Anxiety gripped Kogi State political leaders, last night, as early results from the governorship election, held in the state, projected Governor Idris Wada to be running neck and neck with his closest challenger, Prince Abubakar Audu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Wada’s optimism was not helped by the defeat of his campaign manager, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, in his polling booth. Ogbeha, who hailed the professionalism of the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who conducted the poll, saw the PDP losing his booth to the APC.The first results for the two parties in the election were too close to call in most areas of Kogi West and Kogi East.
Among the early results to have emerged was the one for Ekinrin Adde Ward in Ijumu local government area where the APC governorship running mate, James Faleke, hails from, and the party won by1791 to the 307 votes scored by PDP.
The PDP running mate and incumbent deputy governor, Arc. Yomi Awoniyi, also delivered for his party, winning his Ileteju Ward 02 in Mopa, Mopamura LGA. The result for the ward was PDP, 98 votes and APC, 72.
Other results confirmed were: Ankpa Ojoku Ward Bangele Unit 1:PDP 346, APC 40; Kabba/Bunu St Barnabas Unit, Odolu Ward: APC 206, PDP 95; Ijumu Ayere Unit 03: APC 101, PDP 58; AyegunleGdede/ Iluhafon Ward: APC 167, PDP 41, Oja Otun Iyara: APC 146, PDP 36; Demonstration Kabba Okekoko Ward: APC 171, PDP 70; Akefe Unit: PDP 138, APC 117.
The election was overshadowed by heavy presence of security men who put up a show of force in most areas of Kogi as the election passed off uneventfully in most areas of the state. An exception was in Ayingba, in Dekina local government area of the state where armed thugs, early in the morning, seized sensitive election materials leading to the cancelation of the election in the polling units affected.
Besides, there were reports of the malfunction of card readers with Wada being the most prominent victim.
When the governor arrived at his Odu 001 Polling Unit in Ogboyaga, Dekina Local government area, he immediately went for accreditation, but his finger print was rejected by the card reader forcing the polling officers to register him with the Incident Form.
Speaking thereafter, he said: “It is unfortunate that despite all the assurance given by INEC, this kind of development could still occur. Though I’m not going to make quick judgment, I will relay my view to the appropriate authority”.
The governor’s predicament was, however, better than his wife’s, whose name was not found on the voter’s register and had to be excused from voting.
The APC candidate, Audu, had an uneventful experience at his voting unit at Ogbonicha Secondary School. When he arrived for voting at the school field at about 1.45 pm, he said he was impressed with the process but expressed concern at the development in Anyigba where thugs, earlier in the day, snatched election materials meant for some polling units in the area.
Both the PDP and the APC pointed accusing fingers at each other over the Ayingba incident.
After casting his vote at Ileteju Ward 002, in Mopa. Awoniyi told Sunday Vanguard that he was confident his party, the PDP, would win if external forces did not influence the outcome of the election.
The deputy governor, however, expressed the fear over incursion of foreign forces as he claimed that he had learnt of at least 10 buses conveying people into the state.
“We (PDP) can only win this election if it is free and fair, but I doubt that, judging by the body language of the opposition. But going by our projection, PDP will win with 55 percent of the votes,” he said.
The candidate of the Labour Party, Dr. Philip Salau, who is also the immediate past deputy governor of the state, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election, noting that the only incident reaching him was the epileptic functioning of the card readers.
“Before now, we had reliable information that a political party would jam the card readers to justify the use of manual accreditation so that they can thumb print the ballot papers. We petitioned INEC on this and it seems our prediction is right,” he said.
Speaking to reporters, the APC running mate, Faleke, also expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election even as he said the people of Kogi were conscious of the fact that their deliverance rested on the APC winning the election. Enesi Ozigi, the governorship candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, on his part, told Sunday Vanguard that monetization of the election greatly corrupted the political process, lamenting that it showed that the state may not have prepared itself for transformation.
The state chairman of PPA, Ojonuba Simeon, alleged intimidation by agents of one of the two major parties as he called on security agents to stop them.
“We wish to call the attention of security agents to an orchestrated attack on our party agents by thugs in Kabba. They allegedly chased them away from the polling units, saying PPA is no more in the race,”Simeon told Sunday Vanguard..
INEC, meanwhile, has decried the publication of the results of the election on social media by some people, saying many of the results published were incorrect.
The electoral body said it is the only constitutionally-mandated body to declare or announce election results, dissociating itself from the authors.
In a tweet, the commission described the results as grossly inaccurate and should be disregarded. “INEC wishes to state that results of Kogi governorship election posted on social media are inaccurate and should be disregarded”, it tweeted.
According to INEC, official results of the poll will be announced and the winner by its returning officer. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, has explained why it deployed hundreds of officers and men of its armed squad for the election, saying intelligence reports had indicated that there could be attacks on some critical public assets in the state.
The NSCDC Acting Deputy Commandant General in charge of Operations, Dr Nnamdi Nwinyi, who was leading the operations in the state, disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent.
Nwinyi said apart from the initial deployment of 5, 000 personnel, 1,200 men from its specialized units were deployed following the intelligence reports.
“We decided to deploy officers and men from our armed squad because we identified many soft targets like the Geregu Power Plant, the steel infrastructure and many others. Our personnel were deployed in and around those assets to stop any untoward action from unscrupulous elements”, he added.