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Ekiti, Litmus Test For INEC



On Saturday July 14, 2018, Ekiti State will become a political cynosure, as all eyes will be on it as it holds its governorship election.The tenure of Mr Ayodele Fayose will expire on October 15, 2018. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 178 (1) and (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 (7) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the earliest date for the election into the office is between 19 May, and 25 September, 2018.

About 35 political parties will be participating in the exercise. Over 630,000 voters that have collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) will be participating in the election. There are, however, over 280,000 persons that have yet are collect theirs.

About 20,000 policemen and other security operatives will also be participating alongside 11,000 ad-hoc Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deployed for the election. INEC has also earmarked about N600million for the election.

The last major election conducted by INEC was in Anambra, but the last election it conducted was that of Ibarapa-East state constituency seat in Oyo State. The Anambra election has been hailed as a model, appraised to be well conducted, well- managed free and fair election.

However, the Commission needs to surpass the record of Anambra State in Ekiti State. Prior to this election, there have been speculations over alleged plot by some INEC to manipulate the election in favour of a preferred candidate. INEC has refuted this allegation with an assurance that it will be fair to all. Even with this refuttal, it is pertinent in our view that the Commission must live up to the declaration of its Commissioner in charge of Election Operations and Logistics, Mrs Amina Zakari, that it would ensure that the forthcoming election is the most successful election ever conducted in Nigeria.

Also, we urge INEC to resist any prompting from any quarters that will drive it to the old path of perfidy that had clogged the nation’s electoral system. It is important that the commission realises that it behoves on it to ensure democracy is forged ahead. It is to this extent that we prevail on the Commission to remain focused so as to ensure that the forthcoming election is credible.

On the part of the political class, the nation expects them to play by the rules and not promote violence. Participants should see themselves as competitors and not gladiators, hence, efforts must be made to apply restraint and facilitate the processes that will make the outcome of the election credible and its integrity without reproach. Not only this, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders in the election must be fair and thorough in their conducts. If votes of Ekiti people must be allowed to count, the electoral process must not be manipulated in favour of any candidate.  If the conduct of Ekiti election is fraudulent, it is likely that the 2019 general elections will be jeopardised. We must be careful to do the right thing concerning Ekiti elections.

The electoral umpire should ensure that all logistics are in place to ensure a successful polls on Saturday. It should improve on the Anambra poll which witnessed some logistic hiccups.

INEC says it has made adequate preparations but the real test of an election is not in preparation but the execution and that, in our opinion, is the litmus test. The Ekiti election should be the template that will re-assure Nigerians that the commission can be totally trusted. Furthermore, INEC should monitor its officials to ensure that they remain the dispassionate umpires Nigerians expect them to be. We also enjoin the Ekiti electorate to assist INEC in ensuring successful conduct of the election by shunning violence.

The Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, should be firm in his pronouncement that all election results would be announced and pasted at polling units during the conduct of the 2019 polls. With these taken into consideration, we hope that the commission, the Ekiti electorate and politicians will make the oncoming poll one to make the nation’s nascent democracy stronger and let all Nigerians, nay, the international community see ours as a democracy that has come to stay.