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July 13
11:18 2022

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the July 16 Osun governorship election will be conclusive at the first ballot.

To achieve this, the Commission said it is deploying five National Commissioners and 12 Resident Electoral Commissioners to supervise the election.

The Inspector General of Police Baba Akali also disclosed that 21,000 operatives will be drafted for the election to protect the process.

The 2018 governorship election was declared inconclusive by the Returning Officer, Joseph Fuwape, after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ademola Adeleke, scored 254,698 votes, while Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) polled 254,345 votes.

While declaring the election inconclusive, Fuwape explained the total registered voters in the five polling units where elections were cancelled was 3,498 votes, and higher than the difference between the votes of the leading candidates.

Oyetola was eventually declared winner, after the rerun election.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance at a stakeholders’ meeting in Oshogbo, the state capital.

Yakubu also reassured political parties that it will remain neutral, adding that the electorate will determine who wins the election.

According to him the Commission has learnt lessons from the identified issues in the conduct of the 2018 governorship election in the State.

He said: “with every election, we learn lessons and every subsequent election there is improvement on the previous election. Yes we agree that there were issues in the Osun governorship election in 2018, but we have learnt lessons from that election and that’s why this time around we are deploying five National Commissioners and 12 RECs to support the process being handled by our state office so I have learnt lessons and you’re going to see much improved process in 2022.

“For us in INEC, let me reassure political parties, candidates and the electorate that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Osun State is entirely in the hands of voters. As I have repeatedly said in previous engagements with stakeholders, INEC will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on the processes and procedures as provided by law.

“So far, we have successfully implemented 12 out of 14 activities contained in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election. The only two outstanding activities are the last day of campaign by political parties which ends at midnight on Thursday 14th July 2022 and Election Day activities on Saturday 16th July 2022”.

The INEC Chair added: “The Commission has taken every step and made every arrangement for the successful conduct of the Governorship election this weekend. We held consultative meetings with political parties and their candidates. We had several engagements with the security agencies at national, State and Local Government levels.

“We consulted with stakeholders. We sought for, and received, the blessings of Royal Fathers and religious leaders. We have recruited, trained and carefully screened all categories of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the field. All non-sensitive materials for the election have been delivered to all our 30 Local Government Area offices across the State.

“Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the transportation of personnel and materials to ensure that polling units open on schedule on Election Day. For a more effective supervision of the process, we are deploying five National Commissioners, twelve Resident Electoral Commissioners and many senior officials to support our State office here in Osun to deliver credible elections”.

On the issue of the storage and safety of sensitive materials for the Saturday’s election, Yakubu disclosed that arrangement has been made to warehouse it at the INEC state office, following the suspension of the long standing arrangement with the CBN.

On vote buying, he stressed: “The Commission has said repeatedly that the issue of vote buying should be everybody’s concern, not just what the Electoral Commission can do, what we can do, we’ve done but ultimately it is an enforcement issue and enforcement has to be by way of prosecution.

“It is ultimately an enforcement issue and therefore a matter for the security agencies to continue to work to make arrest and prosecute offenders, we are actually looking forward to the day. We are not only concerned about the vote buyers apprehended and prosecuted but their sponsors, in most cases the vote buyers and the ballot snatchers are not likely to be beneficiaries of the election, they’re agents sponsored by some of the people, so as long as we don’t get the real big fish, so called, the problem is going to continue but we will continue to take whatever step within the law to ensure that we stem the tide.

“For INEC, it is a big issue, because each time we take steps to improve the process, there are some people use their diabolical means to subvert the process, so we are deeply concerned about the issue like every other Nigerian”.

The Supervising National Commissioner for Ogun, Ondo and Osun States, Prof. Kunle Ajayi, said that the successful conduct of the election depend on the disposition of the voters.

According to him, upon successful completion of the Ekiti Governorship Election, all eyes and attention have shifted to Osun State, for the upcoming governorship election.

“As such, INEC under the leadership of the Hon. Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has ramped up activities in preparation for Osun Election, which is expected to consolidate and improve on the success of Ekiti Election.

“In an effort to achieve this great feat, the commission has harvested the challenges and lessons learnt in the previous Anambra elections and the just concluded Ekiti governorship election to improve our processes and procedure, under the 2022 Electoral Act.

“It must however be noted, that the onus is on the good people of Osun State to come out en-mass, conduct themselves peacefully and exercise their franchise”.

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