By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The victory recorded by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Saturday’s by-elections conducted in Katsina, Kwara and Bauchi States has been described as the sign of things to come in the 2019 elections.
This is coming as the Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday rejected the outcome the by-election in Irepodun /Isin/Oke Ero/Ekiti federal constituency where the candidate of the opposition APC, Hon. Raheem Olatunji, defeated the candidate of the PDP, Hon. Saheed Alatise.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said the defeat was a blow for the opposition PDP and has shattered any assumptions of a PDP’s return to power.
According to Shehu, “This victory should be a blow for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaigners who have maintained that by merely claiming that they have rebranded, Nigerians will have forgotten all the mess they left behind in 2015.
“By voting overwhelmingly for the ruling APC, Nigerians have shown their confidence in the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, and their willingness for continuation of this government and its policies. This clear show of support can only be a synopsis of what Nigerians should expect in the forthcoming elections, at all levels.”
He however, tasked politicians across the divide to take electoral defeat with the spirit of sportsmanship, saying “There will always be a winner and a loser in every election, an individual and a party with the highest votes and another with the lowest. That is what democracy is about.
Therefore, all aspirants should approach elections with the mindset that they could either win or lose.
“Accepting results only when one wins and challenging results each time one loses, is not the right attitude. It is certainly not what democracy is about.
“On behalf of President Buhari, I thank the people of Katsina, Kwara and Bauchi States for their show of support over the weekend.
“I thank Nigerians all over the country for believing in this government and in its determined effort to pull our nation out of the mess left behind by 16 years of PDP government, and into the greatness that is our destiny.”
Meanwhile, the Kwara State chapter of the PDP yesterday rejected the outcome of last Saturday’’s by- election in Irepodun /Isin/Oke Ero/Ekiti federal constituency where the candidate of the opposition APC, Hon. Raheem Olatunji, defeated the candidate of the PDP, Hon. Saheed Alatise.
The party described the election as a daylight robbery, which they claimed was not reflecting the wishes of the people of the federal constituency.
Addressing a press conference in Ilorin at the weekend, the state Chairman of the party, Hon. Kola Shittu, said: “The electoral victory of the candidate of the APC, Olatunji, was possible through the collaboration of the security operatives deployed to supervise the by-election in the four local government councils that make up the federal constituency.
“PDP condemns in strong term the conduct of the by-election, and also rejects its outcome, as it does not reflect the will of the people of Ekiti, Oke-Ero, Isin and Irepodun Local Government Areas.
“The announcement of the candidate of the APC, Olawuyi, as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a daylight robbery, subversion of the will of the people and direct assault on the nation’s democracy.
“Indeed, the election was a contest between the PDP and the security agents, as they both collaborated with the enemies of democracy, APC, to manipulate the electoral process and stole the mandate of the people.”
Shittu noted further that “in fact, some of the concerns we raised before the election, including the importation of thugs by the APC and heavy deployment of security personnel, manifested in the conduct of the by-election.
“The election was unarguably marred by widespread interference and irregularities, including the illegal arrest of our members before and while the election was going on; ballot box snatching, intimidation and harassment of voters by APC thugs and security operatives deployed for the election.
“For instance, a couple who are members of our party in Kwara South and their aides were rounded up by the security agents and taken to unknown destinations. The Special Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Water Support Services to the governor, Hon Anu Ibiwoye, and his driver were arrested in Esie Ijan by a combined team of Nigerian Police Force and Department of State Security (DSS) operatives on the order of APC chieftain and Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and whisked away. Up till this moment, their whereabouts remain unknown.
“On this note, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of Ibiwoye, his driver and other members of our party who were illegally arrested by the security agents.”
While commending the members of the PDP for their support despite intimidation during the election, the chairman however enjoined them to continue to remain calm and united as a family during “this present persecution being meted out to them by the APC in the state and the federal government during the election.”