Politics

Ogun LG polls: Opposition kicks as APC sweeps seats

How APC defeated 12 parties in Ogun LG elections

 

OLUFEMI ADEDIRAN reports on last weekend’s local government elections in Ogun State and the factors that shaped the outcome of the polls

 

It did not come as a surprise to many residents of Ogun State when on Sunday, the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) declared all the chairmanship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winners of the local government elections in the state.

 

Chairman of the commission, Babatunde Osibodu, who made the announcement, said the APC cleared all the 20 chairmanship seats in Saturday’s election.

 

According to Osibodu, 12 political parties participated in the elections, with the total number of votes cast in the chairmanship poll in the 20 Local government areas in the state was 396,641.

 

Announcing the results, Osibodun said: “I want to say that APC won all the chairmanship seats in the 20 Local government areas in the state.” To members of the ruling APC, the outcome of the elections was expected as the party prepared very well and campaigned throughout the 236 wards that make up the 20 local government areas of the state.

 

They also advanced that the result of the elections is a confirmation that the people of the state are fully in support of the Governor Dapo Abiodun-led APC administration and a reaffirmation that the party is in full control of the political affairs of the state.

 

But, to the opposition parties in the state, the result of the elections is nothing but “fraud and daylight robbery which has done unquantifiable damage to our democracy at the local level.”

 

The opposition parties lamented that it has always been the usual practice across the country for ruling parties to skew electoral processes and install their candidates at the local councils. They also condemned the ruling APC and  OGSIEC for conducting what they described as a “charade.”

 

How APC muscled opposition parties

 

Despite protests by aggrieved aspirants and members of APC who lost out in the party’s primaries, the APC went into the elections as a united force. This is a lesson the PDP failed to learn from the ruling party. In the build up to the elections, the APC deployed all weapons in its armoury to muscle the opposition parties.

 

Governor Abiodun led the campaign team of the APC to tour all the 20 local government areas of the state, canvassing for votes for the party. Besides, candidates of the party in the various local government areas also embarked on rigorous campaigns.

 

The campaign tours no doubt aided the party to further tighten its grips on the political control of the state. At each of the tours, the governor and his team were received by massive crowd of party faithful. Addressing APC supporters at one of the tours, held in Ifo Local Government Area of the state, Governor Abiodun declared that there was no other political party in the state except the APC.

 

The governor bragged that his allinclusive approach to governance has succeeded in making Ogun a one-party state, a development, according to him has never happened before in the history of the state.

Abiodun boasted that the APC has succeeded in overrunning the opposition parties as he could not feel the presence       of any other political party in the state. According to him, in all the local governments he visited, there was no single campaign poster of any other political party. He therefore insisted that APC was the only party that prepared for the election.

 

His words: “Our party is now bigger. ADC has joined us, PDP has joined us. In fact, there is no other political party in Ogun State. We have never seen something like this before in Ogun; that we will go for a campaign and there won’t be any other poster of other political parties? “The opposition parties cannot paste posters because there is no other party in this state.

 

We went to Imeko, no other party; Yewa North, no other party; Waterside, Ijebu East, Ota, no other party. Ordinarily, we should just say ‘we have won already, no need for election.’ But we do not do that; we will have the election.”

 

Apathy, poor logistics mar polls as Osoba, Daniel, Amosun shun poll

 

Former Governors Olusegun Osoba, Gbenga Daniel and Ibikunle Amosun, who are also leaders of the APC did not participate in the elections even as the polls were largely characterised by low voters’ turnout and late arrival of election materials to the voting centres.

 

The elections were, however, peaceful as there was no record of violence or security breach. It was observed that officers of OGSIEC arrived some of the polling units late, thereby delaying commencement of election in many areas. In Abeokuta, the state capital, it was observed that there was late arrival of election materials amid low turnout of   voters.

 

However, some parts of the Abeokuta metropolis and Odeda Local Government Area recorded impressive turnout. In Ikenne Local Government Area, electoral officers were seen sitting idle at most of the polling units, waiting for voters to come and cast their votes. In Iperu, the hometown of Governor Abiodun in Ikenne Local Government Area, residents violated the restriction of movement order of the state government as they went about their normal businesses.

 

There was unhindered vehicular movement and many shop owners opened for business and were seen attending to their customers. On the Abeokuta-Sagamu expressway, a joint security team, comprising the military, police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Amotekun corps had a difficult time in enforcing the restriction of movement order of the government as passengers and motorists and commuters insisted on traveling into the state.

 

As at 10.30 am when our correspondent arrived the Ita-Osanyin, Ward 3, unit 2, where the governor cast his vote, only 98 voters out of the 826 registered voters had voted. When our correspondent visited Oba Ward 7 Polling Unit 1 at about 1.pm, less than five voters were seen on the queue and a peep into the ballot boxes showed scanty thumb printed ballot papers.

