APC, PDP clash, Oni mulls legal action over vote-buying in Ekiti election

The All Progressives Congress on Sunday took a swipe at the opposition Peoples Democratic Party over the result of Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State.

According to The Punch, the party, in a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, said Nigerians were not deceived by PDP’s claim of being on a rescue mission in the country.

The PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, who responded to Morka’s statement, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the APC heavily induced the electorate whom it had pauperised.

But PDP governorship candidate, Bisi Kolawole, in a statement on Sunday, congratulated the APC standard-bearer, Biodun Oyebanji, who won the governorship election, urging him to take urgent actions to redress the plights of the people.

Also on Sunday, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and the Progressive Governors’ Forum hailed the election of Oyebanji.

According to the result announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday, Oyebanji won 15 out of 16 local government areas in the state, while Kolawole emerged victorious in the Efon Local Government Area.

Oyebanji scored 187,057 votes to defeat the Social Democratic Party’s candidate, Olusegun Oni, who came second with 82,211 votes, while Kolawole, who came third, polled 67,457 votes.

The APC spokesman, Morka, in his statement, berated the PDP. He stated, “Unsurprisingly, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party finished a distant third position in the just-concluded election. Despite its claim to a self-serving and self-assigned rescue mission of Nigeria, the people of Ekiti State and, by extension, Nigerians are not, in any way, deceived by the ceaseless propaganda of a desperate party that only seeks a return to power to continue its ruinous escapades.

“Without a doubt, the well-deserved victory in Ekiti State is an eloquent testimony of the acceptance of our party under the visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the sagacity of our National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and the uncommon commitment of other members of the National Working Committee of our great party.”

‘APC pauperised Nigerians’

In his response, Ologunagba accused the APC of using poverty as a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to manipulate the electorate and induce the outcome of the Ekiti election.

“I won’t react to the comment from APC but we are still reviewing the outcome of the Ekiti election. As a party, the PDP doesn’t react, we respond. The election in Ekiti is not a true reflection of what took place. It was a purging. That is the challenge we have about the electoral system.

“The APC has weaponised poverty and turns it into a weapon of mass destruction. What do you expect? Nigerians know the truth and must liberate themselves. In liberating ourselves, there are sacrifices to make. It must also include the willingness and capacity to say ‘No’ rather banishing oneself to a generational servitude.

“We all know what happened in the election. The outcome of that election is not the will of the people. It is a will induced by poverty. We saw the report everywhere in the media that about N10,000 were being paid for a vote. The report is there in the public domain. There were some voters who were spotted dancing in queues and displaying the N5,000 that they received. It shows the electoral system in our country has been bastardised by the APC. From ruining the economy, they have gone as far as disrupting the electoral system without shame. They have succeeded in weaponising poverty as an act of the policy of the government.”

“They have succeeded in turning poverty into a weapon of mass destruction, the capacity of people to make an informed and rational decision becomes difficult. That was what went down in that election.

“That’s the preliminary report we got. The APC has pauperised people and promoted disunity as an act of governance by the infamous statement by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).”

Oni’s camp

The SDP state collation agent and former state attorney general, Owoseni Ajayi, said that the results as declared by INEC did not reflect the true decision of the people, lamenting that the process was marred by financial inducement hence the need for legal redress.

Ajayi spoke in the early hours of Sunday after the collation of election results from the 16 council areas and the return of Oyebanji of APC as winner and governor-elect.

He said, “We reject the result of that election because it was fraught with violence, election malpractices, intimidation of voters, purchase of votes and others. The only way we can challenge that is to file our petition at the election petitions tribunal we shall do.

“This will enable generations coming to know that when conducting elections, you must follow the rules and procedures,” the former AG said.

However, the Media Director, Segun Oni Campaign Organisation, Jackson Adebayo, said that the party leadership would meet on the outcome of the election on Monday.

Adebayo said, “The leadership of the party has not taken a decision yet on the election. They will meet tomorrow (Monday), it is then that they will discuss and take a position, which will be made known to the public. Leaders have not met as I speak with you”.

But the PDP standard-bearer, Kolawole, said, “I believe that power belongs to God and He bestows upon whomever he chooses. I also believe in popular choice i.e the unfettered expression of the peoples’ mandate as one of the crucial hallmarks of democratic principle and practice.”

The PDP chieftain spoke in two separate letters – one addressed to the governor-elect titled “Congratulation on your victory” and another one to the people of Ekiti State, titled, “Thank you all, Ekiti”.

