Osun governorship poll: Oyetola, Adeleke in tight race
There was a massive turnout of voters yesterday as the Osun State governorship election was held across 30 local councils in the state.
Against all expectations that the election might be marred by violence, there was relative peace, as residents exercised their civic responsibility without any untoward events or molestation.
Voters arrived at the polling units as early as 7a.m for the election that commenced by 9a.m in most polling units.
Ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) arrived at most of the polling units by 8a.m but had to wait till 9a.m to commence the exercise.
Some of the candidates who contested the election commended the massive turn-out of the electorate, describing it as peaceful.
Senator Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cast his vote at Polling Unit 9, Ward 2, Abegunde/Sagbe, Ede North Local Council at about 8:45 a.m. Afterwards, he expressed confidence that he was going to defeat Governor Gboyega Oyetola and urged his supporters to calm down till the results were counted and officially announced.
Adeleke implored his supporters who ran after his convoy after voting to return to the polling centre, stating that INEC may cancel his votes as campaign activities had stopped hours ago. He described the exercise as peaceful and fantastic.
Osun State Governor and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola cast his vote at Ward 1, unit 2, Local Authority Primary School, Popo, Iragbiji.
Oyetola, who expressed hope of victory at the poll, said he was satisfied with the election conduct. “I have seen the presence of security agencies, they are doing well. I see the enthusiasm that voters are displaying to want to cast their votes, I am particularly very grateful to them. I believe that shows that people are conscious of the need to participate in the process. Once the process is fair enough, people will be persuaded to vote. There won’t be voter apathy. This is indeed very impressive,” he said.
Also, the Deputy Governor of the State, Benedict Alabi was accredited at 10:31 am at his ward 6 unit 7, Baptist Day School, Ikire and voted at 10:32 am. He adjudged the process as peaceful and orderly while commending the impressive turnout.
Governorship candidate of Accord Party, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, also expressed delight at the turnout of voters in his hometown, Ile-Ogbo, Ayedire Local Council.
Addressing journalists after casting his vote at Ward 5, Unit 3, Methodist Primary School, Ile-Ogbo, he said the process had been peaceful so far. “The turnout has been massive and impressive and the report across the state shows that it has been peaceful,” the candidate said.
Meanwhile, while the electorate waited with bated breath for INEC to announce the election results, the state chapter of the PDP claimed an early victory, affirming that collated results from the polling units confirmed PDP was emerging victorious at the poll.
In a statement issued in Osogbo late last night, Caretaker Chairman of the party, Dr Akindele Adekunle claimed that the party had secured a majority as well as more than two-thirds spread across the 30 local councils and area offices.
The party noted that the victory of the party at the poll was a product of mass mobilisation and a grand coalition of the people of Osun against bad governance and insensitive leadership.
While thanking the people of the state for endorsing and affirming Adeleke’s governorship bid, the party sternly warned against any attempt to tamper with the result of the election.
“We want to assert that Ademola Adeleke has won this election overwhelmingly going by results at our disposal. We warn against any plot by some agents of chaos to doctor the results. We specifically call on the electoral commission to watch fifth columnists within its fold who may have been contracted for the hatchet job. Osun people have decided and their votes must be respected,” the statement noted.
DESPITE the huge success recorded by INEC in deploying BVAS to reduce electoral malpractices, the technology failed in a few polling units. In Polling Unit 007, Olode Ward, Ifelodun local council, Ikirun, the voting exercise did not start until 11.45 am when the machine was changed by INEC. The original BVAS deployed to the unit failed and all efforts by INEC technicians to fix it failed. It had to be changed.
Also as of 5p.m when the voting exercise ought to have ended, over 2,000 electorates at Owode, Ede were yet to cast their vote because the machine deployed to the unit malfunctioned. Another one sent to the polling unit was not adequate to accredit over 3,000 registered voters in that unit.
While some polling units had less than 500 registered voters, some had more than 3,000 voters. At some polling units, more than a machine was assigned to them but even the distribution of machines to cater for a specific number of voters almost marred the exercise.
Despite pre-election inducement that took place on the eve of Election Day where voters were made to swear to an oath, party agents engaged in vote buying but were not as brazen as what was experienced in the Ekiti State governorship election. Party agents were more discreet in their operations.
Men of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arrested a party agent at Unit 35, Ward 10, Egbedore local council with a list containing names of some voters and some cash.
It was gathered that one of the party agents had gone to report him to the operatives that were monitoring the election at another polling unit.
