Last Saturday, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State once again proved it’s dominance in a political conquest when it’s candidate for Etsako Federal Constituency, defeated the main opposition candidate of the PDP, Comrade Jude Imagwe. PATRICK OCHOGA writes.
Supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in three Etsako local government areas that made up Etsako federal constituency rolled out the drums in jubilation immediately the results of the bye-election conducted to fill the vacant Etsako federal constituency seat was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The APC candidate, Hon Johnson Oghuma who emerged the winner polled 39,876 to defeat the candidate of the PDP, Comrade Jude Imagwe who scored 18, 193 votes.
However, it was an opportunity for the two main political rivals, the APC and the PDP to flex muscle for political supermacy. The seat was declared vacant by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the election of Hon Phillip Shaibu as the deputy governor of Edo state in the September 28th governorship election.
The election which was adjudged to be peaceful, free and fair however recorded low turnout of voters largely due to the inadequacy of time by the parties to embark on massive mobilization and sensitization of eligible voters.
Despite the short notice by the umpire, INEC, former Governor Adams Oshiomhiole, Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu and Alhaji Usman Shagadi led the onslaught in Etsako West local government area against the PDP.
While in Etsako Central local government area, the home base of the APC candidate, Hon Johnson Oghuma, combined forces with Mr John Akhigbe to stop former Chief of Staff to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Oghiadohme, Hon Pascal Ugbome and PDP state chairman Dan Orbih. However, Orbih was able to deliver his ward and unit in Ogbonna his home town.
In Etsako East local government area, with its administrative headquaters in Agenebode, is where the PDP candidate Jude Imagwe and the party’s national stalwart, and media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, both hails from.
Dokpesi who was expected to lead PDP foot soldiers against APC incursion he was said to be away on the day of the election, an indication that may have given credence to the fact that the election is a straight win for the APC.
Senator Francis Alimekhena, who hail from the same local government area with Dokpesi who was obviously confident that his party would take the day was said to be sleeping at about 11am at his Igiode Country home when news crew arrived his resident.
Meanwhile, few hours to the election, there was confusion following reports of alleged ‘black market’ court injunction which spread like wild fire till the morning of the election amongst members of the ruling APC that the party’s candidate, Mr. Johnson Oghuma had been substituted with another ‘non identified’ candidate.
The ugly development which was dismissed by the party leaders in the area as lies also caused voters apathy during the exercise even as some residents, especially, shunned the process.
Some of the APC and PDP leaders and voters who spoke with newsmen described the exercise as peaceful and an improvement over previous elections even as they commended INEC officials and security operatives for their efforts at making the process more successful.
At Ward 2, units one to six, Obe Primary School, Fugar in Etsako CentrL council are the APC candidate Mr. Johnson Oghuma voted at about 8:15 am while the PDP candidate, Mr. Jude Imagwe cast his vote at about 10:57am at Ward one, unit 9 plocated at Osime Primary School, Agenebode in Etsako East council area of the state respectively.
Speaking on the exercise, the PDP candidate, Jude Imagwe, had described process as peaceful and an exercise of civic responsibility but decried low turnout of voters which he attributed to lack of proper awareness and sensitization by the INEC.
The State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu who voted at Azama primary school said he was impressed by the turnout of voters and that the process was peaceful due to effective security measures adopted by all the security agencies.
He commended the state commissioner of police, Mr. Hariru Gwandu and heads of other security outfits for going round the area to monitor the outcome of the exercise,
While speaking on the purported court injunction, Shaibu said INEC as we know respect civil order so if there is anything like injunction there would have been no election.
On his part , former member of the House of Representatives for Etsako constituency Mr. Abbass Braimah noted that the turnout was low because it was a bye election but thanked INEC officials for coming out early to carry out the exercise even as he commended security agencies for the peaceful conduct.
The Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Shola Omotola who announced the result at about 12:45 am on Sunday morning declared the APC candidate winner having scored the highest number of votes at the election.
“I Prof. Shola Omotola hereby certify i was the returning officer for Etsako West Constituency by-election. And that the election was contested and that Mr Johnson Oghuma the APC having certified the requirement is hereby declare winner of the election,” he said.
Omotola said that total valid votes were 58,427, rejected votes 874 while total votes cast was 59,301.
The winner, Oghuma in a remark assured the people of the constituency effective and robust representation noting that Etsako people will enjoy more dividend of democracy.
“I want to assure Etsako people that I will not fail them. I will represent them well and their voice will be heard and i will not disappoint them,” he said.
No sooner had the APC candidate was declared the winner of the by-election, PDP State chairman, Dan Orbih, in a statement expressed displeasure over the outcome of the poll, describing the result announced by the electoral umpire as one that was “pre-determined”.
“The outcome of that election was already pre-determined, going by deliberate decisions never to conduct a free and fair election under the present regime. Card readers were not functioning. So, we are not surprised.”
Orbih, however, noted that party would meet to decide its next line of action.
“The decision to challenge or not is a party decision and the party has not met over the outcome,” he added.
While the PDP candidate Comrade Jude Imagwe, when contacted to react on the result as released by INEC said his party will make it position known.
He however said if the results as declared are reflection of what transpired across the constituency he would move on with his life adding that what matters more to him is to see a more united Etsako just as he thanked his party for finding him worthy to fly the party’s flag.
In a statement released and copied LEADERSHIP, the former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan thanked the leadership of his party for the opportunity to fly the partys flag.
“I was seeking for an opportunity to improve in areas where I have noticed complains but God knows best. I am your Son, Brother and friend this can never change. I trust, you will hold me to that undoubtedly. I must appreciate my dear people of Etsako Federal Constituency ( Etsako West, Central and East) you were very fantastic. May God bless us all and bring us together, more united in peace and love.