- The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has maintained its winning streak in the governorship election re-run. The party's candidates for Sokoto and the oil-rich Bayelsa states - Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko and Chief Timipre Sylva - have clinched back their seats in the weekend polls.
Wamakko and Sylva were among the nine governors who had had their May 2007 elections results annulled by the Kaduna Court of Appeal. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was therefore ordered to conduct polls re-run in the states.
Last month, the ruling party won the re-run vote in Kogi and Adamawa states where the 2007 elections results had been annulled on the grounds of fraud and intimidation.
While Chief Sylva defeated Prince Ebitimi Amgbare, Alhaji Wamakko beat Alhaji Maigari. Both Amgare and Maigari stood on the tickets of the opposition Action Congress.
Like the 2007 polls, the vote re-run was not free from alleged discrepancies and mutilation of the result sheet, resulting to cancellation of results in the ruling party strongholds. In one instance, the results were cancelled after the original ballot sheets had been hijacked on the way to the poll center.
A total of 12 parties - excluding the All Nigerian Peoples Party and DPP that allied with the PDP - have contested the election re-run.
Sokoto and Bayelsa are both important for the ruling party to cling onto. While Sokoto has become notable for its heavy political influence, Bayelsa on the other hand, seats on Nigeria's oil wealth.
By losing the seats or either of them would have been too costly to the PDP.
Chief Sylva was grateful to the people of Bayelsa state for reflecting their true love to him and the party. He promised to serve the state and its people with renewed drive, and urged his opponents to support him, instead of continuously wielding their swords.
But his key contender, Amgbare, faulted the outcome of the election because "the result is not a true reflection of the will of the people of Bayelsa state." While blaming the INEC and PDP for "not allowing the wish of people to count," the defeated candidate was however delighted about the record voter turnout.
Amgbare will not rely on the courts to seek redress, but asked the people of Bayelsa to challenge the new governor on good governance.
One of the contesting parties, the DPP will not allow the results to go unchallenged at the courts. Its candidate, Dingyadi, said “it was a fraud, we cannot accept the result becasuse it was rigged with the help of security agencies. We have so many instances were ballot boxes were snatched. In my own ward, a box was snatched. And it was returned later."
He said there was "an argument between the presiding officer and the poll clerk on wether the box will be counted or not. We don’t know what they resolved. We have no alternative than to go to the court. We believe in the judiciary. We have confidence in the court."
President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, has congratulated the newly re-elected governors, urging them to reconcile all citizens in their states as a way of championing the development agenda.
“With your overwhelming victories in Sokoto and Bayelsa states, it is no longer in doubt who the leaders or the party of the people’s choice is,” Senator Mark said.
“PDP as a party worked hard for these victories and it is only a consolidation of solid foundation to move the country forward."
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