Ekiti: In The Beginning Was The PDP
EVEN when the entire South West seemed to have fallen in love with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ekiti people have continued to show resentment for the party they kicked out of power in the June 21, 2014 election when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Mr. Ayodele Fayose trounced former Governor Kayode Fayemi.
In the governorship election, PDP won in all the 16 local councils. It repeated the feat at the presidential election on February 28 this year, in what Governor Fayose has described as a “16-0” win.
Many had thought the election to the House of Assembly would deliver a different result, to prove the existence of the APC in the state, and prove wrong Fayose who had boasted the PDP would win all 26 seats in the Assembly. But the APC did not meet their expectation, as the PDP won in 25 constituencies where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had announced results. The result for Ileje-meje was declared inconclusive. A fresh poll holds on April 18.
The margin with which the PDP defeated the APC was so wide; many wondered what had gone wrong with a party that was once loved by the people. For instance, in Ado Constituency 1, PDP scored 10,065 to defeat APC that polled 3,819. In Ado constituency 2, the PDP scored 11,770 against APC’s 4,660. At Efo Constituency, the PDP scored 5,637 while APC managed to get 1,320. The story was not different in Ikere constituency 1 where PDP scored 7,244 while APC polled 3,091.
The APC has, however, rejected the result, saying the exercise came short of a free and fair election. It vowed to challenge the result at the tribunal. The Publicity Secretary of the party, Taiwo Olatubosun, said there were cases of intimidation by policemen and thugs deployed to polling units across the state.
He said intimidation of opponents began on Friday with many reports of state-sponsored bullying, a situation which, he said, accounted for a low turnout of voters.
“To be specific, APC members were driven to the bush in many towns across the state. These included Efon Alaaye, where PDP thugs did not allow any APC member to participate in accreditation and no party agent was allowed to stay in any of the polling units in the town. In Ilupeju-Ijan, APC members alleged a traditional ruler threatened to banish them because of their refusal to vote for the PDP. The people, numbering hundreds, left their abode and could not vote for the party of their choice,” Olatubosun said.
It was also alleged that in Ijan-Ekiti, PDP agents forced members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), who worked as adhoc staff, to abandon card readers for manual accreditation in three units: Eyingbe, Ogbontitun and Imekun, so that ballot boxes could be stuffed in support of the PDP’s candidate who is a native of the town.
Olatubosun said: “In Ikere Ekiti, thugs and policemen from Government House did not allow APC members to vote. Party agents were driven into the bush. In Afao Ekiti, Fayose’s town, many APC members were not allowed to vote. They were driven into the bush by Fayose’s thugs who were imported into the town the previous night.”
Olatunbosun said that in Oke-Ako, country home of factional Speaker, Dele Olugbemi, thugs and fake policemen scared away voters with gunshots, and engaged in illegal thumb printing of ballot papers.
“In Ijero Local Government, it was the same story. Thugs chased away voters and carted away voting materials, including ballot boxes. They later thumb printed on papers and deposited them in the ballot boxes. In Ado Ekiti, policemen attached to Government House, who were not accredited to monitor the election, arrested APC members.”
Reacting to APC’s allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Idowu Adelusi, described the party as bad losers. He said: “APC people are bad losers. Like I always say, if APC wins an election, that election is perfect. If APC is defeated, the winner has rigged the election. In the imagination of APC, it is either soldiers or police rigged for PDP, or thugs locked APC members in their houses, so that they couldn’t come out to vote.
“The Ekiti APC is only trying to find an excuse for its outright rejection by Ekiti people, despite all attempts to demonize Fayose. They tried to ignite crisis, to coerce INEC to postpone the election, but that did not work. The APC are trying to explain away their third time defeat by the PDP.
“It is the APC people that resorted to snatching of ballot boxes at polling booths. In Ilejemeje, Ikole, Efon, Ekiti West, the sinking APC’s members snatched ballot boxes, and burnt the contents. These reports are with the police for necessary action. The victory of Governor Fayose has demonstrated his popularity. It is a clear indication of the resolve of Ekiti people to defend the mandate given to him. Lastly, if APC has any complaint, let them go to the tribunal.”
To many observers, the dismal performance of the APC at the Assembly polls did not come as a surprise. All the sitting lawmakers that were given automatic tickets by the APC did not have time to campaign. They appeared to have been swimming against the tide with their impeachment plan. Some of them had been residing outside Ekiti since the impeachment plot was hatched, fearing attack by pro-government supporters. The government, meanwhile, had continued to blackmail them using state-owned media to describe them as “enemies” working to thwart the will of the people.
The government succeeded in making people to see the impeachment plot as a plan to get, through the back door, what APC did not get during the June 21 polls. And Ekiti people were desperate to defend the mandate they had given to Fayose. Traditional rulers and respected non-partisan groups kicked against the impeachment plot, just as organized labour, on Friday, staged a peaceful protest against Fayose impeachment.
To watchers, the APC in Ekiti State needs to look inward and see where it got it wrong with the people, else the state could become a springboard from where the PDP would re-launch itself back to the South West.