Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State seems set to make a clean sweep of all the chairmanship and councillorship seats in all the 33 Local Government areas and 35 Local Council Development Areas (LG/LCDAs) of the state in the election conducted into the councils on Saturday.
Though all the results are yet to be announced as at the time of filling this report, the ruling party has cleared all the seats contested for in over 40 councils as announced on Sunday evening by the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) as the remaining LGs and LCDAs results are still being awaited.
It would be recalled that the last time a similar exercise was conducted in the state was in 2007 during the administration of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, then of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Twelve political parties participated in the Saturday’s exercise which witnessed low turnout of voters despite the restriction of movement placed on both vehicles and people between the hours of 8 o’ clock in the morning and 3pmin the afternoon.
However, while the ruling APC may be jubilating over its success at the poll, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which did not participate in the election has harped on the apathy and low turnout of people during the poll and said it was a rejection of the APC by the people.
In a statement by the party chairman in the state, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha signed by the party Secretary, Akeem Olatunji, PDP thanked the people of the state and particularly its members for what it described as boycotting the LG polls.
Describing the exercise as a ‘rehearsal for APC’s burial’ in the state, the opposition party noted that, participating in the local government election would have been “a tacit endorsement of an illegality as the election failed integrity test right from the inception of the electoral process”.
According to the party, “we in PDP give kudos to the people of the state for the general apathy witnessed during the kangaroo election in line with our party’s directive to the electorate and our members to shun the election.
“We equally sympathise with the family of a teenager who died at a polling unit in Ekotedo area due to a stray bullet from rampaging APC thugs and call for a full-scale investigation into the incident to ensure justice for the bereaved family
“As against the law setting up the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commissions (OYSIEC), members of the electoral body are card-carrying members of APC. This is enough reason to suggest that APC is a judge in its own case.
“Results from across all the polling booths in the state followed the same ridiculous pattern are a clear indication that APC has been totally rejected in the state. The local government poll served as part of rehearsal for the burial rites for APC ahead of 2019 general election when the electorate will have opportunity of voting PDP candidates and renew their avowed commitments to PDP.
“It is instructive to note that only 11 people voted in a polling booth near Senator Rashidi Ladoja’s home in Bodija out of 1,116 registered voters. Same shameful scenario occurred at many polling units across the state”, he said.
The PDP chairman said he could not fathom why the OYSIEC decided to usurp the constitutional role of boundaries and adjustments commission which is the only body empowered to delineate wards and local council development authorities.
“PDP as a law-abiding party would never be a party to circumvention of the constitution which is superior to any other law in the land”, he stated further.
Speaking in the same vein, the Unity Forum, a splinter group within the ruling APC has berated the Saturday’s,l exercise, describing the low turnout and apathy shown by the people towards the exercise as a wake-up call to the party leaders at the national level.
Saying the turnout for the poll on Saturday was abysmally low, the forum in a statement made available to journalists in Ibadan on Sunday by its Secretary, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun called on the leadership of the party to intervene in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party and reposition it for good outing in the 2019 general elections.
Olatunbosun stated that the poll was a referendum on the party and the low turnout was an indication that the party needs to be re-invigorated to stand a fair chance in next year’s elections, adding, “the poor turn- out is also a confirmation that the Unity Forum is the mainstay of the APC which has the capacity to mobilise members of the public to participate in elections and vote for the party”.
According to him, “we have said it for the umpteenth time that the members of the Unity Forum constitute more than 70 per cent of the membership of the APC with a history of party loyalty, discipline and proven capacity to deliver the votes”.
Olatunbosun recalled that it was to the members of the group that the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu turned in 2015 to secure needed votes for the second term bid of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, adding, “the consent of the elders who today constitute the pillar of the Unity Forum provided the leadership for the party’s success at that poll.
“So is the contribution of local government chairmen who toiled day and night to ensure the victory of the party. It is gratifying that 28 of the 33 council chairmen who ensured the governor’s second term victory are members of the Unity Forum and we, therefore, call on the leadership of the APC to rescue the party from the hands of undertakers whose performance in today’s local government election has confirmed will bury the party in Oyo State if left unchecked”.
Assuring President Muhammadu Buhari of the group’s support for his second term ambition, he said “as a group, we remain committed to the ideals of progressive politics and the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari. We will mobilise the necessary votes for his victory, as against the experience today where the good people of Oyo State turned their nose at the party.”