Kolawole advised Oyebanji, “Please take urgent actions aimed at redressing the plights of our people when you fully assume the mantle shortly. I wish you the guidance of the Almighty God in the onerous task ahead.”

He also stated, “With a deep sense of responsibility, I would like to thank the Ekiti people, members of the PDP and all sympathisers who believed in us and in our cause to raise higher the banner of Ekiti State.

“According to the scripture, the race is not for the swift nor the battle for the strong. We have tried our best and even though the election has not gone the way we had expected and deserved, we give all glory to God and wish Ekiti people well,” the PDP candidate said.

Kolawole, in a letter to the governor-elect, titled, ‘Congratulation on your victory’, said, “I hereby write to congratulate you. I believe that power belongs to God and He bestows it upon whoever he chooses. I also believe in popular choice ie the unfettered expression of the people’s mandate as one of the crucial hallmarks of democratic principle and practice”.

On his part, the APC National Chairman, Adamu, said Oyebanji’s landslide victory was an indication of the party’s popularity.

In a statement by his media aide, Muhammad Nata’ala Keffi, in Abuja on Sunday, Adamu disclosed that the election was a test of Oyebanji’s character.

The chairman paid glowing tribute to the leadership of the President who as a leader of the APC guided the party going into the Ekiti State election.

“In this first election to be held after he became National Chairman, the victory recorded at the election was a precursor to expected victories of the APC at the Osun election later this year and at the 2023 general elections,” he stated.

Buhari hails victory

The President said the victory of the APC and its candidate indicated the confidence of Nigerians in the party’s ability to deliver quality governance.

Buhari, in a statement s by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, stated, “ The APC is getting stronger and more united. The victory of our party in Ekiti is an indication of the confidence of Nigerians in the ability of our great party to deliver quality governance to all.”

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, his Kebbi State counterpart, Senator Atiku Bagudu and the Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, lauded the Ekiti electorate.

The governors, who said the Ekiti electorate was sophisticated enough to identify and go for the best and most sellable candidate, expressed confidence in the governor-elect’s ability to build on Fayemi’s laudable achievements in the state.

They spoke at Oyebanji’s hometown, Ikogosi Ekiti in the Ekiti West Local Government Area while presenting the election result and declaration sheets to the candidate.

Bagudu is the Chairman of the APC National Campaign Committee. The Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, served as the campaign Manager for the Ekiti election.

Bagudu said, “Victory is sweet, but we still have to be humble in it. In 2018, Governor Fayemi won the candidate of the PDP with less than 20,000 votes. But this time, the governor-elect beat his nearest rival with over 100,000 votes.”

Fayemi described the victory as exciting, applauding President Buhari, the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the Progressives Governors’ Forum for their immense support during the electoral battle.

In the same vein, Oyebanji assured the Ekiti people of a new dawn with his being returned by INEC as the governor-elect of Ekiti State.

Also, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, congratulated Oyebanji on the victory in the state governorship election, saying the outcome of the election was the people’s verdict on Fayemi’s performance in the last three and half years.

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Osun State counterpart, Gboyega Oyetola also congratulated Oyebanji.

The presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in a statement by his media office, commended Oyebanji for the steadfastness and passion he brought into the campaign, which he said paid off with the emphatic and outstanding victory.

The former governor of Lagos State also commended the party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, its governors, and members of the National Working Committee, charging them to lead the APC to victory in the 2023 general elections.

The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde, on Sunday, said, Oyebanji’s “vast experience in public service is an asset that would be deployed for the good of the people of Ekiti State. As a former commissioner, chief of staff and later secretary to the state government, the governor-elect is well-equipped to take the state to the next level.”

On its part, the House of Representatives congratulated the INEC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Police Force and other agencies in Ekiti State.

The House also noted its role in the success of the election with the amendment and passage of the Electoral Act, which INEC used in conducting the poll.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, in a statement issued on Sunday and titled ‘9th House of Representatives Congratulates INEC on its Successful Conduct of the 2022 Gubernatorial Election in Ekiti State,’ stated that the lawmakers were committed to enhancing the electoral processes.

Assessing the election, a Professor in the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University, Ojo, Sylvester Akhaine, in an interview with The PUNCH, stated, ‘‘The announcement of the result was fast while underscoring the challenges encountered with the electronic transfer of results. I also heard that there were complaints about the process being monetised. I hope the electronic transfer of results will be improved upon before the 2023 election.’’

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