James Sowole in Abeokuta
An independent monitoring group under the aegies of Forum of Election Observers Groups (FEOG), has declared that the outcome of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Ogun State largely reflected the opinion of the vast majority of the residents in line with the assessment of various stakeholders, including local observers.
Coordinator of the FEOG, Mr. Ayodeji Ologun, stated this at a media briefing in Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday, where he passed a vote of confidence on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), over the conduct and eventual results of the polls.
The FEOG were among the 146,913 observers that were accredited by INEC to observe the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
Ologun said: “As a group, we observed the 2023 presidential, National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections and we wish to state, that the results as announced by the INEC, during the last governorship and state assembly elections were consistent with our parallel vote tabulation results estimates.
“A classical of this is the result of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Ogun State, which were monitored by many of our leaders, herein present.
“Not minding various reactions that have trailed the outcome of the elections, we consider it a patriotic duty to inform Nigerians about our observations, and ultimately advise against tendencies that seek to undermine the progress being recorded in our democratic journey as a nation.
“While it is no doubt that several complaints have arisen as a result of the eventual outcome of the elections, particularly last Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections.
“The March 18 governorship and State House of Assembly elections, witnessed a significant improvement in the performance of the INEC, and this in no doubt, impacted positively on the eventual outcome of the election.”
Ologun stressed that this clarification became necessary considering series of reports and agitations so far generated by the outcome of the last Saturday’s elections, and negative reports being attributed to it by some politically exposed interests.
The group maintained that various organisations for instance, had observers deployed to observe the governorship and house of Assembly elections in Ogun State, which also embarked on a conscious effort at monitoring and collating results during the elections.
It continued: “The official results announced by INEC, into the governorship position and House of Assembly seats, were consistent with our vote tabulation results estimates. In other words, the results reflected the votes cast at the polling units, and the general interest of the people of Ogun State.
“Furthermore, our findings revealed certain lapses and reports of malfeasance that impacted on the quality of the process in some polling units, in the state, that nonetheless was insignificant, compared to the progress made, during the election.
“Our observers, in some local governments, including Ikenne, Abeokuta South, Ijebu North and Ado Odo Ota witnessed incidences of voters’ inducements and campaign during election.
“In fact, not less than 10 agents of the major opposition political party in the state were arrested by security agents for attempt to induce voters with cash and compromise election officials, in parts of the Ado Odo Ota local government.
“We also witnessed how branded Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, pre-loaded with money were being used to induce voters and influence their choices during the election.
“There is no doubt that last Saturday’s election was a test for our democracy, as it presented an opportunity for us, as a people, to consolidate on the gains of the previous elections and deepen our democratic transition.
“Although INEC introduced reforms to deepen electoral integrity and citizen’s participation, the elections witnessed some of the shortcomings that were seen during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
“We also strongly believe that INEC must improve its capacity to deliver credible elections and political parties must play according to the rules as failure to do so could undermine Nigeria’s democracy.
“We wish to state, that the outcome of the governorship election in Ogun State, largely reflected the opinion of the vast majority of Ogun State people, and very much in line, with the assessment of various stakeholders, including local and international observers, who witnessed the election.
“Finally, we wish to state that every democrat who is committed to the advancement of our democracy must discourage every attempt by politicians, and political parties to resort to self-help.
“We encourage every aggrieved individuals and parties to explore the legal opportunities available to seek redress rather than encouraging any form of action that seeks to undermine our democracy and destabilise our peaceful coexistence as a people.”