• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Ondo guber: Is INEC under pressure?


With the successful completion of the gubernatorial election in Edo State last Saturday, attention is now shifted to the Ondo State governorship election slated for October 10.

Now that the Edo gubernatorial election may have been won and lost, it is expected that political gladiators within the two leading parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) would now be strategising on how their parties can emerge victorious in the Ondo State governorship election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced that 17 political parties are presenting candidates for the election and had been cleared.

This means that incumbent Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who is the candidate of the APC, has to battle to retain his seat with 16 contenders from other opposition parties. But his main challenger is Eyitayo Jegede, the PDP candidate; incidentally both men were also candidates of their parties in 2016.

Both candidates are now moving across Ondo State campaigning in a bid to sell their programmes to the electorate and to gain support ahead of the election.

However, as the date for the gubernatorial election draws closer, politicians in both parties have intensified their antics, this is against the growing fears by the opposition that having lost Edo State, the APC appears desperate to win Ondo at all cost.

In recent days, there have been allegations by the leadership and chieftains of the PDP that the APC was bent on using all the resources at its disposal to emerge victorious in Ondo.

This is amidst allegations by the main opposition party of moves by the leadership of the APC to intimidate INEC so that the commission can work in favour of the APC in the governorship election.

Since 2015 when the APC came to power ‘federal might’ has been a factor in winning elections in the country.

Observers have questioned the credibility of recent off-season elections; they say that the results of some of the elections have not been determined by voters.

Those who make the allegation quickly point to the events in the gubernatorial elections in Osun and Kogi States.

The security agencies and INEC had in the past received knocks over their alleged roles in undermining the will of the voters in elections.

Similar situation was witnessed on the eve of the Edo gubernatorial election when the PDP raised the alarm over a siege by security agencies to the hotel where Nyesom Wike, governor of River State was staying in Benin City, capital of Edo State.

Kibdly do an analysis asking if INEC is under any form of pressure over the conduct of Ondo election.

During a Channels television interview with Governor Wike last Friday morning, he said he was concerned about the forth-coming Ondo election.

“I am afraid of Ondo because of the enormous pressure on INEC,” he said.

Following the defeat of the APC and its candidate in the Edo election, feelers are that the leadership of the party may not be happy about the outcome.

The allegation that there may be some subterranean moves and subtle pressure on the leadership of the INEC gained currency following the closed-door meeting last Wednesday in Abuja, attended by Mai Mala Buni, chairman, Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC; Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State, and Ize-Iyamu.

“It may be true; I don’t know; I am not in Ondo State, but based on what you are saying, you should know from the past actions of the APC you can never trust them; they are not happy they lost Edo so they can be up to something,” Kunle Ogundare, former Accord Party (AP) deputy chairman in Lagos State, said.

Ogundare urged the governorship candidates to continue with their campaign across the state, stressing that he was optimistic INEC would live up to expectation.

“I just want all the candidates to go on with the campaign and not allow their antics to derail them. I am sure INEC is up to it and may prove us wrong. There was an improvement in the Edo election; Ondo people know who they want,” he added.

Reacting in an interview with BDSUNDAY, Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner and chairman, information and voters education committee, denied that the commission was working to favour any party or candidate in the October 10 Ondo State election, stressing that the commission was focused on conducting a credible poll.

According to him, “This Commission is not interested in rumours and speculations. This Commission will never allow itself to be diverted from focusing firmly on the conduct and delivery of credible and inclusive election.

“The Commission is not a political party and has no political affiliation. The same redundant and pedestrian allegations are made in every election without any verifiable fact. Our resolve is to improve on our deployment strategies.

“We want to maintain or surpass the bar of the Edo election. Political parties should concentrate on their campaigns and rallies. Political parties must desist from deliberate and mischievous de-marketing of the Commission. The Commission is a public trust and does not belong to National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners,” Okoye said.

He challenged the PDP and other opposition parties to name the dates and the venues the meeting took place, stressing that it was fully focused on the job ahead.

“Ask those making the allegations to supply the names and dates and the venues of the meeting. The Chairman and National Commissioners have been in Ondo State for three days working hard on delivering a good election. We are not distracted and will not be distracted,” Okoye added.