THE INCONCLUSIVE CONCLUDED ELECTION
There are ominous signs in the air. Seeds of instability are being sown and we seem to be watching helplessly. I held my breadth as I watched concluded election transit to inconclusive and the concluded return to inconclusive. On Saturday 22nd September 2018, Osun people went to vote for who would take over from Comrade Rauf Aregbosola as their governor. Rauf who became "popular" for owing arrears of workers' salaries was completing his very tumultuous tenure. It was a hotly contested election with an unprecedented number of parties-about 38 fielding candidates for the elections.
Everybody expected the competition to be fierce and so it was. The elections closed and were counted at the different pooling booths. Then collation started at ward levels and was concluded. Then it moved on to the Local Government Collation Centres and was concluded. The LGA returning officers moved their collated results to the state collation centre where Prof Joseph Fuwape was both the chairman, master of ceremony and returning officer. Watching him on Television, he took full control of all that happened and his voice was commanding and he sounded excited. When he finished collating results of all the concluded collations from LGAs, his voice went mellow. The excitement was diminished if not lost. An otherwise ebullient man, became hesistant. The unexpected had happened. The "dancing" Senator Adeleke was winning.
And that's how an already concluded election turned inconclusive. INEC who cancelled elections in some booths for sundry 'justifiable' reasons, then realized, they had shot themselves on the foot and then reversed themselves. A supplementary election would be held to correct the 'anomaly'. Last Thursday 27th September a supplementary election was held in Seven pooling stations in four LGAs. When the results were added up, Adegboyega Oyetola was winning and Prof Fuwape regained his cool and then declared the concluded elections which had become inconclusive now concluded. And asked those unhappy while he was happy to go to court.
With this, many matters now arise which in the end may make this concluded matter return to an inconclusive mode. First, Senator Ademola Adeleke who was winning before the matter became inconclusive has vowed to reclaim his victory in Court, which means that all the previously concluded matters would be reopened and the courts would then conclude the unconcluded, inconclusive and reopened matters at the Supreme Court. Second, the "unholy" alliance negotiated between APC and Senator Iyiola Omisore may soon unravel. Already, Adams Oshiomhole's version of the deal differs in material detail from Omisore's version and both are different from the information gathered from the grape vine. There are already disputations as to how much was agreed as electoral expense write off; automatic, semiautomatic or Manuel senate seat, number of commissioners to be allocated and how the government will be run by the alliance; dropping of the EFCC charges and the final closure on the Bola Ige matter. Soon the concluded deal may become inconclusive. Thirdly, Chief Olu Falae, Chairman of the SDP, on whose platform Omisore ran seemed to have distanced himself from the alliance and that creates some inconclusiveness, which may scuttle the alliance.
The real worry here is that seeds of instability are being sowed in the polity. Senator Ademola Adeleke strongly feels he has been cheated, robbed of victory. His Party PDP feels this is a rape on democracy and that it was part of APC's desire to win by all means- fair or foul. Osun people are divided down the line- half feeling bitter and half feeling happy. Other Nigerians are also divided with perhaps more people empathizing with the 'weak'-Adeleke. Many also feel that what APC did is what PDP would have done if they had the power. Additional worry is created by the damning report of the international community on the supplementary election. In an unusual undiplomatic manner, the Envoys of the USA, UK and the EU condemned the conduct of the election, alleging interference, intimidation and violence. This was quite weighty and must have some consequences, now or in the future. They do not often speak this way! They have even made additional comments since then.
All these rub off negatively on INEC. It is true that nobody accepts that he lost election in Nigeria, fair and square except for Dr Goodluck Jonathan who accepted defeat as a lamb, did not protest, did not resist, did not complain, refused to go to Court. So it is normal to hear losers complain of impropriety and many observers often give the electoral umpire, the benefit of doubt. But this Osun election left bitter taste in the tongues of many. In the front of everybody, INEC declared an election which had been concluded in the eyes of many people inconclusive. Then it arranged a supplementary election reported to have been interfered with and looking all in the face announced that the man who was leading at close of the election has lost at extra time. It was like a referee awarding penalty kicks at extra time to the losing team, allowing them first to equalize and then going ahead to score the winning goal at which time the referee stopped the match. Yes the favoured team will rejoice but the cheated team will protest. This looks like the game we just watched in Osun.
Will this be the pattern of the games under this umpire? What does it portend for Nigeria's democracy? Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and now Osun have all ended with shouts of foul by PDP while APC has rejoiced. Many who love this Nation are praying that the pattern of referring must change. I just pray that this prayer is answered.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR