INTERVIEW: Why I Declined My Party’s Request To Challenge Makinde’s Victory At Tribunal – PAUL OMOTOSHO

Mr. Paul Adeboye Omotosho is the Oyo state gubernatorial candidate of the Coalition for Change (C4C) in the just concluded governorship election. In this interview with Westlifemag, he spoke on why he refused to yield to pressure from his party’s national leadership to approach tribunal on the outcome of the governorship election. Mr. Omotosho who is also the chairman of the party in Oyo state commended the Oyo INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barrister Mutiu Agboke and his team for their uncompromising attitude in conducting the 2019 election. He also proffered solutions to voters’ apathy ahead 2023 general elections.

Conduct and the process of 2019 election

The conduct and process of 2019 general election, if I may say, were not good enough. INEC tried their best, especially in Oyo state, I want to give a good kudos to Barrister Mutiu Agboke, the Resident Electoral Commissioner. He and his team did brilliantly well. We can say that votes in Oyo state count but we have areas where the elections were disturbed, where INEC officials were late to the polling unit on the day of the elections, where the security personnel were not on ground, so we have issues like that. We also have cases where few political parties have issues, like in my party, instead of C4C, they wrote CC for us on the ballot paper. Though our logo was there but our name was not spelt correctly. The funniest thing about this was that immediately after the presidential and national assembly election, our national chairman wrote to INEC, that the name on the ballot paper was not our own and requested the electoral body to do the needful before the governorship and state assembly elections. Unfortunately, the same mistake was repeated and that is why we have a ground, taking INEC to court. But I believe so much in dialogue than resorting to litigation. It has been a while, Engr. Seyi Makinde has been working hard to get to that office he’s just got, and now that he won the election, I don’t want to be part of those seeking to contest his election in court. At the same time, if indeed I love Oyo state, if indeed I want progress for the state, it would be unwise to challenge this kind of victory in court. If you see people who turned out to vote, you’ll realise that people are tired of APC, so they massively voted for Engr. Seyi Makinde. Now, for me to approach tribunal on a ground of my party’s name being mispelt on the ballot paper is like trying to drag the clock of progress backward in Oyo state. The election in Oyo state, I want is say its good to some extent, though there are some noticeable lapses because you cannot but have issues in an election like this. It wasn’t like this in the past elections, so I want to believe that in the next election in 2023, all the flaws would have been addressed.

View on voters’ apathy in 2019 general election

Greater part of this problem come from the politicians, though, the electorates also have their own part, so also the government. If Nigerians are to come out to vote in large numbers, there must be an enabling environment. People were sacred before the election and reason for this was how the politicians conducted their campaigns. Some political parties hired thugs, who carried firearms here and there in the name of campaign. We had report of people lost their lives during campaign period. Issues like this caused the electorates to think twice before coming out to vote during the elections. Then, there is one issue but I don’t know how we are going to do it, may be National Orientation Agency can take it up. It is about the so-called elites, they don’t vote, they just sit down at home during election, all they do is to monitoring situation by watching televisions. It is only the market women, artisans and so on that come out to vote. The irony of this situation is that the so called elites are those always complaining about the governance. You see why I said government need to play a party is, there are better way and system they can introduce to eradicate or reduce voters’ apathy. Before the 2019 elections, there are suggestions that the federal government should engage Inter switch to help us with our elections. Anybody with ATM cards can use it to vote or every Nigerians with National ID card can also use it to vote as well.  Probably, because we don’t have strong database, it would be difficult for government to allow that one for now. With these systems, there may be no need to restrict movement during election, people can leave their workplace during break hour, to go out and vote and then return to work. Just get to any machine point, stuck in your card and punch. By this, there’s no need to spend much money on security, there would be no need to restrict movement during election and hinder people from doing their business. I would like to advise that the next generation election in 2023, government should work on this aspect to ensure better atmosphere for people to show more interest in the exercise. The elite should also know that they have roles to play in enthroning good governance by coming out to exercise their civic responsibility by casting their vote for right people.

Suggestions that INEC should proscribe party with no significant showing during election

I don’t want to believe that. Let me just say this, INEC is only making their own suggestion, telling us what they think they can do but will the law permit them? You have a right as a Nigerian to float any political party as long as it does not contradict the INEC laid down rule. So on what ground would INEC say a party does not perform. Like my own party, for instance, we only came to Oyo state five months to the election, so what do you expect? Do you expect us to put up the same performance like PDP or APC, which have been on ground since 1998. Definitely you can not judge us based on the results of 2019 elections. Why don’t you wait till 2023 and see what will happen. I don’t think the law of the land will allow proscription of any political party with no strong showing in the last election. If they (INEC) attempt that, court will settle the matter.

Message for Seyi Makinde

If there is anything he needs now more than ever, it is the wisdom of God, to handle people that are swarming around him. Many of them appear to him as friends but they are enemies. They are only running after him because of their selfish interest and if any untoward things happen to his government, it is his name people will mention, uneasy lies the head that wear the crown, they say.