• Fayemi, Fayose in war of words
By Dayo Johnson and Rotimi Ojomoyela
PALPABLE tension hovering over Ekiti State ahead of Saturday governorship election is worrisome.
No doubt the election will decide the continued political relevance of two gladiators – incumbent Governor Ayo Fayose of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the governorship candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Kayode Fayemi.
Fayose is mobilising huge resources in favour of his party’s candidate who is also the incumbent deputy governor of the state, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka.
Both gladiators, from all indications, are set to fight this battle with all their strength and might.
Consequently, allegations of compromise of the poll are flying from the ruling PDP and the opposition APC.
While Fayose continued to talk tough, saying the people of the state would reject rigging, he went further to engage security chiefs in the state in a face-off by accusing them of working in cahoots with the APC in the deployment of alleged compromised operatives to the state to perpetrate rigging and illegal arrest of members of the PDP ahead of the election.
But the opposition APC asked Fayose to shut his trap and stop crying wolf where none existed.
Accusations, ranging from the purchase of voter cards to the doctoring of voters list, cloning of voter cards, inducement of voters and coercion, are flying.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies have severally assured the people of Ekiti of their readiness to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
As of the last count, 35 candidates will slug it out in the election.
According to INEC, 842,731 registered voters are expected to file out in all the 177 wards across the 133 towns and villages in the 16 council area of the state to vote for the candidates of their choice.
Security, zero tolerance for partisanship
30,000 operatives, drawn from the police, the Department of State Security, Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies, are being deployed to ensure law and order and protection of lives and property.
The security personnel will man the polling units.
According to the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Bello Ahmed, the command had mapped out strategies to ensure hitch-free election, saying, “With effective from July 9, officers and men would begin to man strategic locations in the state”.
Ahmed went on, “Robust security has been put in place come July 14. Not less than 30,000 security agents will be deployed and other logistics will be on ground. Our tactical team is ready for the task ahead”.
Partisan officers to be sanctioned
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, also read the riot act to his personnel that would be participating in the election, threatening to send packing from the force any officer found fraternising with politicians or acting in a way that could impair the election.
Idris, who spoke though the Commander in charge of Public
Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU), ACP Abayomi Shogunle, said “We were not happy with complaints that dogged the outcome of the last election in Ekiti, particularly regarding the conduct of security personnel. Though the police were not fingered, we need to charge our men on the need to be apolitical.
“We have no business being partisan. Our duty is to provide security for the electorate, election observers, voting materials on the day of election and nothing more.
“We are saying that we are going to dismiss whoever found guilty of misbehaviour in this election. If we have strong evidence against you, we will take legal action against you as well”.
ICT to be deployed
Also expressing the readiness of the electoral umpire for the July 14 governorship election, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof. Abduganiyu Raji, said INEC was relying on the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) gadgets for the conduct of the election, saying this would make it difficult for the staff to manipulate the outcome.
Explaining why this was necessary, Raji said, “ICT deployment by INEC has really helped the electioneering process in Nigeria. It has reduced the incidences of thuggery, ballot stuffing and snatching during elections”.
Raji revealed that the electoral body had identified 299 flashpoints across Ekiti.
The REC, however, did not disclose where those flashpoints were located, stating that security agencies were already aware of the areas.
“We have identified 299 flashpoint-polling units in the state and we are preparing for them; but before the election, some of the threat areas would have been addressed.
“We have submitted the necessary information to the Commissioner of Police in the state and our National Commissioner has forwarded the information to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police for necessary action.
“Presently, our election risk management desk is working on flashpoints mapping to make it easier for stakeholders to read.”
The REC appealed to civil society organisations to join INEC in appealing to political parties and their members to stop hate speeches as well as rumour mongering.
Also speaking on the election, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Ekiti, Osun and Oyo states, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, and his counterpart in charge of Election Operations and Logistics, Mrs. Amina Zakari, assured that the expectations of Nigerians on the Ekiti election will not be dashed.
