Bukkola and Gov. Fatahi Ahmend
Hammed Shittu gives an account of how the ruling Peoples Democratic Party cleared all the seats up for election in the just concluded council polls in Kwara State
Local government administration has remained the closest level of government to the people. Apart from the fact that, it has provided an opportunity for the people in the grassroots to directly feel the impact on of governance, it also serves as a platform for the leaders of the local government to show their commitment towards making life bearable to the people they serve. It is on that premise that all stakeholders in the local government councils always show interest in the people that will represent them at that level in order to ensure that the delivery of democracy dividends gets to them.
In Kwara State, however, this was not an exception as the people in the 15 local government councils, last Saturday, trooped out en masse to take part in the local government elections in the state to elect their chairmen and councilors, who would be in charge of the day-to-day administration of the affected councils in the state.
It will be noted that the election of other remaining council, Offa that make up of 16 local government councils in the state was held August this year following the Court of Appeal ruling, sitting in Ilorin, which called for a re-run in the council.
The re-run was between the PDP and All Progressives Congress (APC) but at the end of the day, the PDP candidate, Dr. Segun Olanipekun, was declared winner of the election by the State Independent Electoral Commission led by Dr. Uthman Ajidagba. The PDP chairmanship candidate, Dr. Olanipekun has since been sworn in as chairman of Offa local government while all the councillorship seats of the council were also won by the PDP.
In the election of last Saturday held in the state, only three political parties; the ruling PDP, the Labour Party and Social Democratic Party featured. The main opposition party, APC tried its best possible by approaching a Federal High Court in Ilorin to restrain the state’s electoral body from conducting the polls. But eventually, the court dismissed the application.
The candidates of the three political parties that featured in the election had embarked on campaigns across the length and breadth of the 180 wards in the 15 local government areas to sell their manifestoes to the electorate for almost three months as parts of the drive for support.
Also, the electoral commission had embarked on an enlightenment and sensitisation tour of all the 15 council areas in order to carry along the various stakeholders in the affected councils on the need to embrace peace during the election.
The tour had allowed the commission to hold talks with royal fathers, youths and women among others and educated them on the need to cooperate with the commission and security agencies in the state during the election for a hitch-free poll.
Apart from this, the commission had recruited over 3,000 ad hoc staff that participated in the election. The ad hoc staff were trained and exposed to all the rudiments of the electoral processes. Among those trained by the commission are the presiding officers, deputy presiding officers, and the polling officers.
Thus, on Saturday October 26, 2013, voters from all the 15 local government councils in the state came out in large numbers to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice. The voters, according to THISDAY checks, had come out to exercise their civic right by electing a leader of their choice.
A visit to some of the wards in Ilorin west, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Moro, Irepodun, Ifelodun local government councils among others, discovered a long queue of voters waiting to vote. At Baboko, Gbabiabidun, Akanbi 1, Akanbi 2, Okelele, Ajikobi wards, voters had lined up to cast their votes without any hindrance and as early as they could make it to the polling booths.
Men of the state police command, civil defence corps and immigration officials, among others were on hand to provide security at all the polling units across the affected local government councils, where the election held. THISDAY also discovered that voting materials were at the various polling units at the appointed time for the electoral officials.
Speaking with newsmen before the official close of the voting exercise, chairman of the New PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, said the election was held in a peaceful manner devoid of any hindrance. According to him, “The party would win 100 per cent. We have done it before. We are still doing it,” he said, adding that "Kwara state is a unique state that delivers right from the grassroots to the national level 100 per cent for PDP."
Former governor of the state and Senator representing Kwara Central, Senator Bukola Saraki, described the election as free and fair. He said the large turn-out of voters at the election testified to the commitment and belief of Kwarans in the PDP leadership in the state.
In his comment, the lawmaker representing Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituency, Hon. Ali Ahmad, described the turn-out of the voters as unprecedented in the political history of the state.
