PEOPLE POWER SWEEPS EDO; OSHIOMHOLE SAYS NO WINNER, NO LOSER
The 'blowout' victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in Saturday's governorship election reverberated throughout Edo State yesterday as thousands of broom-waving people of all walks of life defied a heavy downpour and took to the streets in symbolic street-sweeping processions, celebrating the triumph of the Action Congress of Nigeria over the hitherto entrenched Peoples Democratic Party.
Even before the official announcement declaring Oshiomhole's victory as early as 7.05am yesterday by the state returning officer, UNIBEN vice chancellor Professor Osayuki Oshodin, a jubilant mood had enveloped all towns and villages across the state following the steady release of results at wards and local government areas. Everthing was pointing towards Oshiomhole's clear-cut victory over his PDP rival, Charles Airhiavbere, and the resounding defeat of several PDP bigwigs especially the acclaimed godfather of Edo politics, Chief Tony Anenih, in their wards.
The election results were interpreted as the 'forced retirement' of the PDP from Edo State power politics and the popular proclamation of the dawn of true democracy.
Oshiomhole was declared winner of the election with a total vote of 477,478, leaving his closest rival, the PDP candidate, Gen Charles Airhiavbere, trailing far behind with 144,235 votes.
Other parties that participated in the election pulled as follows: ANPP - 3,640; CPC - 2,793; LP - 604; NCP – 540 and SDMP – 807 votes.
Oshiomhole won all the 18 local government areas of the state, some with a wide margin.
Several people interviewed by LEADERSHIP reporters declared that the victory of ACN and its candidate, Oshiomhole, is victory for the people of Edo State over godfatherism, which they described as the bane of democracy in Nigeria.
While PDP state agent Mr. Martin Osakwe refused to comment on the election result, other party agents expressed happiness with the result, saying anything to the contrary would have brought calamity to the state.
State vice chairman, CPC, Comrade Ikonomwan Francis, said: ' INEC has through this election, shown that they can truly be independent if they are given free hand to do their work. Edo people have once again been liberated, and this is something to rejoice about.'
The Labour Party representative, Comrade Samuel Omede, while commending the INEC for a smooth and free election, said that this has shown that the people are now wiser and not ready to accept less. He stated that Oshiomhole's victory was made possible by his performance and that, from now on, politicians must be mindful of their performance when in office as it is the yardstick for their re-election.
For the campaign coordinator of Adams Oshiomhole Campaign, Pastor Osagiue Ozeiyanmu, 'This election is actually a test case, and should be adopted by other states as a blueprint of what a free and fair election should be. Our candidate did his home work well and deserved to be returned.' Wild jubilation continued in many parts of Benin City yesterday evening as people trooped out waving brooms, ACN's symbol.
At Ring Road Junction, a large crowd of jubilant youths were seen with their brooms jogging under the rain towards one direction. Others rode on motorbikes waving their brooms in the sky.
No winner, no loser in this poll
Re-elected Governor Oshiomhole said yesterday that there was no winner or loser in the election, hours after he was announced winner.
Addressing journalists at the Festival Hall in Benin, Oshiomhole described his re-election as a response of the will and wishes of Edo people and extended an olive branch to PDP candidate, Major Airhiavhere, former Board of Trustees (BOT) chairman of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, and other candidates who contested the election.
He said: 'I want to use this opportunity to extend a hand of fellowship to all the candidates because I believe that each and every one of us who participated in the election did show that we are all committed to the development of Edo State. Once you have more than one candidate you know that there won't be a winner or a loser.
'But, really, in a democracy no one has lost because I have been elected not to govern for the good of only those who voted for me, but to provide good governance for all the people of Edo State.
'We will govern for the benefit of all our people without any discrimination; it was clear from the beginning that the only way to avoid defeat in a multi-party democracy is not to participate. I call on all of them to work with me because there is enough space for everyone
'I want to appreciate Anenih of the PDP. Many believed that the election was between him and myself. I appreciate him as an elder of the state. I want to also appreciate the Oba of Benin for demonstrating that we are all his children.'
Defending his earlier protest over the delay in the distribution of voting materials to some wards in Edo South, Oshiomhole re-emphasized that INEC commissioner Ismael Igbani had compromised his oath in playing the role of an unbiased umpire and called on the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, to investigate the commissioner.
At the St. Paul's Catholic Cathedral where he had gone for a thanksgiving service, moments after the declaration, the officiating priest, Reverend Father Peter Oshiomah, said: 'Today we are thanking God for the gift he has given us in the person of Oshiomhole. That is why one good turn deserves another. The people identified with him because he has touched every life in the state.'
Earlier, a mammoth crowd went on a solidarity rally to Osadebey Avenue, the seat of power in the state, to join the governor in the celebration of his victory.
I've no comment yet - Airhiavbere
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Edo State, Major General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (rtd.) has said he would consult with his party's leadership before making any comment on the last Saturday's governorship election in the state.
According to him, 'I have no comment yet. I will consult with my party leaders who will re-direct my steps before I can address the press.'
On his part, the publicity secretary of the PDP in the state, Pharmacist Matthew Urhoghide described the failure of the party in the guber poll as 'conspiratorial'.
