LAGOS -- IT is no longer news that Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) comfortably beat Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to retain his seat for another 48 months in power in weekend's Osun State polls. What perhaps is news is the avalanche of reasons for Aregbesola's convincing victory.
The reasons include: Aregbesola's modest performance in the last four years; mismanagement of crisis in the PDP and failure to pacify aggrieved leaders like former governors Isiaka Adeleke and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who had to defect to the APC; failure of the PDP to make capital out of the religious card occasioned by Aregbesola's re-classification of schools; Aregbesola's deft grassroots support; Omisore's Bola Ige's baggage; the governor's work in Osogbo; and APC's loss in Ekiti, which served as a wake-up call leading the leaders to apply useful lessons learnt from the Ekiti episode where PDP's Ayo Fayose beat APC's Governor Kayode Fayemi.
This came as Presidency, yesterday, described last Saturday as a very painful day for it and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, following the victory of Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in that day's gubernatorial election.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State (2nd left) and his deputy, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori celebrating their re-election at Freedom Park, Osogbo, yesterday. Photo: Dare Fasube.
The pain of the Presidency nonetheless, supporters of the APC across Osun State, yesterday, burst out in wild celebrations following the affirmation of the victory of the party in the gubernatorial election.
President Goodluck Jonathan was among the first to congratulate Aregbesola on his victory, declaring that the outcome gave a lie to "the false, unfair and uncharitable allegations that measures put in place by the Federal Government for the Ekiti and Osun State elections were partisan and designed to achieve a favourable outcome" for his party.
Following the congratulations from the president, the PDP national secretariat also congratulated Aregbesola while the PDP candidate in the election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, in conceding victory to Aregbesola vowed that he would not be deterred from moving on in his life.
The state branch of the PDP, however, declined to conced, yesterday, as the Osun State chairman of the party, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa, vowed that the party would challenge the outcome of the election at the tribunal based on what he claimed to have been manipulation of the results by the APC.
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, however, praised the conduct of the election, noting that it was an improvement on recent elections conducted in Anambra and Ekiti States, that logistic challenges were almost wholly absent in Osun State last weekend.
Despite his victory and the sound of jubilation all around him, Governor Aregbesola still railed against what he bemoaned as the militarisation of the process leading to the election. He said that democracy was yet to be fully enthroned in the country.
Aregbesola was credited with 394,684 votes beating Senator Omisore who had 292,750 votes to second place.
The Returning Officer for the election, Professor Bamitale Omole, who announced the results early yesterday, also declared that Aregbesola won in 23 local government areas of the state while Omisore carried the day in the remaining seven local government areas.
It's a painful day for us --Presidency
The presidency's reaction to the development in Osun State was given by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Prof. Rufai Alkali, when he spoke to journalists at the headquarters of G2G, one of the support groups for President Jonathan's 2015 presidential bid in Asokoro, Abuja.
"Today we would have celebrated Osun victory, it is however, a very painful day for us because the PDP candidate and the party had completed their home work and we know the people of Osun are tired of what is happening in the state, but here we are."
Throwing a jab at the APC, he said: "I hope the APC, which is in the habit of complaining of having security agencies in ensuring enabling environment for election and is consistent in controversy and rejecting election results, will reject this Osun State gubernatorial election result."
Osogbo resdents celebrate victory
The announcement of the results was followed by jubilation in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, yesterday, as the people of the town trooped out in large numbers to celebrate the victory.
Many residents of Osogbo, who mounted vigil at the state secretariat of INEC in anticipation of the result proceeded from there and converged at the Freedom Park where Governor Aregbesola addressed them .
A good number of residents of the town also converged on the Government House, Oke-fia, Osogbo where they danced to the music of an Osogbo-based fuji musciian, Alhaji Lateef Agboola.
Victory is yours, not mine --Aregbesola
Aregbesola, who attributed his victory to the mercy of God upon him, also dedicated the victory to the people of the state, saying the "victory is yours and not mine."
Bemoaning the security cordon around the state, Aregbesola said: "It was so sad and unfortunate that the contest that should be a normal, routine process was allowed to snowball into a needless virtual war by the Federal Government and the Peoples' Democratic Party.
