Opinion: Why I think the Osun re-run election should not be taken seriously

The Osun supplementary election in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gboyega Oyetola, the winner is an aberration. It was marred by irregularities, widespread malpractice, voter intimidation, violence and harassment which has rolled back the electoral gains of the 2015 presidential election.

In a joint press conference, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom faulted the election alleging interference and intimidation. US Consul-General John Bray stated thus, “We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and heard reports of harassment of party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.”

These reports of irregularities were corroborated by INEC earlier in the course of the election on its Twitter handle. Similarly, One of its officials, Olusegun Agbaje, on TV quipped, “that someone’s head was sliced with a machete does not mean the re-run was not peaceful” inadvertently, admitting widespread violence in an election which involved only seven polling units and less than 4000 voters.

What transpired in the re-run election falls short of global standards expected of a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. This literally means that INEC under Professor Mahmood Yakubu cannot be trusted to conduct the 2019 general elections involving 774 Local Government Areas, 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The election also falls short of the standards set by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Prof Attahiru Jega in the conduct of the 2015 elections which renewed hope in our democratic processes and gave Nigeria’s electoral system some credibility in the eyes of the global community and international observers.

Election observers reported widespread restriction of movement, arrests and denial of access to the polling units by security agencies. There are videos on social media where hoodlums allegedly loyal to the APC prevented PDP voters from gaining access to polling units, confiscated voters’ PVCs and unleashed violence on the people of Osun. Voters loyal to the APC, however, were reportedly singled out and allowed entry to polling units. While Saturday’s election was adjudged peaceful, the re-run was a charade which warrants INEC to redeem its credibility and restore confidence in the institution as an unbiased election umpire.

Nigeria cannot afford to retrogress after the 2015 election became a reference point for free, fair, credible and peaceful in Africa. INEC under Prof Yakubu should not bring disgrace to Nigeria and erode the confidence which INEC garnered under the previous administration. The degradation of the electoral system has been gaining momentum as witnessed in previous elections before Osun, most recently, the Ekiti election but the brazen display of desperation by the ruling APC culminated in the daylight robbery in Osun where advanced electoral manipulation was deployed in the most crude manner in the glare of international observers and Nigerians who watched the charade aghast. Having lost in the initial election before the run-off, the party resorted to clandestine tactics of collusion with security agencies and thugs which were deployed to intimidate voters who were sympathetic to PDP.

The Situation Room, in its submission on the supplementary election concluded that, “It is clear that the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the elections in the seven polling units where the elections were re-run, including violence, also repeated themselves in most of this election, raising questions on why results obtained under these conditions should now stand.”

It will be in the best interest of democracy and Nigeria for INEC to redeem its image by cancelling the Osun supplementary election, scheduling a re-run or declare Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP the winner of the governorship election based on Saturday’s peaceful election.

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