By Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Peter Duru, Adeola Badru, Bashir Bello, Peter Okutu, By Steve Oko, Chinedu Adonu, ASABA
Victorious governorship candidates in the March 18 polls, yesterday, received certificates of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, unveiled their plans for the various states and extended hands of fellowship to their opponents.
However, some of the aggrieved opponents and parties kicked and vowed to reclaim their mandates through the court.
Among governors-elect who received their certificates of return, yesterday, are Abba Kabir Yusuf (NNPP, Kano), Sherrif Oborevwori (PDP, Delta), Alex Otti (LP, Abia), Seyi Makinde (PDP, Oyo), Francis Nwifuru (APC, Ebonyi), Hyacinth Alia (APC, Benue) and Siminialayi Fubara (PDP, Rivers).
Deputy governors-elect and candidates who won House of Assembly polls in concluded constituencies were also given certificates of return.
Aggrieved opponents, who turned down the olive branch and vowed to challenge the outcome of the elections include Chief Chijioke Edeoga, the Labour Party, LP governorship candidate in Enugu, and the Abia State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which recanted its earlier congratulatory message to Dr Alex Otti of the LP, who won the Abia governorship election.
Yusuf extends olive branch to Gawuna, other opponents in Kano
In Kano, the Governor-elect, Abba Kabir Yusuf, extended hands of friendship to his closest rival and the All Progressives Congress, APC, Candidate, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna and other opponents, to come and join hands with his government to take the state to the next level.
Yusuf made the call in his acceptance speech shortly after receiving his certificate of return from INEC officials.
He said he had forgiven those who wronged him and sought forgiveness from those he offended, saying it was time to start on a new path in the interest of the state.
Yusuf also said that his wives and children and those of his Deputy-elect, Aminu Abdussalam Gwarzo will not interfere or be involved in activities of government as they didn’t take any oath of office.
According to him, “Whether as Governor or Deputy Governor, we will not involve our wives, children in activities of government. What is before us is to restore the lost glory of the state.
“For us in NNPP, it is a no victor, no vanquished contest. We call on the Gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, and other contestants in the March 18 election to come and join hands together with us to move the state forward. Election period is over, now it is time to join hands together for the interest of Kano.
“We heard Gawuna telling the media before the results were announced that if he does not emerge winner, he will accept the decision as the will of God. So, we are calling on him to come out now and address the people to confirm this as the will of God.
“Politicians should learn to accept defeat when they are defeated. When in 2003, Sen. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso lost the election, then I was his PA, he came out to direct me to call his Director of Press and they went in together. He went to congratulate the winner,” he said.
Yusuf added: “We have inherited a state that is in dire need of revival and we must work together to ensure that Kano regains its rightful place in terms of Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, Commerce, Industrialization, Water supply, Security and Environment, etc., which we promise to prioritize. So, we call on all to join hands together to address the situation bedeviling the state.”
I’ll work with all parties, groups — Alia
In Benue, the Governor-elect, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, promised to work with all parties and groups to reposition the state.
Others who also received their certificates in Makurdi were the Deputy Governor-elect, Sam Ode and the 32 elected Assembly members.
Speaking shortly after receiving his Certificate, the Governor-elect said the event marked the beginning of a new Benue “which I believe is very possible.
“So I am very confident that the members-elect will make a transition; I remain hopeful in an Assembly that will produce and create avenues for peace, economic growth by making all assertions meaningful for the state. We will apply this trust maximally and optimally to the benefit of the state.”
While commending the people for their faith in him, Fr. Alia said: “We will not take this trust of yours for granted. We remain indebted to all who made this day possible. We will remain loyal and patriotic to the tenets of our nation. We will remain faithful and great citizens of the state and nation.
“We look forward to working with different groups and all parties in the state. We are looking forward to taking our state to greater heights. We must all be architects of a new face of Benue. We need to make the civil service which is the engine room of the State functional.”
I won’t fail Abians — Otti, urges public funds looters to return loots
On his part, Governor-elect of Abia State, Dr Alex Otti, assured Abians that he would not disappoint them, admitting that huge expectations are on him.
Otti, who made the promise after receiving his certificate of return at the Umuahia headquarters of the INEC, said “God has given Abia a new song”, and promised not to betray the confidence Abia voters reposed in him.
“Your expectations have put a huge responsibility on us. I won’t fail Abians, who have waited for an opportunity like this for a new dawn. You will not be disappointed. I won’t betray the confidence you have in me,” Otti assured.
He commended his fellow contestants who had already called to congratulate and promised to support him to move the state forward.
The Labour Party candidate urged other contestants to put the election behind them and rally round him for the good of the state instead of engaging in litigation against “a clearly won election.”
Otti thanked out-going Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu for also congratulating him, and for advising other contestants against unnecessary litigation.
He, however, called on Ikpeazu not to create unnecessary tension in the state by awarding fresh contracts as doing so may not be in good taste.
Otti who said he would not be vindictive, asked anyone with looted funds belonging to Abia to immediately and voluntarily return the same as he would not have time to be chasing anybody around.
“I call on those who have looted Abia funds to return them immediately. We can’t allow our resources to be converted to a private estate while Abians are wallowing in abject poverty.”
