After the inconclusive governorship election in Osun State on September 22 and a rerun across seven polling units in four Local Government Areas on September 27, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gboyega Oyetola, as the Governor-elect of the state.
READ ALSO: INEC declares Oyetola winner of Osun re-run
The returning officer for the election, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, announced that the APC candidate won the election having scored 255,505 votes to defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ademola Adeleke, who polled 255,023 votes.
Senator Adeleke led in the main election held on September 22 with a margin of 354 votes after polling 254,698 votes against Oyetola’s 254,345 votes. In the decisive supplementary election, INEC returned the APC candidate with 1,160 votes, while the PDP candidate scored 325 votes. But, Adeleke rejected the result and vowed to challenge it at the Election Tribunal. He claimed the election was rigged to favour the APC candidate. Also, the National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, described the outcome of the poll result as a “black day” for Nigeria, adding that if the conduct of the election was a dress rehearsal for next year’s general election, then the future of democracy in the country “is bleak.”
The Osun gubernatorial election attracted much attention probably because it was the last before the 2019 general election. Keen observers saw it as a litmus test of INEC’s preparedness to conduct the forthcoming general election. The Osun election was also seen as a yardstick to determine if the lessons of the July 14 Ekiti governorship election were sufficiently learnt by the umpire. We recall that the Ekiti poll was generally characterised by vote buying and other electoral malpractices.
Although opinions are sharply divided over the final outcome of the Osun governorship poll, there are some lessons from the election. While the main election on September 22 was seen as generally peaceful and transparent, that may not be said of the rerun. If INEC could not get it right in a rerun in seven polling units, what is the assurance that it can handle the complex nationwide elections next year?
The reported unprofessional conduct of some security personnel during the Osun election is condemned. Their neutrality in such national assignment must be ascertained. We decry the reported harassment of some journalists and election observers during the rerun poll. It is sad that some duly accredited election observers were denied access to some polling units. The allegation that some voters were disenfranchised by some overzealous security officials should be probed. .
The shortcomings of Osun rerun do not bode well for our democracy. In any election, the freedom of choice must be enjoyed by the voters. Unfortunately, our elections have been reduced to a “do or die” affair. While we agree that the deployment of adequate security is imperative during elections, security officials should exercise restraint and remain neutral. In future elections, the security officials should strictly maintain law and order.
Now that the election is over, the winner must ensure that the people of Osun get good governance. He should unite the people and treat the entire state as his constituency. The incoming administration must improve the lives of Osun people. We urge the governor-elect to see the mandate as a clarion call to serve the people.
While we congratulate Oyetola on his victory, we urge him to reach out to all his opponents. This is a time for healing in Osun. There is need to ensure that peace reigns in the state after the fractious election. The new administration should use the transition period to calm frayed nerves. The interest of the state and that of the people must be paramount. The conduct of Osun poll has shown that the electoral umpire has enormous tasks ahead of next year’s general election. The minimum Nigerians and the world expect from INEC is a free, fair and credible election in 2019.