our party, the APC.”

 “I have no doubt that BAO will consolidate on the gains of the outgoing administration of Governor Fayemi and leverage on the continuity of our party in government to further deliver dividends of good governance to the people. 

“This is our first win since the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the Presidential candidate of our party.   This election is, however, symbolic as it shows the preparedness and commitment of our people to vote enmass for the APC in the next year’s general election.”

Keyamo cautions APC against losing focus on Osun, Presidency      

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, has urged the APC not to lose focus on other upcoming elections following its victory in Ekiti.

Keyamo while congratulating Oyebanji said this is not the time for complacency.

He said APC must firmly keep its feet on the ground and ensure victory at next month’s governorship election in Osun State as well as next year’s presidential election.

Reacting to the APC victory in Ekiti, Keyamo said: “Whilst this buoys our spirits in APC and I congratulate our own Biodun Oyebanji on this momentous feat, we must keep our feet firmly on the ground as there’s greater work ahead to win the Osun Governorship election and the 2023 Presidential elections. There should be no complacency.”

Results reflect ballots cast — Yiaga Africa

Assessing the election, an election observer group, Yiaga Africa, yesterday, said INEC’s official results for the 2022 Ekiti State governorship election was consistent with Yiaga Africa’s, Watching the Vote, WTV, estimate.

Addressing newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, its Executive Director, Samson Itodo said: “INEC official results for the 2022 Ekiti state governorship election is consistent with Yiaga Africa’s WTV estimate (specifically, it falls within the Yiaga Africa’s WTV estimated range).

“Had the official results been changed at the ward, LGA or state collation centres, the official results would not have fallen within the Yiaga Africa WTV estimated ranges.

“Yiaga Africa commends INEC for the marked improvement in logistics management and the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the election.”

Situation Room decries citing of polling units in private residences

In its assessment of Saturday’s exercise, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, an umbrella coalition of over 70 major civil society organizations in the country, yesterday, urged INEC to take urgent steps to remove polling units from private residences before the next general election.

While presenting a preliminary report the exercise, Conveners of the NCSSR, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu noted that citing polling units in private residences could substantially impugn the credibility of elections.

They also lamented the over-concentration of voters in certain polling units while others had fewer voters.

The report reads: “The Situation Room notes that INEC’s strategy of voters’ redistribution failed to address the problem of over concentration of voters in some polling units. A glaring example was the situation at Surajudeen School, Ado Dallimore (Ward 9), Ado Ekiti LGA, which had about five thousand registered voters shared between just two polling units.

 Some of the voters complained that their request for transfer of registration to their preferred polling units was not approved before this exercise.

“Several of the polling units were cited in private residences and compounds in Ekiti State contrary to claims by INEC that the Commission had moved polling units to public spaces during its “Expansion of Voters Access to Polling Units Exercise” in 2021. We hope that INEC will properly address this lingering issue going into the 2023 General Elections.”

Senate President hails Oyebanji

Also, Senate President Ahmad Lawan congratulated Oyebanji on his victory.

Lawan, in a statement yesterday by his Media Adviser, Ola Awoniyi, congratulated the APC, both at the state and national levels and the people of Ekiti on the peaceful and successful conduct of the poll, and also for making the right choice.

He  said that   the outcome of the election further demonstrates the trust and confidence of Nigerians across the country in the APC, adding that “the smooth conduct of the election is an indication of what to expect in next year’s general elections as democracy continues to grow firm roots in Nigeria under the APC Federal Government led by President Buhari.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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