Otti used the opportunity to commend the Returning Officer, and Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology Owerri, FUTO, Professor Nnenna Otti, for being upright and refusing to be compromised.
Abia PDP recants, vows to challenge Otti, others’ victory
Meanwhile, the ruling PDP in Abia State has vowed to challenge the victories of Otti and the LP House of assembly members-elect at the election petition tribunal.
This is coming less than one week after Governor Ikpeazu congratulated Otti and urged losers at the polls including the PDP candidate not to head for the courts.
PDP Acting Publicity Secretary and Vice Chairman, Abia North, Elder Abraham Amah, in a press statement, said that the decision to challenge Otti’s victory was taken after a review of the results of the election by the enlarged State Executive Working Committee of the party on Tuesday in Umuahia.
“The Abia PDP State Working Committee, SWC and the enlarged State Executive Committee, SEC met today and reviewed the results after collecting all the materials used in the conduct of the just concluded governorship and state House of Assembly elections and decided to go to court to challenge the results of the Abia guber election, especially in six local government areas where the BVAS machines were not used.”
The decision, according to the statement, “is coming on the heels of the Labour Party taking PDP House of Assembly members-elect to court despite the honest and wise advice and appeal of the Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, that those that have been declared winners of the election including the governor-elect, Alex Otti, should be spared the burden of litigation which only serves to distract public officers from performing their duties and responsibilities.”
Abia PDP said it was shocked to note that at a time when it was making arrangements for a seamless and peaceful transition for the new government, it is the same Labour Party that was declared the winner that is trying to torpedo the process.
The statement said the legal department of the Abia PDP “will release the details of its petitions in the next 24 hours and head to the Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the declaration of Alex Otti as the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election.”
I’ll do everything legally within my power to reclaim my mandate – Edeoga
In like manner, the LP Governorship Candidate in Enugu, Chief Chijioke Edeoga vowed to do everything legally within his power to reclaim his mandate from Mr. Peter Mbah of the PDP.
Edeoga spoke Tuesday at Obollo-Afor while celebrating the victory of Obinna Ijele, the member-elect for Udenu State constituency in Enugu State House of Assembly.
He said there would be no negotiation with anybody, since the PDP had chosen to “steal” the mandate given to him by the people of Enugu State, adding there is no “no retreat, no surrender.”
Makinde lauds INEC for deepening electoral process
In Oyo , Governor ‘Seyi Makinde lauded the INEC for deepening the electoral process with the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, which according to him, had further improved the credibility of elections in the country.
In his acceptance speech after receiving his certificate of return from the INEC at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Makinde while reaffirming his avowed commitment towards taking the state to greater heights in terms of meeting the expectations of the electorate who overwhelmingly handed him another four-year mandate, assured that his administration would leave no stone unturned in ensuring people of the state got due value for their votes.
Dedicating the election victory to the people of the state, the governor said it was time to hit the ground running to redouble his efforts of taking the state from poverty to prosperity.
I’ll run an inclusive govt in Ebonyi— Nwifuru
In Ebonyi, the Governor-elect, Francis Nwifuru, who is the speaker of the House of Assembly, appreciated the INEC for conducting a free and fair election
He called on his opponents to work together with him for the peace and development of the state and promised that his administration would run an all-inclusive government.
The Governor-elect further promised that the rule of law and separation of power will be entrenched and encouraged in his administration.
Nwifuru spoke after receiving his certificate of return from the INEC at the electoral commission’s secretariat, Abakaliki with other winners of assembly seats .
Addressing the recipients, the Ebonyi State Residents Electoral Commissioner of the Commission, Mrs Onyeka Ugochi noted that five state constituencies and one federal constituency were declared inconclusive due to violence.
According to her, the supplementary elections will be held in Ebonyi State April 15.
Mrs. Onyeka noted that only 17 state constituencies out of 24 have their results announced and elections concluded.
We’ll raise governance bar set by Wike —Fubara
In Rivers, the Governor-Elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, shortly after receiving his certificate of return alongside his deputy, Ngozi Odu and 32 members-elect of the State House of Assembly told the opposition in Rivers: “Our doors are open, including our windows. If you don’t want to pass the door you can enter through the window because we really need everyone on board for a better and progressive Rivers State.”
To the INEC, he said: “Though we had little hitches here and there, I believe going forward, INEC should ensure that ad hoc staff, and their staff are given proper training early enough so that hitches experienced, especially during the presidential election will not be experienced in future elections.”
To Rivers people, who he commended for sustaining PDP as Rivers ruling party with their votes in the March 18 elections, Fubara assured: “The bar had been raised before us, we will also raise the bar for whoever is going to take over from us.”
My MORE agenda’ll attract all round devt to Delta —Oborevwori
Also speaking, the Delta State Governor-elect, Mr.Sheriff Oborevwori, said the state government would soon unfold a Transition Committee that would midwife his inauguration on May 29, 2023 as Governor of Delta State.
Oborevwori added that “with the issuance of the Certificate of Return, it is now time to turn attention at ensuring a seamless and stable transition in pursuant of the Advancing Delta agenda.”
He said his MORE agenda would attract all round development to the state, saying that with God and support of the people, much will be achieved by the incoming administration.
Oborevwori’s deputy, Sir Monday Onyeme and 29 members-elect of the State House of Assembly were also issued certificates of return.
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