A number of incumbent governors have been reelected in polls that tested their grip on power as they faced significant challenge from the opposition.
Governorship elections were conducted in only 28 states on Saturday, as the eight others – Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Ogun, Kwara, Oyo, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Zamfara and Gombe – have what is popularly called “off-season elections”.
Eleven incumbents were on the ballot papers, many of whom were jolted by the shake-up that occurred during the presidential and National Assembly elections, forcing them to make last-minute efforts to woo voters.
In a major upset, Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos and now the president-elect, lost in his stronghold, the country’s commercial city, during the presidential election as Peter Obi of the Labour Party polled more votes than the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Like February 25 polls, last Saturday’s elections in some parts of the country were marred by violence, with thugs disrupting voting. In Rivers State, Chisom Lennard, the APC campaign coordinator in Ahoada-West Local Government Area (LGA), was kidnapped and killed by gunmen.
Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation, said on Sunday it verified 216 critical incidents by its citizen observers across the country, including violent disruption of the process, ballot box snatching, results manipulation during collation, intimidation and harassment.
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun, the candidate of the APC, was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after a tight race.
Abiodun won in 12 out of 20 LGAs, to defeat Oladipupo Adebutu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who won in eight LGAs.
He polled 276,298 votes out of the 663,968 total votes cast; Adebutu scored 262,383, while Biyi Otegbeye of African Democratic Congress garnered 94,754.
Meanwhile, the PDP has, in a petition submitted to INEC through Sunkanmi Oyejide, his collation agent, asked that the election be declared inconclusive, saying a re-run should be conducted in some polling units where results and elections were cancelled.
The party accused the APC of using thugs to disrupt elections in some polling units in the state, saying the total number of cancelled votes was higher than the victory margin, which the party said necessitated a re-run of the poll as allowed by the law.
In Oyo, Governor Seyi Makinde of the PDP has clinched second term. He polled 563,756 votes to defeat Teslim Folarin of the APC who garnered 256,685 votes, while Adebayo Adelabu, the Accord Party candidate, got 38,357 votes. Makinde won in 31 LGAs while Folarin clinched two.
With his re-election, he would be the second governor to serve for two terms in the state. Late Governor Abiola Ajimobi was the first to break the second-term jinx.
In Kwara, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq was declared winner, as he won in all the 16 LGAs in the state, polling 273,424 votes against Abdullahi Yaman of PDP who scored 155,490 votes.
In Gombe, Muhammadu Yahaya of APC scored 342,821 votes to defeat Muhammed Barde of the PDP who scored 233,131.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC was in a clear lead as of the time of filing this report, as he won in 18 LGAs out of the 19 announced by INEC, while the Labour Party won in one.
His main contenders are Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party; and Abdul-Azeez Adediran, alias Jandor, of PDP.
The winners of the other states where the incumbents contested for re-election had yet to be announced as of the time of filing this report.
INEC vows to address ‘proven irregularities’
INEC has vowed to address the anomalies that characterised the governorship and state Houses of Assembly.
Fetus Okoye, INEC national commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, said this at a press conference in Abuja on Sunday night.
Okoye said allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results will be reviewed and addressed.
He said the majority of the polling units nationwide opened on schedule and citizens were attended to promptly. “Similarly, there was improved voter authentication using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System while the uploading of Polling Unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal witnessed a remarkable improvement.”
“However, for difficult and unforeseen circumstances outside the Commission’s control, we did our best to respond, especially where processes were disrupted by actors over whom we have little or no contro,” he said. “Such diabolical behaviour did not only affect citizens but also impacted on the Commission’s officials and processes. INEC staff, both regular and ad hoc were victims of violence. Some of our staff were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalized and in one case killed.”
Okoye said where the INEC could not deploy to enable citizens to vote, it took the decision to remobilize to such places to enable citizens to exercise their franchise.
He said the electoral body could not extend the same to areas where voting was disrupted, and election materials destroyed.
“We are keeping our eyes on those areas and would not hesitate to remobilise where the outcome of the election is affected.”
He said: “We are committed to the sanctity of the process and will not hesitate to take drastic measures against proven irregularities. Allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results will be reviewed and addressed.”
“The commission does not take the patience of citizens for granted and will continue to take steps to protect the integrity of the vote and consolidate the progress made so far in the electoral process.”