THERE are indications that tommorrow’s governorship election in the State of Osun might be marred with harassment, intimidation and inducement of voters by political parties and their agents.
OSUN DEFENDER noted that the electorate have also been nursing fear over possible violence that may greet the pole as a result of envisaged rigging and manipulation of the election results.
Investigations by the medium revealed that both the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party are desperate to win the governorship election and were ready to ‘give what it takes’ to be declared winner.
Also, the two dominant parties would engaged in vote buying and inducement of voters on the election day, according to findings.
The two parties, it was learnt, have earmarked between N10,000 and 15,000 per voter, and the amount may increase to N20,000 in the stronghold of opponents.
It was gathered that the funds to prosecute the vote buying by both APC and PDP have already been deployed and would be disbursed to voters by the parties’ agents around 12pm on the election day.
Findings also revealed that the two parties have gotten the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) of some of the electorate to be paid on election day.
Impeccable sources in the Government House told OSUN DEFENDER yesterday that some government and party officials in each ward and local government of the state will be paying money to the voters who show evidence that he/she voted for Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.
The sources said: “There is no denying the fact that both APC and PDP will buy votes on Saturday. That cannot be prevented; it happened in Ekiti, it will also happen here. I can tell you for a fact that each voter will not get less than N10,000. The money is already with the people that will disburse it.
“However, before you can be paid, you will have to show the people in charge that you truly voted for Governor Oyetola. PDP cannot win this election. We are ready to match them in cash.”
For the PDP, OSUN DEFENDER learnt that the party had about a week ago disbursed the funds needed to prosecute the vote buying.
The party, according to sources, has two agents in each of the polling units to induce the voters and buy votes.
“PDP is prepared for this election. We know APC wants to rig and buy votes like they did in Ekiti State. We will also buy votes.”
An election observer, Yiaga Africa, had last week said the rate of voter inducement across the state was increasing.
The group said: “Indicating that money may be a defining factor in the election on Saturday, July 16th, 2022. Yiaga Africa is therefore concerned that this practice of vote merchandising if not curbed will consistently delegitimize political mandate and undermine the electoral process.”
Possible Violence: Political Thugs, Cultists On The Prowl In Osun
Aside vote buying, another worry of residents of the state is violence that might greet the election.
The worry was borne out of the utterances and desperations of some political actors in both the APC and PDP, a development that has been raising concern on the peaceful conduct of the election.
OSUN DEFENDER noted the strange influx of unknown people, who are suspected to be political thugs and cultists in Osogbo, capital of the state.
The influx, according to findings, began on Sunday, the second day of the Muslim’s eid el adha.
Aside Osogbo, the medium was reliably informed that some politicians in Ede, Ilesa, Ife and Iree have enlisted the service of some cultists for the election.
The medium is aware of heavy presence of political thugs and hoodlums in each of the political campaigns trains of the PDP and APC across the state.
According to reports, the hoodlums and cultists were engaged by the politicians for the purpose of intimidating voters in the stronghold of opponents.
The strategy, it was learnt, was to be shooting sporadically on the eve of the election in the targeted areas to scare people away from coming out to vote.
It would be recalled that the PDP had on Monday raised the alarm over alleged influx of armed men and women into the state.
According to the PDP, the sole goal of the thugs is to disrupt peaceful conduct of tommorrow’s gubernatorial election.
The PDP in a statement signed by its Caretaker Committee Chairman, Dr. Akindele Adekunle, said: “We are in possession of reliable reports of political thugs mobilised by the All Progressive Congress (APC) now arriving various parts of Osun state.
“In a countdown to the election day on Saturday, Osun state is witnessing influx of armed men and women whose sole goal is to violently disrupt the peaceful conduct of the election.
“It is already in public domain that thugs imported from Lagos are already lodged at various hotels in Osun state very close to the seat of government at Abere.
“We have reports that such daredevil hands have been deployed to various zones including Iwo zone where a PDP party agent was shot at and Osogbo axis where the residence of the governorship candidate of Labour Party was attacked.
