Day Ede stood still for Adeleke

Day Ede stood still for Adeleke The Nation Newspaper
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There was wild jubilation in Ede, the hometown of Senator Ademola Adeleke, following his emergence as the Osun State governor-elect last weekend. Assistant Editor EMMANUEL BADEJO, who monitored the election in Ede North Local Government Area, recounts his experience

The people of Ede expressed their joy last Sunday, following the declaration of Senator Ademola Adeleke, an indigene of the town, as governor-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The town was temporarily shut down when the Returning Officer, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, made the announcement. Different groups in the town faced different directions to celebrate the victory of one of their illustrious sons.

This led to heavy traffic on the major road in the town. Most of the hotels in the ancient town were fully booked, as party stalwarts converged there, for meetings to put finishing touches to their strategies.

Adeleke, who contested the election on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) emerged winner, having scored 403,371 votes. His closest challenger, Governor Gboyega Oyetola, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) secured 375,207 votes.

Apart from Oyetola and Adeleke, other contestants were Oyegoke Omigbodun of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, Accord (A), Yusuf Lasun of the Labour Party (LP), Munirudeen Atanda of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Busuyi Ayowole of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) among others.

Before the election, many analysts had predicted that Governor Oyetola will win the contest.  But, the result of the election proved them wrong. Like it is generally said, all politics is local. On getting to Ede, this reporter observed that the people were determined to ensure that Adeleke emerged the winner. Ede is a major town in Osun State. It lies along the Osun River at a point on the railroad from Lagos, 180 kilometres (110 miles) southwest, and at the intersection of roads from Oshogbo, Ogbomosho, and Ile-Ife. It has two local government areas: Ede South and Ede North.

Voters in Ede North trooped out in large numbers to elect their governor. The voters in many of the polling units were out as early as 6:30a.m, to participate in the governorship election under tight security. Many voters were seen trekking, while some others took motorcycles to their various polling units.

In some polling units, officials of INEC and security agents were on the ground as early as 6:30 am. In some other places, voters were seen standing waiting for the arrival of INEC ad hoc officials.

Security personnel continued to patrol strategic locations in their vehicles to ensure normalcy, while some were already stationed at their places of assignment. The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), were being dropped in their vehicles in some few polling units at about 6:45 a.m.

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Many of the security men officers were deployed from Kano. At least, three police officers confirmed this to The Nation.  But a good number of them were not having an INEC election tag. This was contrary to the directive of the Nigerian police chief, DIG Johnson Kokumo, who led the security operatives to Osun. Also, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members were sighted in buses conveying them to various polling units and wards across Ede Town.

Some places visited by our correspondent include Polling Unit 9, Ward 2, at Abogunde Area, where Adeleke cast his vote. At Polling Unit 9, Ward 2, voters waited together with some security personnel and a few NYSC members were arranging the venue for the election. At Ward 1, Polling Unit 4, in Atapara Area, voters were also seen in their few numbers waiting for INEC officials to include Ojunsun Area Polling Unit 7, Ward 2, where some NYSC members were seen arranging their tables and taking positions.

At Agbala Area, Polling Unit 3, Ward 8, some security personnel were already on the ground including the NSCDC and the Nigerian Police Force, with few voters waiting for the INEC officials. Also, in Polling Unit 10, Ward 2, voters were seen waiting together with the Nigerian Police Force and NSCDC arriving for the election.

Similarly, at Ward 002, Isibo-Buari-Isola, a young and well-dressed police officer who said he was drafted from Kano and has been in Osun for the election duty since Wednesday, told The Nation that his team arrived at the polling unit before 7 am.

The officer, who said he was enjoying the beauty and splendour of the state, however, complained that the food he had been eating was too peppery. Further reports have that INEC officials arrived exactly at 7: 20 a.m. at Ward 2, unit 9, where Adeleke cast his vote, together with NYSC members and other security personnel for the election.

This year’s governorship election in Osun State, according to INEC, took place across 30 local government areas, with 3, 763 polling units and 332 registration areas. Other INEC officials were also seen moving in their Hilux vehicles to some polling units with sensitive materials to be used for the election.