 

The Chief of Staff to Ogun State governor, Shuaib Salis, attributed the initial delays due to logistics, but believed the turnout was encouraging. In Ogun West Senatorial District, the situation was the same in Yewa North Local Government Area as residents preferred to engage in other activities instead of casting their votes.

 

In Ward 2, Ayetoro area of the local government, voters strolled into polling units in their few numbers to cast their vote. Speaking to journalists, an observer with the Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Dr. Abdullahi Muhammad Jabi, attributed the low voters’ turnout to political apathy.

 

He said: “For the areas we have covered so far, it has been peaceful, but there seems to be apathy, you have a polling unit or a ward of almost 1,000 registered voters and as of the time we visited there, only about 10 voters had been accredited and voted, that is to say that the turnout is very, very low, but that does not foreclose that they may not come.

 

As at the time we were capturing them, the turnout was very low.” The state Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, who led other heads of security agencies in the state to monitor the election in Abeokuta, expressed satisfaction with the security of the exercise. Ajogun told journalists that reports

 

 

 

 

 

from across the state showed there was no record of violence or security breach during the election. “Security arrangement is tight and it is a deliberate one that we arrived at through a joint assessment and analysis of the situation,” Ajogun who cast his vote at the Ita-Osanyin, Ward 3, Unit 2, Iperu in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state said.

 

PDP, AA and NNPP react, threaten court action

 

In their separate reactions to the outcome of the election, the PDP, Action Alliance (AA) and New Nigeria Peoples Congress (NNPC) rejected results of the election.

The State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Akinloye Bankole, described the elections as a “macabre dance of shame, which Mr. Governor and members of his sinking ship erroneously called election.”

 

The party insisted that the low turnout of voters was a proof that the electorate are “tired of his (Abiodun) callous insensitivity; his deceitful, wasteful, and largely uninspiring government.

He added: “It is evident that the people of Ogun State now know the truth and are tired of the deceit called government under the watch of Prince Dapo Abiodun.

 

The people feel disenfranchised by OGSIEC’s success in limiting the scope of choice available to them. “Clearly, the people of Ogun State refused to be parts of OGSIEC and APC shenanigans. This is a satanic plot that would continue to hunt the governor.

 

The people would wait patiently till the appropriate time to tell Dapo Abiodun and the APC that power truly resides in the people.” The Action Alliance (AA), on its part, declared that the Osibodu-led OGSIEC was the worst thing to happen to Ogun electoral process since the creation of the state.

 

A leader of the party in the state and the chairman of the party’s Think Tank Committee, Hon. ‘Dapo Adeyemi, in a statement made available to journalists, hinted that the party may head to the court to seek redress.

 

He said: “We are currently talking to our legal team on our next line of action. With the result of the sham called local government elections released, it is obvious that our predictions on the OGSIEC boss has come to pass.

 

Our party, Action Alliance (AA) is convinced that the commission in collaboration with the APC government had perfected plans to collate fictitious figures at the various collation centres where we had candidates.

 

Or, how come the result sheets taken to most of the wards where we had candidates did not have our party’s acronym (AA) and in some areas, there were no result sheets?

 

“We discovered that the result sheets used in previous elections with 19 parties, out of which 12 are now deregistered, were brought to areas where we had candidates, while result sheets with 12 parties, possibly those who have candidates for this election and having our acronym were taken to local governments where we don’t have candidates.

 

“We knew that we have been a threat to the APC since we came on board about six months ago. We have been operating silently without making noise until we flagged off our campaign on July 10. We are not unaware of the nocturnal meetings held at the government house with the OGSIEC boss on most occasions.

 

We remain undaunted because of our determination to make a statement to Ogun State people that we have arrived. “We are therefore putting the APC government on notice that they should be getting ready to vacate the Government House in 2023 as it is now ‘no retreat, no surrender.’

 

As we approach the 2023 elections, we shall be matching them everything for everything.” In its reaction, NNPC lamented that OGSIEC had done unquantifiable damage to the state’s democracy at the local level. The party insisted that NNPP won several seats, which explained why the presiding officers in several units were afraid to declare election results on the spot.

 

“Our analysis of the results from almost all the polling units saw our great party coming second behind APC and ahead of PDP indicating that if the APC had allowed a free contest, they would have been roundly defeated.

 

We saw this fraud coming due to excessive control of state electoral commissions (due to its enabling laws) by state government and proactively initiated a pre-election matter challenging the validity of the emergence of the APC candidates through the back door after the window for nomination had closed, while the courts are still looking at that, they decided to commit this brazen daylight rape of the very sophisticated people of Ogun State.”

 

The party advised its members to remain calm and focused on the finishing line, which is 2023 as their strength can’t be measured by an election conducted by the fraudulent OGSIEC.

 

“We call on you to be united, put this fraud behind you and wait for the courts to do their job. We would also in addition to the pre-election matter in court proceed to the tribunal not only to challenge the Ward 11, Abeokuta North result, which returned the NNPP candidate as councillor-elect but the general conduct of the election and refusal of presiding officers to count votes and declare results publicly.

