By Kasarachi Azuka, Asaba
Cries by some political camps over the loss of the governorship diadem in Delt State are getting louder. Staying out of power for another four years seems not an easy task.
It was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State that cried out saying the All Progressives Congress (APC) was planning to use ex-militants to rig the governorship/state house of assembly elections of March 9. Now, it is the APC that is now the one crying foul.
This followed the overwhelming victory of the PDP at the polls resulting in the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of PDP being given return ticket by the Independent National Electoral Commisision (INEC) to the Government, House, Asaba, for the next four years.
There was tension less than six days to the governorship/state house of assembly elections, following the outcry of the PDP, that the purpose Vice President Yemi Osibanjo’s visit to the APC in Warri, was for the federal government and the Delta APC to perfect their grand plans to rig the elections.
The PDP cried for the intervention of the international community to prevent the alleged planned rigging, which PDP said was to be carried out using ex-militants in army uniform to carry out the dirty deal. But APC in countering the allegation, said PDP members were the ones planning such dirty deal. The deployment of combined team of security personnel for the purpose of the elections seemed to have heightened the tension as most residents feared the elections would not be done under a peaceful atmosphere.
The presence of soldiers and other security personnel made people believe that with the federal might, the elections would be rigged to favour APC. Tension continued to mount until Saturday morning as the security squad barricaded major roads and streets of the state, especially in Asaba, the state capital. It was feared that there would be much
intimidation of Okowa’s aides and supporters just to enable the APC capture the state as Oshiomhole had boasted months ago.
As journalists and observers moved round the state to monitor the elections, it was observed that the elections held peacefully to the extent that Gov Okowa said there were no complaints. What he and his party feared most was never their portion. It then became the turn of the APC to cry when they saw that the PDP was winning at the polls. The more the results were announced LGA by LGA in favour of PDP, the more APC rejected the outcome of the elections.
The results revealed that Gov Okowa of PDP polled a total of 925,274 votes to defeat the candidate of the APC, Great Ogboru who scored 215,938. Okowa won in 23 out of the 25 LGAs of the state while Ogboru won in only two LGAs to win the governorship election in the state.
This was the second time in two election cycles that Okowa would defeat Ogboru, although back then in 2015 Ogboru ran in the Labour Party (LP) polling 130,028 votes as against Okowa’s 724,680.
INEC state returning officer, Seth Jaja while announcing the details of the 2019 guber elections result, said the state has a total of 2,831,205 registered voters while the total number of accredited voters for the election was 1,188,784. A total of 1,178,335 votes
were cast during the election, out of which 1,154,188 votes were valid while 24,147 were rejected, he aded. The result revealed PDP won even in LGAs where APC thought it had big wigs and more supporters.
The APC rejected the results so declared by INEC, alleging that massive irregularities marred the election. According to the party, there were incidences of ballot box hijacking, violence and thugery at the polling units, card reader failure which resulted to illegal thumb-printring of the ballot papers by the PDP, adding that the elections did not take place in most places.
Jones Erue, APC chairman in the state who made the disclosure, stated,“The Delta APC is using this medium to call for the cancellation of result announced by the INEC because we were under siege. Our people were not allowed to vote during the election. The military was used to scare the APC members. There was no election in Delta State not to talk of a free and fair election.”He said “the agents of the party were sidelined by and initimidated by the military. Our people were not allowed to enter any collation center; our agents were treated as enemies of the electoral process. The whole place was militarized against the APC and results were changed at will.”
The APC threatened to challenge the outcome of the election at the tribunal should INEC go ahead to declare the results. INEC however could not see any reason for the cancellation of the results, hence it declared Okowa the overall winner of the guber polls.
The commissioner for information, Patrick Ukah, was the first to send out congratulatory message to his boss on the victory just as he commended Deltans and other inhabitants of the state for trouping out enmass to re-elect the governor through their votes.
He said the victory of the governor was a clear manifestation that “there is reward for hardwork as the governor worked round the clock to ensure that the inhabitants of the state benefit from his SMART Agenda.” Executive Secretary, Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (DEMSMA), Shimite Bello told BDSUNDAY that it was victory for all.
She said the victory was the end result of the love Deltans have for Gov Okowa and that they worked for him to be re-elected. “The end result shows that Deltans worked, we were committed and dedicated to ensuring that after the governor has done a good job in infrastructure, in job creation, in human capacity devt, peace management and so many things he did, that we say we want more of him. That is what our result says, that we are really happy.
Kennedy Ochei, special assistant to the governor on youths mobilization, while congratulating the governor, said Deltans massively voted for the governor because he is a man that keeps his words and doesn’t reject a common man..According to him, the governor has laid a foundation by bringing up the youth into leadership which indicate that they are the leaders of tomorrow.
He noted the achievements of the governor in his first term of four years, saying even the building of infrastructure has continued to attract people to Asaba the state capital thereby boosting the economy of the state.
… Why Ogboru lost lost to Okowa.
Meanwhile, residents and analysts in Delta State have been speaking on why Great Ogboru lost again.
A resident of the state, Victor Sorokwu, observed that the election was a keenly contested one. “Yes, victory is for the better-prepared and power comes from God. And I would want to say that God in his infinite wisdom has decided that the governor should continue in office. Deltans voting massively for him could also be an indication that he is doing well.
He went on: “The testimony in this election is that the governor is doing well and you don’t change a winning team. Irrespective of the party, platform or affiliation, what is good is good. You can’t stand the people from believing or supporting what is good.”
Another resident of the state and a veteran journalist, Barry Agbamigbi, speaking on why the APC lost to Okowa, said “Conspiracy among APC members made Ogboru to lose.
There is disunity and acrimony in the party. Vice President Yemi Osibanjo’s efforts in uniting the warring factions during his visit proved abortive and this manifested in Ogboru losing convincingly tobOkowa, he observed.
Agbamigbi noted that lack of money on the side of Ogboru to fund his ambition also contributed to his failure. Most of his party members see him as a proud man”.
Another point he observed was that the APC guber candidate did not make efforts to econcile aggrieved party members before going to the polls. “APC moving its presidential rally of the party to Warri instead of Asaba may have contributed to Ogboru’s failure as he may have been seen by some Deltans as sectional leader rather than a leader in the state”, he added.
“When there is a keen contest, there could be chances of rigging but when you have two parties and one is minor and the other is a major, there is no way you can rig for the minor to become a major party overnight when the major party maintains a clean lead in the contest”,he said.
Residents who spoke advised the governor to up his game in governance,reach out to all, and do more in his second tenure just as they advised the opposition parties not to drag the election further. They should accept Okowa’s victory as the will of God and join in building a stronger Delta.
The governor has already solicited for the cooperation of the people for him to leave a legacy that would make the state a pace-setter in the federation, adding that now is the time for reconciliation. ENDS//