Complacent candidates, indifferent electorate at Ekiti council election
The just-concluded local government election in Ekiti State has shown the level of apathy and indifference in the electioneering process at the third tier of governance in Nigeria.
This level of disenchantment is happening despite the fact that the local governments are the closest to the people at the grassroots level.
Some political analysts have attributed this to the perception that the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) are mere appendages of state governments; bodies that ought to be independent have been variously criticized as partisan and untrustworthy. This has led to major opposition parties boycotting such polls.
Analysts contended that unless deliberate efforts are taken to guarantee the sanctity of ballots at councils’ elections, the situation would continue to repeat itself.
The Ekiti State Independent Electoral Commission, EKSIEK, conducted councillorship and chairmanship elections into the 177 Wards, 16 Local government areas and 19 out of 20 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
However, the electoral body on Sunday, December 5, 2021, through its chairman, Justice Babajide Aladejana (rtd) announced the results of the elections that saw candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), winning all the chairmanship and councillorship positions.
Although the Ekiti State local government elections have come and gone and winners emerged in the contest, The Guardian sought opinions of residents on why many of them didn’t vote.
Mr Sunday Abayomi Collins is a resident of Ado Ekiti. He said that because of restrictions on movement by the state government between the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., he decided to stay at home with his family.
“I decided not to participate in the election because nobody asked for my vote. I didn’t know the candidates contesting because they did not campaign in my area. There were no posters, nor billboards for us to have the slightest idea of who to vote for.”
Mr Ilesanmi Ogunjobi who resides in Oke Ureje area in the state capital said that he was already on his farm with his family before the restriction on movement was imposed. He said prior to the day of the election, a candidate of a political party already bought local fabrics, which he distributed to his supporters, bought cows that would be slaughtered for celebration.
“Under such circumstances, the winner was already in the mood of celebration before the votes. So, whether I voted or not, he already emerged as the winner. I decided to use my time to do something that will add value to my family. “
Madam Funmilayo Ilesanmi a trader said she went to the market on the day of the election despite restrictions on movement. She said she has not felt the impact of the local government except the market rates they usually come to collect from market women.
“We don’t know what they are doing. We only see the impact of the state government who built lockup shops and provide water for us. I don’t think I should vote for someone that didn’t come to us to solicit votes from the market women. We didn’t see them before the election.”
Of the six political parties that allegedly took part in the poll including the APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Action Alliance (AA), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Nigerian Rescue Movement (NRM), and Young People’s Party (YPP), only the ruling APC is visible in the state. Others are mushroom political parties without traceable office addresses, except APGA.
The major opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) backed out of the contest, citing a predetermined outcome as the basis for its decision. In an interview, the state Acting Chairman of the party, Lanre Omolase said his party did not participate because the entire arrangement was fraught with illegalities.
He also said that there was no need to create Local Council Developed Areas, LCDAs, as the system is to the disadvantage of some towns and communities.
According to the chairman, the full-fledged local governments were yet to find their feet financially, citing poor financial position of the state as one of the basis for opposing the creation of new council areas.
He argued that no serious outcome would be expected as the ruling party had put machinery in motion to undermine free and fair poll. So, to him, it would amount to nothing but a waste of time and resources for the PDP to participate in the election.
Speaking while monitoring the polls, the Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), Mr Toyin Lucas, said the low turnout doesn’t vitiate the outcome as long as the process remains peaceful and credible.