Ekiti Election: Minus For Democracy

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Against the backdrop of a chequered history of political volatility, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, promised to make the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State on Saturday, July 14, 2018 a watershed and a reference point in the conduct of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in the country.
The election has since come and gone and result announced by the electoral umpire but Nigerians and the global community have not stopped giving their verdicts on the outcome of the poll. One of such groups which made its findings and conclusions public on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, in Ado Ekiti, the State capital, is a coalition of accredited domestic and international election observers who monitored the election.
Addressing newsmen at Pathfinders Hotel, Ado Ekiti, over 50 member organisations which spoke through Dr Gabriel Nwambu of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Mrs Virginia Marumoa-Gae of the International Republican Institute (IRIS) in South Africa and Mrs Yemisi Ige of the Abuja-based Patriotic Women Foundation declared that the conduct of the election which produced Dr Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as governor-elect fell short of global best practices and electoral standards.
The independent election monitors faulted the flooding of Ekiti with security operatives and noted with regrets the preponderance of such obnoxious electoral incidences of vote-buying, hijacking of ballot boxes, human rights violations, political party agents’ arrests, sporadic shootings, indifference of security agents to cash inducement of voters, disruption of polls leading to cancellation of results, sending away of some party agents from collation centres and intimidation and forceful influencing of electorate’s free will.
Consequently, the coalition of election observers came out with the verdict that the general conduct and outcome of the governorship election could not be endorsed as a template for the forthcoming general elections in 2019 or any other election in the country for that matter as the infractions identified, if not corrected were enough to derail democracy in Nigeria.
The Tide strongly aligns with the position of this body of election monitors and also affirms that the open partisan conduct of security operatives deployed to protect the sanctity of the electoral process in the State is not only condemnable but should not be allowed to go without consequences to the culpable officers in order to inspire confidence in the involvement of the security agencies in subsequent engagements.
We are, indeed, amazed that the more we cry for the APC-promised change, the deeper we seem to be entrenching in vile and guile to subvert the will of the people and imperil democracy in our country. Nigerians must not be allowed to descend into absolute hopelessness in the electoral process and therefore be tempted to resort to self help in seeking redemption.
This is why the Federal Government must prove to be equal to the task of discerning national interest and protecting same against parochial, personal, party or selectional considerations in order to safeguard our democracy, respect for the people and ensuring socio-political stability while reducing tension and the allure of election-related violence. The way to begin is the immediate arrest and prosecution of all those who subverted the electoral process in the Ekiti election debacle.
With governorship election coming up in Osun State in September, the miscarriages and misgivings of Ekiti must be properly and appropriately addressed and laid to rest so as not to leave any impressions that anything is permissible and nothing is prohibitive in the quest to retain political power or to wrest it.
However, we are not unmindful of some progress made and some improvements achieved by INEC, especially with regard to distribution and arrival of electoral materials at polling units and opening of poll on time with reduced number of incidences of malfunctional card readers in Ekiti as compared to previous exercises.
Be that as it may, it is obvious that the patience of Nigerians appears to be getting to its elastic limit and the electoral commission, the security agencies, the political class as well as the Federal Government must be sensitive to this and make deliberate and concerted efforts to stave off the gathering ominous storm.
We commend the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for choosing the path of peace and democratic ethos in declaring its intention to challenge the result of the Ekiti election through the tribunal as provided for by the Constitution and recommend same for all others. The sustenance of our democracy is a collective responsibility and everyone must play their part, least of all, the electoral umpire and the central government, according to the dictates of established and globally acceptable standards.