Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Deji Elumoye, Omololu Ogunmade, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Nseobong Okon-Ekong, Victor Ogunje, in Ado-Ekiti, Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta and Segun James in Lagos
With last Saturday’s election of All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as the next governor of Ekiti State, the South-west geo-political zone has now come under the firm grip of the ruling party, a feat that had not been performed since 1979, when the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), cornered all the three states in the region.
Fayemi had prevailed over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Professor Kolapo Olusola, by 197,459 to 178,115 of the 384,594 votes cast in the keenly contested election.
While President Muhammadu Buhari led the retinue of celebrants that congratulated Fayemi on his victory yesterday, the PDP rejected the results of the election, calling it a daylight robbery.
The PDP leaders went into a meeting yesterday to review the election and decide on its next move, party sources told THISDAY.
But former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the APC National Leader, Senate Bola Tinubu, hailed Fayemi’s victory, asking the losers to take their defeat in good faith or seek judicial redress if they felt cheated.
The outcome of the Ekiti out-of-season election, analysts said yesterday could significantly alter the political alignment in the country and reshape the struggle for power at the centre in 2019.
Safe for the North-west, which is wholly controlled by the APC, no other region is totally controlled by a single party. Although the PDP dominates the South-east and the South-south, its hold is punctuated by the reign of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State and APC in Imo and Edo States. With Ekiti in the kitty, the APC now has absolute control of the South-west, bringing under its sphere the two most populous regions, with massive electorate.
In the 2015 presidential election, it was the collaboration of the North-west and the South-west that did in former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the PDP aware of this has been strategising on how to take the South-west, its former stronghold back from the APC.
With Ekiti, the opposition party and its allies would now have to go back to the drawing board, a process it began last night with its leaders meeting into the early hours of this morning on what its next move should be.
For the emerging opposition political alliance massed in the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) spearheaded last week by the PDP and reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) along with 38 other parties, therefore, the outcome of last Saturday’s election was a major setback as it suggested the electioneering strength of the ruling party, in spite of widespread economic hardship and the mounting body counts arising from the almost free reign of suspected herdsmen and bandits around the country.
PDP, Olusola Reject Results, Say It’s Daylight Robbery
However, the PDP has rejected the results of the election, describing it as a clear electoral banditry and daylight robbery.
The PDP said that it had details of results at polling units where its candidate won the election and also evidences of how its accredited agents were chased away by security agents in order to substitute results with falsified ones.
Its candidate, Olusola, also at a press conference in Ado-Ekiti, rejected the results, saying they were falsified and could not stand.
The PDP accused the APC of colluding with security agents and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to manipulate election results to favour, Fayemi.
Addressing a press conference yesterday afternoon in Abuja, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said, “This electoral banditry cannot stand and the PDP is already collating results and evidences and will make known the next step towards reclaiming our mandate in Ekiti State,” adding, “PDP rejects in its entirety the results concocted by the APC, the INEC and security agencies, in the governorship election in Ekiti State and declared by INEC.”
The party like its candidate claimed the results were falsified to give the edge to Fayemi.
It said that from the authentic results flowing directly from the polling centers across the state, it was clear that its candidate incontrovertibly won the election, with very comfortable margin over the APC candidate and that INEC allegedly allowed the results to be altered at collation centers.
Ologbondiyan who read a text to journalists said PDP decried the harassment and intimidation meted out to its party supporters and agents before, during and immediately after the election was concluded.
On what the PDP plans to do next, the party’s spokesman said it is presently gathering details of the alleged malfeasance, adding that it would make its decision public soon.
APC: People’s Will Has Prevailed
Dismissing the PDP’s complaints, the APC yesterday congratulated Fayemi, saying that the people’s will had prevailed even as it commended him for running an effective and positive campaign focused on his agenda of rebuilding the economy of the state and returning its lost values of integrity, prudence and decency.
The party in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, commended the INEC, security agencies, local and international observers, as well as other stakeholders, for their admirable role in making the Ekiti gubernatorial election one in which the people’s will had prevailed.
