With a little over a week to the August 9 governorship election in Osun State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday released the list of the 20 political parties and governorship candidates that will be contesting in the poll.
This is as the security agencies are making early moves to secure the state ahead of the election, with the deployment of over 5,000 operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).
According to INEC, the parties and their candidates to be listed in the ballot papers during the election include: Action Alliance — Babatunde Oralusi (Governor), Hon. Adekunle Rufai (Deputy); Accord Party — Niyi Owolade (Governor), Opawuyi Bolaji Abdulganiyu (Deputy); ACPN — Olufemi Adeleke Hammed (Governor), Famiran Lawrence Olusola (Deputy); Action for Democracy — Senator Sunday Olawale Fajimi (Governor), Ogundele Kamarudeen Adeyemi (Deputy); African Democratic Congress — Comrade Ojo Gbenga Gabriel (Governor), Comrade Adebiyi Adedayo Segun (Deputy); All Progressive Alliance — Agboola Azeez Obasanjo (Governor), Oseni Kazeem Adebisi (Deputy); All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Akintunde Adebimpe Adetunji (Governor), Oladitan Olabode Joseph (Deputy); and All Progressives Congress (APC), Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola (Governor), Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori (Deputy).
Others include: Citizen Popular Party — Alhaji Rafio Shehu Anifowose A. (Governor), Raji Sofiyat Bodemi (Deputy); Labour Party — Akinbade Fatai Akinade (Governor), Adenipekun Michael Isola Tunde (Deputy); MPPP — Chief Babatunde Adetoro (Governor), Faremi Raphael (Deputy); NCP — Afolayanka Olanrewaju Jimoh (Governor), Akinlabi Babatope Sunday (Deputy); NNPP — Prince Adefare Segun Adegoke (Governor), Mrs. Adebowale A. Mujidat (Deputy); Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) — Oludare Timothy Akinola (Governor), Wayilat Titilade Adeleye (Deputy).
Also listed for the election are Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — Senator Iyiola Omisore (Governor), Rafiu Adejare Bello (Deputy); PPA — Ganiyu Abiodun Lawal (Governor), Mrs. Grace Mabayoje Ojofakuade (Deputy); UDP — Funso Toyin Bunmi (Governor), Phillip Samuel (Deputy); UPN — Adeoti Ibrahim Abiodun (Governor), Salokun Folasade Bukola (Deputy); UPP — Prince Victor Olusegun Adeniyi (Governor), Mrs. Christiana Oluwatoyin (Deputy); and SDP — Akinwusi Olusegun (Governor), Alhaja Rashidat Taiwo Olaigbe (Deputy).
The statement from INEC said Osun State has 30 local government areas and 332 registration areas. The state also has 3,010 polling units and 3379 voting points.
INEC, the statement said, has accredited 29 local and foreign observers to monitor the election.
They are: Centre for Civic Education (aka: Transition Monitoring Group, TMG), Justice and Equity Organisation, NEPAD, Nigeria Reclaim, Naija Centre for Democracy and Development, Centre for Peace Building and Socio-Economic Resources Development, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room (Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre), Nigeria Bar Association, Election Working Group, National Association for Peaceful Election in Nigeria, Independent Election Monitoring Group, Rights Monitoring Group, Election Monitor, Police Service Commission, Abuja, CLEEN Foundation, and Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolutions.
Other observers are Research Initiative for Sustainable Development and Gender Awareness (RISDGA), Justice Development and Peace Commission, The Forum of State Independent Commission of Nigeria (FOSIECON), Women Arise for Change Initiative (20), EU Delegation-Abuja, International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) and United States Mission to Nigeria.
Also on the list are: the High Commission of Canada, British High Commission, UNDP/DGD-Abuja, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Embassy of Switzerland, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Embassy of France.
Addressing media professionals recently, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said the commission was determined to make the Osun governorship election better than that of Ekiti which it conducted last June.
He said it was the hope of the commission that the Osun governorship election would serve as a fitting prelude to the 2015 general election which would be the best conducted under the commission’s watch.
In furtherance of the preparations for the August 9 poll, operatives of the DSS yesterday combed Osogbo, the Osun State capital, and other major towns in the state ahead of the election.
The DSS operatives were seen positioned in strategic centres in the town, even as many of them patrolled the major streets.
THISDAY gathered that over 5,000 operatives of the DSS were deployed in the state to maintain law and order before and during the election.
However, some of the DSS operatives, who were in over 40 Hillux vans and wore black T-shirts with masks on their faces, moved round the state capital and equally shot sporadically into the air, a development which caused fear for the residents of the town.
Consequently, at the popular Olaiya junction, the hub of business in Osogbo, the DSS operatives who moved in vehicles marked “Department of State Security” shot into the air several times and scared passengers and people waiting at the popular junction.
Other areas where the DSS operatives were seen in Osogbo include Kobongbogboe, Old Garage, Odi Olowo, Alekuwodo and Oke-fia, Ikirun road and Ota Efun.
Reacting yesterday to the frightening development, the state government described it as an attempt to militarise the state and cause fear ahead of the election.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Environment, Mr. Bola Ilori, while commenting on the development said the PDP was behind the deployment of DSS operatives to the state.
According to him, “The deployment of security operatives to the state is normal if they are here to protect us. But, any arrest of any member of the APC in the state will be against the interest of democracy.”
He concluded that the development was an abuse of office by the federal government, while imploring the people of the state to remain calm.
Meanwhile, public affairs officers of INEC have been charged to play the bridge-building role between the election management body and the electorate in order to ensure that the 2015 elections meet the aspirations of the people.
The call was made by the Counsellor for Public Affairs, Embassy of the United States of America, Victoria Sloan, while hosting public affairs officers of the commission to a reception at her residence in Abuja to honour Mr. Derwin Johnson, the facilitator of two sets of four-day workshops for the officers which took place in Lagos and Abuja.
The workshop, tagged “The Role of INEC Press Officers: Enhancing Good Governance Through Media and Grassroots Outreach,” was jointly organised by the US Embassy and INEC.
At the seminar, Sloan reaffirmed the commitment of the US to ensuring a stable political system in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Johnson, an independent Senior Communications Consultant from the US with more than 30 years’ experience commended the participants for their commitment and passion.
He re-echoed Sloan’s stand on the important role of public affairs officers as “bridge builders”, while canvassing for regular trainings for them as “it is important to keep officers up to date with changing trends and technologies”.