The Federal Government yesterday described the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Saturday's Ekiti governorship election as a referendum on the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, declaring: "Nigerians have given their verdict."The keenly contested election had pitted APC contestant and former Minster of Solid Minerals Development Kayode Fayemi against Deputy Governor Olusola-Eleka.
Making the disclosure at a press conference in Lagos, Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the outcome was also a "death knell for fake news." According to him, "Anyone who monitored the social media before and during the election would think it would be a landslide for the PDP. But the reality is different."Mohammed, who thanked Ekiti people for ensuring the election was credible, accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of rigging the 2014 poll in the state.
He added: "They barred two serving governors from travelling to Ekiti to support their fellow governor. They willfully shut the Akure airport. We, leaders of then opposition APC, were forced to return to Lagos by road in the night. With the roles reversed in 2018, we did not pay the PDP back in its own coin, because of our strong belief in the rule of law. The rest is history."
Buhari, earlier, commended the governor-elect and party supporters, urging them to be magnanimous in victory, as the incoming administration prepares to unfold a new lease of life for the people of Ekiti through purposeful and responsible governance.
In a statement through Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, Buhari urged the losers to be gallant in conceding defeat and use constitutional means to settle their grievances.He also appealed to stakeholders in Ekiti to work towards a successful transition to a new administration. "The people of Ekiti State have spoken loud and clear and democracy has won again," he said.
APC National Leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu also congratulated Fayemi, saying the triumph opens a new chapter to the people of the state, who voted for a path different from the one they had trodden.
In a statement, 'Ekiti Election: A Victory for the People', which he personally signed, he expressed confidence that Fayemi would keep faith with the programmes and policies of the APC to improve the lives of Ekiti people. "I know Dr. Fayemi will establish an all-inclusive government that involves all stakeholders in his administration and in the governance of the state," he said.
Tinubu praised Olusola-Eleka and Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose for putting up a determined contest without resorting to violence and urged them, "as prominent citizens and leaders of Ekiti, to move forward in that same spirit. Let there be an orderly transition from the outgoing to the incoming government."He assured Fayose: "Fayemi is a man of integrity and his government will not be one of recrimination. It is a government of the people and as such will focus its attention on helping the people, not suppressing yesterday's political opponents."He also commended the people of Ekiti State for embracing peace and mutual respect for each other rather than "turning things upside down."
The PDP however rejected the outcome of the election, alleging the results were "concocted" by the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.
It vowed: "Surely, this electoral banditry will not stand. The PDP is already collating all the infractions in this election and within the possible timeframe, we shall make our next step to reclaim our stolen mandate public."
The party said it "rejects the falsified results and declaration" of Fayemi as winner. It described the election as "daylight robbery, a brazen subversion of the will of the people and direct assault on our democracy."
It noted: "From authentic results flowing directly from the polling centres across the state, it is clear that the PDP candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, incontrovertibly won the election with a very comfortable margin over the APC candidate, only for INEC to allow the alteration of results at the collation centres."
PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan told journalists at the party's national secretariat in Abuja: "The people of Ekiti State were pillaged, openly brutalised, confronted with the worst form of cruelty and intimidation from security agencies, and their mandate, which they freely gave to the PDP, was snatched at 'gun point' by enemies of democracy, who are parading themselves as icons of anti-corruption."
"We have the detail of the discrepancies between the authentic results from the polling units and the false figures eventually announced by INEC. We know how APC conspired with INEC to bring in card reader machines belonging to Kogi, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun into Ekiti to enable APC members from these states vote with ease."
The PDP said it has details of how APC state governors and federal ministers allegedly diverted huge sums of money from their states and ministries "to bribe top officials of INEC, particularly, those in the ICT Department as well as security agencies"It noted: "There is no way our democracy can survive with an electoral process as witnessed in Ekiti State under President Muhammadu Buhari and the current INEC leadership. This bare-faced subversion of the will of the people is a clear recipe for crisis and we invite Nigerians and the international community to hold President Buhari, the APC, the INEC Chairman and heads of security agencies in Nigeria responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in Ekiti State as a result of this election.
"This robbery of the franchise of Ekiti people is a horrible rape of our democracy and it is most uncharitable that it could happen under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the participation of the APC, who hugely benefitted from the credible electoral process midwifed by the PDP in 2015."
The outcome of the election also drew criticism from Rivers State Governor and PDP stalwart Nyesom Wike who described it as political robbery.
He warned that the people of Rivers State were prepared to forestall a repeat of the scenario.At a thanksgiving service marking the end of his administration's third year in Port Harcourt, Wike told the congregation: "Don't be worried about what happened in Ekiti State. We are prepared. It will not happen here in Rivers State. I have never experienced that kind of robbery in politics. I told my colleagues, 'Do not give them any chance.' Most of them in APC are happy that they will repeat the same thing in Rivers State. We are waiting. Let your spirit not be down. Work hard and victory will be ours."
Joined in part condemnation was pro-democracy group, YIAGA Africa, which decried vote-buying and voter-inducement. According to head of the group, Samson Itodo, the practice undermines political legitimacy and mocks the country's democracy.
YIAGA however applauded the outcome, urging the losers to accept the results "because they reflect the votes cast." It also commended INEC's performance, urging it to address challenges such as card reader malfunction.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris lauded the commitment of police personnel and other security and safety agencies that participated in securing the election.
"The impressive performance of the police personnel to ensure law and order and a successful election is a clear testimony of the capability of the Nigeria Police Force in its renewed commitment to continue to adhere to international best practices in the conduct of elections in the country now and in the future," he said in a statement by spokesman Jimoh Moshood.