Ali who is chairman, House Committee on Justice, said "The PDP is a party to beat in Nigeria in view of the love of the party for the nation's masses.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Rasak Atunwa, after casting his vote at about 12:10pm at Efue/Dongari/Iberekodo Ward 002 which is at Beriko-Dongari LGEA, School, Asa local government council said: “I am highly impressed by the turnout of people who came to vote at this unit.
“This is a demonstration of the solidarity with the leader of Kwara Politics, Dr. Abubakar Saraki. Even though this is a walkover, people turned out en masse to show their solidarity with the leader and I’m impressed with the turnout. I am impressed by the good and orderly conduct of this election. The police officers present have shown a great deal of professionalism. It is peaceful in this ward as I understand my Local Government and the other 15 LGs in the state,” he said.
Election observers who came to monitor the exercise affirmed that the election was peaceful, free, fair and credible. The observers under the aegis of CITAR-NGO which monitored the election across the state applauded its peaceful conduct.
The NGO, in its report, signed by its National Coordinator,
Mohammed Lawal, noted that there were early arrival of election materials and that the exercise was generally peaceful. According to the report, there was mass voter turn-out in some wards like Ekan, Imode and Ilofa wards in Oke-Ero LG as well as Ifelodun Local government.
“In all the ten Local Government Areas that our team monitored, elections were generally free and fair. Our team also noticed substantial compliance with the restriction of movement both within and outside of the Ilorin metropolis.We also noticed that there were more female voters than their male counterparts in a good number of the polling units, who turned out to cast their votes,” the report stated in part.
The group therefore commended the security agencies for their neutrality and maintaining peace and order during the elections. It advised the state electoral body to “improve in the area of quick and timely deployment of election staff and logistics” and also train and retrain their staff for “greater efficiency”.
It stated: “On the scale of random sampling, despite the above shortcomings, it is generally believed that the elections were free, fair, peaceful and credible,” the report stated.
However, after the election, the State Independent Electoral Commission declared that the ruling the PDP, for both the chairmanship and councillorship positions, won all the seats.
Announcing the results, Ajidagba described the election as free and fair. "The party's chairmanship candidates in Asa local government council, Mallam Saka Obalana polled 43,748 while his counterpart in Baruten local government, Mohammed Bio scored 76,478. Alhaji Abubakar TShonga of Edu local government scored 61,291, while his counterpart in Ekiti local government council, Hon. Akintoba Fatigun, got 23,888.
“The party's candidate for Ifelodun local government, Alhaji Babatunde Salami scored 74,299 and his counterpart for IIorin East local council, Mr. Abdullateef Okandeji polled 89,416; Mr. Usman Ebedi, the PDP candidate for the IIorin South scored 63,267 while his
counterpart for IIorin West, Tajudeen Zulu-Oloje, polled 129,885.
The candidate for Irepodun local government, Mr. Lukman Owolewa
scored 41,187 and the candidate for Isin local government, Mr. Moruf Thanni, got 21,144; the candidate for Kaima Local Goverment, Mr. Alhassan Bagudu, scored 43,747, while AbdulGaniyu Ajibola of Moro local government polled 46,493.
“The candidate for Oke-Ero local government council, Alhaja Aminat
Yusuf, got 23,957, his counterpart for Oyun local government, Mr. Jimoh Alao, scored 34,783 and Uthman Mohammed of Patigi local government polled 36,294.
Ajidagba, however, did not disclose the scores of the 181 Councillorship candidates of the party in the election. He expressed his gratitude to all the stakeholders, royal fathers, the media and the people of the state for their support which brought about the successful conduct of the election.
Chairman-elect for Ekiti local government council, Fatigun lauded the peaceful conduct of the election saying, ‘it has showed the love and commitment of Kwarans to the ruling PDP and its leader, Senator Bukola Saraki.”
He assured the people of the state and the people of Ekiti local government of good governance that would accelerate the socioeconomic growth of the state.
With the local government election done, the expectation of the grassroots is high in the area of good governance. The new leaders, observers say, must be accessible so that the people of the local government can have input in the running of their affairs, in the collective desire to move the councils forward.