About six days to the Saturday, July 14, 2018, governorship election in Ekiti State, party stakeholders and other stakeholders in the state appear not convinced about the neutrality of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police to objective coordinate the electoral processes without bias. Accordingly, stakeholders in the state protesting perceived or suspected bias of the INEC and Police in taking side with a particular political party and candidate were engaged in combatant confrontation by perceived beneficiaries of the biased role of the election managers. Despite efforts by the Police boss and the INEC Chairman to assure the stakeholders of their fairness, the Stakeholders meeting convened on Monday ended inconclusively. The fear has been that since INEC and the Police cannot hold peaceful and successful stakeholders meeting with representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), the coordination of the Saturday election could be a herculean task.
The complaints of PDP stakeholders were germane because the APC candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi right from his declaration speech to consultation meeting with APC leadership in Ekiti State, boasted that his party would use federal might, which clearly include the INEC, Police, Army, and others, to win the election. Accordingly, the complaints of PDP stakeholders were not in vacuous but direct response to the boasting of the APC governorship candidate; the record is in public domain.
Apparently, the INEC and the Police may bot be seen by the stakeholders under threat to have disproved the vaunt of the APC candidate, thus, leading to the complaints at the Monday stakeholders meeting which was subsequently disrupted by the attempts of the APC stakeholders to silence the protesters.
It has become apposite that the INEC and the Police are under duty to prove the skeptics wrong by providing unbiased and neutral services during the election that would forestall manipulations of the governorship election and subvert the will of the people. They should also bear in mind that the people will be more vulnerable of the electoral mangers give them the leader, in this case governor, they did not vote for at the election. This is the starting point of doldrums and alienation in state/citizens relations no matter the benevolence of the leader.
National Daily gathered that INEC National Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu,and the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, had convened the stakeholders meeting in Ado-Ekiti on Monday, to x-ray the preparations for the Saturday governorship election and seek the cooperation all stakeholders for peaceful and successful election.
The parley tagged: Ekiti Stakeholders Meeting, was attended by the candidates of the 35 political parties.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had declared that 30,000 policemen that have been deployed to Ekiti to monitor the election; and would be reinforced by 4,390 combined forces of soldiers and other paramilitary.
Idris further indicated that a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and five Commissioners of Police (CP) will be on duty to issue directives to the officers to ensure the election is conducted under a conducive atmosphere.
The IG, thereafter, cautioned the political party leaders and their supporters to refrain from arming thugs, insisting that whoever is arrested with arms or in acts of violence will be prosecuted in line with the rule of law and laws guiding the conduct of the election.
“We want all party supporters to refrain from all acts that can precipitate violence at the polling booths such as canvassing for votes, wearing of party insignias, dissuading voters from voting for candidates of their choices, loitering and blaring of siren on the day of election.
“We will also not tolerate ignoring of restriction of movement orders by the police. Don’t see election as a matter of life and death.
“Let me state that police will not hesitate to deal with anybody, no matter how highly placed, found flouting electoral laws.
“Let me call for the collaboration and support of the entire sister agencies and the INEC officials. Police officers have been warned to be of good conduct during and after the election.
“If you notice any misconduct on the part of any police, do not hesitate to report to the senior officers on the ground or contact me directly,” Idris declared.
INEC Chairman had also assured that the election will be credible.
The Ekiti State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Abdulganiyu Raji, had highlighted that 913,334 people are in the voters’ register of the Commission, but 667,064 collected their PVCs. He indicated that 246,270 PVCs are still uncollected. Thus, 667,064 voters are eligible to participate in the Saturday governorship election.
INEC Chairman, Yakubu, added that the commission distributed the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to the ward level to motivate the electorate to collect to be able to exercise their franchise rights.
The INEC Chairman declared: “For transparency, all uncollected PVCs will be brought to INEC office in Ado Ekiti and warehoused for safe keeping until a new date is fixed to resume the PVC collection.
“However, since the Anambra State governorship election held in November 2017, we have introduced an additional measure of transparency.
“I wish to reassure that our officials are under strict instruction to remain neutral. We have also accredited credible foreign and local observers to monitor this election.
“We are confident that with the arrangements we have put in place, Ekiti State governorship election will be another good example of free, fair, credible and peaceful election and a further affirmation of the maturity of our democracy.”
After Idris and Yakubu, PDP representative, Samuel Omotoso, a lawmaker, protested that the candidate of the APC and ex-governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had allegedly been bragging that he would be declared whether he loses the election or not.
Omotoso further complained that he and his family were allegedly shot by security agencies during the APC rally in his community, Oloje Town, Oye Local Government Area.
He further alleged some security agencies have been exhibiting partisanship in the countdown to the Saturday governorship election.
APC stakeholders, however, stood to shout down Omotoso after repetitive mention of Fayemi’s name.
The PDP Representative persisted which led to uproar and pandemonium, forcing the IG of Police and INEC Chairman to quit the meeting venue abruptly.
However, they had delivered their messages, though, they couldn’t resolve the crisis of loss of confidence on their institutions by some stakeholders before departure.