The duo said there would be no room for failure in the poll.
They spoke at a Pre-Election Preparation workshop organised for Electoral Officers, Assistant Electoral Officers and Heads of Department.
Soyebi, who said the workshop was part of preparations to tidy up things, disclosed that every polling unit must be opened by 7 a.m.
Zakari, on her part, said, “I have no doubt that this election will be well-organised and it will be adjudged as the most successful election ever conducted”.
A document released by INEC had indicated the names of candidates, their running mates and the 35 political parties that will be participating in the poll.
According to the document, all the 35 candidates vying for the governorship position are males while only 10 females are running mates.
Besides Eleka of the PDP and Fayemi’s APC, other candidates include Tunde Afe of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Ayegbusi Akinoye Oladele, Social Democratic Party (SDP), Sikiru Tae Lawal, Labour Party (LP), Adebisi Omoyeni, Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN) and Dare Bejide, Progressive Party of Nigeria (PPN).
Also on the list are Yinka Akerele, Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP), Ajibare Emmanuel Tosin, Independent Democrat (ID), Dr Bode Olowoporoku, ACD, and Segun Adewale, ADP.
PVC cloning allegation
Amid the fear that some permanent voter cards may have been cloned to compromise the Ekiti election, INEC said, last week, that it had anticipated the move and assured of the integrity of the electoral process in place.
“We wish to assure the public that the commission had anticipated this and proactively took measures to preserve and further secure our electoral materials,” INEC Director, Voter Education, and Publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, said in a statement.
“Several security features and secret source codes are contained in Smart Card Readers which enable them to read only PVCs duly issued by the Commission.”
The electoral body said it would take all attempts at compromising its systems and the electoral process seriously and reassured the public that not only are the systems robust, it would continue to fortify them.
In a similar reaction, Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to INEC’s Chairman, said the “allegation made by a serving governor, which gave the impression that INEC is planning to rig the Ekiti election was untrue and baseless”.
Oyekanmi added,”We wish to emphasise that it is impossible for the Commission’s officials, any individual or group for that matter to preload the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) or provide ballot papers for stuffing as alleged. Indeed, the SCRs, which perform the three functions of identifying, verifying and authenticating the voter and the permanent voter card, can only function on election day.
“In addition to the results sheet that we issue to party agents at the Polling Unit and at every level of coalition, the Commission also deliberately introduced form EC60E to show election results at the Polling Unit, which is the most important level. This form is pasted at every Polling Unit after coalition.
“To that extent, no INEC member of staff, no matter how highly placed, can rig an election in favour of or against any particular candidate or political party. This is as a result of the stringent processes and safeguards introduced by the Commission.
“It is also not true, as alleged, that three INEC officials have been meeting with one of candidates contesting in the Ekiti governorship election. The Commission has also not made any plans to hire members of any political party as Presiding Officers or for any electoral position.
War of words
Tempers on the poll further flared, yesterday, when the Director General, Olusola Eleka Campaign Organisation, Bisi Kolawole, told Sunday Vanguard that Fayemi was desperate and would do anything to win the election.
“Don’t forget the fact that the PDP has been working for this election for over a year, and somebody is coming few weeks to the poll and, without campaigning, without touching the grassroots, without talking to the people, wants to win the election, boasting of the federal might. When you are desperate, there no limit to what you can do”, Kolawole said.
“Fayemi is a desperate person. He exhibited the threat during the party primaries and he’s still doing it because of his closeness to the powers-that-be in Abuja. He probably feels he can bulldoze his way. I think he’s a desperate politician.
“I don’t think that will work in Ekiti. The people are solidly behind Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose and Prof. Olusola Eleka.
“They are already arresting members of the PDP and those loyal to the party but the people are resolute, they are determined that Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka is the right person”.
Responding to the statement from the Olusola Eleka Campaign Organisation, the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation accused Fayose of spinning “irresponsible lies”, saying the lies will not save the governor and his candidate, Eleka, from defeat in the July 14 poll.