BARELY 24 hours after he was declared winner of the Saturday governorship poll, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said he would have won with a wider margin. The governor said this on Monday after a dramatic appearance at the Presidential Villa.
Oshiomhole arrived at the Council Chambers while the swearing-in of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloma Mukhtar, was rounding off and stood at the entrance where attendees at the inauguration of Mukhtar congratulated the re-elected Edo governor for his victory at the poll.
Dignitaries, including minister and chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party whose candidate was defeated in the election, took turns to shake hands with Oshiomhole.
The Edo governor followed then President Goodluck Jonathan back to his office. He entered the President’s office at 11.30 am and came out 30 minutes after.
The details of the governor’s meeting with the President were not made known to journalists.
While briefing journalists after his closed door session with the President on Monday, Oshiomhole boasted that but for the initial hiccups recorded in the early stage of the Saturday election, he would have won with a wider margin.
“The number could have been higher than that if materials had arrived at 8am…but for the fact that people had strong passion, strong commitment to vote for me, when they waited for four hours they would have gone home
The former labour leader commended President Jonathan on his stance on free and fair elections.
He said the Edo case was a proof that the nation was capable of organising credible elections.
He said, “For me, what the Edo election has confirmed is that when the President and Commander-in-Chief puts the country first and foremost conducts himself as a statesman and not just a party leader, credible elections are possible.
“People were apprehensive that the Nigerian Army could be misused. But of course I told them I didn’t think they were right because the President gave a clear directive that the votes must count. He warned that there would be no rigging, no manipulation, no ballot snatching and orders were given to the army to ensure none of those things happened and the Army carried out the order.”
The governor faulted the arguments by some people that he was hasty in criticising the conduct of the election before he was later declared winner, saying, “the fact that you got home safely does not mean you should not investigate an accident scene.”
He said he had to cry out on time because he heard before the election that some leaders of an unnamed opposition party agreed that they would work on some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to delay the supply of electoral materials to areas known as his stronghold.
The plan, according to him, was to frustrate those who might want to vote for him and force them to return home after waiting in the queue for hours.
He said, “When you see things like this happening, one should not keep quiet until after one’s death; then a professor of anatomy will go and establish the possible causes of death?
“If you have been a victim of election rigging, you will know that it doesn’t make sense to see people rigging you out and you keep quiet because you do not want to raise the alarm.
“In every battle, you take pre-emptive steps because it can make all the difference. Medicine after death doesn’t make sense except to foolish people and I am not a foolish man.”
Oshiomhole had on Sunday, moments after he was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission, heaped praises on Jonathan whom he described as a “statesman and man of honour” for keeping to his words to allow peaceful election in Edo.
He polled a total of 477,478 votes as against the PDP’s Maj.-Gen.Charles Airhiavbere’s 144, 325 votes.
Airhiavbere meanwhile on Monday said he would not congratulate Oshiomhole because the governor had faulted the election process before he was declared winner.
He said, “I won’t fully comment on the election because the acclaimed winner had earlier in the day condemned the electoral system, he condemned the chairman of INEC for the process that has not ended.
“That process at the end of the day declared him the winner. I will observe in the next few days before I make my comment. It could have been easy to congratulate him but he also had pre-empted the system that brought him.”