The national hierarchy of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, yesterday shied away from a full endorsement of the outcome of the Ondo State gubernatorial election even as the party leaders pledged to put the election behind them.
At a top level meeting of the party’s national leadership in Lagos, party leaders also vowed not to be intimidated into endorsing an election they claimed was characterized by “several irregularities and instances of thuggery and violence.”
While vowing not to be spoilsports who would rather sacrifice the nation’s democracy than lose an election, the party leaders vowed to continue a scrutinisation of the votes and processes of the election, saying a legal action would be instituted where sufficient evidence is obtained.
Yesterday’s high level meeting was the first formal gathering of the party’s national leadership since the Ondo State gubernatorial election which took place penultimate Saturday.
The meeting which took place at the Bourdillion Street, Ikoyi residence of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was attended by the national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; Asiwaju Tinubu; Boss Mustapha, deputy national secretary and four of the party’s six governors.
The governors present were Babatunde Fashola, Lagos; Rauf Aregbesola, Osun; Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. Governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo States who were not present reportedly were linked to the meeting through teleconference. Also present at the meeting were the gubernatorial candidate in the Ondo election, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his running mate, Dr. Paul Akintelure.
Akande, in a statement following the meeting, said while the party had resolved to put the election behind it in furtherance of its commitment towards building a lasting democracy, it would neither be swayed to work against democracy nor be intimidated to endorse an election he claimed was marred by irregularities.
He said: "Some people have urged us to reject the INEC results outright because they do not favour my party. This we shall not do. We refuse to cynically treat our democracy as a thing to be discarded when its processes do not favour us. We believe in the long-run, the genuine processes of a genuine democracy shall favour all of us, even the loser of an election.
“We are prepared to lose elections if the contest is free and the process is fair and transparent.” We know that in this manner, our democracy is strengthened. No one race or political contest is worth damaging our democracy. We would rather lose the race and gain democracy than win the race and lose democracy in the process.
“On the opposite side of the spectrum, other people are trying to pressure us to concede defeat as if all was perfect with the election. They do so not because they love democracy but because they are the political opponents of our progressive party. Their interests are not in justice but in appearing to be concerned about justice.
“They have never exercised any degree of political conciliation or bipartisanship in their exercise of public affairs. It stands as exceedingly hypocritical that they seek from us a gift they would never give. Thus, we see no reason to entertain their counterfeit expressions and the motives behind them.
This is our position
“This is our position. We believe in the right of the people of Ondo State to determine who leads them. For us in the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Ondo State election is a battle in a larger war; the war of deepening democracy and ensuring accountability in our country. We are, therefore, resolved to put the elections behind us whilst pursuing the task of providing leadership to our people effectively.”
"Should we find ultimately that the misconduct and lapses were not sufficiently material to alter the outcome, we shall do the honorable thing and respect what has been announced. Should we find ultimately that the irregularities and wrongful actions materially altered the result, we shall contest the transgression as is our right and duty in a democracy.”
“As leaders of a party and of people who trust the democratic process, we have a solemn obligation not to be swayed by emotion on one side or by intimidation on the other. We owe a duty to ourselves, to the people of Ondo State, and to this nation to vigorously protect the integrity of the process both during and immediately after an election.”
“We wish to state categorically that we would protect and defend members of our party from the unconscionable harassment and intimidation currently going on in Ondo State against our party members and communities that voted against the Labour party.”
“We take this opportunity to thank our candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and the entire party for a valiant, dedicated and inspiring effort. We have nothing but accolades for what they did in Ondo State.
They fought a good fight. As a party, we shall remain true to our pledge to resist any attempt to thwart the democratic process in Ondo State or any other part of Nigeria.”