Despite the violence that characterised the Bayelsa governorship election, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has described the election as “truly transparent and peaceful.”
Mr Oshiomhole made the remark on Monday when he spoke with reporters after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He told reporters he was at the presidential villa to introduce the governor-elect of Bayelsa, David Lyon, to Mr Buhari.
Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, as well as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, accompanied Mr Oshiomhole and Mr Lyon to the presidential villa.
“I believe since 1999, you as very seasoned journalists who have covered elections in Bayelsa in the past, you will agree that this is the only time we can say the election is truly transparent and peaceful,” the APC national chairman told reporters at the villa.
The chairman said President Buhari had insisted that “while we are determined to win the election that we must play by the rules and ensure that the process is transparent.
“The president has always been concerned about peaceful election and we were proud to inform him that besides very isolated cases of ballot box snatching, the election in Bayelsa can be described as the most peaceful.”
A violent election
Mr Oshiomhole’s claim of a ‘truly transparent and peaceful’ election contradicts the observations of virtually all major election observer groups who monitored the Saturday election in Bayelsa State.
YIAGA Africa, a public policy think-tank, said asides the reported cases of violence, the result of the election was manipulated at the collation process.
The group, besides questioning the credibility of the election result as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), called on the election commission to conduct an inclusive, transparent and accountable audit of the result that involves political parties and civil society.
Also, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) said, “From where we received field data and updates on the conduct of the polls, the sheer magnitude of the violent assault on the sanctity of the ballot was shocking beyond description.”
The CDD’s director, Idayat Hassan, said, “The outcome of a process that was so criminally subverted should not be allowed to stand.”
The CDD said its observers witnessed over 50 critical incidents which directly impacted on the credibility of the election.
It said the disruption of voting process accounted for 66.7 per cent of the total reported incidents. Vote buying with 22.2 per cent and underage voting and impersonation with 11.1 per cent are the other two rampant recorded incidents.
While LGAs like Southern Ijaw and Nembe had no access to observer due to violence and intimidation, it said, the observed incidents were mostly pronounced in Yenagoa, Ekeremor and Sagbama LGAs of the state.
Another group, the Coalition of Civil Society Election Observers Group called for outright cancellation of the election.
“We are miffed at the inability and failure of security agencies to intervene or try to stop hoodlums from perpetrating violence, especially in the snatching of ballot boxes and disruption of collation process at the polling units.
“The result of the election cannot be said to represent the aspirations of the genuine voters in the state and we therefore call for the cancellation of the results of the governorship election,” the coalition co-ordinator, Olufemi Lawson, said at a press briefing in Lagos.
A staff of a radio station in Bayelsa was shot dead three days to the election when suspected thugs attacked a PDP rally in Nembe, a stronghold of the APC.
Mr Lyon, who was the APC candidate in the election, defeated the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Duoye Diri, with over a hundred thousand votes.