March 30, 2023

2023 Polls: Go back to drawing board for another time, INEC urges losers


…Enjoins winners to be magnanimous

…As Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat, 40 lawmakers receive certs of return

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Resident Electoral Commission, REC, Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, urged losers and Aggrieved parties in the 2023 Gubernatorial and House of Assembly to go back to the drawing board to restrategise for another time as the commission would continue to create the needed level playing field for all those that aspire to take part in any election in Nigeria.

Agbaje gave the advice in his address at the presentation of Certificates of Return to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat and other winners of the March 18, Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in Lagos.

Hordes of armed security personnel, on Monday, have taken over the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and environs on Thursday, at Birell Avenue, Sabo, Yaba, Mainland Local Government Area of the state in preparation for the presentation of Certificates of Return to reelected Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Governor-Elect, Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamza and 40 members-elect of the State House of Assembly won the just concluded Gubernatorial and 40 members of the House of Assembly elections in the state.

As at 9 am, the heavily armed security personnel, comprising of the Nigeria Police Rapid Response Squad, RRS, men of the Department of State Service, DSS, Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps, LNSC, were seen freaking members of the media, guests and members of the public

Early arrival at the venue includes state party Chairman, Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Sam Egube, and APC chieftains, among others.

According to one of the security men who preferred anonymity, the heavy presence of the security was aimed at curtailing any possible unrest, unruly and indiscipline acts by the public.

 APC party faithful were seen chanting various victory songs outside the INEC office.

Recall that the gubernatorial election was held on March 18 in which Governor Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressive Congress, APC, emerged winner with over 700,000 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party who polled over 300,000 votes, while Dr Olajide Adeniran, popularly called Jandor of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, came distant third with about 75,000 votes.

Meanwhile, Rhodes-Vivour just secured a court order to inspect electoral materials used during the election as he challenged the victory of Governor Sanwo-Olu.

Agbaje also urged them to embrace peace and shun any form of violence.

According to him, “It is indeed a great delight for me to welcome you all to this special occasion of the presentation of Certificates of Return to the Lagos State Governor-Elect, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Deputy Governor-Elect, Dr Obafemi Hamzat as well as the 40 State House of Assembly members-elect.

“Permit me to start by congratulating all the stakeholders in the electoral process and the very good and peace loving people of Lagos State for the successful conduct of the General Election in the State.

“I am indeed humbled by the outcome of the election despite the enormous challenges that characterized the exercise.

“The journey towards the accomplishment of success in the Governorship and State House of Assembly Election was not completely smooth as some desperate elements used their negative utterances which unnecessarily overheated the political environment.

“Armed thugs were used to unleash mayhem on the process in some areas while unfounded allegations were peddled against INEC to distract her from focusing on its mandate during the period.

“The Commission was however undaunted as it remained focused on doing all that was required within the ambit of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to avail all registered political parties that nominated candidates for the election equal opportunity to participate in the process.

“The preparation for the 2023 General Election commenced with the expansion of voters access to polling units in 2021 which culminated in the increase of polling units in the State from 8,464 to 13, 325 polling units.

‘This development necessitated huge personnel, vehicles and materials deployed for the election in the state. This was followed by the Continuous Voter Registration exercise of June, 2021/July 2022 that led to a new voter population of 7,060,195 in Lagos State.

“The total number of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collected in the State was 6,214,970 which was at its peak at 88 per cent.

“It is important to point out that the successful outcome of the Lagos State Governorship and State House of Assembly Election would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of the electorate who came out to vote for the candidates of their choice.

“Let me once again reassure all stakeholders in the Nation’s Electoral Process that INEC under the leadership of Professor Mahmood Yakubu, will never do anything that will alter the gains it has achieved in terms of credibility.

“Rather, the commission will continue to build on her credibility by doing everything possible in line with the rule of law towards ensuring that it becomes one of the best Election Management Bodies in the world that meets the aspirations of the Nigerian people.

“I, therefore, urge all of you to join hands with INEC as the commission continues to improve the electoral process by positively playing your roles. 

The political class must however change its “do or die” attitude to good conduct in politics. 

“Political culture of violence, malpractices, thuggery, vote buying and all other forms of election vices has to be done away with by Political Party leaders.

“This they can do by letting their followers know that violence, malpractices, thuggery and all other election vices are not only crimes but evil forces that can hinder the progress of the country’s democratic process.

“In addition, there is a pressing need for increased partnership and cooperation among and between stakeholders if Nigeria must attain her desired sustainable democratic ideals.

Let me use this opportunity to enjoin the winners of the Lagos State Governorship Election and State House of Assembly Election to be magnanimous in victory by having an open hand approach to all Lagosians and other residents of the state.

“Government must be seen by all as enhancing good governance for the benefit of the good people of Lagos State. For those that could not make it this time, all they need to do is to go back to the drawing board to re-strategize for another time as INEC will continue to create the needed level playing field for all those that aspire to take part in any election in Nigeria.”

Agbaje commended all stakeholders for the various roles they played in collaboration with the commission during the period of the conduct of the election. “The very laudable roles played by the Security Agencies, leaders of political parties in the State most especially the IPAC leadership, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Gender-Based Organizations, Persons with Disabilities, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Traditional and Religious leaders, the Media, Voters, among others cannot be over-emphasized.”

The Supervising National Commissioner, Mr Sam Olumekun, also delivered his address before handing over the Certificates of Return to the Governor-Elect and the Deputy Governor-Elect and later to winners of the State House of Assembly election.