By Akanimo Sampson
Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori (1999-2007) has hailed the peoples of the big oil and gas state for their continued electoral loyalty to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Despite the worrisome intimidation by security agencies working for the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari’s party, the people of the state refused to be cowed.
In a statement by Ibori’s media assistant, Tony Eluemunor, the ex-governor said that the peoples of the state spoke with one voice last Saturday and overwhelmingly supported the re-election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to continue his good work in the service of the state.
According to him, ‘’this victory belongs to the whole people of Delta state, not to the Peoples Democratic Party members alone because the entire state acted as one to enable Governor Okowa win his electoral victory convincingly in all parts of the state. I cherish this unity of purpose that has stood Delta state apart as the people have been marching forward politically as one since 1999.’’
This strong advocate of resource control and ownership was speaking when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the fixing of March 23 for supplementary elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto where Saturday’s governorship poll was declared inconclusive.
The electoral agency made this public in a statement signed by her National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on Tuesday in Abuja, the country’s capital.
Okoye said that the decision was taken by the commission in a meeting on Tuesday where it reviewed the conduct of the Governorship and State Constituencies elections, pointing out that the elections held in 29 states for governorship and in 991 constituencies for House of Assembly.
According to him, ‘’in all, the commission declared winners in the Governorship elections in 22 states. However, the Returning Officers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto declared the Governorship elections inconclusive.
‘’Consequently, the commission will conduct supplementary elections on Saturday, March 23, to conclude the process. Supplementary elections will also hold in polling units in all states where State Assembly elections were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared.’’
Okoye said details of the constituencies, including number of polling units and registered voters, will be published on INEC’s website this Wednesday, explaining that the elections were declared inconclusive for a combination of reasons.
While these, according to him, included mainly the discontinuation of use of the Smart Card Readers midway into the elections or the failure to deploy them, over-voting and widespread disruption in many polling units, Okoye added that conduct of the supplementary elections was in line with ‘’Margin of Lead Principle’’ in Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and paragraph 41(e) and 43(b) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines.
Continuing, he said the outcome of these elections cannot be determined without conducting polls in the affected polling units, hence the commission’s decision to conduct supplementary elections in line with this principle.
He also disclosed that INEC had considered a report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bauchi State on the disruption of the collation at Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area collation centre.
While explaining that situation led to the cancellation of results for the entire local government, he added that INEC found out that there were issues that needed further investigation and had set up a team led by a National Commissioner to resolve them.
In the mean time, Ibori said the peoples of Delta have since 1999 chosen peace and unity of purpose instead of strife and discord, disharmony and rancor: ‘’This wise choice has saved the state from the conflict and internal contention that has wracked many states in Nigeria.
I am absolutely sure that Okowa will continue his good work and remain committed to the whole state as his constituency because his victory was made possible, not by his Anioma people alone, but by all Deltans from the lush and fertile upland areas to the creeks and mangrove swamps of the oil-bearing zones.
‘’Now that the elections are over, Delta state needs to move in it’s normal developmental pace, which is double quick march on all wholesome fronts, be it agriculture, industries, education, road construction, ICT or sports.
So I appeal to all Deltans to join hands with Governor Okowa and the state PDP chapter to advance Delta State, Nigeria’s veritable Big Heart.’’