"Ordinarily, this should be a moment of joy and celebration consequent upon the hard earned triumph of the people's will. However, this election shows that democracy is still gravely endangered in Nigeria. We witnessed gross abuse of power and of due process before, during, and even after the actual voting process."
The governor, who bemoaned that Osun State was unduly militarised in an unprecedented manner through what he described as criminal intimidation and psychological assault on the people, said the election witnessed an abuse by security agencies which, according to him, amounted to corruption of their professional ethics and integrity.
"Our victory is due to the steadfastness and resolute determination of our people to assert and defend their rights. The PDP obviously did all it could in a most desperate manner to steal the people's mandate," he added.
Aregbesola stated further that "despite our victory, it is pertinent to condemn and also point out the fact that the number of accredited voters in most local governments was less than half of registered voters. Against this trend, it is curious that the bulk of the PDP candidate's votes came from only four local governments, namely Ife Central, Ife East, Ife North and Ife South.
"This should always strengthen our resolve to ensure that as from now on, every vote must not only be counted in Osun but must count in this country as a whole. Nobody or party must ever exercise power unreasonably at any level except in accordance with the will of the people to whom sovereignty belongs."
Omisore, Akinbade accept defeat
Responding to the outcome of the election, yesterday, Senator Omisore said he would not be deterred and would move forward in life.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, Omisore said "we would not be deterred because of the development.
"What we lost is the Osun State gubernatorial election, we did not lose lives. We thank the Lord for everything. In all situations, I will continue to give glory to the Lord because the Lord knows better than us and He alone has answers to all questions."
He said he would remain in the PDP, just as he hinted that he was still reflecting on the outcome of the election.
"Falling down is not new in politics, rising up is the strength of a good leader. We shall bounce back. Congratulations to the people of Osun State because we all won," he added.
The Labour Party candidate, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, who came third also conceded victory to Aregbesola and congratulated him on the outcome.
Jonathan congratulates Aregbesola, INEC, others
President Jonathan in congratulating Aregbesola also praised the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and national security agencies for ensuring that the election was free, fair, credible and peaceful in keeping with the avowed commitment of his Administration.
The president in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Reuben Abati, also applauded the people of Osun State for"trusting in his assurance that all necessary measures would be taken to ensure their safety and the sanctity of their votes."
Debunking insinuations that he deployed security agencies to support Omisore, he said: "The outcome of the election has also given the lie to the false, unfair and uncharitable allegations that measures put in place by the Federal Government for the Ekiti and Osun States elections were partisan and designed to achieve a favourable outcome" for his party.
The president further said he looked forward to working with Aregbesola in his second term.
Osun PDP rejects result
Meanwhile, the Osun State chapter of the PDP has rejected the election result, saying it disputed the outcome.
The party in a statement issued by its Chairman, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa, said after a careful study of the results released by INEC, the party discovered that the result was doctored.
He said: "The PDP in Osun State will not accept the results of the gubernatorial election held in the state on Saturday owing to fraudulent activities discovered by the party."
Olaoluwa said the election was marred with fraud, hence the resolve of the party to reject it totally, adding: "Osun PDP remains ever united and the party as well as the legal team of the party will meet on the way forward."
He also accused the APC of attacking PDP members in Osogbo, Olorunda, Isokan, Egbedore, Oriade, Ejigbo, Obokun, Ede North and Ede South Local Government Areas of the state.
Also, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Bola Ajao said the party had discovered inadequacies in the election and would exploit the inadequacies.
He said the party would challenge the results of the election after seeking advice from its legal team.
The assertion by the state chapter of the PDP was despite the congratulations expressed by the president and the national secretariat of the party.
PDP accepts defeat
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement congratulating Aregbesola said: "After a careful appraisal of the overall conduct of the election, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in spite of perceived anomalies, hereby accepts the results and congratulates Governor Rauf Aregbesola for his re-election.
"This is entirely in the interest of the growth of democracy, peace and political stability of the country in line with PDP's ideology and the visions of our founding fathers."
It's improvement on previous polls --NBA
Meanwhile, the NBA has described the conduct of the election as an improvement on the previous polls in Anambra and Ekiti, noting that logistics challenge did not characterise the exercise.
It also urged the INEC to ensure that Electronic Voting Machines, EVM, are used in subsequent elections, adding that the use of such machines for the collation of results in Osun was impressive.
