Leadership (Abuja)

26 May 2008

Nigeria: PDP Sweeps Sokoto, Bayelsa Again

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has maintained its "winning streak" in the gubernatorial re-run elections across the country with its victory in Saturday's polls in Sokoto and Bayelsa States.

Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko won the re-run election in Sokoto, while Chief Timipre Sylva was returned as the duly elected governor of Bayelsa.

Sylva won with a total score of 588,204 votes out of the 598,000 votes cast in the election.

The result of the Sokoto poll was announced yesterday by the resident electoral commissioner in the state, Alhaji Hassan Yahaya.

According to the result Wamakko scored 562,395 votes to defeat his closest rival, Alhaji Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), who polled 124,046 votes.

Eight other parties had fielded candidates for the election.

Giving details of the results, Yahaya said AC polled 893 votes, AD 331 votes, ADC 223 votes and ANPP 1,842 votes.

Others are APGA, 489 votes; PPA, 1,658 votes; UNPP, 199 votes and CPP 6,286 votes.

Reacting to the results shortly after they were announced, DPP's agent, Alhaji Attahiru Yusuf, expressed his party's dissatisfaction with the outcome.

"We only participated in the election because the court asked us to do so," he said.

The Court of Appeal in Kaduna had on April 11 ordered INEC to conduct a re-run gubernatorial poll in the state.

This followed the nullification of Wamakko's earlier election as governor.

The resident electoral commissioner, Alhaji Hassan Yahaya, has described the general conduct of the exercise as free and fair.

In a press briefing yesterday, he said throughout the period of the exercise no any incident was recorded and commended the orderly manner the people came out and voted.

But he agreed that there were delays in some areas, saying that was due to some logistical problems.

He also agreed that even though the election was free and fair there were some minor hitches here and there which INEC had taken note of in order to avoid future occurrence.

He said the impressive turn-out in the election and its violence-free nature had proved that INEC has been improving day by day.

Voting in Sokoto metropolis was peaceful as a combined team of the army and the police was put in place to ensure that miscreants did not take advantage of the election to cause trouble.

Meanwhile, the DPP returning officer in the April 14, 2007 gubernatorial election, who was also a commissioner under the Bafarawa administration, Alhaji Attahiru Yusuf Yabo has accused the ruling PDP of using political thugs in some polling centres and frustrated their supporters from voting.

However, speaking to newsmen at his residence, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko assured that as soon as he was sworn-in, he would form a government of unity comprising all political parties willing to work with his administration.

He expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election and commended how people turned out in large numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice.

The DPP in Sokoto rejected the result of the election .

In his reaction, the DPP candidate, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, who spoke to journalists at his residence, said the party did not expect anything different.

Describing the INEC as doing harm to other political parties, he said there was no way the outcome of the election would be different from those of Kogi and Adamawa States, where the PDP won with wide margins.

Dingyadi alleged that there were several instances of ballot box snatching by PDP thugs, citing a case where between 40 and 50 of the hooligans, under the control of the policemen, bounced on polling stations and snatched ballot boxes.

He said INEC ought to have suspended the re-run election pending the determination of the suit the DPP filed and which is pending in court.

"They ignored our reasoning and expectation," he said.

He added that the DPP did not sign the election result because doing so would mean legitimising them, but was however confident that the judiciary would give the party justice by assisting it in reclaiming its mandate.

The candidate said the haste with which the results were announced was suspicious. He said while collation was still taking place in Bayelsa where election was held on the same day, results were announced in a much larger state like Sokoto.

In a related development, the Coalition of Opposition Political Parties in Sokoto State has pledged to cooperate with Wamakko in the implementation of programmes aimed at improving the status of the common man.

Addressing a press conference in Sokoto on the concluded governorship re-run election, the chairman of the group, Alhaji Malami S. Galma of African Democratic Congress (ADC), called for the involvement of opposition parties in governance.

He urged those who lost to see it as an act of God and contribute their quota to the development of the state.

The coalition commended the INEC for conducting a successful election and release of results promptly.

It however advised INEC to in future not desist from including the emblems of parties on ballot papers.

The coalition also praised security agents and election observers for their effort in ensuring that the election was conducted peacefully.

It urged political office-holders to have the fear of God in the conduct of public affairs, as well as eschew discrimination arising from political bias.

Those who signed the press statement were Comrade Umar Farouk and Ahmad B. Ahmad (AD), Malami S. Galma and Malami Shehu Abdullahi (ADC), Bello Isiyaka Keegan and Umar Farouk (APGA).

The rest were Sidi Abbas and Abdul-Wahab Yahaya Goronyo (UNCP) and Sani Galadima Gandi and Bello Ibrahim Gusau (PPA).

In Bayelsa State, Sylva defeated 12 candidates of different political parties, with his close rival from the Action Congress (AC) scoring a distant 26,625 to emerge second in an election described as free and fair by local and international observers.

But most of the results presented from the Local Electoral Commissioners in seven local councils in the state were not signed by agents of the AC.

The poor presentation of the result by the commissioner in charge of the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state led to the cancellation of the results tendered.

While Chief Timipre Sylva described his victory as one that elicited mixed feelings on the challenges thrown before him by the massive votes from the people, Prince Ebitimi Angbare of the AC said the outcome of the election was not the true reflection of the voting in the state and promised to go to court.

Angbare described the process that led to the purported victory of the PDP at the polls as full of imperfection and that the people of the state should be vigilant and at alert.

"It is unfortunate that INEC and the PDP would not allow the wish of the people to reign," he said.

In the result collated and announced by the INEC supervising commissioners, the PDP led in seven Local Government Areas. In the Sagbama home council of the AC candidate, the PDP trounced him with a margin of 78,122 votes as against 9,944.

In Ogbia, the home town of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP cleared 84,000 out of the 91,656 votes cast. Also in the hometown of the governor-elect, the vote recorded by the party was massive, with 73,813 recorded for the PDP.

Speaking on the general conduct of the election after the declaration of Sylva as the duly elected governor of the state, the resident electoral commissioner (REC) in charge of the election, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, said the people of the state have been peaceful and that the magic adopted by the INEC was to insist on doing what was right.

At the Government House, it was jubilation galore as women and men competed for the attention of the governor-elect.

Dressed in milk coloured Ijaw traditional attire, Chief Sylva described the victory as one filled with mixed feelings.

"I am happy I came back and the genuine love shown me by the people has put pressure on me to work hard."

He said while outside the seat of government after the annulment of his election by the Court of Appeal, he realised the mistakes of his 10-month administration.

"I saw that I did not do a perfect job. I believe perfection is of God. And I observed that my administration's focus was on infrastructural development at the detriment of politics and judiciary. If I had concentrated on them, maybe I would not have had my election annulled in the first place."

On his message to his main rival, the AC flagbearer, Sylva said the message would be for him and his supporters to decamp and join the ruling party.

"Let them drop the broom and welcome the umbrella in their homes," he taunted.

In his reaction, Prince Angbare of the AC thanked God that "most people in the state now see the colour of a ballot paper and actually participated in one.

"It all means that our struggle is not in vain. The result announced is not a true reflection of what happened on the election day. It is a pity that the INEC and the PDP would not let the people govern themselves the way they want it to be."

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