BY BEN EZEAMALU
The United States Agency for International Development has disowned a poll which the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] says puts its candidate, Iyiola Omisore, ahead of his All Progressives Congress [APC] counterpart, Rauf Aregbesola, according to a report by Premium Times
The source of the said poll is unclear but the PDP has in the last few days been promoting it as evidence of Mr. Omisore’s imminent victory in the August 9 governorship election in the state.
In the purported survey, Mr. Omisore led the pack of other contestants with 58 percent tally, followed by Mr. Aregbesola, the incumbent governor, with 30 percent.
On Friday, Mr. Omisore’s campaign organisation issued a statement saying the purported USAID poll was by far more credible than the one done by Lagos-based research firm, RMS-TNS, which puts Mr. Aregbesola far ahead of Mr. Omisore.
“The public should note that USAID, an international organisation operating all over the world with unrivalled technical competence and impartial perspective on Osun political landscape, had put Senator Omisore ahead with 58 percent to Aregbesola’s 30 percent,” Diran Odeyemi, the campaign’s director of media and strategy, said in the statement.
But USAID has now said it did not conduct any poll on the Osun election.
“None of USAID Peace and Democratic Governance Implementing Partners ( P/DG IPs) support or plan to support any election related opinion polls in Osun,” the USAID Democracy and Governance Team said.
The Acting Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Rhonda Watson, also said, “NO USAID poll was taken in Osun.”
Watson and the USAID Democracy and Governance Team were responding to an enquiry by two officials of Mr. Aregbesola’s campaign organisation – Olusola Adeyeye and Semiu Okanlawon – who wrote to ask whether USAID conducted any poll on the Osun election.
Mr. Adeyeye, a professor, had on July 30 written to the U.S. Consulate as follows:
“My attention has been brought to the outlandish findings of an opinion poll purportedly conducted by the USAID.
“In my capacity as the Chairman and Director General of the Aregbesola campaign, I am seeking to verify whether or not the USAID conducted a poll on the pending gubernatorial election in the State of Osun.
“If such a poll was conducted, it is only fair that its findings be freely disseminated to all rather than what now appears to be a clandestine circulation. Accordingly, I am requesting an authentic copy of the results of whatever poll was conducted by the USAID on the pending election in Osun.
“Needless to say, the good name and reputation of the USAID should be jealously guarded from being shredded or damaged by certified crocodiles in the murky waters of Nigeria’s partisan politicking.”
In a response on July 31, USAID and the U.S. Consulate wrote back to say they did not and had no plan to conduct any poll on the political activities in Osun State.
The correspondences between the USAID/U.S. Consulate and Messrs Adeyeye and Okanlawon were released by the APC on Friday.
PREMIUM TIMES later independently verified the authenticity of the letters. Officials at the U.S. consulate said the documents were genuine and that agencies of the U.S. government do not conduct polls on elections holding in foreign countries.
“Our only interest is for the election to be fair and credible,” the official, who preferred not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said.
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