Election observers on the platform of the National Observer Group (NOG) have adjudged the just concluded governorship and state Assembly elections in Lagos State as free, fair and credible. The group said the outcome of the gubernatorial poll, won by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the victories of House of Assembly candidates at constituency levels should be “happily accepted by all political parties and candidates as a true reflection of the people’s mandate.”
National Observer Group, a coalition of civil society groups that monitored the last elections in Lagos State, spoke during a press conference addressed by the group’s Coordinator and National Coordinator, Grassroots Mobiliser for Better Nigeria Initiative, Hon. Safiya Ibrahim Ogoh; Founder of Ayisat Gbajabiamila Foundation, representing Centre for Childcare and Youth Development, Hajia Ayisat Gbajabiamila and Leader of Global Policy Advocacy and Leadership Initiatives, Comrade Adewale Adeogun. Ogoh said the outcome of the elections largely reflects the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians, who voted for candidates of their choice.
“We wish to congratulate the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) for organising a free, fair, credible, and gendersensitive election, and indeed all Nigerians for peacefully conducting themselves, which proved once again that the principle of ‘one man, one vote’ is now the norms in Africa’s biggest democracy,” she said.
She also commended the security agencies for conducting themselves professionally and with the utmost civility, thereby ensuring that elections took place and met international best practices. Gbajabiamila urged those planning to plunge Lagos State into political and security crisis to desist from it immediately before the law catches up with them, adding that political thuggery and cultism remain prohibited. “Elections are not a do-or-die affair; politicians should always approach it with a high level of civility and patriotism. They should see themselves as part of the society they want to lead and must not destroy it with their ambition to lead or rule by all means,” she advised.
Comrade Adeogun, who described the outcome of Saturday’s election as a victory for democracy, commended Nigerians and Lagos residents in particular for performing their civic responsibilities during the last elections without fear, favour, intimidation, or any form of harassment. He said: “We appreciate the Independent National Electoral Commission in Lagos State for remaining resolute and committed to conducting a credible, transparent, free, and fair Governorship and state Assembly elections in the State whose outcome has truly reflected the people’s mandate by being neutral and fair to all participating political parties.
“The Lagos State governorship and state Assembly elections of March 18, 2023, took place as scheduled across the entire state under a peaceful atmosphere. We, therefore, adjudged the election to have met the international best practices of credible, transparent, free, fair, and genderfriendly elections.”
In the same vein, the Lagos East Vice- Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barr. Olayinka Oladunjoye, congratulated Governor Sanwo- Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, for their victory in the election. Oladunjoye expressed gratitude to the people of Lagos for putting their trust in Governor Sanwo-Olu and the APC, said the governor will deliver on his promises to take the state to more enviable heights.
“All of us at Lagos East heartily congratulate our amiable governor for his victory at the polls. We are humbled by the overwhelming support we have received from the people of Lagos, and we will not take the mandate accorded to him for granted. “We understand the challenges that lie ahead, but we are confident that with hard work, dedication, and the support of the people, we can build a better Lagos for all with Mr. Governor and his supportive deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat at the helm of affairs. “The Lagos of our dream, I can assure everyone has been rejuvenated with the re-election of Governor Sanwo-Olu in Lagos and our revered leader and President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at the centre. This will no doubt herald a new era of prosperous socioeconomic and political synergy between the two governments for the Greater Lagos Rising mantra and the THEMES agenda,” she said.
She stressed that the party’s message of continuity and progress appears to have struck a chord with voters, particularly in the urban centres, where it enjoys unwavering support. Reacting to the voting process across the state, the former Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, and Cooperatives, expressed satisfaction about the electoral process in the state, commending the people for peaceful conduct. She, however, frowned at acts of disruption and other electoral malpractices, adding that the people must be mindful of campaigning and voting along ethnic and religious lines. According to her, it is a dangerous trend that has the potential to undermine the unity and stability of the state, and the country as a whole.
“When politicians and parties appeal to voters based on their ethnicity or religion, they are not only creating divisions within society but also playing with fire. This kind of identity politics can fuel resentment and mistrust among different groups and even lead to violence. “It is essential that politicians and parties in Lagos, and indeed across Nigeria, focus on issues that unite rather than divide people. This means appealing to voters based on their shared interests and values, and not their ethnicity or religion. “Ultimately, the success of any democracy depends on the ability of people from different backgrounds to come together and work towards a common goal. By campaigning and voting along ethnic and religious lines, we risk tearing apart the very fabric of our society,” she said