As stakeholders ask Bindow to concede defeat
By Our Correspondents
Governorship candidates in states where the Independent National Electoral Commission declared elections inconclusive are making last-ditch efforts to emerge victorious in supplementary elections scheduled to hold on March 23.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared governorship election in Adamawa, Benue Plateau, Sokoto and Kano States, citing electoral violence and over-voting among other reasons.
In Benue State, for instance, the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) have been making frantic efforts to ensure victory in the supplementary election.
Members of both parties have started canvassing for support and votes in areas where the re-run will take place. Rerun election will be conducted in almost all the 23 local government areas of the state with about 121,091 votes at stake. After the March 9 election, PDP polled 420,576 votes, while APC scored 329,022. Before the election was declared inconclusive, the PDP was leading 81,554 votes.
However, INEC had to declare the election inconclusive because cancelled votes- 121,091 were higher than the margin between the two top candidates.
Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, who contested re-election on the PDP platform, led the race with 81,554 votes more than his closest rival, Emmanuel Jime of the APC. The margin was, however, less than the 121,091 votes in the polling units where voting was cancelled. This has necessitated the move by the two leading political parties to begin wooing voters to ensure victory. The Publicity Secretary of Benue APC, Mr. James Orguga said his party welcomed the declaration of the governorship election inconclusive saying a lots of things went wrong with the election.
Orguga in a chat with our correspondent in Makurdi said even before the declaration, the party had raised the alarm over irregularities.
He said the development would give his party the time to prepare more and then, come back and make up the inefficiency that was recorded during the last elections.
Meanwhile the PDP has insisted that Ortom won the election and should be declared winner of the election.
According to its returning agent, Mr. Alex Adum, Ortom met the condition to be declared winner even as he wondered why INEC decided to declare the election inconclusive.
In Adamawa State, also, some politicians have called on the incumbent governor, Alhaji Jibrilla Bindow and candidate of the APC to accept defeat and not to put the state on fire.
The politicians expressed concern over INEC’s decision to declare the governorship election inconclusive.
The state’s former governor, Mr. Boni Haruna sid, “We have reliably gathered that the total number of permanent voters cards collected in the 44 polling units is 31027, a figure that would not reverse the victory of the PDP candidate, Alhaji Umar Fintiri even after the supplementary elections in the 44 units. He noted that the registered voters in the polling units, where re-run will hold on March 23, are now only 34,101.
Consequently, stakeholders believe that Fintiri, candidate of the PDP had won outrights, and that there was no basis for INEC to declare the election inconclusive.
The Secretary of Adamawa PDP, Mr. Abdullahi Prambe said the party had gleaned from INEC records that 34,101 is actually the registered voters in the affected polling units, as against 40,988 declared by the state returning officer.
Likewise, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Lawan Babachir said the only honourable thing “to do is for my party’s candidate, Governor Bindow to concede and give peace a chance.”
Babachir, also a chieftain of the APC, said the next election “is only four years away, Bindow can go back to the drawing board and launch himself back; therefore let’s not allow elections to cause trouble between brothers.”
According to him, the results of the elections as announced by INEC show that the PDP candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri won the elections by 367,472 votes as against 334,995 votes scored by the APC candidate.
Haruna reinforced Babachir’s position, noting that the PDP candidate “is already leading bt 32,476 votes. While we were waiting for the outright declaration of Fintiri who won by a clear majority, we were taken aback with INEC’s declaration of the elections as inconclusive, on the grounds that the vote difference was less than 40,988 in 44 polling units where the elections did not hold.”
He said the INEC “relies on sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act and regulations and guidelines page 17 paragraph C to justify its actions. We wish to state that the action by the electoral body to declare Adamawa election as inconclusive is not only absurd, but untenable, most unfortunate and unacceptable.
“We wish to state or note that the national chairman had told the world that elections starts and end at polling units. It is our understanding that if elections were cancelled at polling units or wards collation centers, it stands cancelled.
“We therefore find it curious for the electoral body to resurrect the issue of elections results that have been cancelled at the polling units to justify its action of declaring the governorship elections as inconclusive at the level of state collation or declaration of results.
“The position of the electoral body ordering a supplementary election on the basis that the mergin of win was less that the number of cancelled results in the 44 polling units was untenable.
“This is because we have been able to establish that the number of PVC’s collected in the 44 polling units was 31,027, these are the only eligible voters if there is going to be a rerun. The 31,027 is far less than the number of registered voters that INEC relied upon to decline declaring PDP winner of the governorship elections.”
In the case of Plateau, the supplementary election may turn out to be a mere formality. Already, the incumbent governor and APC candidate, Mr. Simon Lalong is as good as having won the contest.
INEC’s Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Prof. Richard Kimbir declared the election inconclusive, saying the number of cancelled votes were higher than the margin between the two leading candidates.
In the declared election result, Lalong polled 583,255 votes while Jeremiah Useni of the PDP secured 538,326 votes. With a margin 44,929 between the two contestants and 49,377 cancelled votes, Kimbir declared the election inconclusive.
However, analysts described the supplementary election as needless and a mere waste of time and resources seeing that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Useni to come from far behind to level up the margin and beat Lalong.
They observed that the odds weigh heavily to the point of impossibility against the PDP candidate, for him to defeat the APC candidate.
In Sokoto, the PDP candidate, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is clinging to a narrow lead ahead of his APC counterpart, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu Sokoto.
Tambuwal leads with 3,413 votes. But INEC’s returning officer, Prof. Fatima Muktar of the Federal University, Dutse Jigawa State said the PDP candidate polled 489,558 while the APC candidate polled 486,090 votes.
She added that the total vote cast “is 1,018,024, with rejected votes of 30,082. As people anxiously waited for the decision of the electoral umpire after keeping them in suspense for about an hour, she came to declare the election inconclusive.”
Muktar said she could not declare a winner since the cancel votes were more than the margin between the winner and the runner off.
Dissatisfied, Tambuwal vowed to challenge the decision in court. According to him, as you can see the mandate is a result of people’s trust and the confidence reposed in our administration.
When asked whether he would boycott the rerun he responded, “We will not boycott it but will mobilize our supporters to come out en masse and cast their votes.
On his part the APC candidate said he welcomed the decision reiterating that the party would start mobilizing its supporters to ensure that APC wins the election.
In Kano, the next week governorship rerun will determine the political careers of the state’s former governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and the incumbent governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje.
Already, politicians loyal to the two parties of APC and PDP have gone diabolical seeking spiritual intervention ahead of the supplementary poll scheduled in over 170 polling units.
Mr Abba Kabir Yusuf, contesting under the PDP platform while Ganduje on the APC, will fight it out during the rerun.
Political pundits said that the election might retire either Kwankwaso or Ganduje from the Kano political arena before the 2023.
Kwankwaso and Ganduje were political allies from 1999 when they were elected as governor and deputy governor respectively, up to 2015 when the former nominated the latter to succeed him as the state governor.
In less than two years after the election that brought Ganduje to power, his relationship with his former boss became sour which finally led to the defection of Kwankwaso to the PDP.
Ganduje is seeking re-election to complete a second tenure as governor while Yusif is contesting governorship for the first time.
People’s in the state views that the supplementary election will be a fight to finish for the duo of Kwankwaso and Ganduje in the state.