 

“Ogun people spoke loudly and no doubt have exposed the unacceptability of the APC government as we head to 2023, what NNPP needed now is to consolidate on the gains of this outing which has showed us the love Ogun people have for us.

 

 

“We urge all to rally round the party leaders across all levels and restrategise for the future while we continue with the struggle to expunge all sections of the 1999 Constitution that puts the conduct of local elections in the hands of these governors in order to make our democracy blossom.”

 

How PDP lost out

Again, the age-long crisis in the state chapter of the PDP reared its ugly head, preventing the party from playing its role as a viable opposition during the elections.

 

The two factions of the party failed to work together and the APC capitalised on this to defeat the party. OGSIEC had recognised a faction of the party loyal to Late Buruji Kashamu as the authentic state executive.

 

This is despite claims by the Hon. Ladi Adebutu’s faction that the two groups in the party had buried their hatchets and united following the intervention of the Bukola Saraki’s reconciliation committee. OGSIEC handed over all forms belonging to the PDP to one Leke Shittu, the state Secretary of the Kashamu faction.

 

This sparked outrage from the Adebutu’s faction leading to a protest led by the chairman of the faction, Hon. Sikirulahi Ogundele, who alleged that the commission was hell bent on shutting PDP out of election.

 

Ogundele also accused the commission of meddling in the affairs of the party and “acting a script as written by the ruling APC government which is bent on avoiding a healthy political competition, which council elections present. He insisted that the PDP had gone through a phase of robust reconciliation of all interests, adding that it had through the party’s legal team provided verifiable documents to properly guide the decision of the electoral body. Ogundele and his group dragged OGSIEC before an Ogun State High Court for dealing with a faction loyal to Kashamu of the PDP.

In a suit marked, M/55/2021, Ogundele prayed the court to restrain OGSIEC and its chairman, Osibodu, from meddling in the affairs of the party. Ogundele also asked the court to stop Osibodu from recognising a loyalist of late Buruji Kashamu, Leke Shittu, as the leader of the party. But, barely 48 hours to the election, the court, presided over by Hon. Justice Gboyega Ogunfowora, ratified the decision of OGSIEC.

 

The judge ruled that the court cannot compel the respondent to accept the list at the stage when it had concluded all actions preparatory to the LG elections. Following the judgement, Ogundele announced that the party would not be participating in the election.

 

Abiodun mocks PDP, pledges to respect LG autonomy

 

Governor Abiodun, who mocked the PDP for withdrawing from the election, said the party boycotted the election to save its face from defeat.

 

The governor, while addressing journalists, shortly after casting his vote at the Ita-Osanyin, Ward 3, Unit 2 in Iperu, Ikenne Local Government Area said: “You cannot boycott a process that you are not even a participant in.” He insisted that OGSIEC did the right thing by recognising the legitimate faction of the party and ensuring a level playing field for all the parties that participated in the election.

 

His words: “I’m not aware of any party boycotting this election. I hear of a purported or supposed boycott and spoke to our team to find out exactly what was going on. What apparently has happened is that one or two parties are factionalised and I believe that the legitimate factions of these other parties were duly recognised by OGSIEC and what I was made to understand was that the party that was not recognised headed to the court and the case was in court until I believe on Thursday and from what I understand, the court dismissed the suit that was challenging the OGSIEC accepting the other faction and following that, I think perhaps, to save face the faction that lost out now decided to boycott. “You cannot boycott a process that you are not even a participant in.

 

So, I didn’t understand that, but really, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not speaking for OGSIEC, I’m not speaking on behalf of any party, I can only speak on behalf of my party and my administration. I believe OGSIEC has done everything within its mandate to be transparent and to ensure that the playing field was as level as it should be for every single party that expressed desire to be part of this election.”

 

Abiodun assured that his administration will continue to respect the autonomy of the local government and give them the necessary support to carry out their constitutional responsibilities as the third tier of government. He said his administration will ensure that the local government chairmen are given the opportunity to administer over their councils as enshrined in the constitution.

 

The governor, who berated the previous administration in the state for hijacking local government administration in the state, vowed to uphold the constitution and not interfere in the affairs of Local governments.

 

“I will not want to speak about what happened before I assumed office, but I believe that what currently obtained at the local government level is night and day compared to what happened before I assumed office and that is why you can see the evidences and the testimonials of what the local government caretaker committees have achieved in their 18 to 20 months in office because we have ensured that there are execution of projects which are funded in line with the constitution.

 

“We will respect the autonomy of the local government in line with what we at the Governors’ Forum have decided to do and how we decided to implement it. I believe that they are a tier of government that should be given a free hand to run their show.

 

They are the closest administrative political office, they are closer to the grassroots, they are able to make that impact in the grassroots and they are much closer than any of us.

This administration will give all the needed support to our local government councils to ensure that they function in line with the constitution,” the governor said. Osibodu Ogundele

 

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