Ekiti State awaits new governor
Contrary to forecasts in the build up to Ekiti State governorship election, voters, yesterday, trooped out to elect a new governor, in an election adjudged to be largely violence, hitch-free.
That notwithstanding, the exercise was characterised by rejection of many voters, including the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Olusola Eleka, who was initially not recognized by the card reader.
Also apart from the card reader failure, missing names of prospective voters on the list, massive voter inducement also featured prominently.
Residents started arriving voting booths across the 16 local councils of the state as early as 6:30am, where they queued for the accreditation, which did not commence in many centres at 8am as promised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Specifically, in both Ado and Ikere Ekiti, voters arrived the voting centres as early as 6:30am to await the arrival of INEC officials, as well as, voting materials.
Interestingly, some security personnel also arrived some polling units as early as 6:45am.
At Polling Unit (PU) 007-Ofamofuru, Okereku, Ikere Ekiti, which is the polling unit of the state’s Deputy Governor and PDP’s candidate, Eleka, and others across the senatorial district, the large turnout of voters was unanticipated, considering the tension that consistently mounted in the state in the last one week.
In the entire Ado and Ikere Ekiti, the exercise was relatively peaceful.
However, By 11:00am, an alleged acid bath of a party agent in Ado-Ekiti, and rumour of planned attack on Okereku, led to the reinforcement of security personnel in the area before the arrival of the PDP candidate.
Malfunctioning card readers helped in lengthening the period for accreditation to between three to five minutes in some cases, thereby slowing down the pace of the electoral process.
This led to scores of voters being stationed under the scorching sun for hours in voting centres like, units 003, 006 and 007 in Ikere-Ekiti.
In 006, one of the card readers was not working at all.
Card readers also malfunctioned and delayed voting at Unit 3, Ward 1, Ofigba Registration Area; Unit 7, Ward 2 in Ise Orun Local Council, leading to late commencement of the exercise.
At Odo Ise III Registration Area, Unit 3, Ward 3 of the same council, the exercise was delayed due to late display of accreditation lists for voters to verify their numbers.
One of the voters, Mr. Rasak Adewale, lamented that officials “refused to paste the list in good time for voters to check their names.
They ought to have pasted it since Friday evening. Even, this place is too small for the large number of voters that have turned out to check their names, get accredited and cast their votes.
There is no way the INEC officials won’t be disturbed by people checking their names,” he said.
By midday, voting had ended in some polling centres in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Council.
In fact, at Unit 6, Ward 2, election was rounded off by 12:19pm, shortly after the Chief of Staff to Governor Ayodele Fayose, Dipo Anisulowo, was arrested by security operatives in his Aare hometown.
However, Eleka, who wore white lace and a white fez cap with the inscription “Ekiti,” arrived the polling unit by 9:10am, he could not cast his vote till 11:12am.
On two occasions, his Permanent Voter Card (PVC) was rejected, and it took the intervention of INEC Headquarters in Abuja, before he could exercise his franchise.
A handful of prospective voters were totally dismayed as their names were missing from the displayed voter register.
The Guardian confirmed the rumours of widespread inducement of voters at PU 004-Oisa Agbedege, and PU 007-Ofamoru, where agents of one of the political parties were seen compensating electorate, who voted for the party, after proper monitoring.
Heavy presence of security personnel, including officers and men of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force Mobile Police and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), was noticed in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
Eleka, who spoke after casting his vote said his experience, (PVC rejection by the card reader) could not make him lose confidence in INEC and the electoral process.
He condemned security agencies for allowing widespread inducement of voters saying, “It is left for the security agencies and INEC to do the needful.
The APC agents are deliberately distributing money in the various wards-Atibafin, Inaganjo, Ilarokun, Palace and other places.
A former council chairman of the APC was seen distributing money and the security operatives were just looking at him and doing nothing …I am coming out victorious by the grace of God.”
The Guardian learnt that some youths, especially in Ado, have vowed to foment trouble if the election is manipulated.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC in the state, Senator Ayo Arise, who voted at Ward 1 Unit 5 Oye-Ekiti, alleged that some youths were moving from one polling unit to another to cast votes with different PVCs.
This allegation was promptly denied by the presiding officer in one of the units, Sani Nafisat, who insisted that the card reader machine would not allow any form of multiple voting.
A member of the state House of Assembly and PDP chieftain in Oleje-Ekiti, Dr. Samuel Omotosho, who spoke in support of Nafisat, dismissed the allegations of multiple voting, and pointed out that there were areas where card reader machine were malfunctioning.
On his part, the APC candidate, Fayemi while reacting to reports of non-functioning of card readers in some areas cautioned INEC against disenfranchising voters.
He said: “We hope Ekiti people would not be used as guinea pigs with the technology just introduced.
We have reports of some voters not allowed to vote because card readers could not authenticate some fingers and no incident forms were provided.
“That is why I am being cautious to assess the performance of INEC at this level.
We have reported cases of arrest in some areas, and some skirmishes but by and large, the process is fairly okay.”
The former minister denied allegation that his party was inducing voters, stressing that the party does not believe in buying of votes, but has rather convinced Nigerians of its track record of performance.
In the light of the alleged massive inducement, the Accord Party’s candidate in the election, Mr. Abiodun Aluko, has advised those whose votes were purchased to be prepared for the consequences of their actions in the next four years.
While speaking to The Guardian after casting his vote at St John’s Anglican Primary School, Unit 1, Ward 9, Ikere Ekiti, Ikere Local Council, he lamented that whoever voted for any party because of N4, 000 or N5, 000 has sold his or her conscience and should be prepared for the consequences in the next four years.
“And when they have sold their conscience, whatever happens in the next four years, to whoever is the winner, that is his headache.
So, you don’t have a right to complain that the government has not performed because you have collected your own dividend upfront.
“The government can do whatever it likes and when you approach it, it will say but I paid for your services; did I not pay you on election day?
That is your own share of the loot, you take N4, 000 and the government will take back N4b.
“Funny enough, I am a pensioner and I received an alert to go and vote for the PDP. My wife is also a pensioner and she received an alert from the state government to go and vote for the PDP.
Right here, now, they have agents: APC is distributing N5, 000 and PDP is distributing N4, 000 right now on this field. We are making a mockery of democracy.”
Aluko’s counterpart in the Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN), Bisi Omoyeni, has called for the cancellation of the poll, and the disqualification of the PDP and APC candidates by the INEC for a true leader to emerge.
Omoyeni, who described the electoral process as a rape of democracy said, “They have killed democracy in Nigeria.
If democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people, what happened today (yesterday) shouldn’t have happened.
We are practising secret voting system, but the election was open everywhere. What we saw was ‘see and buy,’ like a bazaar.
The method they adopted was ‘show me who you voted for and get your money.’ It’s unfortunate for Nigeria’s democracy.”
He said: “If we want the election to be peaceful, INEC should cancel it because it is not credible; it was not secret ballot, but a bazaar, which is against the electoral law.
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