How election was won, lost


By Mumini AbdulKareem

The last presidential and senatorial elections may have come and gone in Kwara State, but the ripples from the exercise regarding the outcome in the state will continue to dominate political space for a very long time.

Aside the presidential contest between incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, one match up that attracted the most attention is the Kwara Central senatorial district race between Dr Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe and the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

 At the end of the exercise, it was the APC candidate, Dr Oloriegbe that was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But how was the election won and lost in the first place?

There were many reasons that have been proffered on why results of the poll went against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Dr Saraki.

The reasons the election was won and lost include but not limited to the following:

Intimidation and Harassment

The ruling APC in the days leading to the election reportedly engaged in brazen arrest of key members of the opposition party. The PDP first raised the alarm of the plot in a press statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Abraham Ashaolu, listing names of the party’s stalwarts reportedly marked for arrest by the security agencies.

On the eve of the poll, a senatorial candidate of the PDP, Sen Rafiu Ibrahim was arrested over allegation that he was behind the attack on his opponent, Arch Lola Ashiru of the APC in the senatorial race for Kwara South. The police curiously refused to invite Ashiru for questioning but kept Sen Ibrahim out of circulation thereby denying him any opportunity to canvass support for his candidacy. Meanwhile, there was allegation by the party that Ashiru was allowed to campaign even after the time for such activity lapsed.

Also, on the eve of the election, the residence of a PDP grassroots mobiliser, Alhaji AbdulRazaq Soliu (Abosioyoyan) was searched and one of his sons whisked away. He is yet to be released, at the time of filling this report, last night. In the same vein, for the fear of being arrested, several PDP stalwarts in the state were said to have deserted their homes, a development which hampered their ability to gather support for the party ahead of the polls.

There is also the allegation that some of the PDP leaders in the state had their mobile phones tapped by security agencies to monitor their conversation.

On the day of election, some members of the party like the Chairperson, Ilorin South local government, Hajia Funmi Salau raised the alarm over the activities of fake DSS officials who were reportedly moving around in FG’s official number plate. According to her, they tried to intimidate her telling her to “maintain” because of popularity among the people of her polling unit. However, when the Director of the State Security Service was contacted she denied knowing them.

Similarly, former APC guber aspirant, Soliu Mustapha was said to have led some security officials to Gambari ward I, in Ilorin South to intimidate, harass and chase away PDP members and supporters in a bid to stop them from voting and monitoring the process.

Saraki’s DG responsibilities 

For the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, his responsibility as the Director General  of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation took its toll on his ability to take charge of campaign activities back home. Unlike previous elections when Saraki stayed back at home to strategise on campaign, the former governor of the state this time consistently shuttled between the state and campaign venues of the PDP Presidential candidate. Those he left to take charge of coordination through no fault of theirs couldn’t maintain and sustain the momentum that Saraki has built overtime. Unfortunate the large crowd that stormed his rallies few days to the election were not there to vote for the PDP at the end of the day.

Federal Might

After Dr Bukola Saraki defected to the PDP, the cabal in the federal government in collaboration with their cohorts in the presidency deployed the instrument of government within their disposal to intimidate members of the PDP under the guise of providing adequate security during polls. It was a similar approach that was deployed ahead of last November’s by-election in the state.

EFCC raid

While the voting process lasted, EFCC and army official turned blind eye on the ballot snuffing going on in the polling units by some APC boys. One of the aides of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Segun Karonunwi lamented the action of the anti-graft agency and security operatives. According to him, “I protested and one of the APC boys snuffing the ballot boxes was taken away but later released. But I kept protesting and complaining. However, some EFCC personnel started manhandling me and people were shouting and begging me to leave. The owner of African Pot eatry and Royals fast food were all there. There were repeatedly shouting “Segun leave there, leave there, they will kill you”, they will kill you. Yet the APC boys continued what they were doing. They are aware I have never lost in my polling unit for years and they did everything to ensure that we did not win this time.

APC members as party agents

In some polling units, members of the APC, their relations and cronies were reportedly recruited as INEC ad hoc staff thereby working in the interest of the party.


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