Finally, July 14 is today and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State will be squaring up in a fierce political battle with the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) for the number one seat in the state.
The battle for the soul of Ekiti is between two old rivals who are no stranger to each other, the incumbent governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose and his immediate predecessor, John Kayode Fayemi.
Riding on Fayose’s popularity is his deputy, Prof Kolapo Olusola who emerged the PDP candidate in a keenly contested primary, while Fayemi, the APC candidate, is also banking on his acclaimed performance in office in his first term when he was said to have touched every town and hamlet in Ekiti with his infrastructural perspicacity.
As the two gladiators hustle to perfect their strategies to emerge victorious in today’s governorship poll in the state, both candidates see it as fight to finish, bearing in mind that the outcome of the poll would confine the loser to political oblivion and the winner to political relevance.
Events that played out in the past few days indicate that the PDP and the APC are sparing no expenses and barring no hold, even as both parties have been accused of allegedly monetising the electoral process.
Meanwhile, ahead of today’s gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, an election-monitoring group, the Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has identified various violence prone areas in the state.
TMG also bemoaned what it described as “over deployment of security agents to the state for the purpose of the poll.”
According to TMG, the flashpoint areas in Ekiti State include Ikere, Oye, Ire, Isan and Efon Alaaye.
Also in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, areas like Ajilosun, Atikankan, Odo Ado, Mathew, Ogbon Ado, Ijigbo have also been identified by TMG as flashpoints.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Ado Ekiti, chairperson of the TMG, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the areas are noted for violence during elections in the past.
Speaking alongside the Southwest coordinator of TMG, Sulaiman Argbagbu, however, she called on all stakeholders to support peaceful and credible election in the state.
She said the identification became necessary for civil society organisations, security agencies and other relevant agencies to beam their searchlight on the areas.
Akiyode-Afolabi said, “Traditionally, there are huge concentration of people who usually gathered in these areas. It is for civil society organisations and security agencies to concentrate their attention on the areas in other to reduce violence.”
On the deployment of security in the state for the purpose of the election, Afolabi said over policing of the poll may discourage many voters from participating in the election.
She added: “In a state as fragile as Ekiti, it is expedient that the gubernatorial election is conducted in a manner that ensure safety of lives and property, and knowing fully that Nigeria in recent times have suffered preventable loss of lives and property, this election should therefore not add to the number of deaths already recorded.
“The level of tension in Ekiti State at present is high and a direct threat to voter turnout, credibility of the process and the peaceful conduct of the election. TMG is also worried about the overwhelming deployment of police personnel for Ekiti election.
“This is clear indication that politicians have not learnt their lesson from past experiences. Over deployment of security agent and political violence or threat of violence is a vicious cycle that undermines credibility of the electoral process, intimidate the electorate and result in poor voters’ turnout.”
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that only unarmed security personnel would be deployed to man all the 2,195 polling units spread across Ekiti State in today’s election.
Disclosing this at a press conference yesterday held at the commission’s state headquarters in Ado Ekiti, INEC resident electoral commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof Abdulganiy Raji, said that the decision was taken so that voters would feel free and not be intimidated while exercising their civic responsibility on election day.
The INEC boss said however that the Rapid Response Squad would be stationed few meters away from the polling areas during the poll, even as he warned those without Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to stay away from the polling units during the conduct of the poll.
Noting that INEC gave prospective voters more than enough time to register, collect their PVCs and lodge complaints where necessary before it was suspended on Wednesday, Raji expressed INEC’s readiness to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
He revealed that 913,334 voters were registered in Ekiti, out of which 667,270 have collected their PVCs, adding that 667,270 voters are expected to participate in today’s election.
PDP Raise The Alarm Over Plot To Use Fake Policemen
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the Ekiti state governorship election, Dr Kayode Fayemi, are clothing thugs imported from Imo and states neighbouring to Ekiti, with fake police uniform to unleash terror on voters today.
The party further alleged collusion plots between those they called compromised officials of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) PLC and top officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to print matching sensitive voting materials, including ballot papers with similar serial numbers to enable scientific rigging of the election for the APC.
A statement by the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that there are also plots by the APC to use the alleged compromised policemen to offer each voter N10,000 at polling centers to vote for the APC.
The statement reads in part: “The PDP is already aware of plots to detail the fake policemen to PDP strongholds to harass voters, attempt to cause confusion, and in the process smuggle in counterfeit result sheets to aid their planned declaration of false results.