By Francis Ezediuno
As the 2018 Osun Gubernatorial Election draws nearer, political parties have been maneuvering to appeal to electorates with a view to harnessing maximum votes possible to land them in government house by November.
Addressing stakeholders recently in Osogbo, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Olusegun Agbaje stated that out of the total number of voters pegged at 1,676,384, only 1,127,866 have collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from the 1,668, 524 received in the state so far.
According to him, a total balance of 540, 658 PVCs representing 32.40% of the total registered voters are yet to be collected.
Meanwhile, the 48 political parties contending the governorship position of the state now have to struggle for 1,127,866 eligible voters, with additional voters who might have collected their PVCs before the poll in a bid to form the next government, although only five have the bragging capacity to succeed the incumbent government.
Agbaje stated that the commission hoped before the election date, more of the PVCs would be collected, thereby increasing the percentage of eligible voters.
He however enjoined residents to ensure that they visit INEC offices across the local government to collect their PVCs before election date of Saturday, 22nd September, 2018.
Meanwhile, INEC has stated that for the forth coming Osun election, it would not tolerate any form of electoral violence and offence , saying various penalties have been scheduled for people caught perpetrating electoral fraud.
These penalties range from a fine of N2,000,000 and a jail term of two years and N100,000 and a 6 months jail term.
However, political parties cannot be said to have relaxed in the whole process as they all have machineries in place to educate and carry the voting public along especially when it comes to getting maximum votes on election day.
Feelers from the camp of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate revealed that the party had after its direct primary election commenced sensitisation of its members and the general public on the need to collect their PVCs if they have not and ensure massive turn out during the poll.
At the meeting various party meetings coordinators were charged to start mobilising and canvassing for votes so that the party will be victorious.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Kowa, Accord Party, Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC) have all taken steps to educate voters on the need to not only come out and vote but to collect their PVCs and vote rightly as every vote count on election day.
According to the Director of Media and Publicity of the ADP, Mr Kayode Agbaje, the party and its supporter are daily mobilising eligible voters to ensure that they pick their PVCs at the INEC offices in local governments and to also ensure that they encourage their relatives and neighbours to do the same.
He added that the party is ready for the election and is not resting on its oars in sensitizing and mobilising the general populace to discharge their civic responsibility before, during and after the governorship election.
Also, Dr. Bayo Faforiji, the factional chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) hinted last week that his party (SDP) has set machinery in motion to educate the voters in the state on the need to come out en masse on election day for their civic duties.
He also revealed that his party’s gubernatorial candidate, Iyiola Omisore has started sensitization, going from settlement to settlement all in a bid to educate voters and ensure he has their support during the polls.
He also stated that the party want a free and fair election devoid of rigging and violence.
The Deputy Governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress [ADC], retired Justice Oloyede Folahanmi revealed that her party in a bid to educate the electorates has also sought the use of media to encourage people to go for their PVCs.
The retired judge noted that just like INEC has reiterated, whoever does not present PVC would be automatically disallowed from voting.
Although, the PDP has been battling with one problem or the other after Dr Ademola Adeleke emerged as its flagbearer for the election, the party too has been forthcoming in its effort to educate the people in order to get their votes.
According to a ward leader in Oshogbo, Olalekan Alabi, a travel around the state would prove that the party had been up to the task.
“You can attest to the fact that we have sought the use of the media especially the radio to reach out to the people. We chose radio because it is universally acceptable and easy to acquire. We know that there is nobody who has not got a phone in Osun which is not tuned on to one private station or the other. We realized that fact and we are using it very well” he added.