• 16 Candidates Jostle For seat, APC, SDP More Visible
• Police Deploy 17,317, Civil Defence 9,747 Personnel
• Vehicular Movement Restricted On Election Day
About 749, 065 residents of Ekiti State, representing 76 per cent of the total voters registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will today decide who becomes the next governor.
Although 16 political parties fielded candidates for the great battle, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are more feasible with spread across the 16 local councils against the expectation that the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will give APC a run for its money.
The immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Biodun Oyebanji flies APC flag while former governor, Segun Oni is the candidate of the SDP.
The sudden coldness of the PDP and its candidate, Chief Bisi Kolawole, to the election has left party members in a disarray. PDP held no rally ahead of the election.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, said the figure represented those who have collected their permanent Voters Cards (PVC) as at Monday June 13, 2022 across the 16 local government areas of the state.
Yakubu added that four national commissioners and eight resident electoral commissioners (REC) of INEC would conduct the governorship election.
The candidates will be expecting votes from the 177 wards and 2,445 polling units of INEC. The number of registered voters in the state is 988,923 but only 749, 065 have collected their PVC. The figure may have increased before the commencement of election today.
According to INEC, the breakdown of the 177 wards council-by-council are as follows : Moba (11), Ido/Osi (11), Ilejemeje (10), Irepodun/ Ifelodun (11), Oye (12), Ikole (12 ), Ado (13), Ekiti West (11), and Ijero (12). Others are Efon (10), Ekiti South West (11), Ikere (11), Gbonyin (10), Ise/Orun (10), Emure (10) and Ekiti East (12).
Also, the breakdown of the 2,445 polling units are: Ado (344), Moba (116), Ido/Osi (144), Ilejemeje (91), Irepodun/ Ifelodun (174), Ekiti South West (188), Ikere (125). Others are Emure (94), Gbonyin (115), Ise/Orun (114), Oye (191), Ikole (189), Ekiti East (112), Ekiti West, Ijero(145) and Efon (119).
The electoral body distributed the sensitive material for the election from its state headquarters to the 16 local government areas, instead of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where the distribution normally takes place.
The police said they had deployed 17,317 personnel, while the Civil Defence Corps has deployed 9,747 officers and men for the exercise.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali Baba said: “All the 177 wards and 2,445 polling units will be manned by appropriate manpower. Let me say this, the massive deployment is not to scare the citizens, but to protect the sanctity of the ballots and the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Those who want to constitute a clog in the wheel of progress will face the consequences of their actions. National security should be of priority and uppermost in our minds. Let us conduct this election in the most civil manner.”
Calm atmosphere has returned to the state after the candidates were made to sign peace accord by the General Abdusalam Abubakar-led National Peace Council on Wednesday this week.
The combined armed security forces comprising the Army, Police and Civil Defence have been patrolling the streets of the state capital and some flash points to ensure normal atmosphere for the election to hold.
Meanwhile, the IGP has restricted vehicular movements within the state, particularly along the entry and exit points to Ekiti State with effect from 12:00am on Saturday 18th June, 2022 to 6:00p.m.
“To this end, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the military, as well as other security agencies have been deployed across the state borders to enforce the restriction order to the later and ensure criminal-minded individuals do not infiltrate into the state and cause mayhem during, before and after the election.
“The IGP hereby, assures the public of the Force readiness to perform its statutory duty of protection of life and property of law abiding citizens of Ekiti State throughout the period of the election and beyond while calling on everyone to support and cooperate with the operatives deployed and ensure prompt report of any suspicious person or group of persons to the nearest police station or call the numbers provided numbers.”
A civil society organisation, Yiaga Africa said that the commitment of key election stakeholders, such as INEC and security agencies, to a credible and non-violent election would be tested with the Ekiti governorship poll.
According to Yiaga Africa, based on commitments made by INEC and security agencies, the expectation is that the election should not be defined by perennial challenges of logistics, technological failures, inconsistent application of electoral laws and guidelines, electoral violence and vote buying.
Briefing newsmen yesterday in Ado Ekiti, the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo noted that some of the challenges in previous elections have undermined public confidence in the electoral process and raised questions about the gains achieved in Nigeria’s 23 years of democratic journey.
“Sixteen (16) out of the eighteen (18) political parties in Nigeria are on the ballot, having fulfilled all conditions for candidates’ nomination.”
He said that the summary of key findings from the Yiaga Africa’s Pre-Election Observation showed that INEC demonstrated commitment and readiness to conduct the 2022 Ekiti governorship election.
“The commission successfully implemented activities in the election timetable and schedule of activities.
“From a Yiaga Africa’s perspective, the governorship election presents an opportunity to assess the operational implications of specific provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the newly issued Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines. Across all the pre-election reporting periods, WTV long-term observers (LTOs) heard and witnessed preparatory activities carried out by INEC across all the 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Ekiti State.
“These activities include voter registration and display claims and objections, voter education, distribution of voter registers to political parties, recruitment and training of polling officials and distribution of election observation kits. Yiaga Africa also notes INEC’s consistent engagement with stakeholders.”
HOWEVER, the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Segun Oni, yesterday, warned politicians against setting the state on fire by allegedly abducting SDP leaders in their homes.
Addressing newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, the SDP candidate urged political parties participating in the election to adhere strictly to the electoral laws and stipulated guidelines for free, fair and transparent conduct, devoid of violence.
Oni, who alleged plans to arrest SDP leaders for kidnapping, cautioned that such move is capable of setting the state on fire.
“Let us tell them that they should not set this state on fire. We want to warn the team that has been going round kidnapping people to desist from it. We understand that some of those kidnapped are still in their custody. Some victims escaped from their custody. That team should be stopped, because what they are doing is illegal.
“We are still watching, we are not going to resist them. If we resist them, it may lead to loss of lives. We understand that one Kayode, who was kidnapped three days ago, is being kept among kidnappers,” he said.
According to Oni, “It has become imperative to alert INEC, security agencies, election observers, the international community and all other stakeholders, on the dire need for all parties in this election to adhere strictly to the electoral laws and stipulated guidelines for free, fair and transparent conduct, devoid of violence.
“For the exercise to pass the credibility test and be accepted by our teeming supporters, the following major guidelines must be followed to the letter.
“All Forms EC8A must be stamped and counter-signed by the relevant electoral officers, not their representatives, as well as the party agents.
“Any form not stamped and signed is not considered authentic and will not be accepted.
“ NEC must use only the staff it selected and trained for the election. Those staff who have been trained in the use of the new technology being deployed for the conduct of elections are the only ones to be used to carry out the job. Under no circumstance must they be substituted with untrained ad-hoc staff who, apart from their expected inability to operate the election equipment, are susceptible to compromise.
“INEC must ensure alternative internet providers to avoid excuses of network failures. As we all know, some networks may be stronger at certain rural locations and weaker at some others. We expect INEC to be aware of this, as all Nigerians are, and prepare adequately to avoid any hitch in the transmission process.
These three guidelines, as set by INEC, must be adhered to to guarantee free, fair and credible election. Anything contrary can only lead to chaos.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on the 4th of this month, released new regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections in 2022 during a special meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja to review security arrangement for the impending Ekiti State governorship election.
“Let me make this clear; any political party or candidate that attempts to tamper with those guidelines is certainly not a friend of democracy and peace in Ekiti and Nigeria.
“As a party, we shall submit to the General Abdusalami Abubakar Peace Accord signed two days ago here in the state, alongside other candidates. Our people are also ready to conduct themselves peacefully and responsibly.
“But, we also state that their resolve should not be put to test.