The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Benue State, on Friday, presented Certificates of Return to Governor-elect, Samuel Ortom and 30 Benue State House of Assembly Members-elect.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC), in the State, Mr Nentawe Yilwatda, flanked by the National Commissioner of INEC supervising Benue, Enugu and Anambra states, Festus Okoye, made the presentation at the J.S Tarka Foundation in Makurdi.
Speaking at the occasion, Yilwatda said unlike the 2015, the 2019 general elections recorded 20% higher voter participation.
He informed that over 800,000 voted in the just concluded elections in Benue, higher than the over 600,000 that voted in 2015.
Mr Yilwatda said though the INEC did not record 100% success in the conduct of the elections, it has nevertheless improved the 2019 process.
The REC, who acknowledged that the elections were relatively peaceful, emphasized the need for intensified voter education, noting that number of rejected votes increased in the 2019 polls.
He blamed politicians for the inconclusive elections in the state, but assured that the commission will work to ensure there was no repeat of such situations.
Speaking on behalf of the recipients, the Benue State Governor-elect, Samuel Ortom applauded INEC for avoiding all temptations to compromise the outcome of the elections in the State, noting that though the process was not perfect, much success was recorded.
“If you had done anything different from what you did, Benue will not be celebrating this victory today.”
The Benue State governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari for not interfering in the conduct of the governorship elections.
“We appreciate President Buhari who did not interfere in the conduct of the elections.There would have been so much crisis, but in his wisdom despite all the pressures on him, he chose to allow the will of the people to prevail. We appreciate him for that,” Ortom said.
The Governor stated that he was now the governor of all political parties and appealed to politicians to show patriotism by joining him to develop the state.
He commended security agencies for providing adequate security and for not taking sides with any political party during the elections.
“I have not received any report that security men supported any political party against another. Moving forward, we can have a near perfect process that will not witness the irregularities that greeted the last election.
“Those who burnt election materials and snatched ballot boxes, those who shot at us, where is their victory today”, he queried and urged all to choose the path of peace and honour so that Benue will be great saying violence cannot add any value to the state.
He urged that all hands be on deck and appealed to all stakeholders to put aside their political differences to ensure that Benue grows. “Now I am no longer the governor of PDP but Governor of Benue. We must all work together for peace security and development of Benue,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that of all the 30 members of the Benue State House of Assembly elect who received their certificates, 23 were from the PDP, 5 were of the APC, while the youngest House of Assembly Member -elect, Hon Dyako Cephas (27 years) is of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.