As the Ekiti State Governorship election holds tomorrow, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared its readiness to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
Credible poll depends on many variables and top on the list are safety and security of voters, election materials, electoral officials and freedom of voters to make their choice without let or hindrance, including financial inducement.
Contesting the poll for the governorship seat at Oke-Bareke in Ado-Ekiti are 16 political parties. Most of the parties have traversed the nooks and crannies of the state selling their candidates and manifestos to the people.
Prominent among the gladiators are Abiodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress, APC: Olusegun Oni of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; and Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Others are Wole Oluyede of the African Democratic Congress, ADC; Reuben Famuyibo of the Accord; Debo Ranti Ajayi of the Young People’s Party, YPP; and 10 others.
Worth mentioning is the first female governorship candidate in the state, Erelu Kemi Elebute-Halle of the Action Democratic Party, ADP. From the blast of the whistle for this race, she has been consistent and very visible, holding her own and fighting her way into reckoning in the male-dominated race. Despite the fact that all her party executive members from ward to state level decamped to the ruling party, she has been defiant and still on her feet.
The stake in this election is high. It is a three horse race. The coming of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, has changed the calculations from what could have been a straight fight between the two traditional rivals, APC and PDP. The two parties had hitherto maintained a seemingly balance of power, with almost equal followership but the reality on ground today is different. Segun Oni’s SDP draws followers and supporters from both parties and is presently a serious contender.
Ekiti and Osun governorship elections precede the 2023 presidential election, and both will serve as a litmus test of the popularity and general acceptability of the APC presidential flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; and it will also signify the political relevance of the outgoing Governor, Kayode Fayemi.
To underscore the importance of Ekiti election, no fewer than 14 APC governors accompanied Tinubu to Ekiti, for the grand final mega rally to campaign for the governorship candidate of the party, apart from the National Chairman and Secretary of the party and other party bigwigs, including the former National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande.
Segun Oni, a former Governor of the state, between 2007 and 2010 is having his last shot at the governorship seat, having failed to stage a come-back on two different occasions through APC and PDP before finding an abode in the SDP.
Former Governor Ayo Fayose’s investment in this race is a fight for political relevance, since all politics is local, a successful enthronement of his protégé in Ekiti, will signpost a big come-back and a significant role in 2023 presidential election.
Signs preceding Saturday’s election are very ominous. Already two lives have been lost. Momentary peace, akin to the peace of grave yard has pervaded the state. Skirmishes, violent clashes among the three prominent political parties are being recorded on daily basis.
Since Monday, June 13 June, detachments of heavily armed soldiers have taken over strategic areas and flashpoints in the state, while combined forces, made up of men from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Police and Army constantly embark on patrols of major roads and highways in the state.
Undeterred by the tension in the state, the INEC has told the people of the state of its readiness to conduct a credible election.
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, disclosed that four national commissioners and eight resident electoral commissioners had been deployed to Ekiti State ahead of the poll.
He said that 749, 065 voters representing 76 per cent out of the 988,923 registered voters in the state have collected their Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs.
He said: “Let me assure political parties and voters that the task of electing a new governor will be left in the hands of Ekiti voters. We won’t take any action that would put any party and candidate in a vantage position. We are going to do everything according to the constitution and provisions of the Electoral Act.
“To underscore how prepared we are, we have provided magnifying glasses and braile ballot papers for visually impaired citizens while the Bimodal Voters Authentication System Machines, BVAS, will be used for accreditation.
Similarly, Ekiti INEC Resident Commissioner, Dr Adeniran Tella, said the Commission would be deploying 10,269 personnel, and 3,346 BVAS equipment for the election.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali Baba, did not mince words when he declared that any threat to the nation’s bourgeoning democracy would not be tolerated.
Baba said 17,374 police personnel would be deployed to provide security cover for the June 18 governorship elections in Ekiti State.
The police Chief said: “All the 177 wards and 2,445 polling units will be manned by appropriate manpower. Let me say this, the massive deployment is not to scare the citizens, but to protect the sanctity of the ballots and the provisions of the Electoral Act.
This is apart from personnel from the National Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies.
Baba dismissed the insinuation that the heavy security presence would create voters apathy saying that it would rather ensure large turnout of voters during the election
He assured the voters that adequate security personnel are on ground to ward off any security threat that can hinder them from exercising their franchise rights during the poll.
Political watchers are concerned that beyond rhetoric, the electoral umpire and the security agencies are not disclosing measures put in place to prevent financial inducement of voters, a development, which has gained currency in the recent political trajectory of the country. They said if the practice is not nipped in the bud, it could affect the outcome of the election.
Ahead 2027: Pro-Tinubu Group Sets Up Structures In APC
The Mandate Movement (TMM), a pro-President Bola Tinubu group in the All Progressives Congress (APC), has set up 37 structures in a bid to enlarge its membership base across the country.
The structures consist of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The national leader of the movement, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, made this known in a statement, explaining that the move became necessary for the ease of administration.
