Elections: APC, Maintains Its Strong Hold In  Imo, Kogi, While  PDP  Retains  Byelsa State  

By   Lateef Adegbite  AndElizabeth Chukwuma

When  Kayode Egbetokun, Inspector General oof Police , IGP,  assured Nigerians  that the Force  is adequately prepared  for the  Saturday, November 11, 2023, governorship  elections in Bayelsa, home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Imo and Kogi states, not many people took him very  seriously.

This is because the Force had made similar promises in the past of going to collaborate with other security agencies to give cover to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, personnel and safeguard the electoral umpire sensitive electoral materials to ensure that the elections will be hitch -free in the states but turned to be a ruse.  

The police personnel on election duty in the three states where Mahmood Yakubu, a professor led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had conducted this year’s off-season governorship election were said to have been drawn from the 33 states of the Federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to support the already existing security architecture in the states.

Given the problems associated with the off-season elections may have informed why former President Jonathan had appealed to the national Assembly Lawmakers    to do everything within their powers ‘’to bock the off-season elections’’ describing ‘’ it as very odd’’. It is not a global best practice, he added.

The former Nigerian President who could not hide his feelings had warned that if we continue with this trend of off-season elections based on the interpretation of the country’s electoral Laws by the Judicial officers,  a time will come would come  when  the  country’s Presidential election  will be held off-season which may tell good of our electoral  system. He had alluded to the North American country of the United States, US, electoral system as everybody   knows when the country ‘s elections will be held and work towards it.  

Given the tension in Imo state, where Senator Hope Uzodinma, the APC , governor of the state was  said to have to have penetrated the ranks of the security agencies and INEC officials in the state  the IGP, who was not ready to take any excuse from the state Police Command for any  breakdown of Law and order  in the conduct of the governorship election  was said to have deployed   Mohammed  Barde , the Adamawa state born, Commissioner of Police  in the state  to the Force Headquarters, ahead of the  governorship election in the state.

Prof. Yakubu, the INEC, Chairman, on his part, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he disclosed that the off-season governorship in the southern eastern state of Imo, north central state of Kogi and  the south-south state of Bayelsa will be a different compared to the previous elections that had been conducted in the country in the past as the results will be uploaded on its  result viewing portal.

The INEC, boss was emphatic that the Commission would follow the Law s for accreditation and results collation  during the elections in the three states of Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa . He noted that this is  the method  that was provided  by Law , electronic accreditation  , electronic upload  of results  on the Commission’s REV portal.

Gov. Uzodinma: Re-elcted, For A Second Term

Going by permutations, by political analysts, , the governorship elections in Imo state  is a three horse race  between the trios of   Senator Hope Uzodinma, described as a Supreme Court appointed  governor  of Imo state  and who is  seeking re-election, ,   Samuel Anyanwu of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party , PDP and Athan Achonu of the Labour party, LP.

Achonu had expected  to ride on the back of Peter Obi , a former governor of Anambra state and Presidential Candidate of the LP, in the February 25, 2023, Presidential election to repeat what Alex Otti, did in Abia state to defeat, Okezie Ikpeazu, an incumbent governor. Many believe that if the PDP and LP,  Candidates  had done  their home work before coming  out to contest against Uzodinma of the APC, believed to be very unpopular because of t the activities of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, linked to Nnamdi Kanu, currently in Department Of State Security Service, DSS, custody, one of them could have have the Imo state state governorship election. Instaed , they gave room to the old war horse to take advantage of their political naivety to beat them even in their own Local government Areea.

,    There were cases of political thugs, invading  polling units   and carted away  result sheets. An instance was given of  Oguta  Local government Area  in the state, where   one Egwe Egbuoma  , the  INEC, presiding Officer    at Town School, Oguta, had confirmed that   political thugs   came in motorbikes  and took away her polling booth result sheets.  The INEC Presiding Officer was said to have reported the  incident to  state INEC Director   at  Owerri for new result sheets to be sent them to enter the Candidates’ votes but that was how far she could go..

The situation was the same in several other  polling units in the state, fueling speculations making the rounds that either the security  operatives on election duty have been  compromised or they were not ready to their work to avoid stepping on  toes. This is an indications that Nigerian Politicians still see elections as a do or die affair.   

