Ismaeel Uthman, Kazeem Badmus
AHEAD of the July 16 gubernatorial election in the State of Osun, both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have resorted to voter inducement, investigations have revealed.
Findings by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that APC and PDP have been dishing out various kind of gifts, including money to electorate across the length and breadth of the state to curry their favour on election day.
Among the material gifts being given to the electorate are branded white beans, matches, bread, garri and sachet pepper.
The medium noted that the white beans, sachet pepper and matches which was branded with ‘Oyetola 4+4’ was sighted in Osogbo, capital of the state.
The bread and garri were branded with Senator Ademola Adeleke’s picture.
According to investigations, different political groups of both the APC and PDP were responsible for the voter inducement.
The inducement materials, according to findings, were being distributed during campaigns of both parties.
Members of the two dominant parties have resorted to mocking one another on the social media on the quality of gift items being given to the electorate.
Investigations revealed that in some areas in Atakumosa West Local Government, some politicians have been purchasing Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) with amount ranging from N2000 to N5000.
It would be recalled that a leading election observer group, Yiaga Africa, had in its Pre-Election Observation Report (PREO) released on June 13 noted the practice of voter inducement by both APC and PDP.
In the report, Yiaga said: “Long Term Observers witnessed and heard of the distribution of money and food items by candidates or their supporters while campaigning in Boluwaduro, Ejigbo, Ife North, Ifedayo, Ilesa East, Ilesa West Irepodun, Isokan, Odon-Otin and Orolu local governments.
“Also, politicians distributed food items like rice, beans, garri, and semolina; and money ranging between N2,000 and N5,000 per voter”.
APC, PDP Trade Words
However, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have been trading words over which of them embarked on voter inducement ahead of the election.
The APC had in a press conference addressed by the Director General of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s campaign council, Sen. Ajibola Basiru, on Monday in Osogbo, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to investigate Senator Ademola Adeleke, the PDP’s governorship candidate, for making comment tending towards vote buying and voter inducement.
Basiru said EFCC should challenge Adeleke and his party to explain what he meant by his comments that he had arrived with hard currencies to prosecute the election and to approach the election “fire for fire”.
The Senate Spokesperson argued that for an individual to have declared publicly his uncontrolled and insatiable appetite for power to the extent of boasting to financially induce electorate, he needed to be investigated and prosecuted by the anti-graft body to stop him from compromising the electoral process and fledgling democracy.
He called on the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to beam their search light on the matter and summon the PDP candidate in the state for a thorough investigation and questioning to unravel what he meant that he has brought pounds, dollars, euros and other hard currencies to buy vote.
Basiru said: “I expected the EFCC to have invited Senator Ademola Adeleke to give account of what he meant by coming to the state with hard currencies for the Osun State guber election.
“Certainly, inducement of voters is a great offence. So, for Senator Adeleke to manifestly declare an intention to induce voters, it warrants criminal investigation by EFCC.
“EFCC should summon him for investigation for questioning by what he meant that he has brought pounds, dollars, euros and other hard currencies to buy vote.
“That clearly is a manifest intention to commit the offence of inducement of voters which is clearly an electoral offence under the Nigerian law.”
In a swift reaction, Adeleke Campaign Organisation, accused the APC of chasing shadows and specialising in unproductive propaganda to mask Oyetola’s failure and distract attention from the imminent defeat of the APC come July 16.
In a statement signed by the Chairman, Media & Publicity Committee of the campaign organisation, Prince Diran Odeyemi, on Tuesday, the party said Adeleke at no time boasted of planning to buy votes.
The statement said what the PDP candidate promised was the availability of funds to cover his election expenses.
The statement read in parts: “At no time since this campaign commenced has our candidate boasted or mentioned plan to buy votes. He was not Senator Bola Tinubu who publicly told Ekiti voters to vote APC so as to collect money.
“He never claimed before a first-class Oba that he is richer than the monarchy and Osun state as a whole. Never has Senator Adeleke relied on voters’ monetary inducement as his local government tour has attracted an unprecedented crowd of voters all over the state.
“Oyetola and his team specialise in deliberate misinformation and misinterpretation of Senator Adeleke because they have nothing to show as justification for the governor’s re-election bid. Osun people are however wiser than agents of dark propaganda whose stock in trade is to deceive the public while inflicting untold hardship on the populace.
“All over the world, election costs money in terms of logistics, media, and printable. Senator Adeleke is right to promise the availability of funds to cover his election expenses based on contributions from family and friends. Our candidate’s funding capacity is a product of legitimate private-sector earnings, not a corrupted, ill-gotten wealth from state covers. The public knows the truth and the shamelessness demonstrated by Oyetola’s campaign Council is legendary.
“We urge Osun people not to be distracted and shun the propaganda of the APC. The APC is doomed to fail on July 16 and we urge Osun people to remain focused on getting our state back on track for good governance and sustainable democracy”.