Melaye vs Adeyemi: The final battle
The proposed rerun election between Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressive Congress and Dino Melaye of Peoples Democratic party (PDP) may just be the final battle between two brothers. The two former senators from the same local government area, Ijumu, will go to the poll again on a date to be fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC). INEC had declared Kogi West senatorial re-run held on Saturday, November 16 inconclusive. The contest was a two-horse race between Smart Adeyemi Dino Melaye.
The returning officer, Prof. Olayide Lawal, who made the declaration at the end of collation, said that supplementary election would be conducted soonest on a date to be fixed by INEC. He said the decision was arrived at due to cancellation in 53 polling units with registered voters of not less than 46,127.
The already collated results show that Senator Smart Adeyemi of APC was leading with a total of 80,118 votes while Senator Dino Melaye of PDP trailed behind with a total of 59,548 votes. The returning officer, however, said a winner cannot be declared, as the margin of lead of 20,570 was lower than the cancelled votes of 46,127.
However, stakeholders are of the view that with the situation on ground Melaye may just be between the devil and the deep blue sea. He was a member of House of Representatives representing Kabba/Ijumu Federal Constituency from 2007 to 2011 on the platform of PDP. Melaye, having failed to secure the ticket of PDP for a second term, which was against the rotation arrangement in the area, defected to All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP).
He, however, lost the election to Tajudeen Yusuf of PDP. Melaye had remained in the ANPP until 2014 when some political parties fused together to form All Progressive Congress (APC). Melaye was able to secure the ticket of the West Senatorial seat preparatory to the 2015 general election. Melaye defeated Adeyemi who was then in PDP. Adeyemi was then a two-time senator. Before the election, political watchers had written Dino off as PDP was believed to have a formidable candidate in Adeyemi, who was seeking a third term but the Buhari tsunami gave Melaye, who had already lost the five local government areas in his native Okun land and was in the distant third position an edge over PDP’s candidate as votes from Lokoja/Kogi handed him a surprise victory.
In July 2018, Melaye, alongside 13 other Senators of APC, defected to PDP, and picked the ticket of the party to run for the same senatorial seat against Adeyemi who had also switched side to APC. Melaye again defeated Adeyemi, but had his victory voided by the election petition tribunal, which ordered for another election, which was declared inconclusive. Melaye is currently fighting the political battle of his life. Having survived a recall and his victory in 2019 senatorial election against all odds, some had predicted an easy win for Melaye in the rerun election, but the reverse was the case. Melaye lost in his strongholds – Lokoja and Kogi Local Government Areas. These are areas that had always given Melaye the lead.
However, Melaye has since cried foul, alleging irregularities, widespread violence and intimidation among others during the November 16 election in the area. He has called for the cancellation of the results and petitioned INEC with video evidence of the alleged irregularities. That is now history as INEC said it would conduct rerun in some polling units.Barring any last minute change, Melaye might as well be prepared to permanently join a league of former senators. Considering the margin of lead, Senator Smart Adeyemi would most like carry the day.
In accordance with INEC’s guidelines, the rerun for Kogi West Senatorial election may hold within the next two weeks. According to INEC, the rerun would hold in seven LGAs, while the numbers of wards are 20. The election is expected to hold in 53 polling units, with total registered voters of 48,101. One of the factors that may work against Melaye is the number of permanent voter cards (PVCs) collected in the 53 polling units. According to INEC, the number of PVCs collected is 30,730. With a margin of lead of over 20,000 by Adeyemi, it’s doubtful if Melaye can match up.
A voter from one of the affected areas told The Guardian in confidence that majority of the people are already scared of coming out for the election considering the violence and intimidation which characterized the November 16 election leading to loss of life and bodily harm to some persons.
“I can tell you that the turnout will be very low,” he said. “People are already scared. Nobody will risk his life for any politician. Even if the people come out, the situation may not be any different. Melaye should take all these into consideration.”Non-governmental organizations have also decried violence in the election. The Challenged Parenthood Initiative (CPI) said despite the assurances given to Kogi citizen by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) before the governorship election, the process was largely characterized with violence with the women folk most affected.
Its Executive Director, Eunice Abimbola Agbogun, who stated this on Saturday, said the November 16, 2019 off-cycle gubernatorial election started at the early hours of the day peacefully, thus witnessing high turnout of women across the board (Kogi West, East and Central Districts).”
According to her, INEC officers and materials were reported by CPI LGA Coordinators to have arrived between 8 – 9am, saying, however, that the accreditation of eligible voters commenced immediately. She noted that by the middle of the day lots of calls were received from voters stranded due to nefarious activities of thugs. She added that most of the calls received from their hotline showed that women were victims of orchestrated violence, such as assaults, threats, coercions, intimidations and harassment. She said, “Worthy of note is that women were induced to vote other candidates that were not their preferred choice. Most victims of violence were voters and observers.
“The outcome of this election will impact negatively on women’s participation in elections subsequently. The implication of the above situation shows that our democratic practice in Kogi State requires lots of reflection and intervention as the ‘do or die mentally’ is still endemic in our political space. “We urge the security agents to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of violence during this election. Challenged Parenthood Initiative’s detailed press release on the recorded incidences of violence against women will be made available to all stakeholders by Monday, November 18, 2019.”While speaking recently, Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Mathew Kolawole, said with the margin of lead Adeyemi already enjoys it will be a straight win the APC. He charged the people to come out in their numbers to vote for APC candidate, Adeyemi.