WITH a wide margin, Senator Liyel Imoke has emerged the winner of the governorship election that took place in Cross River State at the weekend. .
The election was ordered by the Supreme Court after it sacked Imoke and four other state governors. .
Imoke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) scored 451, 544 votes, which translate to 90.11 per cent of total votes cast, to defeat Pastor Usani Usani of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) who scored 31, 026 votes. .
Reacting to the outcome of the election, President Goodluck Jonathan congratulated Imoke on his victory. .
In a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, President Jonathan said that as Imoke prepared to begin his second full term in office as governor, he should “move quickly to establish a dedicated, purposeful and efficient administration that will help him to consolidate on the laudable achievements of his first term and boost the pace of socio-economic development in the state. .
“The President assures the returning governor of the continued support, cooperation and assistance of the Federal Government and urges him to work hard to justify the confidence reposed in him by the people of Cross River State by fulfilling their expectations of faster progress and development,” the statement said.
The returning Officer, Prof. James Epoke, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, announced the results received from collation officers from the local councils at the mini-theatre of the Cultural Centre Complex in Calabar at 12.30 p.m. yesterday.
In attendance were national officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, party agents who signed the result, among other stakeholders. .
There were 1, 242, 916 registered voters. Total votes cast were 501, 117. Out of this figure valid votes cast were 489, 939 while rejected votes were 11,178.
The results were collated from 17 out of the 18 local councils of the state. Election did not hold in Bakassi Local Council due to a court order served the INEC late Friday, restraining them from conducting the election in the area.
Other results are 325 (African Liberation Party), 2,235 (All Nigeria People’s Party), 172 (African Political System), 197 (Congress for Democratic Change), 705 (Congress for Progressive Change), 182 (Democratic Front for People’s Federation), 247 (Hope Democratic Party), 1,922 (Labour Party), 1,146 (Progressive People’s Alliance), and 235 (United National Party for Development).
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Patrick Ugbe, expressed satisfaction with the result saying, “we are happy with the outcome. This is one election everyone has adjudged as credible, free and fair.
“The people of Cross River State have spoken and we believe it is in response to what he (Imoke) did before in office, demystifying governance. In the next four years we expect to see much more wonders from Imoke in terms of performance.”
Ugbe advised members of the opposition to learn how to accept defeat because there is always another time.
In his reaction, Imoke stated that he was elected again to lead the state as a result of the overwhelming support and goodwill he had been enjoying from the people of the state.
Imoke said: “The majority of the electorate have reposed their confidence in us again.” He told journalists at his private residence in Calabar that the outcome of the election indicated that rather than his popularity reducing, it had been rising as shown by the electorate .
“We have been involved in election since 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2008. The support demonstrated by our people in 2012 is very rare and overwhelming and we are very appreciative over this development.
“I want to specially commend the people for their massive support, affection, trust and confidence of the people of Cross River. This is unprecedented and very rare, that after so many years in politics, you go into an election and my margin of victory
seems probably the highest in the history of the state”, Imoke said.
On the focus of his administration during his second term in office, Imoke said his energy would be channelled towards running an economy for the people that would be service-oriented.“For us to be able to meet this target, we are going to attach more priority to the hospitality industry, knowledge economy that we are committed to develop, including the TINAPA and other result- oriented projects.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said that Imoke’s emergence as governor with a resounding margin “is a mandate to continue leading Cross River State in the direction he has led his people in the last four years.”
He added: “Imoke is a performer. I know he won’t fail the party and the people.”
But the officials of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) blamed the low turn-out of voters during the governorship election on poor mobilisation and civic education by the INEC, civil society groups and political parties before the polls.
A statement issued by the officials of the NBA that monitored the elections at the weekend, pointed out that “the turnout of voters especially in the urban centres was low”, adding that “there was serious urban apathy that contrasted with the marginal increase witnessed in the rural areas and pockets of places in urban areas”.
The statement issued by the NBA Election Working Group (EWG) Chairman, Dafe Akpedeye and Alternate Chairman, Festus Okoye, stressed that “part of the challenge resulted from the contradictory pronouncements from the courts as to whether the elections will take place or not.”
Another group, the Nigerian Civil Society Election Situation Room that was also in Calabar for the election said that there was initial confusion created by the report of a court restraining the conduct of the election. .
Abia State governor, Dr. Theodore Orji, through Ugo Emezue, his Chief Press Secretary, described Imoke’s victory as well-deserved “having worked hard during his first term in office.”
Orji urged Imoke to consolidate on his positive achievements in terms of the transformation of his state in all sectors. .
Senate President David Mark, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, also congratulated Imoke, saying that his victory was a reward for his hard work. .
Others who congratulated Imoke were Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.
The Deputy Speaker also commended the electorate of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte federal constituency of Imo State for re-electing Nnanna Igbokwe in the re-run election on Saturday.