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Delta: How Delta Rerun Was Won And Lost

The announcement of the final result of the Delta state gubernatorial re-run election may have once again thrown the state into another round of political brouhaha as some contestants have disputed the result, alleging gross electoral irregularities. PHILIP NYAM recounts how it all happened.
After several weeks of mudslinging, muck raking, subterfuge and finally a fierce contest, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was Friday, declared winner of the gubernatorial re-run elections in Delta state ahead of his closest rival Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) alongside twelve other candidates. Uduaghan who whose earlier election was annulled by the Election Appeal Tribunal polled 274,072 as against Ogboru’s 137, 280 votes. While he won in 14, Ogboru cleared 11 local governments out of 25. A total of fourteen candidates vied in the election, in which a total of 1, 548, 647 registered voters participated while only 433, 312 valid votes cast. 17, 064 votes were rejected

While Uduaghan and his supporters are savouring their victory, the opposition (losers), particularly, the DPP candidate, Ogboru has condemned the exercise, which he described as ‘monumental injustice and unacceptable” and may once again challenge the result in court.
On the road:

On the streets of Asaba and some parts of the state, most people who spoke to our correspondent expressed the need for change in the state. Most people wanted Ogboru to replace Uduaghan but the question is whether those who spoke glowingly of the former actually came out to cast their votes. The popularity of Ogboru was not in doubt but our investigation shows that some of his avid supporters such as ‘okada’ riders, market women and other youths do not have voters card to make their choice. Perhaps, most of them did not register in 2006 or may have thrown their cards away after the April, 2007 general elections, in which Uduaghan was declared winner.

The election Day:

Although, the Delta rerun was not remarkably different from previous elections in the country, there was some level of civility in the way it was executed. At least, violence and rigging were modified and perhaps controlled to a moderate level. However, in most places, elections materials arrived late, making voters apprehensive. But the electorates were very enthusiastic to cast their votes; hence as early as 8 am, some had started locating their polling units. However, the large security presence may have scared prospective voters in some places.

The cleanup of the register did not meet the expectations of most electorates including observers and monitors. In almost every other polling unit, there were complaints by prospective voters of being disenfranchised because their names could not be traced in the register. People who turned up early with their voters cards went home disappointed as they could not cast their votes and this created tension in most places. Accreditation of voters earlier scheduled for 9 am did not start until about 11 am in some places. For example, in Sapele local government area, there were pockets of protests from voters who could not find their names. Out of 94 registered voters in Ward 4, in Sapele, only 27 voters were accredited because the other names were missing. Perhaps, in cleaning up the register, some genuine names were also erased from the document.

It was also sadly observed that campaign posters of some candidates particularly that of Uduaghan were left dotting entrances to voting centres. This was specifically noticeable at Ogwa-Umudunkwu Umunze, Ogwashiuku in Aniocha local government area.

The snatching of ballot boxes reared its ugly head again during the election. Oshimili North and Warri South local governments were notorious for hijacking of election materials.

However, the security agencies put up a dogged performance although some of them were accused of conniving with some unscrupulous elements to indulge in unwholesome practices in some areas. Businesses were shut and movement into the state was also restricted throughout the period of the election. This helped in forestalling any candidate importing thugs from the neighbouring states to cause trouble.
Jega’s Reaction:

Although the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega admitted that the election was not perfect, he praised the commission for making good out of a bad situation. On the night of the elections, Jega surprisingly owned up to some of the obvious lapses that somehow undermined the complete integrity of the elections. He acknowledged while addressing the press on the night of the elections that the conduct of the poll faced serious challenges due to late arrival of materials, ballot boxes snatching and attack on the commission’s officials. The INEC boss also agreed that the cleaning up of the voter register was not enough but assured that there was room for improvement in the April general elections. He was up and doing, supervising with the help of a helicopter.
Pre-result protests:

Barely twelve hours into the elections, results started pouring in and Great Ogboru was clearly in the lead. His supporters had already started jubilating in Warri and Abraka. He had won in seven of the eight local governments in the Delta Central senatorial district where he hails from. But as results from other senatorial zones started trickling in, he began to lose steam. Twenty four hours after the end of the elections, results were still being awaited from three key local governments in the state viz Warri South West, Ughelli North and Burutu. This created tension amongst supporters of the two leading candidates and the INEC office located off Okpanam road in Asaba was the beehive of activities. People milled around the area, which was barricaded and jealously guarded by anti-riot policemen.

