More reactions trail Akeredolu’s victory
Ondo state government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday exchanged words over the allegation that agents loyal to Jimoh Ibrahim were recognized as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representatives at many polling units during last weekend’s election won by the APC candidate, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN.
But the INEC refuted the allegation, saying a Special Tag was produced for the Jegede’s team when he came to the electoral body’s office on Thursday and the tags were sent to all the local councils in the state.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Segun Agbaje advised the PDP to stop blaming the INEC for their misfortunes, but should rather go to court if the party or its candidate is aggrieved.
Though Jegede and State Chairman of the party, Engr. Clement Faboyede, had said that the party was still studying the results which returned Akeredolu, the State Commissioner for Information, Mr Kayode Akinmade and the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Mr. Eni Akinsola alleged that apart from the fact that APC used judiciary to frustrate the party from campaigning, most polling agents were Ibrahim supporters that connived with APC to trade off the PDP.
But Agbaje, who refuted the allegations said that the PDP was only giving flimsy excuses to discredit the electoral process that has widely been adjudged by local and international observers as the best ever conducted in the history of the state.
A pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) disagreed with the REC and declared that the election was marred by allegations of widespread bribery of voters “as was done recently in Edo State.”
The Rights group which is an officially accredited observer to both elections expressed sadness that mass poverty in Nigeria has made millions of voters susceptible and vulnerable to petty bribery of as low as N1000 (one thousand Naira) to betray their conscience, mortgage their future by selling their fundamental human rights to vote and be voted for.
In a statement by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also indicted officials and officers of INEC and law enforcement agencies such as armed police and soldiers for colluding with political agents of bribery and inducement of voters.
“How can a system institutionalized through cocktails of bribery and corruption fulfills this elementary imperative of our law to eradicate corruption and abuse of office since logically it’s impossible for someone to give what he hasn’t got?
“A pitiable situation whereby politicians bribe voters buffeted by government’s induced mass hunger to elect them into offices as has been seen in Edo and Ondo governorship polls in the recent times is not only tantamount to laying the criminal foundation for mass looting of public fund but is a blight on our national conscience and psyche.”
HURIWA cited Sections 14(5) which affirmed thus: “the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power” and 34(1) that: “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person”; to advocate the immediate review of the governorship polls in Edo and Ondo States.
Meanwhile the National Vice Chairman South-South zone of the APC, Mr. Hillard Eta has observed that the people of the state spoke on September 23, when Akeredolu emerged as the candidate of the party and expressed optimism that the APC government would be devoid of any external interference.
He stated also that some persons may have questions to answer when the party reviews the opposition against the candidature of Akeredolu and the allegations that trailed the APC Ondo State governorship primaries.
Speaking, he said, “With the victory of Akeredolu, there are those whose name would be in ascendancy and those whose names would be otherwise in APC.
“For those who said we are going to lose simply because we fielded Akeredolu, they have to answer some questions now that we have won. There are pertinent questions to be answered by all the players in the Ondo election. There are people who never wanted Akeredolu to be the candidate of the party and they said if we fielded him, that we were going to lose.
“Today, because he was the product of their aspirations, it has shown in the result of the election and Ondo people would not have any other group or interest determining their political leadership for them. I think that is the message of the Ondo people.”