The Ogun State Governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Saturday’s election, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has reacted to his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the poll.
This was as the opposition, led by the Peoples Democratic Party, is insisting the figures from the poll do not add up.
The contention has to do with the number of cancelled votes vis-a-vis the difference between what Abiodun scored to defeat PDP’s Lady Adebutu.
While Abiodun polled 276,298 votes, Adebutu scored 262,383 votes.
Other candidates with substantial votes were those of the African Democratic Congress with 94,754 votes and New Nigeria People’s Party that scored 1,394 votes.
From the tally by INEC, the total number of accredited voters was 666,406 with 663,968 casting their votes from the 2,688,305 registered voters in the state.
While 18,835 votes were invalid, votes cancelled over different infractions, including violence, amounted to 33,750 votes.
With the difference in the votes of Abiodun, who was declared winner, and Adebutu, the first runner up, put at 13,912, the contention is that the 33,750 cancelled votes could swing the outcome of the poll.
The Collation Agent of the PDP for the poll, Sunkanmi Oyejide, raised the issue shortly after the Sagamu Collation Officer, Prof. Oluwagboyega Afolabi, presented the scores of the political parties in the council.
Afolabi said results from 15 polling units were canceled as a result of violence during the governorship election on Saturday.
The PDP agent however raised an observation against further submission of the copy of the results.
Oyejide said no fewer than 33,750 votes were cancelled in Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ikenne, Ijebu-North and Ogun Waterside Local Government Areas.
Yejide said: “The Electoral Act 2022, Section 24 Sub-Section 3 says where an election has commenced and there is reason to believe that there is or has been substantial destruction of election in a polling unit or constituency or it is impossible to continue with the election, occasioned by the threat to peace and security of electoral officials and materials; Electoral officials and materials should be underlined in the case of Remo where BVAS did not function and I argued it out; the commission shall suspend the election and appoint another date for the continuation of the election or the process.
“Secondly, if we invoke the principle of lead of margin enshrine in the Electoral Act 2022, the rejected votes according to results submitted to local government by local government are far higher than the lead of margin.
“This just to inform you when you are through with your final collation and what happened is found to be true that you will know that the election shall be inconclusive and a rerun should be ordered where necessary.”
The party followed this up with a petition dated March 18, 2023 to the Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
The INEC Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, said the complaints have already been looked into, adding that the electoral body still has seven days too review its pronouncement.
Adebowale said: “I have tried to check our records and I want to say that everything he said is at variance with what we have as records.
“But if it is found to be incorrect, INEC has seven days to review its decision.”
Speaking on the outcome of the poll, Abiodun commended the people of the state for renewing his mandate for another term of four years, just as he remarked: “Power Belongs to God.”
Abiodun described his victory as heart-warming and a “further proof that no man can play God or stop what God has ordained”.
The Governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin on Sunday, said though the election was keenly contested, his reelection came to him as a sign of good faith and a vote of confidence in his Administration by the people, assuring that his second term would usher in more goodies of democracy.
He said his victory is a further challenge to deliver on the manifesto of the APC, even as he promised that he would continue with the government of inclusiveness that has been the hallmark of his Administration in the last four years.
While commending the people for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner during the polls, the governor equally lauded the INEC, security agencies, media and other relevant stakeholders for ensuring an atmosphere which enabled peaceful elections.
Abiodun also thanked the party leaders, stalwarts and members of the APC in the state, who worked assiduously for the party’s victory, assuring them that he would continue to keep the flag of the party flying by continuing to deliver good governance across the state.
The governor called on the opposition and well-meaning individuals in the state to join hands with him in order to move Ogun State to a higher pedestal, “including those who contested against me yesterday.
“I want to thank all the good people of Ogun State for this renewed mandate, all my appointees, all my personal friends for their consistent support and prayers, particularly as we prepared for this election.
“I want to thank all our civil servants, the Independent National Electoral Commission for overseeing such a transparent process in Ogun State.
“I want to thank our law enforcement agencies for being on top of the situation, I want to thank all our traditional rulers and of cause the gentlemen of the press, my media protocol team, the great Nigerian Students, our youths, our Iyaloja’s and all other associations and unions.
“I also want to extend my gratitude to all other political parties in Ogun State, I accept this renewed mandate and pledge to be even more committed to our vision, that vision has always been to a good government that provides an enabling environment for public private sector partnership which we believe is very fundamental to the economic growth of this state and the individual prosperity of all our people.
“I promise that I will be fair, just and I will continue to be equitable, I will not develop any part of this state at the expense of another, I will continue to be inclusive, participatory, to be responsive, to be accountable, to be fair, to be just and to obey the rule of law, I will be the Governor of all, even to those that did not support me.
“I hereby call on all Ogun State citizens, even those that were opposed to my reelection, the election is over, you also wanted to serve, let us remember that it is God that crowns, please, come and join hands with me in rebuilding the future of this great state together.”
Abiodun reiterated his Administration’s commitment to principle of equity, fairness and justice, maintaining that his Administration would not be characterised by favouritism, nepotism and lopsidedness in situating developmental projects in all the four zones and three senatorial districts of the state.
According to Abiodun, in his second term, he “shall ensure the completion of several projects, aimed at improving the standard of living of the people and the economic prosperity of the state from the unparalleled success already recorded”.
He promised to be inclusive, participatory, transparent, accountable, fair and not develop any part of the state at the expense of the other, the statement concluded.
In its reaction, the Ogun state chapter of the APC described the reported call by the PDP for a rerun as an indication that the party and one of its major promoters, former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, are “a bunch of sore losers”.
The APC through its State Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye, said in a statement released on Sunday in Abeokuta that such a vile call, coming barely few minutes after the declaration of results by the INEC and published by an Amosun-founded and funded rag sheet, could only have come from people who knew of their electoral loss, well ahead.
The statement added: “It is unfortunate that we have to react to this baseless demand purportedly from PDP but intriguingly published by one of Amosun’s lackeys even when major newspapers are yet to report or give details of the governorship election results.
“The just retired former political gladiators should first go back home and drink water and relax even as they lick their wounds. With their failure at the polls, it is still appearing to them as a dream because it is unbelievable to them that they could lose the election despite the humongous ill-gotten wealth and violence that the grandstanders displayed and deployed.
“It is a big shame, glaring disrespect for the dead and an acute moral deficiency for the PDP’s guber candidate, Ladi Adebutu, to involve the name of his late mother in record-breaking electoral bribery; the scale of which has never been witnessed in the annals of politics not only in Ogun state, but also in Nigeria.
“While it is charitable to set up a foundation in one’s late mother’s name; however, it is most uncharitable, unacceptable and ridiculous to use such an otherwise good gesture as an avenue to induce voters; a grave criminal act, as we saw in the case of the PDP agent arrested in Ado Odo-Ota by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and also as reported in all the nooks and crannies of Ogun State.
“While joining His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun to thank our people for keeping faith with our party, despite serious and devious financial temptation, we urge our supporters to be, just like our Governor, magnanimous in victory, avoid provocation, and report any threat to peace to the nearest police station.”