The two leading political parties in the Osun State governorship election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), are squaring up for another fight on Thursday as they disagreed sharply yesterday over the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to declare the election held on Saturday inconclusive.
While the PDP believed that the decision was uncalled for, the APC saw nothing wrong in it. This was even as the PDP accused the APC of allegedly manipulating the process to cause a stalemate, which necessitated INEC’s decision to declare the contest inconclusive.
After the collation of results, INEC announced that the PDP’s candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke polled 254,698 votes, ahead of APC’s Gboyega Oyetola, who polled 254,345 votes.
But the Returning Officer, Professor Joseph Fuwape, Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State, said even though the PDP candidate led with a difference of 353 votes, it was not enough to declare him winner, going by INEC’s guidelines.
According to him, INEC’s election guidelines stipulate that where the margin of victory in the election is lower than the number of voters in units where elections are cancelled, no winner shall be declared. Instead, he said a supplementary election would be ordered to determine the eventual winner.
“Unfortunately, as the Returning Officer, it is not possible to declare anybody as the clear winner of the election on the first ballot. The total registered voters in the five polling units where elections were cancelled are 3,498 votes.
“Since that figure is higher than the difference between the votes of the leading candidates, a re-run election has to be conducted. I, Joseph Adeola Fuwape, hereby, declare this election inconclusive,” he said.
He noted that the supplementary election would hold in areas where elections were cancelled. The areas included Ife North, Ife South, Orolu and Osogbo.
He added that after the supplementary election, the results would be added to the ones released yesterday, and the final results would be announced and winner declared.
He called on all the stakeholders, party leaders, supporters and the people of the state to maintain law and order before, during and after the exercise.
On his part, the Osun State INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Segun Agbaje, said the supplementary would run at the normal time of 8.00am to 2.00 pm, adding that since the affected areas where the election would be held were few, it was expected that the exercise would end early so as to also announce the winner as promptly as possible.
But the PDP state chairman, Soji Adagunodo expressed disgust at the INEC’s decision, saying that it was uncalled for.
He lamented that if the APC had not engaged in manipulation of the election results, the outcome would have been smooth and the exercise wouldn’t have ended in logjam.
He expressed confidence that the party would emerge victorious after the supplementary.
He, however, added: “We will still understudy the results of the Saturday election and make pronouncement before the next level.”
The APC expressed its readiness to participate in the rerun. It noted that INEC had the final say, adding that it was ready to comply with INEC’s directives as the electoral umpire.
The party’s spokesman, Kunle Oyatomi, told Daily Sun: “APC is a democratic party. It is a law-abiding entity. If INEC has said so, there is nothing we can do than to comply.”
While expressing optimism that the party would win the supplementary election, Oyatomi denied PDP’s allegation of manipulating the election results on Saturday.
“We don’t know anything about rigging or manipulation of election results. It is those who know how to manipulate exam result and engage in exam malpractice that know about election manipulation,” Oyatomi said.
Meanwhile, the PDP charged INEC to declare its candidate, Adeleke, as winner of the election, rejecting the declaration of the poll as inconclusive.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Adeleke met all the requirements stipulated in Section 179 (2a) and b of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and should be declared as winner.
“Section 179 (2) (a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, (as amended), is clear and very unambiguous in spelling out the conditions for returning a candidate to the office of governor of a state.
“This section states inter alia, ‘A candidate for an election to the office of Governor of a State shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates – (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one- quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State.
“The declaration of the election as inconclusive, by INEC is therefore a sordid robbery of the franchise of the people of Osun State, who participated in the election.
“It is instructive to state that the PDP will no longer accept inconclusive elections as subterfuge by the APC attain its dubious electoral manipulative schemes in our nation.
“The PDP therefore charges the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to avoid the fury of the people by immediately reversing this fraudulent decision of the Resident Electoral Commissioner and declaring our candidate the winner of the election. Anything short of this is definitely not acceptable to the PDP and the people of Osun and it is a direct recipe for crisis,” Ologbondiyan said.
When asked if the PDP would be participating in the rescheduled election in areas where votes were cancelled, he said the opposition party was considering all options, including going to court to challenge the declaration of the Osun gubernatorial election as inconclusive