In its post-election report which was signed by Mr. Dafe Akpedeye, SAN, the NBA said INEC had improved on its deployment of electoral materials and officials to polling units.
The report reads: "In comparison with the last governorship elections in Anambra and Ekiti, INEC has improved in its deployment of electoral materials and officials to polling units. However, there is room for better performance in this regard in future elections.
Tambuwal, Fashola, Fayemi, Fayose, Amaechi, Ajimobi hail Aregbesola
Meanwhile, congratulations poured out to Aregbesola on his victory from different stakeholders from across the country.
Among the earliest to congratulate him were the Speaker of the House of epresentatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; Governors Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, has congratulated Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State over his re-election for a second term.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said with the polls over, the onus is now on the political class in the state to rally round the governor to enable him administer the state for the benefit its citizens.
"At the risk of sounding repetitive, let me reiterate what I have always said that there is time for everything. There is time for politicking and time for governance. Now that politicking is over in Osun, I urge all stakeholders to tailor their energy towards delivering quality governance to the populace.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, in his congratulatory statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, said the victory of his brother governor on the platform of the APC and the people of Osun State would remain a strong indicator of the victory of truth over falsehood, pointing out that no matter the amount of pressure or intimidation to suppress them, the ultimate power rests on the people in a democracy.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State also hailed the victory of Aregbesola, saying it was a well deserved one.
The governor in a statement signed by his media aide, Mr David Iyofor expressed hope that the party would coast to victory in coming elections.
Fayemi in a statement said the outcome of the election was an expression of the will of the people as he said Aregbesola's victory was well deserved in view of the positive impact of his administration on the lives of the people of the state.
Fayose, on his part, said he was looking forward to a working relationship between him and Aregbesola.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, on his part, described the victory of Aregbesola as a well deserved one, saying the wild jubilation that trailed the declaration of the result showed that it was reflective of the will of the people of Osun State.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Osun State also congratulated Aregbesola, saying his re-election was divine, just as he commended the good people of Osun State for keeping faith with the party and for their unwavering support for the governor and the APC at the polls.
Boroffice hails Aregbesola
Senator Robert Boroffice, APC, Ondo North congratulating Aregbesola said the victory which came despite massive militarization, intimidation and harassment is the evidence that the will of the people will always prevail, and that democracy belongs to the people.
He said the success at the poll without any doubt has stopped the activities of rampaging reactionary forces that are bent on seizing the South-West.
Labour lauds poll
Organised labour also lauded the re-election of the governor, saying it was a clear testimony of the recognition and appreciation by the people of the state of his achievements as governor.
Speaking through the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, labour declared that indeed, all Nigerians were winners, commending INEC, security agencies and the people of Osun for the success of the election.
The union in a statement by its General Secretary, Issa Aremu said: "Governor Aregbesola rightly won the majority of the poll with 394,684 votes against the closest candidate Senator Iyiola Omisore of PDP who polled 292,747 votes.
This election goes down as a keen contest in history, to the extent that all the good registered voters of Osun had their respective democratic expression through this historic election, all Nigerians are indeed winners.
Daniel lauds Jonathan
Former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, on his part lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for allowing free and fair election during the Saturday governorship election in Osun State.
Daniel who stated this in Iperu-Remo in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State during the Labour Party summit, however, described the election as political tsunami.
The former governor blamed the loss of the PDP on its failure to reconcile aggrieved members of the party before they defected to other parties.
Democratic culture is evolving better --Obanikoro
Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musuliu Obanikoro in his reaction described the outcome of the election as an indication, that Nigeria's democratic culture was evolving better.
He also said the re-election Aregbesola, was a confirmation of the goodwill he enjoys among the people of Osun.
Former Governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki in his congratulatory message said the Osun election has shown that the opposition can rescue Nigeria from the shackles of the PDP.
In a statement signed by Saraki, he said despite the deployment of several armed military personnel to Osun State coupled with harassment of opposition members, Osun people were able to speak with their votes.
In his submission, Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum, (Downstream), Hon Dakuku Peterside asked Nigerians to relax as the development in Osun has shown that Nigerians should be more vigilant.
His words: "Free and fair election is not gotten on a platter of gold, but with Osun State election, I am more confident we are moving closer to the elections that will reflect the people's will."