The All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in states where the supplementary elections will hold on Saturday, March 23, are wooing voters with money, gift items and lobbying other political parties for support.
The states where the run-offs will take place are Kano, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa and Sokoto.
Both the APC and the PDP which are the leading parties in the country are not leaving any stone unturned in their bid to emerge victorious in the forthcoming rerun.
They are also pressurising religious leaders to help them convince members of their congregation to vote for them.
Investigations by our correspondents showed that gift materials and money were given prospective voters and some of the party officials.
For instance, the APC and the PDP in Sokoto State are wooing voters with gift items ahead of Saturday’s supplementary governorship poll in the state. Though both parties have denied this, some voters who have been approached with cash and gift items insisted that the party chieftains were being economical with the truth.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that other items being used to induce voters ahead of the election included clothes, handsets, soaps and assorted food items.
He said, “Both parties are involved in vote-buying. They have invaded our neighbourhood and going from house to house, tempting us with cash.
“The situation is worse in the rural areas, where agents of the two leading parties try to outsmart one another by obtaining eligible voters’ Permanent Voter Cards with a down payment and a promise to give them additional money when the card is returned.
“They are planning to return the cards on the eve of the election and once you vote for them, you will be given your balance,” he stated.
When confronted with the allegations of vote-buying, the state Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Kabiru Aliyu, exonerated his party from the allegation of vote- buying, saying his party would never engage in such act.
He, however, accused the opposition of plans to buy votes.
Aliyu added, “Members of the opposition party in the state are the ones engaging in vote- buying because they have nothing to use to campaign in the state.
“As we are preparing for the elections, we will keep our eyes on the ballot boxes to make sure the election is not rigged,.”
But an APC chieftain, Abdulkadir Waziri, accused the PDP of using state resources to buy votes for Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, an action which he described as ‘satanic.’
He also alleged that the security agents in the state and INEC officials were working for the PDP to deny the electorate the freedom of choosing their leaders.
Waziri stated, “Under the watch of the security agents drawn to the polling centres, ballot boxes were snatched and destroyed leading to the cancellation of elections in those centres. In fact, the PDP ensured that where the APC followers are dominant elections were disrupted.
“Multiple voting and ballot snatching were the order of the day. INEC members of staff under duress, or fear of their lives in some cases compromised and allowed the PDP to have their day, security agents also supported manipulation of the elections.
“The use of money by the PDP was so glaring that voters were openly approached and lured to accept cash and were openly escorted by the PDP agents to cast their votes in favour of the PDP and nobody cared to challenge them as they were under security agents protection.”
According to a document obtained by one of our correspondents, the run-off is expected to hold in 136 polling units scattered across the state. Kebbe, Gada and Sokoto North have the highest number of polling units of 35, 29 and 10, respectively.
However, re-run election will hold in one polling unit each at Gudu, Isa, Kware, Tureta, Wamakko and Yabo LGAs.
Prior to the declaration of the governorship election inconclusive by the returning officer, Prof. Fatima Batulu Mukhtar, Tambuwal of the PDP, was clearly in the lead with 489,558 votes ahead of Ahmed Aliyu of the APC, who polled 486,145 votes.
The election, however, ended in a stalemate as the 3,413 votes margin is far less than the cancelled votes for various reasons, totalling 75,403 votes.
Adamawa APC seeks ADC, SDP’s assistance
In Adamawa State, leaders of the PDP and the APC have begun wooing supporters of other political parties in the state ahead of the March 23 rerun.
The candidate of the PDP, Hamadu Fintiri, has the advantage courtesy of the 32,476 votes difference over the candidate of the APC, Jubrilla Bindow, who is seeking re-election.
Investigation by The PUNCH revealed that the APC leaders had been making consultations with the supporters of the African Democratic Congress and those of the Social Democratic Party in the state.
The ADC and the SDP were believed to have played the spoiler for the APC in the election after their candidates split their votes in their strongholds. Abdulazeez Nyako, who is a son of a former governor in the state, Murtala Nyako, was the ADC candidate in the election and he got substantial votes in the APC strongholds. He is a serving senator and won the seat on the APC platform in 2015. The SDP candidate, Emmanuel Bello, also left the APC for the SDP.
An APC leader in the state, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak for the party, told one of our correspondents that the APC suffered from internal crisis. He stated that instead of trading blame, the party had resorted to appealing to its members that defected to return to the party.
“We are not at a good advantage because the PDP is in a lead that is closer to the votes we will vie for on March 23, 2019. Apart from the PDP votes, other votes won by other parties were taken from us. We have to go back and appeal to our aggrieved members in the areas where the rerun will be held. Nyako and Bello supporters are our members and we need them now,” he said.
Further checks by one of our correspondents also revealed that the PDP is also making moves to ensure that its lead does not diminish.
In Michika area of Adamawa State and other areas where the rerun will hold in the state, some religious and community leaders confirmed that the PDP and the APC agents had approached them to prevail on their congregation to vote for them.
In Plateau State, some of the voters who spoke with one of our correspondents in Jos on Monday, said despite the inducement being carried out by agents of the two leading parties, they would not be misled into voting a wrong candidate.
A voter at Barki Joji Polling Unit in Barki Ladi Local Government Area, who identified herself as Mrs Grace Chong, said, “I will not lie to you, the two contending parties have been trying to woo some of us with gifts including money. Someone told me that he was offered some money to surrender his PVC. But one thing I know is that I will vote according to my conscience even if I collect their gifts.”
Another voter, who simply identified himself as Daniel, said, “We are fully prepared for the supplementary election. Mangu Ward 1 where I come from has eight polling units with 25, 035 voter population. All of them were cancelled during the last election and I can tell you that we are prepared to vote for the candidate of our choice. Forget the gifts the parties are sharing to people to make them vote for them.
“I have not been given any money nor was I asked to surrender my PVC but my friend told me that he was offered money to vote for a particular governorship candidate and after collecting, he assured me that he will still vote according to his conscience.”
Prominent Kano indigenes caution INEC
In Kano State, prominent indigenes under the aegis of the Kano Concerned Citizens Initiative said the action of INEC in Saturday’s supplementary election would make the difference between peace and violence in the state.
A former Presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, who is the chairman of the group, said this at a media briefing in Kano, on Monday.
Tofa said, “KCCI, however, hastens to add that come March 23, INEC must do everything in its power to rectify as well as attend to all the perceived challenges which characterised the two sets of elections of February 23 and March 9.
“We strongly plead that all electoral officials must be told, in clear terms, to live above board, and that anyone found wanting must receive the maximum sanction provided for by the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution.”
The group pleaded that adequate electoral materials must be provided in all designated centres on time.
Tofa said, “KCCI also pleads that results of election must be publicly announced without any delay. The onus is on INEC to deliver a fool-proof election.
“Any act of commission or omission would be squarely placed on its shoulders. Officials must be aware that such acts may be the difference between peace and violence in our state.”
When contacted, the state Commissioner for Information, who is also the Director of Publicity of the 2019 APC elections in Kano State, Mallam Mohammed Garba, said, “The Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje-led APC administration is committed to peaceful elections in the state.”