Ede North has a total of 71,750 registered voters, with 151 polling units and 11 registration areas. Ede South also has 54, 880 registration voters, with 89 polling units and 10 registration areas. In most of the polling units, the election commenced on schedule and the exercise went on peacefully. But at Ward 2, unit 10, a young man, who disguised as a police official, was sighted by a combined team of uniformed policemen on patrol, was arrested and consequently whisked away. The crowd was huge and the queue was long, yet, the electorates were orderly.

Around 8:35 am, Adeleke came in a black SUV car, and drove close to his polling unit. The sight of the car led to spontaneous hailing, ‘imole, imole’ meaning light, as the boys ran towards his car.  Accompanied by his wife, Titilayo and a few other aides, Adeleke, who appeared weak, slowly walked to the electoral officers to exercise his civic duty.

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Afterwards, he addressed reporters, saying that the exercise free and fair and that he would emerge a winner. Afterwards, some party stalwarts, who kept hailing him, cleared the crowd for him to leave. As made to leave, many youths ran after his vehicle. Then the vehicle stopped and stood by the doorpost urging the boys to avoid any form of violence, saying he would get back to them after the election.

The election was peaceful, though both allegations of vote buying were rife. Some political parties perpetrated the illegal act.

Miss Abigail Ayoade, who spoke on her way to the polling unit, said she believes the whole process would be the best in the state without any “Inconclusive”, unlike what happened in the 2018 governorship election.

Ayoade, therefore, appealed to the electorate not to take laws into their hands, but rather ensure they obeyed all the regulations set aside by the authorities. Another voter, a 70-year-old woman, Rufai Bili Asani, who voted around 8:30 am, expressed delight over the process.

She said: “I came out to vote today for my chosen candidate. I can confirm that the process was seamless and didn’t take time at all. As you might notice that I cast my vote without any issue. And we are hopeful and praying that God will give us peace and good governance in Osun.”

Pa Abdul-Laziz Osuade, a 100-year-old man and indigene of Ede, Osun State expressed hope for the emergence of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) candidate as the next governor of the state.

He spoke to The Nation after casting his vote at Polling Unit 010, Ward 2, Sagba/Abogunde, Ede North Local Government Area. He said Ede was the next to produce the next governor of the state. The elder statesman, who came to the polling unit with a walking stick, hailed the electoral process and the people for conducting themselves peacefully.

Asked for his expectation, he said: “At least, this governorship should come to Senator Adeleke, who is our worthy son in Ede. We want him to win because we know that he will take care of the poor and lift many from squalor and penury.”

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At Adeleke’s polling unit, violence nearly broke out after the results had been declared as the INEC staff could not upload the result on the server.  For about 25 minutes, the security operatives and the INEC staff were held, hostage.  It took the intervention of the PDP Ede North Chairman, Taiwo Alimi to ease the tension.

By 4 pm on Saturday, many people in town were already getting some of the results, which were neither here nor there between the APC and the PDP. But, the mood within Ede was high, following information that had circulated that Adeleke won all the polling units in the town.

The governor-elect, it was learnt returned to the situation room in his elder brother’s abode located along Country Home area, Ede where he was getting field reports.

A few minutes to 7 am on Sunday, after the INEC’s Returning Officer, Ogundipe, made the announcement of Adeleke’s emergence, residents in the town trooped out to the streets in ecstasy.

While David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido and a nephew to the governor-elect, in the company of his fans ran out from his father’s mansion.  His aides stopped any bike in sight and commandeered them to take them to their hotel, Western Sun Hotel, Country Home area, Ede.

In a jiffy, the hotel became of a mecca of sorts, as many youths besieged it, felicitating with Davido, who declared free drinking at the hotel’s bar. “Go and take whatever you want at the bar,” one of his aides charged.

In other parts of the town, like the palace of Timi of Ede, Oba (Dr.) Munirudeen Lawal, which is strategically located in the heart of the town was filled with people raising different songs and dancing to the beat of the local drummers.

The monarch, who came out from his inner room, sat in his foyer, acknowledging cheers from the well-wishers. Speaking with reporters, the monarch, who said the feat was well deserved, congratulated the governor-elect.

The first-class monarch called on Senator Adeleke to pay back the people of Osun State who voted massively for him with good governance and dividends of democracy as promised in his election campaign manifestos. The Timi also commended the incumbent for putting up a good fight, having worked round the clock to contribute his quota to the development of the State since 2018 when he assumed office as the Governor of Osun State.

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