By Uche Mbah
It was like a Thunderbolt. Nobody, even among diehard Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, supporters expected it. But at the end of the September 22, 2018 governorship elections in Osun state, Ademola Adeleke, the PDP Candidate, won his closest rival, Adetola, who is said to be the first cousin to the National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu. But there is a twist to the story: The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared the election inconclusive. A rerun was scheduled to take place on Thursday, September 27, 2018.
INEC hinged their decision on the fact that Adeleke won the election by a narrow margin. The APC polled 254,345 votes while the PDP polled 254, 698 votes to win the election-a difference of 353 votes. INEC had cancelled elections from five polling units-one each from Ife South, Ife North, and Oshogbo, and two from Orolu. Registered voters in these areas are more than three thousand, and the APC is expecting a miracle from these areas judging from the high expectations and low winning margin. The announcement of the inconclusiveness of the results, not unexpectedly, sparked outrage all over the country, particularly in the social media. PDP immediately rejected the result outright, describing it as “a sordid robbery of the franchise of the people of Osun State who participated in the election.” “It is instructive to state that the PDP will no longer accept inconclusive elections as subterfuge by the APC to attain its dubious electoral manipulative schemes in our nation”, they added. later, the PDP in Osun state, in a statement, called it a blatant rape of democracy, a deliberate thwarting of people’s will and a reprehensible assault on the aspiration of Osun voters .”The entire electoral process was programmed to favour the ruling All Progressive Congress… The level of impunity demonstrated by the electoral umpire in connivance with other federal agencies was unrivalled in Nigerian electoral history “, they added. According to them, all options are on the table for the final onslaught.
The reference to the final onslaught, like a dangling modifier, has made it impossible to decide exactly what the party intends to do. They appear to be preparing for the rerun, while at the same time mulling the court option. In fact, almost immediately the announcement was made, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had a closed door meeting with Iyiola Omisore, the ADP candidate. After the meeting, Omisore reportedly declared that he will help his brother Adeleke to win the election and drive APC out of power. This was collaborated by the former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, himself from Ife, that he has been talking to Omisore and that Omisore is not going to disappoint the PDP. Ife North and south are his political strongholds. Other parties are said to have joined hands with Adeleke. In fact, about two days before the election, it was alleged that the former president Olusegun Obasanjo directed the aspirants of ADC to collapse their campaign into the PDP structure, which they did. ADC is the child of the former president, and he wields enormous influence over them.
Throughout the election period, INEC has been accused of being blatantly partisan.For example, in one polling unit-the controversial Ayedaade- an INEC officer was arrested by the people tearing election results. He claimed that her boss, one Mrs Aderinoye called him to tear the results without giving reasons. Later, the PDP insisted that a thousand votes were deducted from the area, and demanded replacement. it was allegedly restored. But during the announcement by the resident electoral commissioner, he received a phone call. It was however not clear who he was talking to. Thereafter, he announced the result as inconclusive.
One interesting aspect of the elections were the absence of soldiers and the DSS officers that terrorized electorates at Ekiti. Only the police were there, and they were far less that the number sent to Ekiti state. The sitting governor, Rauf Aregbesola, did not have his security aids withdrawn. Neither was any radio or television sealed. This Magazine has it on good authority that the president, due to intensive international pressures that extracted promises of free and fare elections from him, had instructed that there should be no rigging. But the Lagos-Osun axis of the APC allegedly would not hear of it. Other parties attempt were on inducement. but the ruling party allegedly took the Oscar in financial inducement.
Lawyers appear to be unanimous in the declaration that the decision of INEC is illegal: you cannot cancel an election and re-validate it again. They claim that it is only the court that can re-validate canceled votes.
All things being equal, it appears that Adeleke is gradually dancing his way into Osun Government house.