Earlier, some officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were sighted in Iragbiji, the hometown of Governor Oyetola.
No fewer than six officials of the anti-graft agency were seen at Ward 1, Unit 1, St Peter’s Anglican School, Iragbiji, where the governor voted.
MEANWHILE, some observers decried what they described as a high level of vote-buying by politicians at the poll.
Aside from voters’ inducement, they disclosed that the secrecy of voters’ cubicles was compromised as party agents and other political foot soldiers encroached into voting cubicles to commit malpractice.
These revelations were contained in separate addresses of the Board Chairman of Yiaga Africa, Hussaini Abdu, and the Convener of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Ene Obi in Osogbo.
YIAGA Africa recommended that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should uphold the secrecy of ballots in future elections in the country.
Giving an appraisal, Abdu added that the electoral umpire should also audit the newly created Polling Units and ensure an even distribution of Polling Units.
While observing acts of vote buying in Akinlalu and Iree towns, YIAGA Africa disclosed that information from its observers on the field revealed that voter intimidation by APC thugs was carried out in Iragbiji. It stated that in Ogbaagba town, PDP thugs threatened to disrupt the electoral process. Yiaga Africa also suggested that appropriate sanctions should be imposed for electoral act violations.
According to Obi, “The BVAS were deployed according to the number of registered voters. In polling units with over 1,000 voters, INEC kept to its promise to deploy two BVAS machines. The machines functioned credibly well. There were issues with the fingerprint verifications, however, the facial capture worked very well recording approximately one minute for accreditation and voting in Osogbo and in other areas, it took longer.”
The groups, however, commended the people of Osun for coming out early to cast their votes, especially the elderly who waited in queues patiently.
An accredited election observer group for the Osun State Governorship election, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) yesterday disclosed that only 40 percent of the 1,518,303 voters in Osun came out to elect the next governor of the state.
Addressing a press conference in Osogbo on preliminary observation of the group, Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi, commended INEC for early commencement of the voting exercise, saying, “INEC is improving.”
Nwadishi said, “With over One million, five hundred and eighteen thousand, three hundred and three (1,518, 303) PVCs collected out of a total of One million, nine hundred and fifty-five thousand, six hundred and fifty-seven (1, 955,657) registered voters, the Osun Governorship election presented INEC with another opportunity to consolidate on the improvements made during the Ekiti State gubernatorial election of 18th June 2022 and also shows the Nigerian people and indeed the entire world its readiness to conduct a credible, free and fair general election in 2023.
“The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) trained and deployed 60 accredited independent observers covering the entire 30 local councils of the state. This preliminary statement, therefore, represents our initial observations on the conduct of the election.”
CTA said its field observers report indicated that polling officials arrived early in most of the polling units, with many of the polling units opening around 7.30 am. It stressed that this was an indication of improvement with regards to election logistics arrangement on the part of INEC and expressed the hope that the improvement would be consolidated and carried into the 2023 general elections.
Nwadishi said: “From field reports, with few exceptions, BVAS worked perfectly well in the Osun election with voter accreditation taking between 1 to 3 minutes on average. The few cases of issues with the BVAS were reported in Ifelodun, Olonde and Ikirun Ward 8 Unit 7 and Ede North, Ward 5 Unit 16 Alusekere. It is, however, heartwarming to note that these cases were swiftly attended to by INEC officials. We also note that INEC made good on its promise to deploy at least two BVAS machines in polling units where they have more than a thousand voters.
“The CTA notes with satisfaction the performance of INEC officials during the election. In most of the polling units covered by our observers, polling officials exhibited professionalism and knowledge of their duties. The lapses identified in previous elections can be traced to the deployment of untrained ad hoc staff. We encourage INEC to ensure that only trained ad hoc staff are deployed for subsequent elections.
“As reported by our observers in the field, priority was given to the aged, the PWDs and the pregnant women as stipulated by INEC guidelines. There were separate queues for the aged, PWDs, pregnant women and nursing mothers in most of the polling units our observers were deployed.
“Our observers’ report indicated that security agents generally arrived early at the polling units and were professional in their conduct, especially in the maintenance of law and order. We further observed that there was synergy and networking among the various security agencies.”
“From our observers’ report, voter turnout was generally reasonable, with a report indicating that in some polling units the electorates were already out before 7 am. We, therefore, commend the Osun state electorates for their enthusiastic turnout and orderly conduct. We envisage a voter turnout of about 40 per cent in this election.”