• Obaseki promises all-inclusive govt
After hours of collating results, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki as the winner of the keenly contested Edo State governorship election.
At 3:53 p.m., the returning officer for the election and Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Prof. Kayode Soremekun announced that Obaseki polled 319,483 votes to defeat his closest rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 253,173 votes. The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Osaro Onaiwu scored 876 votes while Labour Party (LP) came third with 182 votes.
But the PDP agent refused to sign the results sheet, the party having earlier at a press conference while collation was going on rejected the results, alleging that they were not a true reflection of the exercise. Altogether, 19 political parties participated in the election.
Soremekun said there was a total of 1,900.223 registered voters in the state, out of which 622,039 were accredited for the exercise. Altogether, 613,244 persons cast their votes out of which 582,299 were declared valid and 30,945 were rejected.INEC said Obaseki won in 13 of the 18 local government areas while Ize-Iyamu won in five local governments.
The announcement elicited mixed reactions from the supporters of the various political parties. There was wild jubilation among staff and members of the Godwin Obaseki Organisation. Party leaders and supporters defied the rain to go to the streets for celebration.But it was protest in the PDP camp. Some protesters who claimed to be members of civil society groups protested in front of the INEC office in Benin but were later dispersed by security personnel.
The state chairman of the PDP, Dan Orbih said the party rejected the results because they were skewed in favour of the APC, in connivance with INEC and the security agencies. Orbih alleged that the results were manipulated at the INEC state headquarters.
“INEC started the process of announcing the results and at a point, they suspended the announcement yesterday and promised to continue today. From the time we started getting feedback from our agents and independent observers, we had been taking out time to look at the results side by side with what INEC had so far announced to the people. We observed that there was a difference between the figures from our party agents and the independent observers, and what INEC was announcing at their headquarters in Benin City.”
Orbih said the results INEC announced confirmed the fear of PDP as earlier expressed by the State Publicity Secretary of the party that INEC and APC were planning to write results ahead of the governorship election.“The results issued by INEC’s presiding officers at the various polling units and wards, if put together, PDP is clearly ahead of the APC in all the 18 Local Governments. When you calculate the final results, there is no way we will not win this election with a minimum of 30,000 votes.”
Ize-Iyamu described the results announced as a sham, saying they did not reflect the huge turnout of voters in the state. He raised concerns over the alleged cancellation of results in areas won overwhelmingly by the PDP. He alleged that the results of the election were written at the state Government House in connivance with some INEC officials and security agencies.
Ize-Iyamu, said: “The delay in announcing the official results by INEC was clearly predetermined in order for the APC and INEC to do what they are doing now, which is to announce fabricated results that are completely at variance with what happened at the polling units.”
Meanwhile, Obaseki has promised an all-inclusive government once he is sworn in as governor of the state on November 12.In his acceptance speech shortly after being declared winner, Obaseki told journalists he would not abandon all the promises he made to the people of the state during his campaigns.
“We promised jobs. We promised empowerment of our citizens. We promised improved social welfare services, and a more secure state. We will strive to deliver on all of these promises. As we travelled all over our great state selling our programmes, we also took note of your concerns and problems, and I want to assure you that we will do everything in our power to address them.
“Let me, at this point, sincerely salute the courage of all those who came out to exercise their franchise in spite of the intimidating manoeuvres of merchants of violence to derail the conduct of a peaceful, free and fair election; you are the heroes of this election!” he declared.