He said, 'Edo people have lost the value of a God sent. We will take a critical study of the results, and take steps if need be. We know victory belongs to God, but are determined to set a good standard as the largest party in Africa with sincerity of purpose, especially as the party leaders will be meeting to know where things went wrong.'
Jonathan congratulates Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan yesterday acknowledged the 'outstanding performance' of Oshiomhole in his first term and urged him to work even harder in his second term to justify the fresh mandate given to him by the people of Edo State.
In his congratulatory message to Oshiomhole shortly after results were announced, the president described his election victory as an expression of the peoples desire for continuation of his focused, purposeful and dynamic leadership.
Jonathan also commended the INEC and the security services for ensuring that the elections were free and fair in keeping with his administration's commitment to strengthen democracy through the establishment of a more credible electoral system.
Mark to Oshiomhole: Victory, a reward for service
President of the Senate David Mark also congratulated Comrade Oshiomhole on his victory at the Edo gubernatorial polls, describing his re-election as a reward for his service to the people of the state.
'It must serve as an elixir for greater performance. You must therefore continue to do only those things that have made you the best choice of your people. You must therefore continue to make service to your people the focal point of your administration,' Senator Mark added.
Urging Oshiomhole to be magnanimous in victory, Senator Mark said election was over and Oshiomhole as well as his fellow contestants 'must do the needful by joining hands together to build a new Edo State in the overall interest of the people'.
The president of the Senate commended the INEC, security operatives and the people of Edo State over the peaceful conduct of the election.
He also commiserated with the government and people of the state over those who lost their lives in Ologbo boat mishap during the election on Saturday.
Tambuwal congratulates Oshiomhole on his re-election
Also, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, yesterday congratulated Gov. Oshiomhole on his re-election.
In a statement issued in Abuja by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said Oshiomhole's victory was a manifestation of the people's trust and confidence in his leadership.
He implored Oshiomhole to rise above partisan consideration and carry all the people along in the task of building the state.
The speaker also advised the governor to see the fresh mandate given to him as a call to 'further duty in the service of his fatherland'.
He urged the losers in the election to accept the result in good faith and cooperate with the winner in the interest of the people.
'Any decision to challenge the outcome should be limited to the confines of the law,' he said.
Tambuwal reiterated the commitment of the House to work with the governor and other persons and interest groups to deepen democracy in the country.
Oshiomhole's victory, end to stolen mandate in Edo – Tinubu
National leader of the ACN Asiwaju Bola Tinubu yesterday congratulated Governor Adams Oshiomhole on his electoral victory, stressing that his victory has marked the end of stolen mandate in the state.
Describing the victory as the signal of a new chapter in the democratic struggle, Tinubu said it has shown that Nigerians can have democracy if they really want it.
Tinubu, who said the victory marks a break from the old order in the state, however, cautioned that 'the political chicanery of the PDP has lost a major battle. Yet the war is not over, they will regroup in their shadowy chambers and seek new more devious ways to kidnap the people's mandate in upcoming elections'.
He also criticised the INEC for falling short of expectation despite the resources at its disposal.
The former governor of Lagos State, who said INEC's failure seemed to benefit PDP in the polls, however, noted that the rightful outcome of the election was reached because of the diligence of the people.
He however challenged Oshiomole to do honour to the trust the people of Edo State have placed on him.
In a release made available to LEADERSHIP Tinubu said, 'by handing Comrade Adams Oshiomhole an overwhelming victory in Saturday's governorship election, the people of Edo State have served notice that 'never again' in their state will the public's mandate and right to pick the leaders of their choice be stolen'.
Tinubu continued: 'This election was about more than Governor Oshiomhole and Edo State. It was a contest pitting democracy and the people on one side against the powerful and corrupt ruling political elite on the other. As such, this victory signals a new chapter in our democratic struggle. Try as they might, this elite employed every old election rigging trick and invented some new ones. It deployed the behemoth weight of government and party to break the democratic aspirations of the people of Edo State. However, the people stood firm because they know the difference between democracy and despotism, between economic development and economic depression, between justice and injustice. The people demonstrated that where they stand united and vigilant the powerful and mean cannot dispossess them of their democratic rights.
'It is for people of other states to now take heart and learn lessons from what the people of Edo achieved. Edo has taught us we can have democracy if we want it badly enough and if we organize to defeat the machinations of those who would rather lord over rather than serve us.
'The people of Edo have again given life to the words that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We owe it to ourselves and the future of this nation not to let this lesson go to waste. Thus, we celebrate democracy's triumph in Edo but we shall also not lower our guard because we realize that anti-democratic forces still lurk underfoot.'
We have accepted Edo guber results – PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP has said that in spite of receiving with mixed feelings the results of the Edo State gubernatorial election in which its candidate, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), lost to the candidate of the ACN, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, it has accepted the results.
In a congratulatory message signed by PDP's national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party called on its supporters to accept the results in good faith.
Metuh said: 'As a party that respects the institutions of democracy, and in demonstration of the spirit of sportsmanship which is the acclaimed principle of the PDP under the leadership of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, we call on all our supporters to accept these results as declared by INEC.
'We congratulate the winner on this victory. This is, however, without prejudice to our right to seek redress if we observe from our field reports any foul play. We therefore urge our supporters to remain calm, law abiding and resist any temptation to take the law into their hands.'