This Day (Lagos)

11 August 2014

Nigeria: Even in Victory, Aregbesola Slams FG

Photo: Premium Times
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

Despite the re-election victory recorded by the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, in the state governorship election held on Saturday, the governor refused to show magnanimity in his victory and still slammed the federal government for what he termed the "militarisation" of Osun before and during the poll.

Aregbesola's stance, notwithstanding, President Goodluck Jonathan congratulated Aregbesola, adding that the peaceful conduct of the poll and its outcome, had given a lie to the propaganda of the All Progressives Party (APC) and the governor that the state was militarised to favour the ruling party.

The security provided by the federal government, according to the president, ensured that voters were able to come out in droves in a peaceful atmosphere to vote during the Osun governorship election. The absence of voter empathy in the Osun election led to a voter turnout of 764,582, translating to 77 per cent of the 986,117 registered voters with Permanent Voters' Cards (PVCs), making the turnout by voters one of the highest in recent history.

Announcing the results yesterday morning, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Aregbesola garnered 394,684 votes to defeat his closest rival Senator Iyola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 292,747 of the votes cast. The candidate of the Labour Party (LP) got a paltry 908 votes. Addressing a crowd of his supporters in Osogbo after being declared winner of the election, the governor thanked the people of Osun for the support and for coming our en masse to vote for him.

He however stated that what should ordinarily have been a moment of joy and celebration was thwarted by the fact that the election showed that "democracy in the country is still endangered".

"We witnessed the gross abuse of power and of due process before, during, and even after the actual voting process. It is so sad and unfortunate that what should be a normal, routine process was maliciously allowed to snowball in to a needless virtual war by the federal government and the PDP," he stated. Aregbesola said his state was unduly militarised in an unprecedented manner through criminal intimidation and psychological assault on the people.

"This election witnessed an abuse of our security agencies and amounted to a corruption of their professional ethics and integrity. The security agencies were unprofessionally utilised in Osun State to harass, intimidate and oppress the people whose taxes are used to pay their salaries and provide their arms.

"Hundreds of leaders, supporters, sympathisers and agents of our party were arrested and detained. Also, hundreds of other innocent citizens including women and the aged were harassed, brutalised and traumatised. In spite of this condemnable repression and abuse of human rights, the unflagging spirit of our people triumphed," he said.

He attributed his victory to the steadfastness and resolute determination of Osun people to assert and defend their rights, adding: "The PDP obviously did all it could in a most desperate manner to steal the people's mandate. "A critical analysis of the election shows a trend of general low voter turnout largely because of the atmosphere of deliberate tyranny and fear caused by the excessive militarisation of the state.

"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 PDP votes came from only four local governments - namely, Ife Central, Ife East, Ife North and Ife South. "This suggests an inexplicable large turnout in his (Omisore) stronghold which is a curious departure from the general trend of voting across the state.

"The outcome of this election, once again, shows the unswerving determination of our people to ensure that democracy triumphs in Nigeria. We have sent a strong signal to all and sundry that no might is powerful enough to thwart the will of the people.

"This should always strengthen our resolve to ensure that as from now on, every vote must not only be counted but must count in this country. Nobody or party must ever exercise power unreasonably at any level except in accordance with the will of the people to whom sovereignty belongs."

However, the president, the PDP, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Senate President David Mark, among others congratulated Aregbesola on his victory at the poll.

In a statement issued by the president's media aide, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president also commended INEC and the national security agencies for ensuring that the election was free, fair, credible and peaceful in keeping with the avowed commitment of his administration.

"Jonathan also applauds the people of Osun State who came out en masse yesterday in all the local government areas of the state to peacefully and freely exercise their democratic right, trusting in his assurance that all necessary measures would be taken to ensure their safety and the sanctity of their votes.

"The president believes that the free, fair and peaceful conduct of the election has fully reaffirmed his administration's determination to positively reform Nigeria's electoral processes," the statement added. Abati said the outcome of the election gave a lie to the "false, unfair and uncharitable allegations that the 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 the president's party".

The president said he looked forward to continue working with Aregbesola as he prepares to begin a second term in office to further improve the living conditions of Nigerians in Osun and other states of the country. He wished Aregbesola continued good health and a successful second term in office.

In its statement on the Osun election, the national leadership of the PDP conceded defeat and congratulated Aregbesola for his re-election. However, its congratulatory message had been preceded by an earlier one, in which it did not congratulate the governor.

The party also commended Omisore for his impressive outing, which it said confirmed that PDP commands a massive followership in the state.

According to a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, PDP 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."

The party also commended Jonathan for "creating the enabling environment for Osun people to freely and peacefully exercise their franchise without rancour or blood-letting", saying such remains a clear testimony to his unparalleled commitment to peaceful elections in Nigeria.

It also praised the security forces for their display of professionalism in keeping the peace and ensuring the protection of lives and property during the exercise.

The PDP, however, reminded Nigerians to continue to note that for the APC, elections are only deemed free and fair when it wins and rigged when it loses, adding that such is not acceptable in a democracy.

While urging the APC to learn from the election and desist from actions and utterances that overheat the system and create room for violence, the PDP called on Nigerians to mark the trend and make their deductions regarding which party is actually committed to the survival and growth of democracy in Nigeria.

It called on its members and supporters to remain calm, while praising the people of Osun for adhering to the rules and conducting themselves in an orderly manner during the election. In his remarks, the senate president also congratulated Aregbesola on his victory but advised him to be magnanimous in victory.

Mark, in his message, said it was necessary for the governor to be magnanimous in victory, adding that he needed the support of all stakeholders in his commitment to move Osun State to the next level.

According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, Mark said the people of Osun State deserved good governance and the dividends of democracy as rewards for their votes and urged Aregbesola to live up to their expectations.

"As the Governor of Osun State, you are a father figure to all and a leader to whom the citizens of the state look up to. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to carry everybody along. You must strive to give everybody, irrespective of religion or political affiliation, a sense of belonging," he pleaded.

He commended INEC for the smooth conduct of the poll, adding that the recent successful polls in Ekiti and Osun States had provided the desired impetus for the smooth conduct of the 2015 elections.

Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in a statement, congratulated the Osun governor, stating that the onus was now on the political class in the state to rally round the governor to enable him administer the state for the benefit of 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," he said. The speaker equally urged the re-elected governor to carry all interest groups along for the peace, unity and stability of the state.

In his reaction to the outcome of the poll, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar described Aregbesola's victory as a measure of the popularity and acceptability of both the governor and APC in the state.

Atiku, in a press statement signed by his media office, observed that the overwhelming victory recorded by APC in the election was a clear indication that Aregbesola is very popular among the people of the state and thus the support given to him and the political party that presented him.

The former vice-president, whose wife is an indigene of Osun State and had earlier rallied the support of the people to vote overwhelmingly for the APC candidate, also showered appreciation to the voters in the state for not letting him down as an in-law.

However, the governor's closest rival in the election, Omisore, said yesterday that he was still consulting with relevant stakeholders before reacting to the outcome of the election.

The PDP flag bearer, who spoke on the phone through his spokesman, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, said: "Omisore is not a tin god. He is a committed party man and 24 hours is too short to engage in widespread consultations. "Consultations are on-going with our men on the field, meetings are already on and as soon as all these are concluded, we would issue a formal statement on the development."

He, however, expressed gratitude to God for the sustained peace before, during and after the election. He also commended the people of the state for coming out to exercise their franchise.

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