Opposition parties kick, condemn Ogun council polls
• PDP, UPN, LP allege irregularities, call for cancellation
• Exercise was free, fair and transparent, say APGA, APC
The outcome of last Saturday local government elections in Ogun State was not different from the usual in the country, where ruling parties hardly concede defeat even where it is obvious.
With a landslide victory, the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) declared the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the exercise.
Out of the 20 local government councils and 37 newly created Local Government Development Areas (LCDA) chairmanship seats available, Governor Ibikunle Amosun-led APC won all.
The APC also cleared 246 councillorship seats out of the 249 contested for in the councils and LCDAs while the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) won two and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), one.
Among the 17 political parties that participated in the election, only the APC, PDP, UPN, All Progressives Congress (APGA) could be considered as serious and credible parties.
The PDP won only one councillorship seat at Ona Otun-gborigi ward in Yewa South Local Government Area; UPN won two at Ifesowopo and Omu wards in Leguru LCDA.Unfortunately the PDP stalwart, Oladipupo Adebutu, who was considered a candidate to beat and his UPN governorship candidate, were unable to deliver the chairmanship seats in their areas for their parties.
The exercise has however attracted sharp reactions from the opposition parties, which claimed that the elections were marred with gross irregularities and electoral malpractices.
While the opposition parties unanimously insisted that it was characterised by electoral malpractices, APC said its victory was an evidence of endorsement by the electorate in the State.
The disputed victory has again reinforced the agitations for the review of the Electoral law in the country with calls that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be given the responsibilities of conducting councils elections, instead of States Electoral Commissions.
Those who share such opinion believe that as long as ruling party and the governor is the one that constitutes state electoral body, local government elections can never be free, fair and transparent.For example an APC chieftain, who spoke on condition of anonymity recalled that during the administration of former Governor Gbenga Daniel of the PDP, the same OGSIEC supervised the council polls and PDP swept election by 99 per cent. Similar situation plays out across the states in the country.Interestingly, accusation and counter accusation began to trail the process of the Saturday election even before its conclusion.
The UPN, PDP and LP have rejected the result and called for its cancellation, while the election was still ongoing.Irked by what he described as ‘day light robbery,’ one of the factional PDP State Chairmen, Sikirulai Ogundele alleged that suspected APC thugs shot one of his members during a fracas.
He said the name of the victim was Goodluck and that he was rushed to the Babcock Teaching Hospital, Iperu-Remo where he is still on admission.Ogundele who spoke to The Guardian yesterday insisted that the election was a sham, saying: “It is regrettable that the governor and his team have taken us back to the old UPN, NPN days.”
Ogundele lost his ward but insisted he was rigged out. He called for cancellation of the election stressing: “The election was openly rigged in Abeokuta South, Abeokuta North, Ifo and Ipokia local governments by gun totting APC thugs.”
The PDP South-West Zonal Secretary, Rev. Bunmi Jenyo alleged that the APC deliberately withheld electoral materials from some Councils during the election.He also asserted that APC thugs hijacked ballot boxes at PDP strongholds after they had already lost; “PDP would have won 15 local councils ‘hands down’ if there were no irregularities.
“We have no confidence in them (APC). If government cancels the election, we will not drag it to court, but if it doesn’t, we are going to settle in court.“There were shootings at polling units like Ilara-Remo and Remo North where some PDP members were brutalized, which made voters abandon their polling units for fear of been injured,” he maintained.
“The Government of APC have become unpopular and the masses that brought them to power are against them. Prices of common stable foods have skyrocketed, Unpopular government policies have also brought a lot of people to dislike the ruling party and hunger is now everywhere,” he added.
Mr. Rotimi Paseda, governorship candidate of UPN in 2015, expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of the poll, describing it as “a deceit.” He said that election materials brought to the area were not sufficient.“We cannot do anything else except to make our voices heard and show our dissatisfaction. As far as we in the UPN are concerned, this local government election was not credible. Some of our candidates have been getting video reports to prove the irregularities and that is what we will take to court later.
“If we cannot get judgment in court, we will abide by the rule of law, but there is a public opinion court, and that is where we are going to meet. We will ensure that we post the video recordings all over the social media and as long as they are embarrassed, it is enough for us,” he stated.
Similarly, Ogun State LP Chairman, Abayomi Arabambi called for the cancellation of the polls, saying that the party had no confidence in the conduct of the polls.He added that: “the state electoral agency has de-listed our party and therefore denied us from participating in the polls”, noting that the party had already filed a suit against OGISIEC and would follow the case to a logical conclusion.
However, eleven of the participating parties under the aegis of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) have declared their acceptance of the result, describing the election as free and fair.
The Chairman of IPAC, Mr. Moshood Adesina who spoke on behalf of IPAC told journalists that the election was “free, fair, transparent and devoid of irregularities.”
Some members of IPAC include: People for Democratic Change (PDC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Citizen Popular Party (CPP).
But the Spokesman of Police Command in the State, Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi dismissed the allegation of gun shut and fracas during the election as “total falsehood,” arguing that the exercise, which monitored by the Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, was smooth and peaceful.
The State Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Mr. Olayinka Folarin and his team, who monitored the election at Ijebu and Abeokuta areas also said that the election was peaceful, disclosing that a party faithful who attempted to snatch a ballot box was overpowered and prevented from achieving his aim.
Folarin said though no election could be 100 per cent perfect, the conduct of the election to an extent was “free and transparent”. He commended OGSIEC for work well done.
The APC in its reaction commended the electorate in the state for the peaceful and transparent manner the election was conducted. A statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Sola Lawal, stated, “All stakeholders in the process including Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission, OGSEIC, security agencies, observers, volunteers and the media similarly deserve kudos for the responsible way they discharged their responsibilities.”
APC said that the outcome of the polls was an endorsement of the various developmental policies of Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s administration The statement reads further “ It is pertinent to point out that with the visible demonstration of support for the Amosun administration during the polls, the stage is now set for better and more inclusive governance in the state.
“The APC administration’s unprecedented decentralisation of governance at the grassroots exemplified by the effective takeoff of the newly – created local council development areas is a testimony to the zeal for growth of the Amosun government.
“The creation of and election of chief executives into the new LCDAs have effectively brought government to the doorsteps of the people of the state”, the party stated.
The OGSIEC Chairman, Mrs. Risikat Ogunfemi told journalists that the call for cancellation is not an unusual thing and that no matter the arrangements put in place, people will keep picking one hole or the other.
She said: “This election is a legal issue. No body can just call for its cancellation,” and advised anybody that has issues with the election “to go to the election tribunal when it is constituted by the authorities.”