The outcome of the July 16 gubernatorial election in Osun State has raised the hope that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will deliver a free, fair and credible election in 2023. Instructively, the local and international observers adjudged the poll to be free, fair and transparent. Many Nigerians commended the outcome of the poll said to be generally peaceful and transparent. The good performance of the electoral umpire might have prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to describe the outcome of Osun election as an expression of the will of the people through ballot, and must be respected.
In the off-season electoral contest, which featured 15 candidates, including the incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner, having polled 403,371 votes, while his closest rival, Oyetola, scored 375,027 votes. According to INEC, Adeleke won in 17 out of 30 local government areas in the state.
While the defeated incumbent governor is yet to congratulate the governor-elect on his victory, President Buhari has done so. Without doubt, the successful conduct of the election has shown the commitment of all stakeholders – the electoral body, security agencies, political parties, the media, civil society and the electorate – to further strengthen the integrity of the electoral process in the country.
It is cheering that President Buhari has also reaffirmed the commitment of his administration towards bequeathing a legacy of credible electoral process in the country. We commend the President for taking the bold step, especially considering that he is not in the same political platform with Adeleke.
There is no doubt that the Osun governorship poll is one of the best elections conducted by INEC so far. The Osun exercise is a remarkable improvement in the previous elections in Ekiti and Anambra states. In attesting to its credibility, a civil society group, Coalition of INEC Accredited Civil Society Election Observers (CIACSEO), observed that the exercise met the required international standard for credible democratic election, adding that it should be accepted by all as a true reflection of the will of the people of Osun State.
In Osun poll, the votes really counted and the wishes of the people respected. The electoral umpire and the security agents must be commended for delivering a credible and transparent poll. Apart from the efficient deployment of officials and materials, accreditation of voters was equally seamless. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) performed better than in previous occasions.
Also, Osun electorate exhibited a high level of discipline and commitment to the sustenance of credible electoral process during the poll. The voter turnout was impressive and commendable. There was prompt counting of votes and transmission of election results, indicating that the electronic transmission of results is the best way to go.
The election was by far better than the 2018 exercise in the state. To that extent, the Osun electorate deserve commendation for monitoring their votes and ensuring that they counted. We also commend INEC for the good work in Osun and urge it to do more in the 2023 general election.
Despite the successful conduct of Osun poll, there were some allegations of vote-buying and other electoral infractions, which INEC must address before next year’s poll. However, INEC should get its logistics right before the 2023 poll. The security agents must be adequately prepared for the 2023 exercise, especially in keeping with the extant rules of engagement.
It is remarkable that the Osun governorship election ended on a good note. Therefore, we call on the governor-elect to be magnanimous in victory and the loser to accept the outcome in good faith. The result is a reflection of the will of the people and should be respected. However, any aggrieved person is free to seek redress through the established lawful channels. On no account should any aggrieved person resort to self-help.
We congratulate Adeleke on his victory and commend Governor Oyetola for remaining calm in the face of defeat. Going forward, we enjoin Nigerians to eschew the growing culture of vote-buying and other forms of voter inducement in subsequent elections.