Off-season gov polls: Tinubu praises INEC as PDP faults Kogi, Imo results

President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, congratulated Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, and Governor-elect Usman Ododo of Kogi State, on their victory in the November 11 governorship elections in their respective states.

Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement that “President Tinubu says the outcome of the elections reflects the wishes of the people, emphasising that democracy thrives when voters reward competence, transparency, and good governance.”

The President also commended the electorate in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa for their participation in the electoral process.

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party faulted the results of the Kogi and Imo polls, alleging that the security agents connived with the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission to rig the elections.

The PUNCH reports that in Imo State, Uzodimma scored 540,308 votes, defeating the PDP candidate Samuel Anyanwu who scored 71,503 votes to come second, while the Labour Party’s Athan Achonu, emerged third with 64,081 votes.

Ododo won the Kogi governorship election with 446,237 votes, defeating Muritala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party, who garnered 259,052, while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party came third with 46,362 votes.

In Bayelsa State, the incumbent governor, Diri, polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who got 110,108 votes while the Labour Party’s Udengs Eradiri polled 905 votes.

To the winners, Tinubu said, “May your tenure in office be defined by close collaboration with all of your counterparts across party lines in the attainment of pan-Nigerian developmental achievements that benefit everyone, and may you lead at all times with compassion and a deepened commitment to our nation’s unity.”

He affirmed the resilience of democratic institutions and the power of the people in shaping the nation’s political landscape.

He also expressed gratitude to INEC for working to create a level playing field for all contestants and the nation’s security agencies for maintaining law and order during the highly-anticipated elections.

He tasked the victors to prioritise the common good of the people over partisan interests in the spirit of nurturing a harmonious, inclusive political landscape in the three states.

Uzodimma, in a broadcast in Owerri on Monday,  dedicated his electoral victory  to God and to the people of the state.

He said, “It is with a deep sense of humility, appreciation, and an abiding faith in God that I humbly accept the great honour and privilege to serve as your governor for a second term of four years.

“Because I acknowledge God in everything I do and because I know that power comes from God, the first thing I did upon receiving the news of my victory yesterday was to proceed to the church to thank God for his goodness to me and Imo people.”

Similarly, shortly after he was declared the winner of the Bayelsa poll by the INEC state Returning Officer, Prof. Kuta Farouq, Diri declared that he would continue to be governor for all Bayelsans.

He said, “I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who cast your vote in my favour and entrusted me with the responsibility of leading our beloved state.

“I am also immensely grateful to the leadership of our great party, PDP, at all levels and our dedicated campaign team and supporters, who worked tirelessly to spread our message of progress and unity throughout Bayelsa State. Your unwavering belief in our vision for prosperity and your relentless efforts have brought us this sweet victory.”

But the Bayelsa APC rejected the result of the poll.

The state APC agent, Dennis Otiotio, refused to sign the results sheets.

Otiotio claimed that the APC would have won the governorship election if over 84,000 votes scored by the party in the field were not allegedly voided by INEC.

He said, “Over 84,000 votes scored by the APC in Nembe and Southern Ijaw were cancelled. So, we will not be signing this result. In Nembe, over 29,000 votes that the APC scored were cancelled; in Southern Ijaw, over 54,000 votes that the APC scored were cancelled.

“If you add the total cancelled votes that APC scored in the field, which were about 84,806 votes if you add it to what APC scored here (at the collation centre), APC clearly won the election.

“But it is clear that INEC has colluded, connived with the PDP to cancel (it) here in this INEC office, not at the field. The votes were brought from forms EC8A and EC8B down here, and at this INEC office here, they decided to cancel over 84,000 votes scored by the APC.”

Before the Monday declaration of Diri’s victory at the poll, some PDP members had on Sunday morning marched towards the INEC state office on the Swali Market Road in peaceful protest demanding that the commission should reject results from Nembe-Bassambiri in the Nembe LGA.

They were, however, blocked by armed security operatives, who stationed Armoured Personnel Carriers and other security patrol vans before the junction on Swali Road leading to the INEC state office gate.

However, after the declaration of the final results on Monday, PDP governors congratulated Diri on his victory at the poll.

PDP Governors Forum under the leadership of Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, also commended INEC for ensuring the integrity of the process.

The forum, in a statement by its Director General, Cyril Maduabum, on Monday, noted that the good stewardship by the Diri in his first term in office won the people’s votes.

The statement read in part, “We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for ensuring the integrity of the election through the proper usage of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System in instilling public confidence in the electoral process.”

Also, the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, has congratulated Diri on his re-election for a second term.

In a congratulatory message, Shaibu described the governor as a true brother and friend.

Similarly, the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum and the Northern Emancipation Network as well as the Unified Nigeria Youths Forum, have lauded the conduct of the off-cycle governorship polls held in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa states, describing them as free, fair and credible.

According to the AYCF President, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, the elections were free, fair, and credible.

On their part, a statement signed by NEN’s Chairman, Suleiman Abbah, noted the commendable neutrality displayed by the security personnel deployed to the respective states in ensuring secure environments for voters to exercise their civic rights freely during the recent elections.

Also, the Unified Nigeria Youths Forum noted with delight that the Imo state polls results reflected the wishes of the people.

The UNYF’s National Publicity Secretary, Aliyu Mohammed, while addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Monday, commended the peaceful conduct of the Imo election despite earlier predictions of violence.

Also, the ruling APC applauded President Tinubu, INEC and security agents over the peaceful conduct of the just concluded governorship elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, APC National Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, stated that it was a validation of the president’s promise to hold free and fair polls during his administration.

But the leadership of the Labour Party has rubbished the notion, lamenting that the just concluded governorship elections were a carryover of the 2023 general polls.

Reacting, the Chief Spokesman of the Labour Party Campaign Organisation stated that it would be a mockery for anybody to label the elections as free and fair conduct.

“There was no free and fair election anywhere. This is the danger of refusing to address the 2023 February election where you saw manipulation and stealing of ballot papers take place,” he said.


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