Osun governorship poll: Declare Adeleke winner—PDP tells INEC

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*Adeleke, Oyetola

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that declared the September 22, 2018 Osun State governorship election as inconclusive.

Although the candidate of the PDP, Senator Ademola Adeleke scored 254,698 votes to beat the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who polled 254,345 votes, the returning officer and vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof. Joseph Fuwape said on Sunday that Adeleke could not be declared the winner because the number of votes cancelled – 3,498, was higher than 353 by which the PDP candidate defeated Oyetola.

“This is as a result of areas where results were cancelled, there was no voting or there were disruptions.”

The affected areas include Orolu local government area, Ife South, Ife North, and Osogbo local government areas.

“Based on the results collated by the Returning Officer, the margin between the leading candidates is 353, which is lower than the number of registered voters in the affected areas. Extant law and INEC Guidelines and Regulations provide that where such situation occurs, a declaration may not be made,” said INEC.

But the national publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan said in a statement that the election was conclusive and that its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who won with of 254, 698 votes was in clear lead and should be immediately declared winner by INEC.

He said: “Section 179 (2) (a) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, (as amended), is clear and very unambiguous in spelling out the conditions for returning a candidate to the office of governor of a state.

“This section states inter-alia, “A candidate for an election to the office of Governor of a State shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates – (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State.

“The declaration of the election as inconclusive, by INEC is therefore a sordid robbery of the franchise of the people of Osun State, who participated in the election.

“It is obvious that having failed in their schemes to alter the final results due to the resistance of the people, the APC had to bear pressure on INEC to declare the election inconclusive so as to pave way for the perfection of their manipulative schemes, which the people of Osun state have firmly resisted so far.

“Instead of yielding to the evil machination of the APC, INEC should have summoned the patriotic courage to immune itself and end this needless controversy by returning the PDP and declare our candidate as the winner.

“It is instructive to state that the PDP will no longer accept inconclusive elections as subterfuge by the APC attain its dubious electoral manipulative schemes in our nation.

“The people of Osun state and the entire nation are already aware that the PDP won this election. They have the authentic figures from the polling units and know the candidate the voters prefer.

“The people by their votes have overwhelmingly declared for our candidate and we are not ready to accept any attempt by anybody to use any means whatsoever to steal our mandate freely given by the people.

“PDP is for peace, but we will not hesitate to use every force available in a democracy to face any attempt to subvert the will of the people or rig us out in this election.”

The party also urged INEC to avoid the fury of the people by immediately “reversing this fraudulent decision of the Resident Electoral Commissioner and declaring our candidate the winner of the election. Anything short of this is definitely not acceptable to the PDP and the people of Osun and it is a direct recipe for crisis.”

The party cautioned INEC and the APC to note that the game is up.

“The people of Osun state have decided in favour of the PDP and that has become a fact that can never be altered,” it added.

In his reaction, the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki faulted INEC for declaring the election inconclusive.

Saraki, in a statement signed by him said INEC was wrong to have cancelled an election in which a candidate won the highest number of votes and fulfilled the condition for geographical spread.

“In my lay man’s opinion, the INEC was wrong in declaring the election as inconclusive because the votes in certain polling units were cancelled. The decision of INEC to cancel the election in those areas after voting had taken place means INEC had already excluded the votes in these areas from the election process and therefore those units should have no place in the overall results. My opinion would have been different if the election in the affected units did not take place at all, may be as a result of malfunctioning of the card reader machine or unavailability of the electoral materials. Since the voting took place and was cancelled, only the courts could reverse the initial decision by INEC to cancel the votes in these areas.

“That is why I call on our party and its candidate to seek further legal interpretation on this decision by the electoral body. One cannot but wonder whether if the places were reversed and the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is the one leading in the election, the INEC will take the same decision it has taken now.”

“At this point, it is necessary to also call on INEC to display courage, boldness, independence, neutrality and patriotism so as to send signals to the world at large that Nigerian electoral system has come of age and that our democracy has matured. The electoral body needs to re-assure all and sundry that the 2019 election and other elections will be free of manipulations and undue interference.

“The INEC should note that the Osun gubernatorial election is not only about that South-western state. It is about our country and the entire world is watching. Our national interest is at stake. The integrity of our electoral system is at stake. The reputation of the electoral body is at stake. The future of our democracy is on the line. The way INEC conclusively handles the Osun election will determine global expectations from our political process. It should therefore ensure that the wish of the Osun State electorate eventually prevails.”

Meanwhile, the APC called on the voters in the polling units where rerun poll will be held to resist any attempt by the PDP to buy their conscience.

The director of publicity, research and strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said in a statement, adding that the ruling party would win on Thursday.

“It is providential. Osun has been miraculously saved from the savage jaws of the evil that could have befallen it if the monstrosity called the PDP had won the election.

“Now that Osun has been given a second chance to escape from the calamity it almost fell into, the people of Osogbo, Orolu, Ife South and Ife North now have the enormous task to save the state from predator-politicians.

“On Thursday, September 27, that is the mission that they have.

“We therefore call on all citizens in these polling areas to sacrifice everything they can on that day to become the great heroes and heroines of our beloved state.”

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