By Elom Sunday Njoku
Last Saturday’s Osun State governorship election which was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has continued to generate untold tension and expectations, not only in Osun state but in Nigeria.
Of course, the reason for the tension is obvious—it is one of the yardsticks to determine the possible nature of 2019 general elections.
From the Ekiti state governorship election, where Kayode Fayemi, who was the governor of the state from 2010 to 2014 under the umbrella of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, won the position again under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Nigerians have been looking up to the electoral commission, INEC, to take democracy to the next level without fear or favour.
Reports by credible local and international observers and various media reporters clearly showed that people of Osun state displayed high level of political willingness, knowledge and awareness. Indeed, it was a great political wrestling ground for the two major opposition parties—the APC and the PDP.
The INEC did a highly commendable job to a certain point before things began to sour. The unpalatable change started with the controversy over the sudden amendment of PDP votes in Ayedaade Local Government Area. The controversy over the figure was still foaming when INEC staff, Mutiu Salawu was caught at St. Patrick Grammar School, Gbongan, tearing the polls result for Ayedaade LGA.
According to media reports, Salawu said he was sent by the electoral officer for the LGA, Aderinoye Olukemi, to tear the result on the notice board at the collation centre of the LGA.
However, in defence of the torn result, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Osun state, Segun Agbaje, in a statement on Tuesday said that Salawu was acting on a directive to replace the form EC60 which had erroneous figure with the correct one.
According to an extract from Agbaje’s statement published by Premium Times, “Mr. Mutiu Salawu, being a dutiful staff, went to carry out the lawful instruction of his boss when he was accosted by a mob that rough-handled him before they took him to Adelani Rafiu Oywdiran Ajanaku’s house along the New Gbongan Osogbo Road.
“There, he was humiliated, harassed and subjected to take manipulated photographs that were sent to various social digital platforms. He was then brought to the INEC State Office where he was harassed by some section of the media.”
All said and done, the INEC declared the election inconclusive. The commission made it clear that the rerun election is specifically for APC and PDP flag bearers. Though all other political parties that participated in the election will still participate.
This clarification therefore shows that the Social Democratic Party, SDP, candidate, Iyiola Omisore, who came third in the Saturday election will not be considered as one of the major contestants in the rerun election.
Despite his loss in election race, Omisore’s influence in the state opens another chapter of political fate of the Osun state populace—placing their fate on a balance. Of course, it is still fresh in the minds of the people of Osun state and Nigerians at large, that Iyiola Omisore was a member of the PDP before he defected to SDP. But that as it is, cannot serve as a yardstick of certainty that he (Omisore) is for or against PDP at this point.
There have been reports that both APC and PDP claimed to have secured the assured support of Iyiola Omisore in the rerun election. This implies that Omisore’s supporters may be convinced to vote for any of the party which he supports.
However, it must be noted that the claims of Omisore’s support for either APC or PDP still remains a mere desire, no matter how authentic it may appear, until the election is concluded. Human being is dynamic. And this places doubt on whether Omisore’s supporters will actually join forces with him to support either APC or PDP.
Therefore, the dangling question is, who holds the fate of APC and PDP in winning Osun state governorship election? Omisore, Omisore’s supporters or the INEC?