June 13, (THEWILL) – With a few days to the June 18, 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State, various political parties are rounding off their statewide campaigns which started about three months ago. Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies are also working round the clock to ensure the success of the g election.
A few weeks ago, INEC had conducted a mock accreditation of prospective voters in the state with the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
The exercise, which lasted less than five minutes per voter, saw the electorate submit voter cards for authentication, while their fingerprints and faces were captured.
The chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who monitored the exercise in Ado-Ekiti, Ikere-Ekiti and Igede-Ekiti, expressed satisfaction with the functionality and effectiveness of the system.
He gave the people the assurance that the commission would be ready to conduct a credible, free and fair election on June 18.
Also briefing Nigerians about the preparation for the election, Yakubu said that PVC collection in the state had reached the 74 per cent mark. He called on those who were yet to get their voter cards to INEC offices close to them to collect the cards so as to vote for the candidates of their choice.
Yakubu maintained that INEC had identified the challenges associated with the BVAS and improved its functionality for biometric accreditation, assuring the people that the machine would work optimally during the coming governorship poll in Ekiti and Osun States.
He said, “The intention of the mock exercise is to test the efficiency of the Bimodal Voters Authentication System. That is why we were in Ekiti. We have achieved good results and this shows that the machines are efficient. So, the politicians who have doubts about the machine can now be assured that the device will contribute to making the elections credible.
“We have reviewed and improved on BVAS functionality for biometric accreditation of voters in the coming governorship poll in Ekiti and Osun.”
He said the commission was putting everything in place to ensure the success of the election, saying, “The purpose of our visit to Ekiti is to see the practice of what the state office has done, conduct mock voters accreditation and engage stakeholders in the electoral process primarily to ensure the election is conducted seamlessly without any hitches.”
The INEC boss explained that the commission had further put measures in place to discourage vote-buying on Election Day with necessary collaboration with the security agencies, whom he said had been properly briefed on the expectations of the commission.
The Commissioner of Police, Ekiti State Police Command, Mr Morenikeji Adesina, has said that the Police is totally ready for the June 18, 2022 Ekiti governorship election. He said there was no problem in Ekiti State for the time being.
“The state is calm. We had dialogue with all the political parties in the state. We pleaded with them that all we are expecting from them is peace. We told them to warn their followers not to destroy the state government’s property and that there should be no hate speech. They should not help the thugs to hijack their political campaigns.
They have promised to be law-abiding citizens and ready to work with the Police and to allow peace to reign. Since the political campaigns started, we have made sure our policemen are present in every nook and cranny of the state to ensure there is peace. Everywhere in Ekiti State is calm. If we hear any information, we will quickly swing into action.
“We have sent a strong signal to political thugs, telling them to stay away from violence and to avoid life-threatening actions and not to carry dangerous weapons. If anyone is involved, the law will take its course. The entire people of Ekiti state are assisting the police by giving us useful information.
“We also had dialogue with the youths. We warned them to stay away from violence. They should not allow politicians to use them for thuggery. The youths promised to work with the police and they said they are ready to obey the law of the land.
“My advice to the people of Ekiti during the election is that they should respect the rules and regulations of INEC. They should vote for their candidates and go back home. They should shun violence after voting, they should be calm and accept any winner for the development and growth of their state. The people of Ekiti are known as ‘fountains of knowledge’ and they should exhibit this to make sure that there is peace in the state. They should know that the security agencies are there for them and I strongly believe the Ekiti state election will come and go peacefully without any hitch and it will be free, fair and credible,” he said.
As it stands, the June 18 contest will obviously be a fierce one between the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), represented by former Chief of Staff to incumbent Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Biodun Oyebanji; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with former State Chairman of the party, Bisi Kolawole as arrowhead; the African Democratic Party (ADC), led by Dr Wole Oluyede, the Social Democratic Party, (SDP), led by former Governor Segun Oni and the Accord Party, whose flagbearer is Otunba Reuben Famuyibo.
The APC and its governorship candidate in Ekiti, Oyebanji, are wrapping their victory joker in the power of incumbency. Oyebanji enjoyed a good relationship with Kayode Fayemi, the incumbent governor of Ekiti State.