Cardinal Odunmbaku, in the statement, noted that this move was a precursor to the preparations for the 2027 general election.
He stressed that the move aims at ensuring that the APC has strong dominance across communities and towns in every part of the country.
He advised those to be appointed as state coordinators to be more effective in mobilising new people into the ruling APC.
The APC chieftain also used the opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with the President Bola Tinubu’s administration, assuring that the government was taking steps to address the harsh economic challenges.
Benue APC Crisis: Court Sacks Acting State Chairman
The recently suspended Benue State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Austin Agada, has been reinstated by a Makurdi High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese.
Recall that Mr Agada was earlier in the month suspended from office by another Benue High Court in Aliade presided over by Justice Lilian Tsumba following an ex parte motion filed by Mr Moses Agaba against him and the APC after his Ihaje Ward I Executive in Ogbadibo Local Government Area had passed a no-confidence vote on him and also suspended him for alleged anti-party activity.
The suspension was immediately followed by the inauguration of Mr. Benjamin Omakolo from Igoro Ward, Apa LGA as the acting State Chairman during a State Executive Committee meeting of the party presided over by Governor Hyacinth Alia.
However the crisis in the party took a dramatic turn Monday when Justice Ikpambese reinstated Mr. Agada while ruling on a motion by the embattled chairman seeking to set aside the interim order restraining him from parading himself as Chairman.
After listening to the arguments of counsel to Moses Agaba, Mr. Johnson Usman, and that of Innocent Daagba, who appeared alongside Richard Ayilla, George Ushongo, Daniel Sorkaa and John Ifer who appeared for Mr. Agada, Justice Maurice Ikpambese vacated the order restraining him from parading self, function and acting as the Chairman of the APC in the State.
Justice Ikpambese ruled that “under Order 39, rule 3 of the Benue State High Court Procedure Rules, 2023, the lifespan of an interim order is seven days, and since the order was issued on February 2, 2024, it has elapsed by law.”
Justice Ikpambese nullified the appointment of Benjamin Omakolo as acting Chairman and any other appointment made from February 2, 2024.
He accordingly struck out the motion seeking to set aside the interim order of February 2, 2024, as “it has been overtaken by events.”
The matter would be assigned to another Judge by the Chief Judge who would hear it on its merit.
Reacting, the APC State acting Chairman, Mr. Omakolo dismissed the reinstatement of Mr. Agada saying “whether the order restraining him (Agada) from parading himself as the Chairman is vacated or not, the fact that he has been suspended by his Ward still places a ban on him to be able to function as APC Chairman in Benue State. “And it will interest you to know that in the court ruling today, no matter concerning my person or role as the acting Chairman was mentioned.
“So, I still remain the valid acting State chairman of the APC in Benue State. I remain the one who pilots the affairs of the APC in Benue State and the APC family takes instructions and directives from my office as the acting Chairman of APC in the State.
“And even that wrong vacation that was done in the High Court has already been appealed. The person that took him to court has appealed the judgement because it is not correct in law for a High Court to restrain another High Court, a court of coordinate jurisdiction. I have long assumed office as the acting Chairman of APC in Benue State.”
There’s No Changing Bayelsa Gov’ship Result – Diri
Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the November 11, 2023, governorship election in the State has been won and lost and cannot be changed through subterranean moves of his main rival in the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent governor winner of the election and presented certificates of return to him and the deputy governor-elect, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on November 17, 2023.
Diri, who spoke on Monday during the first year memorial service of his late father, Pa Abraham Diri, at the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, said the subpoena to the police to testify as witness at the election petition tribunal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, was diversionary, a waste of time and an exercise in futility.
He said the acceptable standard was the election result declared by INEC and not that of the police.
His words, “they are bringing a police report. They are bringing a police commissioner to come and testify in the election tribunal. We have crossed that bridge long ago. Just as we stopped them from rigging, we will stop them again.
“If you want to subpoena anybody, let it be INEC, which conducted the election and declared the results. The police are in charge of security.
“Let us be steadfast. Our second tenure will be better than the first.”
The governor eulogised his father for laying a solid foundation for him and his siblings.
According to him, his father was being celebrated a year after his death because he left good legacies that were speaking through him and his siblings.
He said: “His impact upon our lives, his children and relatives, is unspeakable. That is why I believe in giving the best education to children, so that whether you are alive or not, they can stand anywhere. I urge fellow Bayelsans to give their children good education.
“What we are doing today is to appreciate God and celebrate the life of our father for what he has done in our lives. Our father guided us very well. All his life was how to discipline and give what he had to society.
“Those of us in leadership as president, governors, Speakers and other positions, let us know that there is a legacy we should leave, which will speak for us when we leave this world.”
Speaking on the topic: “What will you be remembered for?” Rev. Funkuro Amgbare, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Izon of the Anglican Communion, noted that Pa Diri was being remembered a year after his death because he impacted positively on his children and the society.
He admonished all to live a life worth remembering by maintaining their integrity.
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