Ekiti elders warn politicians, INEC against repeat of 1983 episode
The Igbimo Ure Ekiti (IUE), a non-political umbrella of elders from Ekiti State, has warned politicians across all party divides to desist from truncating the wishes of the people in this weekend’s governorship election in the state.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Sunday, president of the group, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said there would be consequences if any politician involves in any act of violence before, during and after the election.
“We believe we have the capacity not only to give this warning, but also to enforce it. This is why we are saying no to rigging, no to violence, no to thuggery and no to ballot-box snatching,” he said.
While bemoaning the anxiety and tension that has enveloped the state as the election approaches due to the shootings, hate speeches and tough-talking rallies, especially of the two major political parties, he urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be neutral and diligent in the conduct of the election.
“For us as a group, we want to protect the safety and security of our people. We wish to recall that between 2007 and 2010, the election and re-run that followed was characterized by killing and destruction of valuable assets in the state. We cannot forget in a hurry the Ido Osi tragedy, the Oye skirmishes and the inconsistencies of the then Ekiti electoral commissioner, Madam Ayoka Adebayo. Our desire is for the sustenance of democracy and for the people to elect their leaders freely without intimidation.”
On how the group would requite failure to heed to their warnings, a member of the body, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said: “In Yorubaland and particularly in Ekiti, we believe and subscribe to some core values, one of which is that your name is more important than any acquisition money can buy.
“The consequences will come in diverse forms. In the 1983 debacle in the old Ondo State, comprising the present Ondo and Ekiti States, an election was held, the National Party of Nigeria’s candidate, Chief Akin Omoboriowo, was declared the winner contrary to the overwhelming expectations of the electorate, who embarked on a large scale violent protest. Peace eluded the entire state until the Supreme Court declared that the election was indeed won by Chief Adekunle Ajasin of the Unity Party of Nigeria.
“This is because Ekiti people are averse to cheating. It is not because we don’t believe in the sanctity of the courts, but we want to stop the trend of shifting our democracy to the courtrooms. Let the people, not the courts, decide who should lead us. What we are after is that the result to be announced by INEC will be the wishes of the people,” he said.
A historian and member of the group, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said he is saddened by the hate speeches and mudslinging that have characterized the campaigns. “There is considerable sadness by the ongoing situation in my state, especially the win at all cost syndrome. Gladiators are going into political contest without the possibility of losing. The fact that you lose an election does not mean Ekiti people reject you. All the candidates are sons of Ekiti and if the people at the ballot say no today, it doesn’t mean they can’t say yes tomorrow,” he said.
Also, the general overseer and presiding pastor of Star Gospel Church, Ketu-Lagos, Prophet Felix Taiwo, Babamajekiayemibaje Akinrinmade, Ketu-Lagos has warned supporters of the PDP candidate, Professor Koladapo Olusola, and that of All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr. Olukayode Fayemi to thread softly. Babamajekiayemibaje, as he’s fondly called, charged the contestants and their supporters not to overheat the polity, but rather see the exercise as gain or lose.He made the assertion during a special prayer for the nation, saying that God revealed to him that the incumbent number two man should relax as he would emerge victoriously, even as he admonished all the stakeholders to sheathe their swords for peace to reign.