The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) secured an easy victory over the rival All Progressive Congress (APC) in the by-election held in Yagba West Local Council of Kogi State at the weekend.
The election which was the first electoral contest between the PDP and APC in the state, since the registration of APC on July 31, was organized by Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission (KOSIEC) to fill the vacant councillorship seat of Odo-Ere-Oke Ere-Akata ward in Yagba West Council, following the death of the original winner of the May 4, 2013 council polls held in the state, Hon J.K. Aro.
J.K. Aro was said to have died from unidentified illness, few days after the council was inaugurated four months ago.
According to the Returning Officer, Mr Kayode Joseph Simoyan who announced the result, the deceased councilor’s younger brother,
Emmanuel Opeoluwa Aro, who was subsequently nominated as the PDP flagbearer for the by-election, polled 857 votes as against a total 11 votes polled by a combination of nine opposition parties, including Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and APC, which scored three and one votes respectively.
Although the election was limited to Odo Ere-Oke Ere -Akata ward, the contest had generated statewide excitements as both the APC and PDP leaderships were locked in superiority contest, openly expressed during the campaigns. Police sources revealed that the deployment of anti-riot policemen from the Area Command Headquarters, Kabba, for an election involving one ward, was informed by the need to prevent the rivalry from degenerating into violence. Tension was however cut short by the news of alleged withdrawal by the APC candidate, on the eve of the election.
The withdrawal was however ignored by the leadership of the PDP in the council who instead mobilized its supporters to turn out en masse on Saturday. PDP Secretary in the council, Mr Idowu Afolabi said the party doubted the authenticity of the news of APC’s withdrawal, hence the resolve of the PDP to pursue the election head-on.
A KOSIEC official disclosed to our reporter that a day earlier, the APC candidate, Ayorinde Emmanuel Rotimi had communicated his intention to withdraw from the election to the electoral body. He confirmed that the withdrawal was made through a letter signed by the APC Chairman in Yagba West Local Government, Mr Segun Awarun.
Awarun told our reporter that the party was left with no option than to discontinue its participation in the process after its candidate threw in the towel “few hours” to the election.
He further disclosed that Rotimi communicated his decision to withdraw to the party after a meeting with members of his clan during which family members mounted pressure on him to withdraw. He pointed out that the outcome of the election was not a true reflection of the strength of APC in the area.
Justifying PDP’s full participation, despite APC’s withdrawal, Yusuf Balarabe, Director of Administration, PDP State Secretariat in Lokoja who said the result has further proved that APC was no match for PDP in Kogi State, explained that the decision of the ruling party to go ahead with the election was taken in accordance with the electoral act and also as “a show of strength “.
“No strong candidate or party sure of victory would withdraw on the eleventh hour in like manner. You can see that people still came out to cast their votes. So what we have done is a show of strength of the PDP and what the party is capable of doing in future elections.
APC is an amalgam of the same ACN, CPC, ANPP that could not stop PDP in 2011. This is to tell you that nothing has changed, and also that there is one, undivided PDP in Kogi State. Again, there is nothing like unopposed; we have to follow the normal procedure. Even during party primaries, when you have withdrawals, leaving only one candidate, the party is still bound to converge delegates on an election ground for the election to be meaningful. So what we have done in Yagba West is normal”.