BAYO AGBOOLA from Ibadan writes about the tension-soaked election situation preceding the victory of Governor Seyi Makinde at the March 18 governorship polls and his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the eventual winner.
The memory of March 18 governorship election in Oyo state and other 27 states in the country will for a long time linger in the political history of the Pacesetters state, going by lots of surprises arising from the outcome.
Hours to the election, it was mixed feelings as no one seemed to be sure of what the outcome of the election would be as all the leading governorship candidates for the election were one way or the other boastful of winning the election.
Similarly, many political observers foresaw a big battle ahead for the incumbent Engineer Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde come the election day.
Election day euphoria
On the election day proper, the leading governorship candidates in Oyo state were all in high spirits in the morning (March, 18) boasting of carrying the day as they were all expressing high hopes of winning the election in and across the 33 local government areas of the state having campaigned days and night around the state.
Prior to the election day, the political situation in Oyo state was nothing but tensed going by the
utterances and the body languages of some political bigwigs and their followers.
Starting with the the PDP Deputy National Chairman Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja who without mincing words disclosed that those opposing the second term ambition of Governor Seyi Makinde are enemies of Oyo state as well as enemies of progress in the state.
According to the PDP Deputy National Chairman, Governor Makinde meant well for Oyo state with all his policies and programmes as can be seen in the last about four years.
He advised the people of Oyo state not to allow those he called selfish and greedy politicians and elders in the state to frustrate the return of Gov Makinde for the next four years.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo state vowed that Governor Makinde would win the March 18 polls convincingly by clearing the votes of nothing less than 29 local governments in the state.
He said, “as we approach the last days of this electioneering period, we believe there was need to remind our people of the options before them as we go into Saturday’s election.
“One is that of sustainable accelerated development agenda which governor Seyi Makinde represents and the return of Oyo state back to our dark era where civil servants are owed their rightful salaries at the end of the month, non payment of pensions and gratuities to pensioners and retirees, retrogressive economy and more that characterized 2011–2019 which Folarin represents.
“It is a choice between marching forward to the modern Oyo state of our dreams under the leadership of Governor Makinde or return back to the dark days of avoidable deaths of pensioners and anguish of civil servants at both state and local government levels.”
In a statement by its Oyo state Publicity Secretary Engr Akeem Olatunji, the party said, “we appeal to our people to think of their children, think of the kind of society you want them to grow in, think about the abundant life that awaits them if Governor Makinde is allowed to finish the accelerated development agenda for a modern Oyo state which he already started.
“Think about qualitative education at all levels under a conducive learning environment for your children, choose right without any ill-conceived sentiments, choose Makinde and vote PDP on Saturday”.
On the election day, the earlier euphoria for victory began to ebb due to low turnout of voters in most parts of the state which started paving way for despondency, amongst some of the governorship candidates.
The palpable fear was what could become of the outcome of the polls and then followed by chains of accusations and counter allegations from the candidates and their followers against one another with the allegations ranging from “vote buying”, “intimidations” and “harassment” among others.
When the candidates voted
Governor Seyi Makinde while casting his vote at Ward 11, Unit 01, Abayomi Iwo-road in Ibadan North East Local government expressed displeasure at the low turn out of voters across the state and that voters in the state should not allow themselves to be scared and intimidated not to come out in good number to exercise their civic rights.
He said, “let me also use this opportunity to tell people to come out. You know they were saying there will be security challenges, but, as you can see, there are no security challenges. Our people are here voting peacefully. I believe our people will vote Omituntun 2.0.”
The All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin who voted at Ward 5, Polling Unit 2, St John Anglican School, Idi-Ose, in Ona-Ara Local government, Ibadan attributed the low turnout of voters to the alleged sporadic shootings in some parts of Ibadan on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday by some hoodlums to scare voters against coming out to cast their votes on the election day.
He added, “the report reaching me is not good, it started yesterday when suspected PMS boys went around shooting in some neighborhood in Ibadan to discourage people from voting. I’m hearing that the whole idea is for them to scuttle the process during collation so that there can be a lot of ballot snatching but we shall see.”
Folarin, others urged to congratulate Makinde
However, the results coming out from the election at the collation centres could best be described as shocking and unbelievable in the political circle in Oyo state as it was a total clearance for the PDP in and across the state during which the ruling party in the state tasked the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Teslim Folarin and Accord, Chief Bayo Adelabu “to display the spirit of sportsmanship and brotherliness, and issue an official statement to accept the undebatable defeat to Governor Seyi Makinde”.
PDP in statement by its Publicity Secretary in Oyo state, Akeem Olatunji, maintained that results gathered from both the Seyi Makinde’s Situation Room and that of the ruling party clearly showed landslide victory for the governor who is currently leading with a very wide margin across the 33 local governments.
“We want to say that this election was a keenly contested one by all parties and their candidates but in the end, the ultimate will of the God through the good people of Oyo state has prevailed as manifested in the results obtained so far from all the polling units, wards, and 33 local government areas of the state.
“In the light of this, we want to state unequivocally that even though there hasn’t been an official declaration by INEC yet, we are fully abreast of the results from the 33 local government which clearly reflect the wish and decision of the good people of Oyo state.”
“We therefore, call on our brothers, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Oloye Teslim Kolawole Folarin and Accord, Chief Bayo Adelabu to in the spirit of sportsmanship and brotherliness put a call through to His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde to personally congratulate him.
“This act will not only be remarkable in our political history but also send a strong message to political supporters and followers that politics is a game that is never worth the life or blood of anyone because in the end, it is the choice of the people that ‘ll have the day.
“While also congratulating all PDP leaders, members, support groups, volunteers for their efforts on the journey so far, we urge them to remain peaceful, orderly, and calm across various local government coalition centres in the state as we await the official announcement of today’s results even though the wild jubilation in town has clearly shown the position of the electorates.” .
All said and done, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at about 3.17pm on Sunday
through the Returning Officer for Oyo state, Prof Adebayo Bamire
proclaimed Gov Seyi Makinde winner of the Saturday governorship election having scored 563,756 votes from 31 of the 33 local government areas of the state
Governor Makinde with 563,756 votes defeated the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate Senator Teslim Folarin who came second scored 256,686 votes and the Accord governorship candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu polled 38,357votes.