The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday presented Certificates of Return to the winners of the April 11 election in Lagos State amidst chaos and drama.
Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor-elect; his deputy, three Senators, 24 House of Representatives, and 40 House of Assembly members, received their certificates.
In the past, it was usually a quiet ceremony with the All Progressives Congress (then Action Congress and later Action Congress of Nigeria) winning all the elective positions in the state.
At the just concluded election, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, won six seats in the House of Representatives and eight in the House of Assembly.
The Accord Party won one seat in the House of Representatives.
During the presentation of the certificates on Thursday, there was chaos in the hall as PDP supporters engaged those of the APC in a chanting contest.
Heavily outnumbered in the hall and with an aisle separating them from their opponents, the PDP supporters seemed determined to stamp their presence with periodic shouts of ‘PDP!’ ‘Power!’
They resorted to booing when Mr. Ambode, who arrived one and half hour late, entered the hall; although the cheers of APC supporters drowned their voices.
In the middle of the shouting match, one APC supporter, clutching a bottle of Orijin Bitters, danced around the aisle screaming ‘APC!’ ‘Federal!’
After the few elected representatives of the PDP had collected their certificates, the APC supporters launched into a song ‘They don dey go! One by one!’
The PDP members quickly responded with ‘We never go! We still dey!’
The party supporters’ antics overshadowed the presentation ceremony.
Earlier, Akin Orebiyi, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, urged Nigerians to co-operate with INEC to improve the integrity of future elections.
“The elections have witnessed a remarkable departure from previous ones with the introduction of permanent voters cards and smart card readers to facilitate a better and more authentic accreditation process,” said Mr. Orebiyi.
“The Commission is mindful of errors and assures it will incorporate necessary improvements in future elections.
“We wish to remind aggrieved candidates to seek redress at tribunals as provided by the law.”
A minute silence was observed for those who lost their lives to electoral violence in the aftermath of the polls.
In his keynote address, Akinola Salau said that victory at the polls was synonymous with winning the confidence of the electorates to exercise authority over them.
“I will also like to use this unique opportunity to commend the people of Lagos State for conducting themselves peacefully and decently during the period of the elections,” said Mr. Salau, the National Electoral Commissioner for Ondo, Osun, and Lagos states.
“Judging by the tension generated by the keenly contested positions, pessimists had predicted a very rough year for Lagos State in particular and the country in general.
Mr. Salau also said that Thursday’s presentation of Certificates of Return marks the end of the electoral process for the elected persons, “unless the court says otherwise.”
“Today, we are gathered here to perform one of the most crucial mandates of the Commission. Section 75 sub-section (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) states that a sealed Certificate of Return at an election in a prescribed form shall be issued to every candidate who has won an election under this Act.”
In his speech, Mr. Ambode described the ceremony as a “graduation day” for all the winners.
“I want to thank the electorates, those who voted for us, those who did not vote for us, and all Lagosians. That the common purpose of our party is the future prosperity of Lagos,” said Mr. Ambode.
“We know that we are finally aligned with the centre, meaning that there are infinite possibilities for the future of Lagos.”