In fact, before his emergence as the APC standard bearer, Oyebanji was the Secretary to the State Government in Ekiti. This has been obvious in the deployment of state resources and manpower to provide colourful outings that can bequeath a soft landing to victory for their candidate, Oyebanji.
Oyebanji, who is from Ikogosi in the Central Senatorial District of the state, a district which has led for 12 out of the 23 democratic years of Ekiti State has been campaigning on the achievements of the current government led by Fayemi. The northern zone will cover for the remaining 11 years with the completion of Fayemi’s second term in October. This has spurred agitation for a shift of power to the South, which has never produced any governor, in the coming election.
And to pacify the South, APC has made overtures to the beleaguered people by picking the deputy to Oyebanji from Ikere, a major town in the Southern Senatorial District, in the person of Mrs. Monisola Christiana Afuye.
Bisi Kolawole of the PDP is from Efon, in the Central District of Ekiti State. Kolawole is the political son of maverick politician and former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose. He was formerly the State Chairman of his party.
As part of its preparation, the National Working Committee of the PDP has constituted the National Campaign Council for the Ekiti State Governorship election. The Council is chaired by the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde and the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as Deputy Chairman. Members of the Council are also eminent leaders within the PDP and they include, former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; former Deputy National Chairman of PDP , Chief Olabode George; the National Deputy National Chairman ( South) of PDP, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja and former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
Kolawole is relying heavily on the popularity of Fayose, which is unquestionable. When people talk of a governor who has made himself very available to the people of Ekiti, through nearness and being so close to feeling their pulse, truly or feigned, there has been none like Fayose. He is seen by some as a man of the people, a friend of the oppressed and an outspoken governor, daring, combative and resolute on the side of the people. To some Ekiti people, particularly the illiterates and the lowly, which formed the bulk of the electorate, Fayose is the ideal governor; he can walk the street bare footed, drink local gin with Okada riders and eat on the streets.
Dr Wole Oluyede, and his party, the ADC have moved round the nook and crannies of Ekiti State soliciting votes from the electorate in the past months. Oluyede is much talked about as one politician that may hit the accurate mark in the coming election, judging by the high points trailing his candidature. Barring the fact that he is not a home-grown politician, which is a plus in some quarters where the current order is seen as hellish, he stands tall among other contestants.
Oluyede has also taken his campaign to the grassroots where many politicians followed him and made him to have a dominant political followership, despite living far away in Australia.
A political observer has described Oluwole as an “uncelebrated grassroots politician, who spends time, energy and money to attend to his people, particularly the lowly and the indigents, most of whom are armed with his contact details and are sure of getting a response from him whenever they call.”
In all, there are three things working for Dr Oluwole as a politician: humility, passion and philanthrophy. To a man who is known to be a successful professional, accomplished investor, influential and wealthy, his unfettered relationship with the masses and the large followership he is getting in return from that circle has grown from envy to hatred in the camp of his peers.
Chief Segun Oni of the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) is being regarded as a third force behind APC and PDP. Many who applauded his leadership style in 2007 are rooting for him while others are however beginning to doubt if the Oni they knew then is still the same Oni of today.
He has had a colourful campaign across the state in the last few weeks. He has also come under severe attack on his campaign materials, especially many of his bill boards, most of which were destroyed by his rivals.
Oni contested in the PDP governorship primary and was quick to congratulate Bisi Kolawole when he was defeated, before turning around a few days later, after pressures from his political allies, to condemn the process.
Oni also rushed to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) moments later before he recently found a place in the SDP. But the way he is pulling crowds at the campaign rally has raised his hope of becoming the next governor.
The controversy which has engulfed the SDP, especially over its leadership, has been a minus to his success at the election.
The Accord Party is one of the parties that may spring a surprise in the election. What is going for Accord is that its candidate, Otunba Reuben Famuyibo, is from Ado Ekiti, the capital of the state that has not produced the governor since the creation of the state.
Famuyibo has been systematic in his campaign and he is receiving positive response from the electorate.