When Accord gathered in Ibadan to protest APC victory | Independent Newspapers Limited
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When Accord gathered in Ibadan to protest APC victory

Posted: Apr 27, 2015 at 12:07 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oladele Ogunsola  Ibadan

Barely 36 hours after the announcement of the incumbent Oyo State governor Abiola Ajimobi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner of the 2015 gubernatorial election in the State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), enraged members and supporters of Accord which presented the former governor of the state, Sen. Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja as its standard-bearer in the election

Rashidi Ladoja

Rashidi Ladoja

trooped to the state secretariat of the party at the ever busy Mokola/Sango/UI/Ojoo road to meet with their ‘own governor’ as some of them put it, Sen. Ladoja. In their hundreds, the supporters, who in their estimation felt that the election was rigged in favour of the APC and its candidates, were full of anger. They were of the belief that Ladoja was robbed in the election by the combined conspiracy of both governor Abiola Ajimobi and the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ambassador Rufus Akeju and this they were expressing with abusive songs.

Ideally, the meeting scheduled to be a parley between the former governor and journalists eventually turned out to be a rally. The crowd became so huge that Sen. Ladoja could not make it to the two-storey building and some of the journalists who had seated in the prepared conference room had to take note from their colleagues, who ironically came late and who could have blamed themselves for their inability to gain entrance into the scheduled venue of the media parley. Earlier before the arrival of Senator Ladoja, the party supporters had caused traffic snarl on the dual carriage-way and woe betide any branded APC vehicle that was unfortunate to pass through by that time as they were shouting ‘ole’ (thief) on such vehicle. It was the same experience for the state-owned mass transit, ‘Ajumose buses’, and the same bus some of them would still wait for to transport them back to their destinations. All these, they were doing to discredit the election of Ajimobi and it was well considered by the party chieftains that for as long as Ladoja stays in that arena, there will not be traffic peace on the ever busy road. Thus, the former governor was advised to address them right there in front of the party secretariat so that they would disperse. That was exactly what happened.

Indication of what to expect from Accord had emerged at the INEC office after the collation of the election results, when the party agent and the National Secretary of the party, Nureni Adisa announced his refusal to sign the result before it was officially announced, citing party directive for his action. Shortly before the official pronouncement of the incumbent governor Ajimobi of the APC as the winner of the election, the Chief Returning Officer of INEC and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Academics) Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Prof. Ayobami Salami had asked the party agents to sign the results.

Salami told the party agents that having been part of the collation that was done local government by local government, it was time for them to react by appending their signatures on the result sheets. But, the Accord agent said that he had the instruction of his party not to sign the result which he described as not being the wish of the people of the state. He maintained that the results were mere allocation of figures to the winner of the election, vowing to contest the election result at the election petition tribunal to be set up very soon. While the Chief Returning Officer did not raise objection to the assertion made by the Accord agent, he simply said it was his right as directed by his party not to sign the result which seven other political parties’ agents signed before it was finally announced. The only snag about the refusal of Accord agent to sign the final result was that there was no report that any of the party agents in any of the polling booths refused to sign the result so declared, an indication that there was no dispute or any contestation of such results.

The arrival of Ladoja calmed the situation as his soothing words to the effect that the stolen mandate would be retrieved at the Election Petitions Tribunal gave a kind of reassurance to the restive crowd.

The former governor had told the crowd that he was going to challenge the outcome of the  the governorship and state House of Assembly elections in the state at the tribunal. He added that there were sufficient proofs to show that the elections were rigged in favour of the APC with the active cooperation of some unscrupulous INEC officials.

He however warned that if the attacks on members of Accord by thugs loyal to the APC continued, he would be left with no choice than to ask his party members to defend themselves with every means necessary adding that it would be a mistake to take for granted the peaceful manner in which the members and supporters of the party had conducted themselves even in the face of brazen provocation.

He further warned that “all cases relating to the petition should be dispensed with within three months”, appealing to his supporters not to be unruly in the course of fighting for their mandate. Ladoja said, “do not let us do something illegal but anybody who provokes us will be resisted and we will fight this to the end. If the violence continues, I won’t mind leading the protest. Anybody who says he would be violent, we, too will be left with no other option than to respond appropriately. I want to thank everybody who voted for us especially our teeming supporters. I can assure you that your mandate that has been stolen will be retrieved. We will not take laws into our hands, but we are hearing that government thugs have been harassing our members especially in motor parks. We will tell them that we are not weaklings. Please, go back to your homes and work places”, he said.?

Meanwhile, miffed by the threat of violence, governor Ajimobi, who together with his supporters were celebrating the victory while the Accord members were protesting took time to react to the vituperations by the Accord leader, warning that his administration would not tolerate any form of violence from any politician who lost in the last election in the state. Ajimobi said “surprisingly, the Accord has been complaining that it would go to court, no problem, if you look at the results of the election and the conduct, it was the freest and fairest election ever held. Everybody said it, all his agents signed at the polling units. It is only at the final collation centre that they did not sign. Let him go to court, we brought peace and security to Oyo State and we will not fold our arms and allow any individual to destroy it. Senator Ladoja’s administration was replete with violence. Some people are sore losers, some are very sportsmanly.

“If he says he will resort to violence as reported, we will not tolerate it. Oyo State is a state where nobody is above the law. If he has complaints, let him go to the police to complain. But if he says he wants to lead some people to resort to violence in the state, we will deal with him. We don’t want violence in Oyo State again. Nobody is too big for the law in Oyo State. Anyone who is so desperate that even when defeated, he is crying about his intention to cause problems, he should follow due process and should obey the law of the land. He is not too big to obey the law. I guarantee you, should anybody lead any group to cause violence, the law will take its full weight to deal with them, I assure them”, he said.

Going into the details of the election, the governor affirmed that the APC won fair and square.

“If you look at the results of the election, APC had 25% in 29 local governments. Other parties did not meet the statutory requirement of 25%. Accord had only 17%. We won across six political zones out of seven. Accord and Labour won one each. Where is the spread of Accord? He did not win in Oyo, Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun I & II, and Ibadan city zones. He did not even meet the statutory requirement. Let him go to court, we are waiting”, he said.

The residents of the State as well as those outside with interest in the affairs of Oyo State will eagerly wait for the commencement of the legal fireworks which will, at the end of the day, remain in favour of Ajimobi who, in the true sense, has broken the second term jinx in the state, because, head or tail, the jinx has been broken.