TOMORROW, Saturday 18th June 2022, is Election Day in Ekiti State in the South-West geo-political zone. It is one of the off-cycle governorship elections to determine who will be the next governor after the regime of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the incumbent.
Sixteen political parties and their candidates are “battle ready” for this democratic exercise. However, only six of them participated in the pre-election debates held on Monday, 13th June 2022 at Ado Ekiti. These were: Oluwole Oluyede of the African Democratic Congress (ADC); Kemi Elebute Halle of the African Democratic Party (ADP); Biodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Olabisi Kolawole of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); a former governor of the state, Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Ranti Ajayi of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
We commend the contestants for conducting an amicable debate which enabled the voters assess them. This was unlike the highly belligerent atmosphere of the debate between Ayo Fayose and Fayemi which eventually dovetailed into a militarised electoral contest in 2014.
That election also helped set the tone for the momentous 2015 general election which, many had feared, could lead to a serious national crisis. That crisis was avoided mainly due to the peaceful and patriotic disposition of the then incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan. In the same way, the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections will be the foretastes of things to come in the 2023 general elections. They are our electoral dress rehearsals. We call for a peaceful election where all the stakeholders play their roles in accordance with the rules of the game to ensure a free and inclusive exercise and an acceptable outcome.
A lot will be expected from the politicians, especially the candidates and their supporters. This election must be strictly determined by the choice of the electorate. We say no to violence, vote-buying or any act which will interfere with the people’s right to choose their leader. A peaceful atmosphere will encourage a lot of turnout and give the winner greater legitimacy.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should also rise to the occasion and ensure that its materials and staff are on time. This election is of particular interest because all eyes will be on INEC to demonstrate its savvy in transmitting all results from the polling booths to the INEC headquarters in Abuja. If this is successfully done, it will cut off electoral vices such as ballot snatching, gun violence and the falsification of results at the collation centres.
The security agencies must also be fully mobilised and ready to do their work professionally. The INEC staff, voters and electoral materials must be fully secured.
We wish Ekiti people success at the polls tomorrow.