Tension as Ekiti Goes to Poll to Elect Governor

Tension as Ekiti Goes to Poll to Elect Governor

… INEC Assures of Free, Fair and Transparent Process … Campaign Ends Today … Poll too Close to Call. There are palpable fears in the air as activities leading to the election of a brand new governor peaked early in the week but began slowing down considerably on Thursday when curtains will be drawn on

… INEC Assures of Free, Fair and Transparent Process

… Campaign Ends Today

… Poll too Close to Call.

There are palpable fears in the air as activities leading to the election of a brand new governor peaked early in the week but began slowing down considerably on Thursday when curtains will be drawn on all forms of campaigns by the candidates and their political parties.

Though 16 political parties are participating in the governorship election having fielded candidates, it is however, believed to be a three horse race between Abiodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Engr Olusegun Oni of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; and Mr. Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

One of the 16 contestants is female in the person of Erelu Kemi Elebute-Halle of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and she has given a good account of herself campaigning through the nooks and crannies of the 16 Local Governments of Ekiti State.

Both Ekiti governorship election (June 18, 2022) and Osun governorship election (July 16, 2022) are very important to the two leading political parties in Nigeria, the ruling APC and the opposition PDP because they’re coming fresh after the emergence of the presidential candidates of the two parties; they will also be the last set of elections before the general elections in February 2023.

Either way, the stakes are high and what would have been a straight fight between the big two parties (APC and PDP) had been complicated by the entrance of former Governor Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party as a strong third force. Segun Oni had traversed both the PDP and the APC before landing at the SDP into which he had been able to attract disgruntled members from the two leading political parties.

The outcome of the election is too close to call by political pundits who believe that the political parties are evenly matched across the state.

Campaigns by the candidates and their political parties will officially come to a close today but they have not been without skirmishes here and there with Engr Segun Oni complaining about the abduction of one of his topmost supporters by masked gun men. Already two lives have been reportedly lost.

In all, 988,865 people spread across the 16 LGs of the state are registered to vote in Saturday’s election with Ado-Ekiti having 179,073 registered voters.

Ekiti Voters Will Decide Who Becomes Next Governor, INEC Chairman Assures

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has assured the political parties, candidates and the electorate of Ekiti state that only voters will determine who will become their next governor.

Prof. Yakubu gave the assurance at the traditional pre-election Stakeholders’ Meeting, held today in Ado Ekiti against the backdrop of various concerns expressed about the credibility, transparency and security of the election.

Addressing those concerns directly, Prof. Yakubu said: “For us in INEC, let me reassure political parties, candidates and the electorate that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Ekiti State is entirely in the hands of voters. INEC will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on the processes and procedures as provided by law.”

Prof. Yakubu also spoke extensively on the Commission’s readiness for the election. His words: “So far, the Commission has implemented several activities for the election. We held many meetings with political parties and their candidates. We had several engagements with the security agencies at the national, State and Local Government levels. We consulted with stakeholders.

“We sought for and received, the blessings of Royal Fathers and religious leaders. We have recruited, trained and carefully screened all categories of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the field. We have delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election. Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing.

“We have made arrangements for the transportation of personnel and materials to all polling units on Election Day. For more effective supervision of the process, we have deployed four National Commissioners, eight Resident Electoral Commissioners and many senior officials to support our State office here in Ekiti State to deliver credible elections.”

He continued: “Voter registration was carried out all over the State, including the devolution of the exercise to the 177 Wards across the State. We have printed and delivered the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for all valid registrants in Ekiti State and collection of the cards by voters is ongoing. I am happy to note that many citizens have already collected their cards. Of the 988,923 registered voters in Ekiti State, 749,065 (or 76%) have collected their cards as at yesterday Monday 13th June 2022.”

Prof Yakubu noted that the Commission had, in the last few days, received several inquiries from citizens who are yet to collect their PVCs and who would like to know when the collection of cards will be suspended before the election.

He said: “I wish to announce that the collection of PVCs will continue in all our 16 Local Government Area Offices until Thursday 16th June 2022, to allow us one day (Friday 17th June 2022) for movement to the Registration Area Centres. I appeal to all registered voters that are yet to collect the PVCs to seize the opportunity to do so.”

To underscore the Commission’s commitment to an inclusive, credible and transparent electoral process, Prof. Yakubu said some assistive devices for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) will be deployed to give them a more pleasant experience on election day.

Specifically, he revealed that Magnifying Glasses, Braille Ballot Guide and Posters for voters with hearing conditions will be deployed at polling unit level in areas of need based on data collected in collaboration with the PwD community. “Similarly, our revised Regulations and Guidelines provide for priority to be accorded at polling units to PwDs without waiting in long queues during voting as is the case with elderly people, pregnant women and nursing mothers,” he said,

The INEC Chairman also stated that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed for voter accreditation and uploading of election results to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal on Election Day. He affirmed that the devices had already been configured and fully charged for the election, just as steps have been taken to ensure that the BVAS machines function optimally during voter accreditation, based on lessons learnt from recent elections.

He said: “A few weeks ago, a mock accreditation exercise was conducted in polling units across the three Senatorial Districts of Ekiti State. I personally observed the mock exercise in Ado, Ikere and Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Areas. We are encouraged by the successful outcome of the exercise. We have also trained enough Registration Area Technical Support (RATECHs) staff and made adequate transportation arrangements for their rapid response in the event of reported glitches on Election Day.”

According to Prof. Yakubu, the Commission has accredited Polling Agents nominated by political parties for all the 2,445 polling units, 177 Ward collation centres, 16 Local Government Area collation centres and the State Collation Centre where the final declaration of result will be made.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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