Our reporter, Tobias Lengnan Dapam, who was in Ekiti to monitor the state’s governorship poll at the weekend, gives a blow-by-blow account of the electoral process leading to the the victory of the Governor-elect, Mr. Ayodele Fayose in this piece.
The Saturday gubernatorial election in Ekiti state which saw former governor Ayo Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner, will go down in history as an election with the highest number of security operatives.
The DSS, NSCDC, Army and Police were heavily on ground touring round the state to ensure a peaceful conduct of the election.
The security operatives were strategically positioned in all areas, displaying heavy weaponry and personnel, including Ukraine and Russia sniffer dogs of the NSCDC to send warning signals to miscreants.
Also, police helicopters were busy, hovering to survey the whole area.
However, many said the deployment of the security was to muscle out power from the incumbent governor, pointing at instances of arrest made on supporters of the governor.
But others said the acrimonious campaign that preceded the election was responsible for the heavy presence of security operatives.
Aside security operatives, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD cddwestafrica.org) accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor the election deployed one hundred and forty observers (140) across the sixteen (16) local governments in the state to observe the election.
Meanwhile, electoral officials started accreditation as early as 8:00am with massive turn out of voters.
Residents defied the scorching sun to exercise their franchise. Both young and old came out in their numbers to speak through the ballot.
One of the electorates at Fakaye Hall 009 polling unit, Awo- Ekiti, Irepodun/ Ifelodun local government area, Oladele Joseph, said he came out as early as 6:00 am to participate in the election.
He noted that residents of the town were enthusiastic about the exercise and were willing to play their parts in electing a credible leader for the state.
“As you can see, we are all out here to exercise our rights. We want to vote in the right leader that will develop our state,” he stressed.
In polling unit 007, Odole compound, Iyin-Ekiti, also in Irepodun/ Ifelodun local government area, INEC Presiding Officer, Charles Onwunoh said the turnout was high.
The presiding officer said apart from a fracas between agents of ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People Democratic Party (PDP), the process has been hitch free.
The situation is the same in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital as residents came out en-mass. Notwithstanding, the heavy presence of security operatives, an elderly woman, Adegoke Oluwakemi, said she couldn’t be intimidated at her age.
She said she was ready to wait for as long as possible to cast her vote.
Also, Taiwo Nuraini, who spoke with our reporter in a polling unit along Afao road in Ado-Ekiti state said he was happy with the way the election was going.
“I’m happy that everything is going on well. The presence of security people encouraged us to come out to vote. That is why you are seeing this crowd,” he said.
Despite the peaceful conduct of the exercise in so many areas, there was fracas between the supporters of the People Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) in Iyin-Ekiti in the morning.
PDP agent at 007 polling unit in Odole, Faromika Ayodeji, said the Caretaker Chairman of the Irepodun/ Ifelodun local government, Major Boluwafemi Awe Tajudeen (rtd) was not allowing PDP electorates to be accredited.
“He is the one terrorizing us. He is not allowing us to perform our civic right. The man is intimidating us. He is using his political power because he’s the Chairman of the Irepodun/ Ifelodun local government.
“If you are from other political parties, he will be slapping you and intimidating you. That’s what he has been doing since morning,” he lamented.
Ayodeji also complained that being an agent, he doesn’t know the total number of accredited voters, adding that the Presiding Officer wouldn’t divulge the information.
Our reporter also noticed the harassment of some journalists. The first incident was an assault on a newsman at Ifaki Ekiti by some security personnel at 8.02 a.m. There were subsequent reports of arrests and intimidation of other journalists.
There were arrest of a number of people caught sharing money in return for votes at several polling units.
It was also observed the refusal of some electoral officials to allow relations of very old and physically challenged people to aid them to vote in compliance with the electoral laws and INEC guidelines. Secondly, the requirement that posters of candidates at the election be removed ahead of the elections was not complied with as posters of candidates were seen littering many polling units across the state.
Expressing displeasure after casting his vote, Governor Fayemi said; “Ekiti is generally peaceful, but the process leading up to this process is a bit problematic. There were indiscriminate arrests, or what I might call abduction of our party leaders or attempted abduction.
“We have alerted the authorities and I believe appropriate steps would be taken by the authorities in respect to that. We have had a number of incidence in a number of communities like in Egbe, where residence of one of our leaders have been surrounded by soldiers for unknown reason.
“The other issue we told the authorities is the presence of those who do not have business in Ekiti. Musiliu Obanikoro, the Minister of state for defence, Chris Uba, have been going round with men of ‘red band security’ and I don’t know what they are doing”.
Meanwhile, elections ended in most of the centres around 3:30pm, with the supporters of former governor Fayose celebrating their victory.
The PDP supporters took to the street in the city centre, dancing and displaying on motor cycles.
When the total victory for the PDP was announced early yesterday, supporters were not surprised as the victory was anticipated.
Toyo Folarin, one of the PDP agents said, “we were just waiting for the official report. Reports from other centres have already tipped our party to win the election”.
The jubilation continued yesterday morning, with the supporters chanting, “Fayemi ole, Fayemi ole”. No case of post election violence was reported yesterday despite tension that preceded the election. People were seen moving about their normal businesses under a calm weather atmosphere.