… as SDP, APC, PDP, 13 other parties go to ‘war’ amid tight security
. Over 17,000 policemen, 9,747 NSCDC operatives deployed in Ekiti
As the electorate in Ekiti State exercise their voting rights today, former governor and flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party in today’s election, Segun Oni; incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi and his predecessor, ex-governor Ayo Fayose of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party will once again test their electoral strength on the state’s political turf.
Today’s election will, on one hand, definitely largely be influenced by Oni, who is once again contesting the coveted office of Ekiti governor; Fayemi, the current occupier of the office and Fayose. Both Fayemi and Fayose are seriously rooting for their proteges, Oyebanji (APC) and Kolawole (PDP), respectively, to carry the day.
Therefore, the 2022 Ekiti governorship election is expected to be a tight race between candidates of the ruling APC, Oyebanji, ex-governor Oni of the SDP and PDP’s Kolawole, who is also expected to put up a good showing for the state’s highest political office
There’s no doubt that the APC candidate, Oyebanji, enjoys the backing of the Ekiti incumbent governor. He probably has the largest war chest to successfully fight today’s battle.
Oyebanji resigned his appointment as the Secretary to the Ekiti State Government to contest today’s poll.
He was secretary of the group that lobbied the late General Sani Abacha for the creation of Ekiti State in 1996. He was also special assistant on legislative matters to the state’s first civilian governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo. He later became his chief of staff.
Under Fayemi, in his first term as Ekiti governor, Oyebanji was at first appointed commissioner for integration but was later redeployed to the state’s Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.
Ex-governor Oni of the SDP is only going into today’s gubernatorial poll with the integrity he garnered during his first tenure as the state’s helmsman many years ago. He may, therefore, not have as rich a war chest as his APC and PDP opponents to draw from for the financial strength to effectively challenge the candidates of the two other major political parties in today’s election that political watchers say might eventually be decided by the financial muscles each of the candidates can pull.
But there are fears in many quarters that today’s election in Ekiti, expected to be conducted across 2,445 polling units in the 16 local government areas, is likely to be marred by apathy and vote-buying by the major political parties.
A total of 16 governorship candidates are participating in today’s poll in Ekiti. The outcome will be decided by 988,923 registered voters, 51 per cent of which are women and 38.56 per cent youths (18-34).
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission has disclosed that only 749,065 voters collected their permanent voters cards for today’s election. In the 2018 election in the state won by Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a total a total of 403,451 votes were cast. Fayemi recorded 197,462 votes against his main opponent, PDP’s Kolapo Olusola Eleka, who polled 177,927 votes. In that same election, 33 other candidates had 9,205 votes. 18,857 votes were voided.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the state with the deployment of over 17,000 armed personnel by the police for today’s governorship election.
On its part, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps announced the deployment of 9, 747 personnel for the exercise.
To further tighten security for today’s poll, the police on Friday carried out an aerial surveillance of the state.
The security measure was said to be part of the police confidence building measures. Police operatives and personnel of other security agencies, including the military, also carried out a show of force in the state capital and other major towns.
Already, the police have announced restriction of vehicular movements within the state, particularly along the entry and exit points from 12:00am on June 18, to 6:00pm of the same date.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force CID, DIG Johnson Babatunde Kokumo, who is the election security commander for the Ekiti State governorship election, said all necessary assets had been mobilised in partnership with other security agencies to provide adequate security and ensure free, fair and credible election.
The police said his men were ready to perform their statutory duty of protecting lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Ekiti State throughout the period of the election and beyond.
He, therefore, urged everyone to support and cooperate with the security personnel deployed in their areas and promptly report any suspicious person or group of persons to the nearest police station.
Flashpoints identified in the state include ward 8 in Ado-Ekiti, Atikankan area in the state capital, Ikere Ekiti and Omuo-Ekiti East constituency I, where a by-election will also be conducted for the state House of Assembly.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the SDP candidate raised the alarm that security operatives were arresting his supporters to demoralise them ahead of today’s election.
Oni specifically warned the chief security officer to Governor Fayemi not to allow himself to be used to set the state on fire.
Addressing newsmen at the SDP secretariat in Ado-Ekiti, Oni accused Fayemi’s chief security officer of arresting and detaining his supporters.
But in a swift reaction, Governor Fayemi’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, dismissed Oni’s allegation, describing it as ‘a lie from the pit of hell.’
Oyebode said Fayemi’s chief security officer had no influence over the security architecture for the election, which he said was even beyond the powers of the commissioner of police in the state.
The governor’s CPS explained that security operatives were picking up any individual identified as a threat to the poll’s peaceful conduct, irrespective of political parties or affiliations.