Osun: Nigeria, INEC’s image at stake, democracy endangered – Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki has declared that Nigeria’s image is at stake, following the stalemated Osun State elections that INEC declared inconclusive, suggesting that the electoral umpire has erred.
In a strongly-worded media statement issued on Sunday, Saraki, who is also the PDP Chairman Presidential Committee on the Governorship Election in Osun State asked his party to take all necessary legal steps to ensure that the rule of law was respected during the rescheduled Osun governorship election. He then warned INEC to rely on the provisions of the Electoral Act instead of declaring the election inconclusive without legitimate explanation in support of such a declaration.
His words: ” INEC should note that the Osun gubernatorial election is not only about that South-western state. It is about our country and the entire world is watching. Our national interest is at stake. The integrity of our electoral system is at stake. The reputation of the electoral body is at stake. The future of our democracy is on the line. The way INEC conclusively handles the Osun election will determine global expectations from our political process. It should therefore ensure that the wish of the Osun State electorate eventually prevails”.
Copy of the Media Statement:-
STATEMENT ON OSUN ELECTION BY SEN. SARAKI, CHAIRMAN, PDP PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE ON OSUN GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION
In my layman’s opinion, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong in declaring the Osun Gubernatorial election as inconclusive because the votes in certain polling units were cancelled.
The decision of INEC to cancel the election in those areas after voting had taken place, means that INEC had already excluded the votes in these areas from the election process and therefore those units should have no place in the overall results.
My opinion would have been different if the election in the affected units did not take place at all, may be as a result of malfunctioning of the card readers or unavailability of the electoral materials. However, because the voting took place and was cancelled, only the courts can reverse the initial decision by INEC to cancel the votes in these areas.
That is why I call on our party and its candidate to seek further legal interpretation on this decision by the electoral body. One cannot but wonder whether if places were reversed, and the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was the one leading in the election, if INEC would have taken the same decision that it has taken now.
At this point, it is necessary to also call on INEC to display courage, boldness, independence, neutrality and patriotism so as to send signals to the world at large that the Nigerian electoral system has come of age and that our democracy has matured. The electoral body needs to re-assure all and sundry that the 2019 election and other elections will be free of manipulations and undue interference.
INEC should note that the Osun gubernatorial election is not only about that South-western state. It is about our country and the entire world is watching. Our national interest is at stake. The integrity of our electoral system is at stake. The reputation of the electoral body is at stake. The future of our democracy is on the line. The way INEC conclusively handles the Osun election will determine global expectations from our political process. It should therefore ensure that the wish of the Osun State electorate eventually prevails.
I praise the dedication and hard work of PDP supporters and the candidate of the party, Senator Ademola Adeleke. They have remained steadfast, resilient, focused and determined.
Let me also commend all the other contestants in yesterday’s election for their gallant efforts. This is because it is clear they are all working for the same objective from different perspectives and platforms to ensure that the era of mis-governance, pain, injustice and insensitivity to the plight of the common people comes to an end. It is our hope that they will all co-operate with Senator Adeleke to ensure that Osun State witnesses a development-oriented era.
Let me remind our party supporters and the good people of Osun State that this INEC decision constitutes only a delay of the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke and the PDP in the Osun Gubernatorial election — as our triumph will come either through the judiciary or further balloting.
I thank PDP supporters and the general public in Osun State and note that we got to this point after many months of hard work, determination and focus. We should not despair and not lose our focus and determination to ensure that the final results reflects the will of the Osun people.
Our party is ahead, despite the irregularities. Our people must remain resilient to see this through to the finish. Now is the time to re-strategize, reach out to all the other candidates and their supporters, build on our lead, and bring this election home.
Our supporters and the entire people of Osun State should remain calm and maintain peace as we move forward to see the successful completion of the electoral process.
Once again, I thank all supporters of the PDP and the people of Osun State who stayed up all night, both physically and on social media to monitor the numbers and protect our votes. We remain undeterred, and we all remain determined to ensure that Senator Ademola Adeleke becomes the next Governor of Osun State.