“We thank the Ekiti electorate for voting en masse for our party’s candidate. This is a demonstration of their trust and confidence in Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s ability to deliver on his campaign promises and a rejection of the crude and pedestrian politics of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” it said, adding, “We assure the people of Ekiti, and indeed all Nigerians, that our party is best placed to move the country forward and resolve the seemingly intractable problems that have held us back.”
Buhari, Saraki, Obasanjo, Tinubu Congratulate Fayemi
President Buhari was one of the earliest persons to react yesterday, congratulating Fayemi, saying he deserved the victory.
According to his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the president also commended the APC and party supporters for what he described as hard fought victory after a dignified campaign.
Buhari commended the people of the state for their matured and peaceful conduct as they made their choice using the power of the ballot.
He also applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for adequate preparations and displaying impartiality throughout the process, adding that security agencies also deserved praise for creating the right atmosphere for the relatively peaceful conduct of the polls and urges them to sustain the peace.
Buhari commended local and international observers and monitors for their vigilance and contributions towards the relatively hitch-free exercise.
“The president urges the losers to be gallant in conceding defeat and use constitutional means to settle whatever grievances they may have rather than resort to self-help,” the statement said, adding, “President Buhari appeals to all stakeholders in Ekiti State to work towards a successful transition to a new administration in the higher interest of not only the state but the entire nation.”
Senate President Saraki Joined in Congratulating Fayemi yesterday.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, he stated that the governor-elect should use his second-coming to continue his people-centered policies and programmes of his first term, while urging him to also work to grow the state’s economy in order to leave behind a sustainable legacy.
He said the victory was a sign that the people of Ekiti State still had confidence in the governor-elect’s ability to provide good governance and render efficient service to the state and its people. He also advised the governor-elect to maintain his focus on how to bring more development to the state and improve the standard of living of the people.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his own reaction, congratulated Fayemi and charged him to reciprocate the trust the Ekiti people reposed on him by doing everything humanly possible to strengthen the faith in democracy within his ability in order to bring about improved material conditions and better service delivery.
He said the success recorded by the governor re-elect was an aftermath of a hard fought campaign, which he said was a proof that the people valued the latter’s leadership and appreciated the efforts he had made thus far on their behalf.
The APC National Leader, Senator Tinubu hailed Fayemi for his victory, urging him to avoid recriminations and run an all-inclusive government.
In a statement entitled, “Ekiti Election: A Victory for the People,” Tinubu said the people had voted to take a path different from the one on which they had been.
“In Ekiti, a chapter has closed and a new one has begun,” he said, adding, “This was not done by contrivance or artifice, nor was it the product of intimidation or improper influence. This came about because it was the will of the people of Ekiti as expressed and manifested in the conduct of a free and fair election in that state.”
He urged Governor Ayo Fayose and Olusola to accept the results of the election in good faith. “Let there be an orderly transition from the outgoing to the incoming government,” he said.
Fayemi Hails Victory, Urges Fayose, Olusola to Accept Defeat
Fayemi, in address to his supporters at the APC headquarters in Ado-Ekiti, urged Fayose and Olusola to accept their electoral defeat in good faith.
Assuring workers that his government would accord priority to the payment of backlog of salary arrears and youth empowerment as well as rural development, he promised to run an all-inclusive government.
“Despite the divisive nature of the contest, I want you to remember our bond of unity as Ekiti people. I, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, hereby offer myself to be the governor of all irrespective of faith, creed or political belief,” he said, holding out a hand of friendship to his opponents, “I salute all fellow candidates for enriching the process and for your civility and patriotism in accepting the outcome of this exercise. I look forward to consulting with you all to secure your input as we fine-tune our governance agenda for the years ahead.”
But his main opponent, Olusola, rejected his declaration as the validly elected governor, describing the incidences of electoral malfeasance that allegedly dogged the election as unfortunate and dangerous events in the nation’s electoral history.
Olusola accused the APC, which he described as ‘desperado’ of hijacking the process, leveraging on what he termed federal might to pervert the electoral process and subvert the will of Ekiti people.
He said, “This is the most audacious electoral robbery of our recent history. It shall not stand. By the grace of Almighty God and your support, I will pursue and regain my mandate.”
He said he would test the results in court.