Some observers had raised concerns over noticeable lapses in the election that needed to be addressed as Nigeria heads towards the 2019 general election

Jide Okesola

It was indeed a hard fight. All the parties that participated in the Osun gubernatorial election on Saturday, September 22 and the run off on Thursday, September 27, particularly the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), prepared to win. But like in all contests, victory only comes to one individual at a time.

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Although the election elicited some bad blood, a winner was declared at the end of the day. Observers and analysts believe that it is time for all the parties and their candidates to come to the realisation that in the game of life there are losers and there are winners, and that players must be ready to accept whatever that comes to them at the end of the day.

The narrative for me at this moment should change from who was right or wrong in some of the lapses noticed at the polls, to looking at how to mitigate such occurrences in the future.My take is that those who are dissatisfied should avail themselves of credible means of pressing their grievances, such as going to the tribunal. We must begin to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship by being gallant in defeat and magnanimous in victory. This is not the time to sulk over loss or bear grudges against one another.

When you look at the political firmament of Nigeria, it appears corrupt. It is not as if politics in itself is destined to be corrupt but it is the way the practitioners have turned it into. This is sadly why some people believe that politics is only for morally bankrupt people. This is farther from the truth.

From what can be seen over the years in terms of style of play, all politicians can be said to be guilty of electoral fraud. So, in the case of Osun, let the approved institutions determine the culprits. What is important is to move Osun State forward from wherever Governor Rauf Aregbesola would stop on May 29, 2019.

I am also happy that the Osun exercise is not all about naysayers; there are those who sufficiently believe that it was not all about negativities. We as a people must begin to look at issues from the brighter side.

A number of civil society organisations (CSOs) believe that the conduct of the exercise was commendable. Some observers, local and international, had raised some concerns over some noticeable lapses in the election that needed to be addressed as Nigeria heads towards the 2019 general election, the consensus opinion is that since the Osun exercise produced a winner, it was worth the while.

A few days ago, some of the CSOs gave their seal of approval and praised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “for exhibiting professionalism and neutrality despite threats, intimidation and blackmail.” before and during the election.”

The six representatives and the groups are Dr. Mrs. Olufunke Adesina of the Centre for Women Agenda (CWA); Comrade Adedapo Ajisegiri of the Campaign Against Social Injustice (CASI); Comrade Onotosho Hakeem of the Centre for Sustainable Dialogue (CSD); Dr. Oyedokun Alli of the Development Advocacy Group (DAG); Comrade Jerry Nwachukwu of the Rights Monitor Agenda (RMA); Comrade Wale Adeoye of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER); Samuel Bakare, Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) and Comrade Ajayi Popoola of the Coalition for Peaceful Election (COPE).

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In a statement issued in Lagos, the groups said the election was largely peaceful and congratulated the people of Osun State for “their civil, peaceful and orderly conduct in jealously guarding their mandate and proving that the will of the people is supreme in a democracy.”

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The statement reads in part, “We, the undersigned civil society organisations as election observer groups, heartily congratulate the good people of Osun State for trooping out to the polls both on the 22nd of September and on the 27th September, 2018 rerun election, to elect the state’s helmsman whose outcome is a reflection of the will of the people as expressed at the polls.

“We also congratulate the people of Osun State for their civil, peaceful and orderly conduct in jealously guarding their mandate and proving that the will of the people is supreme in a democracy.”

“We as well congratulate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for exhibiting professionalism and neutrality despite threats, intimidation and blackmail before and during the election.

We note with gladness that INEC deployment of its personnel and materials on Election Day was timely, efficient and has received accolades from all relevant stakeholders for a superlative performance,” they further said. According to them, “We equally commend the international and local observers for their high sense of responsibility in observing the process according to global best practices.

“We commend the media for its professional and unbiased coverage which is critical to deepening democracy and ensuring societal stability.” The statement further said that while there were noticeable incidents of violence on the day of the rerun election, there was no doubt that the most popular candidate won the race.

“However, we observe that unlike in the first round of election on the 22nd of September, 2018 which was largely peaceful and orderly, there were reports of pocket of violence in some areas far away from the locations of polling stations where the rerun elections took place on Thursday, 27th September, 2018.

“In as much as we recognise that no election anywhere in the world can be perfect, we call on the security agencies to investigate these allegations and do the needful. However, we make bold to state with all emphasis, that these allegations do not in any way distract from the fact that the will of the people as expressed at the poll, has triumphed.”

The only advice that is worth giving to the governor-elect, Gboyega Oyetola, is to forget the past and prepare to carry everyone along; after all, what is at stake is the overall interest of Osun State.

READ ALSO: Oyetola promises all inclusive government in Osun, dedicates victory to Osun people


Okesola writes from Lagos