“The increasing number of attacks and the unchecked activities of thugs across the state pose serious danger to the peaceful conduct of Saturday’s election.
“We particularly charge the newly deployed Police Commissioner and the Deputy Inspector General of Police posted to Osun state to take judicious note and urgently act to arrest the situation.
“The security agencies should not wait until citizens resort to self help before the menace of party thugs is nipped in the bud.”
Reacting, the Spokesperson of the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s Campaign Council, Sunday Akere, described the allegation as laughable and a sign of a party that anticipates failure.
Akere stated that APC is not known for violence, rather it is renowned for organising proper election and wooing residents to come out en-masse to votes for its candidate and does not engage in frivolities like engaging in thuggery.
He said: “We are focused on the goal, which is winning Saturday’s poll by mobilising residents to throng voting units and cast their votes consciously for Governor Oyetola. We can’t engage the PDP in a mud fight.”
NGOs Express Worry
Yiaga Africa and a research based non-governmental organisation, Positive Agenda Nigeria (PAN) have differently identified activities of political thugs and cultists as threat to the peaceful conduct of the election.
According to Yiaga Africa in its pre-election observation statement made available to OSUN DEFENDER yesterday, “the recent escalation in the activities of political thugs and cultists in Osun State remains a potential threat to the peaceful conduct of the election.
“Activities of thugs and cultist groups range from disruption of PVC Collection in LGAs and violent clashes which have threatened the peace in the locations affected. While Yiaga Africa commends the recent arrest of some political thugs by the police, there is an urgent need for more intelligence to be deployed in addressing these rising threats to ensure more arrests and prosecution of culprits.
“The critical job of effectively securing citizens, electoral materials and stakeholders without any bias should remain a priority for the security agencies ahead of the July 16 Governorship election.”
Also, the Positive Agenda Nigeria, in its ‘analysis of direct statements of political actors’ on the governorship election said it identified ‘rigging through collusion with the electoral umpire, political thugs and security agencies as dominant threats to the election.
The research lead of the group, Dr. Rasheed Adebiyi, said: “From June 30 to July 6, we analysed direct statements of political actors in Osun State ahead of the July 16 election with a view to identifying some threats to the credibility of the election (as communicated by the political actors).
“At the end of our analysis, we found out that newspapers and Twitter were largely used to express those threats, though Facebook was equally used to communicate the perceived threats.
“From the graphical evidence, rigging through collusion with the electoral umpire, political thugs and security agencies were the dominant threats that rented the political space during the week. Vote buying was also a thematic point raised by political parties.
“At Positive Agenda Nigeria (PAN), we strongly advise political actors in the state to place national peace and objective over their personal political goals and interests.
“Also, security agencies, corrupt practices and financial crimes control and management commissions should consider preparing strategic intelligence from research-based results like this towards addressing vote buying and selling effectively before and during the poll.
“Finally, we admonish voters not to sell the future of their children for meagre financial and material inducements; they should cast their votes for the candidate they believe will bring true and people-oriented development to the state.
Heavy presence of Security
There has been influx of security personnel into the State of Osun.
OSUN DEFENDER noted that officers of the Nigerian army, Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps have been heavily deployed to the state ahead of the election.
The medium noted the movement of soldiers conveyed in about 40 trucks into the state via Gbongan/Osogbo and Iwo/Osogbo roads on Sunday.
The soldiers went to the army barrack in Ede, it was learnt.
Also, large number of soldiers, mobile and regular policemen were sighted in Ilesa, Ife, Iwo and Ede Osogbo on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Usman Alkali Baba, has disclosed that a total of 21,000 police officers have been deployed to maintain law and order for tomorrow’s governorship election.
Alkali Baba made this known at INEC stakeholders’ meeting in Osogbo, on Tuesday.
The police boss said: “We are deploying these officers to ensure that there’s no breakdown of law and order before, during and after the election.
“My men are not here to either intimidate or cause tension within the state. They are here to provide necessary security support.”
He warned political parties and electorates in the state to shun violence and any act capable of jeopardizing the peaceful conduct of the election, saying any act of disturbances during the election shall be vehemently rejected by security personnel.