Friday, 30 September 2016

Protest, Jubilation as Obaseki emerges Edo Gov-Elect

Jubilation, protest as Obaseki emerges Edo Gov-Elect
Announcement, Jubilation - Obaseki is now the governor-elect of the Heart Beat of the Nation

It was wild jubilation for the All Progressives Congress (APC), laced with protests by aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members across Edo State, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
yesterday declared Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki of APC as governor-elect amid tight security. Obaseki scored 319, 483 votes to beat his opponent and candidate of the PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who polled 253, 173 votes, out of the total number of 613,244 votes cast. The total number of rejected votes in the entire exercise stood at 30 945. Obaseki equally won in 13 out of the 18 local government areas of the state.

With the announcement, Obaseki is now the governor-elect of the Heart Beat of the Nation after the contest, which was earlier scheduled to hold on September 10, but was rescheduled to Wednesday, September 28, due to security reports by the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of Security Services  (DSS). Declaring the APC candidate winner, INEC’s Chief Returning Officer, Professor Kayode Soremekun, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, said: “Godwin Obaseki of the APC, having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared winner of the election held on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, having scored the highest number of votes and is hereby returned unopposed.”

But soon after INEC declared the results, the entire state, particularly Benin City, the state capital, was greeted with unprecedented jubilation from joyous party leaders, members and supporters, who thronged the INEC headquarters and some parts of the metropolis, holding brooms, the symbol of the ruling party.

The outgoing governor, Adams Oshiomhole, in an ecstatic mood alongside party leaders, members and thousands of jubilant supporters, trooped to the city centre, Kings Square, in Benin to appreciate and rejoice with the people for standing and voting for continuity.

There was popping of exotic drinks and songs of victory at the Godwin Obaseki Campaign Organisation headquarters and that of the Director General, Barrister Osarodion Ogie, as well as other leaders of APC in the state. This was simultaneously accompanied by a heavy downpour, which in the process sacked all the protesting PDP members who besieged the head office of the INEC on Aduwawa-Benin- Auchi road in the state.

Auchi, the administrative headquarters of Estako West Local Government Area of Edo, yesterday evening, came alive as hundreds of supporters of the APC lined the streets in celebration of the party’s victory in the Wednesday governorship poll. Supporters, with trumpeters, danced through major streets, singing victory songs. However, as the electoral umpire announced the collated results from the 18 local government areas, agents of PDP and Young Democratic Party (YDP), Barrister Chris  Agbonwanegbe, and Mr. Memeh Samuel respectively refused to sign the result sheet.

The PDP chieftain disclosed that he had the mandate of the party leadership not to append his signature on the result sheet because he believed that the election was trailed by irregularities while the YDP agent said his party rejected the outcome due to omission of the party’s logo in the ballot papers used for the polls.

This also may not be unconnected with the opposition parties’ stand to reject the outcome of the process over alleged manipulation by INEC in favour of the ruling party. In reaction to his party’s victory and refusal of the PDP and YDP agents to sign the result sheet, an APC agent, Hon. Samson Abu, said: “The outcome of the election has marked the final death of PDP in Edo State.

The refusal to sign the result sheet does not invalidate the APC victory at the polls. It is usually left to people to sign or not to sign result sheets.” Meanwhile, Ize-Iyamu yesterday accused the state of spending between N3 billion and N4 billion to allegedly induce voters during the polls. Ize-Iyamu, who stated this at a press conference, while refuting allegation that he and other PDP leaders shared huge sums of money to voters during the exercise, said: “There was a clearly orchestrated, well arranged plan to ensure that PDP did not only win the Edo election, but do not have evidence to show how they lost.”

In a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said Edo people had spoken through the ballot boxes and that the victory was a testimony of the fact that they cherished continuity and sustained development.

He said: “The onus of proof lies on who is making the allegation. As far as we are concerned, the election was free, fair and credible, as we commend Edo people for displaying maturity and cooperation before, during and after the election. The victory is for all lovers of democracy and good governance.”