Senator Uzodinma would not take it from those accusing him and his loyalists of having rigged the Imo state governorship elections.   Note that Senator Uzodinma, had cleared  the 27 Local government Areas of the state . This may  emboldened to say  that  he actually won the   state governorship election  in 2019  but was cheated  until the Supreme Court  came to the rescue. This time around the APC flag bearer had  pulled  540,308 votes   to beat Anyanwu  of the PDP , who garnere  71,503 votes  and Achonu of the LP, who got  64,081 votes.

Senator Melaye: Loses Governorship Bid To Ododo Of APC

Many had expected a tough electoral battle  in Kogi state between Senator Dino Melaye ,the governorship Candidate of the PDP and Usman Ododo of  the APC. But Murtala Ajaka, the Social Democratic Part, SDP, governorship Candidate in the state, who was said to have documented all his evidence to head to the Court  had said  that the north central state governorship election was rigged in favour of  of Ododo of the APC.  

The situation in Imo state may not have been different from what has happened in Kogi state where  the INEC Returning Officer had declared    Ododo, of the APC   as having  won the governorship  election with  446,237 votes  to Ajaka’s  259,052 votes  and Melaye of the PDP,   46,362 votes.

 Ajaka, the SDP Candidate, would not  accept the Kogi state  governorship reslts  , insisting that APC , Candidate votes  was inflated. He had cited the case of Okene Local government Area of the state.   According to him the Local government Area had turned out  over 130,00 votes   but what is  on the BVAS, as the accredited number of voters for the  election was  less than30, 000 .

He haad said ‘’ If we knew   it would be  the same old music , we  would have played  along  with that   by inflating  the results  from my own area’’. He may have sent a message   to the INEC Authorities that if they dare    allow the inflated election  figures in the state to stand they may  be  courting for trouble in future elections in the state.

The Kogi state SDP  flag bearer  may have shocked Nigerians when he revealed that  that prior to the Saturday, November  11, governorship election in the state,   the result sheets  were already everywhere   in the whole of Kogi Central  Senatorial district.  This may have informed why he had told those  cares to listen that if  they had known that they  were going into the jungle , they would have ‘’prepared for a jungle arrangement’’. Kogi state governorship results were written before he election proper, Ajaka insists.

Melaye, the PDP , governorship  Candidate was said to have  corroborated Ajaka of the SDP’s claims when he declared that ‘’filled result  sheets  were discovered  in several  polling units  in the state’’ , noting that that INEC  officials  in the state cannot claim ignorance of it. 

The situation in the   oil rich Bayelsa state is appear to be more worrisome. Analysts had expected the governorship election  in the state to be  a straight contest between   Senator Douye Diri of the PDP and Temipre Sylva, a -one-time governor of the state  and immediate past  minister of  State , Petroleum Resources, under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, contesting on the platform of the APC.

With what Senator  Uzodinma, had done in Imo state  to retain  power in the state  may have informed why  the Diri appointed Commissioners  and members of the state House of Assembly had laid  siege  on the INEC Headquarters in Yenagoa, the state Capital to ensure  that the incumbent governor was not rigged out .  The aggrieved  Commissioners and Lawmakers  may have laid siege on the  state INEC Premises  on Sunday, November 12, 2023,  because of what had happened at the Nembe Local government  area of the state.

It was reported that on  the eve of the governorship election in the riverine state ,  a Supervisory Presiding  Officer, SPO,  with the state INEC was abducted by thugs   while  waiting  to board  a boat  at  the Amssoma Jetty  in Sagbama Local government Area of the state.  That  much was confirmed by  Wilfred Ifogah, Head of Voter Education  and Publicity  of the state INEC in yEnagoa.

Until,  Faruq Kuta, a Prof and Vice Chancellor,  University of Technology Mininna, the INEC  Returning Officer, adjourned   the collation of  the Bayelsa state governorship  election results  on Sunday, November 12, 2023,   Diri of the PDP , had won  five out of the six Local government Areas that was said to have been declared , leaving one for his closest rival, Sylva of the APC.

Dri: Gov. Of Bayelsa State

 According to the INEC ,report, the PDP Cadidate had won in   Kolokuma /Opkuma,  Ogbia, Yeanagoa,  Sagbama and Ekeremor while Sylva won in  Nembe , which is still being contesed by the ruling PDP  in the state.  The APC, governorship Candidate had puled  22,248 votes to Diri of the PDP’S 4,556 votes in Nembe Local government Area of the state.  As at press time, results  in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local government Areas of the state are still being expected.

Shehu Musa, a -one time Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, had said hat going  by he results that have been declared so far by the INEC, Retrunig Officer in the state, the PDP, Candidate is as good as having won the goverNORship  election in the state.

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