The protests began as early as 11 am as results were being received from local government across the state. Youths and women carrying green leaves and placards had besieged the entrance to the INEC head office on Okpanam road shouting “INEC has done it again”, “this Goodluck is bad luck”, “Ogboru na him win” “una go kill us tire”, “we no vote for Uduaghan”, “Jega Wuruwuru professor”, “Jega no accept bribe oh” “give us the peoples result and not PDP result”.

It took a combined team of anti-riot policemen, who were quickly drafted to quell the rampaging protesters by releasing tear gas canisters, which dispersed the crowd. The protesters temporarily shifted in front of an eatery (Mac Dons) just opposite the INEC gate where they continued with their singing and shouting “solidarity forever, solidarity forever, solidarity forever, we shall always fight for our rights”

However, at about 12.45pm, when Ogboru arrived the INEC office gate in a convoy of a handful of supporters to officially lodge his complaint against the conduct of the election, he was prevented from entering the office. At this point, the activities of the protesters were taking a frightening dimension; there was a reinforcement of policemen and soldiers who chased them far off after the State House of Assembly complex. At this time news had filtered in that Uduaghan was clearly in the lead.

Ogboru who spoke to reporters before leaving argued that “election did not take place the three warri local government areas, including Athiope West. The shooting and violence in Warri South-West, where officials who were supposed to accompany the materials to the riverine areas were chased away by thugs, was reported to the commission and security officials”.

The DPN candidate lamented that “as at 2.30pm election had not taken place, so we were surprised that results were coming out. If you go to Koko as we speak now, you cannot find 5,000 people. So, where are the 37,000 votes coming from,” he queried.

But shortly after the protesters were turned away from the vicinity of the INEC entrance, the Returning Officer for Ughelli North, Felix Daramola turned in the result from the council thereby sealing the fate of Ogboru, whose supporters had gathered in anticipation that he may turn the table against Uduaghan.

An anti-bombing van was combing the place with rumour of a bomb being planted around the area. The atmosphere in the capital city was charged but security was also tight hence forestalling any break down of law and order. Although, most people on the street wondered how the PDP candidate got the number of votes announced by INEC.

Result announcement:

While declaring Uduaghan as the duly elected governor, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Ogbu Gabriel Ada said: “Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan having satisfied the requirement of the law and having scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared winner and hereby returned”. While, the REC, who is also the returning officer, was announcing the result local government by local government, agents of Ogboru and the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN) candidate, Ovie Omo-Agege walked out from the venue and did not sign the result sheet.

Apparently uncomfortable with the protests from Ogboru and his supporters, the REC, Dr. Ada warned thus: “I would like to point out few things that happened in the course of our monitoring the rerun exercise. Politicians were hell bent on causing violence and if not for the strength of the security we had on ground, it could have been worse. Another issue was the issue of fake voters’ cards. Some went ahead to produce fake voters cards but we beat them to the game’

How they fared:

While Ogboru won clearly in Delta Central Senatorial District, Uduaghan had a landslide in both Delta South and North Senatorial Districts. This is predictable because while Ogboru is from Abraka, Uduaghan comes from Warri North. Ogboru won in Ethiope East, Uvwie, Opke, Udu, Ughelli South, Ughelli North and Sapele Local governments. While Uduaghan won in, Oghara, the home town of former Governor James Ibori in Ethiope West as well as in Sapele and Warri North where he polled the highest number of votes. Others areas he won are Oshimili North, Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North, Ika South and Ndokwa East. Uduaghan also surprised most analysts by winning in the Ijaw areas controlled by Chief Edwin Clark, whose relationship with him has never been cordial. The local government areas include Burutu, Bomadi, Patani and warri South West. It was in deed a tight contest.
Reactions:

There was however, no crisis after the result was announced perhaps due to the tight security within and around the INEC office as well as the state generally. There was mild jubilation amongst the people in Asaba even as supporters of the governor were seen all over the place. It was clear that the electorates in Asaba were disappointed with the outcome of the election.

Although, it was keenly contested, Uduaghan emerged victorious at last. But Ogboru gave a good account of himself.

-Leadership

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Posted by on Jan 9 2011. Filed under Delta, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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