Kaduna 2019: el-Rufai’s surprise win as PDP kicks
The Governorship Election that has endorsed the return of Governor Nasir el–Rufai to the Sir Kashmir Ibrahim House in Kaduna for another four years will continue to remain contentious, as a result of the intrigues that surrounded the conduct of the polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and against the background issues that preceded the polls.
Already, el-Rufai who has acknowledged his victory, has urged all citizens in the state to continue to support his government, just as he promised to unfold good packages to propel economic development and growth.Prior to the polls on March 9, the popularity of el-Rufai had waned considerably due to many reasons, ranging from his government’s socio-economic policies, as well as his encounters with religious and traditional rulers over abrasive reforms.
At the height of it, el-Rufai’s policies, a good section of the populace thought they were draconian and anti-people. Among such was the sack of thousands of teachers and civil servants; the face-off with religious leaders and traditional rulers; demolition of houses and marginalisation cries by the people of Southern Kaduna, were part of el-Rufai’s report card that ought to determine whether he deserved to be re-elected. Use of religion and ethnicity became major weapons deployed by politicians going into the polls.
Specifically, the muslim-muslim ticket introduced adopted by el-Rufai and the polarisation of the Kaduna geo-polity by appealing to sentiments that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was fighting the course of the Muslims, while the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a Christian party became propaganda tendencies that drove the campaigns.
Just before the elections and after, violent attacks by armed bandits in villages in kajuru where several people were killed, others injured and many rendered homeless also formed part of the talking points of the election. The losses, materially and psychology made a dent on the outcome of the elections. There was intimidation and fear of the unknown among voters, with a demoralizing effect on their psyche.
Despite interventions and passionate appeals by the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna Diocese, Most Revered Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kaugama Abdullahi and the Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Abdulrahman on the eve of the elections, too many citizens had been demoralised.
Archbishop Ndagoso, a day before the polls had gathered Journalists together to brief them, about the need for the electorate to shun violence and make the election peaceful and without rancour.
Ndagoso also condemned the use of religion and ethnicity by politicians to canvass for the votes, as the state and nation needed unity, growth and development of democracy.He said: “ I quite agree that the use of religion and ethnicity should not be the basis for campaign in this elections. We must try and keep the two things out of politics for the good of our society. You see, it is obvious that when people fail to get what they want by merit, they will now resort to the use of religion and ethnicity to get what they want. As a People we should not encourage this in order to promote the growth and unity of our country.”
In a similar fashion, the INEC resident Commissioner, Kaugama and the Commissioner of Police, Abdulrahman assured that votes would count, as the security operatives and INEC had put the necessary measures in place to counter any act of electoral malpractice, which may undermine the polls.
The Kaduna State REC had emphasized and assured before voting that use of Card Reader was a must; that any voter who failed to be recognised by the Card Reader will not be allowed to vote.But INEC was taken to task by the PDP, as the Card Reader failed in some parts and INEC staff was forced to conduct election without the use of Card Readers.
“Reports from some of our staff have shown that some people in most communities in Kaduna State exercised their franchise without the use of Card Reader. The aim of card reader is to authenticate the Permanent Voters Card, PVC,” Kaugama confessed.The PDP State Chairman, chief Felix Hassan Hyat said: “I want to make it clear that initial reports from various local governments was that card readers were not used in the northern parts of the state. It is unfortunate that places like Zaria local government there was public purchase of vote by government officials and we believe that sources of fund is not something that anybody can hide from the public. This thing was going on in front of security agencies.”
According to the PDP chairman: “We have cases of snatching of ballot boxes in Chikun, Giwa, Birnin Gwari. That of Birnin Gwari local government was so shameful, such that ballot boxes were snatched throughout the night. No voting took place there, but what they did was just to fill the ballot boxes with thumb-printed ballot papers.”
“The government and INEC should have just come out to tell us that they are not conducting election. I can say without any contradiction that Kagarko and Sanga local governments were under siege, their collation centres cordoned off by security agencies, all in an effort to change the results in favour of the ruling party.”Hyat added: “We have cases where results were forcefully changed in the local government areas, especially in Rigasa, a situation where a person who is not even a returning officer was summoned to government house to go and present results before INEC, and will authorise it and it was accepted.
Meanwhile, uneasy calm pervades Kaduna metropolis. Citizens were numb as the results were announced, even as the last results were not declared until two days after the elections.The PDP Governorship candidate, Ashiru said the party has ample evidence electoral fraud and would go to court.
Ashiru said: “I wish to state without any fear of contradiction that reports obtained by our party from across the state indicate that the elections were marred by a lot of irregularities.It is on the basis of these established irregularities that our party in a petition to the State Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, rejected the results and called for its outright cancellation.”
He said Smart Card Readers were not used during the elections in a lot of polling units in Giwa, Birnin Gwari, Kaduna North, Igabi, Zaria, Lere and Ikara Local Government Areas, which he argued was a violation of the electoral guidelines and rendered the results from these areas invalid and should have been cancelled.
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