Ahead of the March 23 supplementary governorship election in five states, pressure has continued to mount on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Governor Aminu Tambuwal winner of the March 9 poll in Sokoto State.
There were indications at the weekend that the tension in the seat of the Caliphate may get worse if Governor Tambuwal who was enjoying a clear lead in the poll is denied victory. A top politician from Sokoto, who spoke on condition of anonymity with New Telegraph, stated that tension is building in the state over fears of alleged plans to undemocratically stop Tambuwal for another term in office. Our source alleged that even though the governor appears to be the popular choice of his people as shown in the collated result of the governorship poll, the power brokers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were bent on taking the state, which they consider strategic to the party’s future political plans.
The source said: “The powers that be should declare Tambuwal as the authentic winner of the March 9 governorship election in Sokoto State. The collated result showed that he won the election by simple majority, which is what the constitution provides. They should not set the seat of the Caliphate on fire.
“Remember that even President Muhammadu Buhari won his election by the same simple majority. He was declared winner even when elections were yet to be conducted in areas where the exercise could not hold because of one reason or the other. “A common man on the street of Sokoto knows that Tambuwal won the election.
There were so many hurdles APC, which controls the centre, put before him ahead of the election, but he surmounted them all. So, what they could not get democratically, they want by all means through the back door in collaboration with INEC.” It was learnt that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suspect a repeat of what happened in the Osun governorship election last year where PDP lost to APC under controversial circumstances.
The PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, was leading until INEC conducted a supplementary election, which gave Gboyega Oyetola of APC victory. A video recording between INEC Admin Secretary in Sokoto and a collation officer, which trended at the weekend, further escalated fears of interference by APC and INEC in the coming supplementary election. The video which was in Hausa, but translated to English showed an exchange between the INEC Admin Secretary in Sokoto and the collation officer.
The exchange between them ran thus: Admin Sec to Collation officer: This is the number of votes scored by one candidate, this is the total secured by the other candidate and this is the difference in votes between them. Collation officer: Yes Admin officer: You must refer to the total number of registered voters in the cancellation areas and compare that with the margin of votes between the leading candidate and the one next to him, do you understand? Collation officer: Yes I do Admin officer:
Then you will just announce the votes secured by every candidate but you should not declare the winner, do you understand? Collation officer: Yes Admin officer: You will say the election is inconclusive and you are leaving it to INEC to decide, do you get it? Collation officer: Yes, I do Admin officer: You will not declare a winner, do you understand Collation officer: Yes INEC had declared the March 9 governorship election in Sokoto inconclusive and claimed that the decision was because 75,403 votes were cancelled, which were higher than 3,413 margin difference between the PDP candidate and his rival in APC. The returning officer, Fatima Mukhtar, said the margin of win was lower than the number of rejected votes, hence, the election was declared inconclusive. In the results declared by INEC, Tambuwal was leading his closest rival, Ahmed Aliyu of APC, with a margin of 3,413 votes. Speaking on the development at a press conference, the governor had observed there was no cause for the election to be declared inconclusive. A former member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has advised Governor Aminu Tambuwal to seek legal redress in order to clarify the position of the law on the issue. Mohammed said that given the nature of our electoral system, the concept of inconclusive election ought not to have arisen as the system spelt out how an election can be won and lost.
“My understanding of the kind of system we operate is after an election, when it comes to counting, you count the number of valid votes cast. Normally you announce the winner on the basis of who has the majority votes. The system we practice is called first past the post. “Now, once you do that, anybody who emerges, no matter how slim the margin might be, is the winner. So, if for whatever reasons the current INEC changes the system whereby we have to follow a cumbersome procedure, then we should reject it. “I believe that most of those in INEC who are involved in the conduct of the elections are neither lawyer not judges. I think that one of the National Commissioners, Festus Okoye, is a lawyer and whichever advice they give, we are entitled to a second opinion. In fact, you are entitled to as many opinions as possible. “So, it is unfortunate we are in this kind of situation. I think that Nigerians were not at alert when this inconclusive election thing started in Osun State last year. Somebody should have taken the matter to court and insisted that the court made a pronouncement on the legality of the decision of INEC to declare an election inconclusive. “If we had done that at that time, it would have ensured that nobody suffers this kind of thing again in this country. But as it is now, we have to go the INEC way unless of course, somebody is alert enough to go to court to seek an interpretation of the situation.
“However, my advice is for him to go to court no matter what the outcome would be. It doesn’t matter if the supplementary election still holds but for the sake of the country, he should go to court to ensure that this matter is resolved and we will have more credible elections in the uture,” he said. On its part, PDP called on INEC to declare Governor Tambuwal winner of the election.
The opposition party, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, accused the electoral commission of applying two set of rules on the same issue. “We won all the elections. But INEC has two set of rules: where APC win, INEC will declare the party winner; where PDP win, INEC will declare it inconclusive. “The constitution says where there are more than two candidates, INEC should declare the candidate with simple majority winner. “The PDP candidate scored the highest number of votes and should be declared winner of the election. “INEC can still salvage what remains of the remnant of its credibility by declaring PDP winner of Sokoto governorship election,” Ologbondiyan said.