[tweet][digg][stumble][Google][pinterest][follow id=”DER29709692″ size=”large” count=”true” ]

aregbesola victory celebration

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, incumbent governor of Osun State and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress shrugs off the challenge from Senator Iyiola Omisore, flag-bearer of the People’s Democratic Party to emerge victorious in the August 9 governorship election

By Olisemeka Obeche

After months of dramatic electioneering campaign, press brawls and political scheming for the coveted Osun governorship seat, the pendulum of victory eventually swung in the direction of the incumbent governor and flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ogeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Aregbesola cemented his claim as ‘the people’s governor’ in the State of Osun after polling 394,684 votes to beat his closest rival and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore who scored 292,747 votes in the August 9, 2014 governorship election. Mr. Fatai Akinbade, a former Secretary to the State Government and Labour Party (LP) candidate, posted a distant third with 8,898 votes. Professor Bamitade Omole, Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife and INEC’s Chief Returning Officer for Osun Governorship poll had on Sunday, August 10 in Osogbo, declared Aregbesola the winner. He said: “Having satisfied the requirements of the law and scoring the highest numbers of votes, Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress is therefore returned elected.”  This sparked off celebrations across the state and beyond.

Aregbesola’s victory in 22 out of the 30 local government area in the state as against Omisore’s win in eight local government area was hailed by many including top leaders across the political spectrum as a strong signal to the emerging powers of the Nigerian electorate through the ballot box.  “We have sent a strong signal to all and sundry that no might is powerful enough to thwart the will of the people…Nobody or party must ever exercise power unreasonably at any level except in accordance with the will of the people to whom sovereignty belongs,” declared the re-elected Governor Aregbesola in his post-victory speech.

“Our victory is due to the steadfastness and resolute determination of our people to assert and defend their rights. The PDP obviously did all it could in a most desperate manner to steal the people’s mandate,” he added.

President Goodluck Jonathan who had hitherto come under attacks from the opposition camp for allegedly deploying the machinery of the state, including the security agencies to engineer victory for his party’s candidate — Senator Omisore — also hailed the outcome of the exercise as victory for democracy and his government’s electoral reforms. In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, Jonathan declared that “the free, fair and peaceful conduct of the elections have fully reaffirmed his administration’s determination to positively reform Nigeria’s electoral processes.” He explained that  “the outcome of the election has also given the lie to the false, unfair and uncharitable allegations that measures put in place by the Federal Government for the Ekiti and Osun State elections were partisan and designed to achieve a favourable outcome for his party.”

President Jonathan had predicted victory for Senator Omisore, days before the election, claiming that he was the much anticipated messiah to take Osun State to the ‘promised land’. “Omisore’s time has come.… God’s time is the best,” he exclaimed.

Matters arising

Despite the wide-spread celebration trailing his hard-fought triumph over Omisore, Governor Aregbesola refused to be swayed by the euphoria, pointing out what he considered as a red-herring in the electoral outcome. “This election shows that democracy is still gravely endangered in Nigeria. We witnessed gross abuse of power and, of due process before, during, and even after the actual voting process,” he said.

According to him, the way Osun State was “unduly militarized in an unprecedented manner through criminal intimidation and psychological assault on our people” was clearly an abuse of our security agencies and corruption of their professional ethics and integrity which posed danger to the country’s democracy.

But President Jonathan had earlier explained that a large number of security personnel was deployed to the state to protect the people’s votes from being stolen and not to rig election. “We won’t allow a repeat of 2011 incident or allow miscreants to take over Osun State and cause havoc. We would ensure that Osun is properly policed. Anybody who calls himself a thug or militant would be dealt with,” vowed Jonathan.

However, the militarization issue reached a dramatic flashpoint when some APC chieftains were reportedly detained in Osogbo and later released hours to the election for inexplicable reasons. ‘’We were being driven to the Government House when we were stopped at a military check point by men in military and DSS uniforms, all hooded and armed to the teeth with AK-47 assault rifles, pistols and other weapons,” recounted Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC’s National Publicity Secretary.

According to the APC spokesman, the manner members of his party were harassed, arrested and dehumanized on the eve of Osun gubernatorial poll shows that Nigerian citizens can no longer be sure whether the security agents are well-trained and highly-disciplined. “What we have now are Jonathan’s soldiers, policemen and DSS officials who have since stopped working for the nation but are now the enforcement arm of the PDP,” he said.

The party alleged that President Jonathan’s ambition to rule Nigeria beyond 2015 was the major factor behind the militarization of Osun State governorship polls. “We have no doubt that elections, which should be a celebration of democracy, have now been turned to war because of the desperation of President Jonathan to win re-election at all costs,” the party claimed.

Game-changer for APC?

Expectedly, Aregbesola’s victory against Omisore may have rekindled hope for freer, fairer and credible elections in Nigeria ahead of the 2015 polls, but the ultimate beneficiary of this strategic war remains the APC. The party’s quest to dethrone the ruling PDP in the next general elections had suffered a setback following the unpredicted loss of Ekiti governorship election last June and, thereafter, a controversial impeachment of Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako in July.

But with the latest victory, there is a renewed hope in the party’s hierarchy and among its supporters that dethroning the self-acclaimed largest party in black Africa – the PDP – is within its full grasp.

The National Leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu acknowledged that the party has learnt useful lessons from the outcome of the Osun State gubernatorial poll as it girds its loins for the ultimate supremacy battle next year.  He said: “The lessons from Osun abide. Osun has demonstrated that it is possible to confront them. On our part, we accept this challenge…Our Osun victory re-ignites and marks the next phase of taking Nigeria back. Osun re-energizes us to the common good, a commitment to the people and an unbending commitment to ensure Nigeria is governed better. The APC and its vast membership nationwide will not sit idly by and allow a band of gangsters determine our future simply because they happen to be in privileged positions.”

But the ruling PDP insists that the only lesson to be drawn from the Osun gubernatorial poll is that opposition parties and players should desist from actions and utterances capable of over-heating the polity. “The lesson from this election is that the opposition party should stop crying wolf where there is none. They must desist from actions and statements that cause confusion and create unnecessary tension, capable of igniting violence and blood-letting in elections,” PDP said in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: