No fewer than one million nine hundred thousand voters across the 30 local government areas of Osun State are expected to file out today to elect the state governor for the next four years.
Security has already been beefed up in all parts of the state with 6am to 4pm restriction placed on movement of vehicles.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Mahmood Yakubu yesterday warned electoral officers on duty today to resist what he called unethical behaviour during the election.
Although 15 candidates are on the ballot paper, observers are projecting the election to be a straight battle between the incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola who is flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Also contesting the election are Akinade Ogunbiyi of Accord Party (AP); Peter Awojide (AAC); Olufemi Adesuyi (ZLP); Muyideen Kehinde (ADP); Oluwatayo Awoyemi (APM); Adebayo Adeolu (APP); Adesoji Adeleke (BP); Yussuf Lasun (LP); Rasaq Oyelami (NNPP); Adetona Abede (NRM); Omigbodun Oyegoke (SDP) and Ademola Bayonle (YPP).
The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) unexpectedly ordered its candidate, Ayowole Adebusuyi, to withdraw. The candidate said he would do no such thing.
Markets in the state were besieged yesterday by residents who went to buy essential items ahead of the polls.
The shopping created traffic logjams at major junctions like Oke-fia, Orita-Ayetoro and Oja-Oba areas of Osogbo, the state capital.
Heavy security presence was also conspicuous as preparations for the election heightened.
Armed military and police personnel patrolled the streets while others were deployed in strategic places.
The INEC office on Gbongan/Osogbo Road was heavily manned by security officers.
The police alone have 21,000 of their officers on ground for the exercise and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) 11,226.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of policing for the election, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, pledged yesterday that the security agencies would ensure a peaceful election.
He said cultists in particular would not be given any room to disrupt the polls.
“We’ve been able to make adequate arrangements to take care of the possible consequences of the activities of the cultists. That is effecting their arrest before the election and, of course, mopping up light weapons in circulation,” Kokumo told Channels Television.
“This is intended to create a conducive atmosphere where the gubernatorial election will take place without crisis,” he said.
No fewer than 15 such cultists, according to him, had been arrested as at yesterday.
He also said police escorts of VIPs and top politicians had complied with an order to relinquish their arms ahead of the poll while any policeman found without his name tag close to polling units would be arrested.
Similarly, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has deployed 1,500 personnel, 35 vehicles and two trucks and ambulances to clear road obstructions, carry out rescue operations in case of emergencies and maintain orderliness in polling booths.
However, personnel of the State Security Network otherwise known as Amotekun will not be part of the electoral duties after a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo yesterday granted an order that they be excused from security work on the day.
The order was sequel to a suit filed by the PDP against INEC and the security outfit seeking the exclusion of Amotekun from deployment during the election.
In granting the PDP request, Justice Ayo Emmanuel said: “The 1st defendant (INEC) is hereby restrained from requesting the deployment of the second defendant (Amotekun) as part of the security personnel deployable for the purpose of Osun 2022 governorship election pending the determination of the originating summons filed in the suit.”
Reacting to the development, the Field Commander of Amotekun, Comrade Amitolu Shittu, asked the corps members to “conduct themselves in a peaceful manner devoid of any controversy as the law has no respect for violators. “
He added: “The Area Commanders and Local Government Commanders of Amotekun in Osun State must conduct and organise the men under them very peacefully.
“You are to perform your civic right in mufti. Do not go to any polling unit with any material except your voter card. Remember to have with you all your tested and confirmed African science materials.
“All your observations and reports must be sent to #Amotekunosunsituationbase. In case any of you foresee or discover any looming crisis in your polling unit of observation, you are to relay the information to the Police officer around, the Department of State Security Service officer and other accredited professional security officers saddled with election monitoring responsibilities.”
No vehicular movement from 6am to 4pm
The Osun State Government in a statement yesterday said there would be no vehicular movement in the state between 6am and 4pm today “except those on essential electoral duties.”
Also exempted are “vehicles passing through Osun to other states.”
Secretary to the State Government, Wole Oyebamiji, asked residents not to entertain any fear about the election as adequate security is guaranteed for all law-abiding citizens.
Resist unethical behaviour, Yakubu tells INEC staffers
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu urged the commission‘s staff to resist any unethical behaviour during the election.
Yakubu, in a message, appealed to them to uphold the INEC Code of Conduct, display usual sense of commitment and professionalism.
He recalled how, last month, INEC conducted and concluded the Ekiti governorship election that was widely adjudged to be free, fair, credible and inclusive.
According to him, the feat was happily an elongation of the earlier successes recorded in Edo on September 15, 2020; Ondo State on October 10, 2020 and in Anambra on November 6, 2021.
He said: “The sheer determination, resilience and competence displayed by all of you, our members of staff, made it possible for the Commission to achieve these lofty goals.
“As you are aware, the Osun State governorship election will hold on Saturday.
“I have assured our stakeholders and the people of Osun State that the Commission will not do anything to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.
“We have made adequate arrangements for the election. We have promised a level playing field for all. The security agencies have assured us of safety,” Yakubu said.
The chairman said that the people of Osun and Nigerians would understandably hold INEC to its promise on election day.
Yakubu added that the people would also observe INEC’s attitude and behaviour from the opening to the closing of polls.
“They will particularly observe our management of the election results and measure the extent of our adherence to the extant laws through every stage of the electoral process.
“I appeal to you to uphold our Code of Conduct, display your usual sense of commitment and professionalism, remain above board and firmly resist any unethical behaviour.
“You must also stick to the Oath of Neutrality to which we have all subscribed. I have the confidence in your ability to consolidate on our recent successes,” Yakubu said.
We remain committed to APC –Aregbesola’s supporters
Supporters of Interior Affairs Minister Rauf Aregbesola vowed yesterday ahead of the election that they would “not abandon the ship of our party, in calm or stormy waters.”
The Osun Progressives (TOP), as the group is called, said through a former commissioner in the state, Sikiru Ayedun, that they “are unabashedly democrats of the progressive hue. We live its credo and our entire being is in it.
“We remain unflinching members of our party, the All Progressives Congress, and stand by its ideals, irrespective of our travails or even the outcome of tomorrow’s (today’s) election.
“We are long-distance runners and will not abandon the ship of our party, in calm or stormy waters.”
We expect credible, peaceful election, say residents
Many residents said yesterday that they were looking to the election with high expectations.
When The Nation visited the hometown of the incumbent Governor, Gboyega Oyetola — Iragbiji, the atmosphere was peaceful and calm with many residents expressing optimism for a free, fair and credible election.
Also, aged residents expressed readiness to exercise their electoral rights.
The Nation reports that election materials had been distributed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the 30 local government areas within the state.
Speaking with The Nation, a resident at Iragbiji, Alhaja Aminat, said she would cast her vote with hopes of improved governance in the state.
Another resident, Kazeem Hakeem, prayed for a peaceful and violence-free poll.
“I pray for a peaceful election because violence will make living more difficult for everyone.
“One thing is sure: we will come out on Saturday to elect our leaders. It is our civic responsibility,” he said.
PRP, candidate in verbal war over withdrawal order
The PRP said last night that it would no longer participate in the election, accusing its candidate, Ayowole Olubusuyi, of trading its party’s structure for personal monetary gains.
National Secretary of the party, Babatunde Ali, accused Mr Adedeji of soliciting funds overseas and refusing to hand over the money for political campaigns.
“The National Executive Committee has therefore considered all options and hereby directs the withdrawal of the PRP from the Osun State governorship election of 16th July, 2022,” he said.
The state chairman of the party, Abiodun Afolabi, said separately in Osogbo that “since we adopted him as the candidate of our party, he has travelled out without any clear communication with us.
“We later heard that he has been communicating with political parties to trade PRP. We set up a committee and got to know his dishonest moves.
“We informed our national secretariat and our withdrawal was announced. We are not participating in tomorrow’s (today’s) exercise.”
But a furious Olubusuyi shot back at the party’s hierarchy, saying they were blackmailing him for nothing.
He said he had been spending his own money all this while.
His words: “I funded the party after my emergence as the governorship candidate. I paid the party N1.4 million every month for five months.
“They are expecting more money from me and I am not ready to give them. That is why they are going about to blackmail me. They are tax collectors who want money all the time.
“I have filed my petition against them; I will submit after Saturday’s exercise. I am fully in the race of Osun governorship poll.”
Only transparent, peaceful election would be accepted in Osun, says Accord Party
The National Legal Adviser of Accord Party, Maxwell Mgbudem, urged stakeholders in the Osun State governorship election to imbibe a political disposition which will guarantee peaceful and credible exercise.
Mgbudem, who is also the Deputy National Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), emphasised the need for politicians, security agencies and INEC to resist all pressure and uphold free and fair contest in the election.
This, he said, was the only way the people of the state would accept the outcome of the election as a true reflection of the wishes of majority, even as he condemned the increasing menace of vote buying by politicians.
He challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), police, Civil Defence, political parties, politicians, local and international election observers to be on guard and ensure that voters are not disenfranchised.
He advised that the exercise should start as scheduled, and the outcome should be acceptable to all participants.