The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom on Friday voiced their revulsion at reports of widespread payment of voters by politicians ahead of today’s election in Ekiti State.
It was gathered that a lot of money is being moved around the 16 local government areas of the state, on Friday and fingers are pointed at the two major political parties in today’s election.
According to the sources, the electorate are allegedly being induced with sums of money ranging from N3,500 to N4,000 to vote for them, and two political parties are said to be the main culprits.
“One of the parties is giving N3,500 with a promise to possibly increase the amount on Saturday during the polls. The other is giving N4,000 to each potential voter.
“One of them refers to the gesture as “as agreed” while the other is said to be referring to its gesture as “see and buy”, as they are expecting to get more money from the political parties tomorrow (Saturday).
The “see and buy”, the sources claimed was because the party that was planning to do that allegedly had the security agencies on their side while the ones doing theirs on Friday was not sure if it would have the opportunity to use their resources on Saturday.
PDP, APC trade allegations
Reacting, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Jackson Adebayo, said vote-buying was “illegal and against the Electoral Act and should not be condoned in any way. Those doing that are running foul of the law.”
“We in the PDP are relying on the goodwill of the people. The people of Ekiti State have decided that they would vote for the PDP and our candidate despite the challenges, especially the payment of salaries. You know those who bought votes in Edo, in Ondo and in Anambra, they are the desperate, rejected party,” Adebayo said.
Also reacting, the spokesperson of the John Kayode Fayemi (JKF) Campaign, Mr Wole Olujobi, noted that the matter had been in public domain for days and said “the PDP have been the ones buying votes since three days ago.”
According to him, “we are aware that Ayo Fayose sent N3,000 each to Ekiti workers’ and teachers’ accounts, people Fayose is owing eight months of salaries.”
Olujobi said the APC had received the support of the people who have decided to dump Fayose and his candidate because of years of deceit, “so we are not buying votes, rather we are relying on the good people of Ekiti State to vote massively for us.”
Meanwhile, some governors are said to have arrived in the state from both PDP and APC controlled states, allegedly to influence the processes of the election in favour of their respective political parties participating in the election.
The governors and party bigwigs are from the North and South of the country, with some of them said to have allegedly arrived in the state via helicopters.
In a related development, the European Union, United Kingdom and United States have decried alleged vote-buying and monetary inducement by politicians and political parties.
EU, UK, US decry vote-buying
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Kalsen, the UK High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright and the American Consul-General in Nigeria, Mr. John Bray, who addressed newsmen in Ado Ekiti, on Friday, said they were in the country to personally monitor the election and also expressed the desire of their respective countries to witness a free and fair process today, in Ekiti.
They said it was important that the Ekiti election should go well because it was a pointer to the readiness or otherwise of Nigeria for the 2019 general election.
Speaking on what they had heard that might negatively affect the election, Mr. Arkwright said his team had heard about vote buying and monetary inducement by politicians, saying “this should not happen.”
He said “vote buying or vote rigging should not happen. They are both illegal and should not be allowed. People should be allowed to vote according to their choice.”
Buy, sell votes, go to jail —INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned politicians against campaigning, directly or indirectly, and inducement of voters within or outside the polling zones.
The commission also advised the electorate to go back home after voting or stay, at least, 300 metres away from the polling zones, in line with the electoral law, in order to guard against violence and crowding of polling stations.
INEC gave the advice on Friday during an interview on a live breakfast programme tagged Kaakaki on the African Independent Television (AIT).
The Deputy Director (Voters Education), Mr Ayo Aluko, while shedding light on INEC’s preparedness, said: “Giving inducement in form of money or materials to persuade voters to vote against candidates of their choice is wrong. It becomes an election offence for anybody to compromise people by bribing them to vote for a particular candidate within the polling zones or anywhere else in the state, especially as the election holds.
“Apart from preaching morality, we want members of the public to know that offering inducement to voters is a crime and violators that are caught during the process shall be brought to book.”
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), Section 130 reads in part: “A person who corruptly by himself or by any other person at any time after the date of an election has been announced, directly or indirectly gives or provides or pays money to or for any person for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting at such election, or on account of such person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting at such election: or (b) being a voter, corruptly accepts or takes money or any other inducement during any of the period stated in paragraph (a) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000:00 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.”
Assuring the public that proper arrangements were in place to ensure a hitch-free process, Aluko explained that security of voters, safety of election officials as well as materials were guaranteed.
“The people of Ekiti should see this as an opportunity to come out and decide who they want to be their governor. The presence of security officials is not intended to prevent or discourage anybody. Take your voter cards, go to the polling stations, vote and don’t allow yourself to be used by any politician to cause trouble. Voters shall be accredited and shall vote almost immediately,” he stressed.
The commission’s Director (Information and Communication Technology), Chidi Nwaifor, dispelled the claim that the process had been scheduled to be manipulated in favour of a particular candidate, saying that such was not possible, considering the facilities and modalities in place for the process.
Nwaifor said the claims that the card readers had been pre-loaded were false and baseless. According to him, three processes have been put in place to prevent sharp practices.
“Before voting, prospective voters are to pass through identification, verification and authentication. Your voter card shall be checked by the Assistant Presiding Officer. The APO will direct you to where you are supposed to vote.
“The card readers were not allowed to function until 72 hours to the exercise and the cards shall be activated only on Election Day. It will interest you to note that each card reader is configured to work only in specific polling units. And we have spare card readers; where one fails to work, we have an alternative as replacement,” he explained.
He allayed fears that some elements might want to subvert the process, arguing that the card readers were designed to guard against infractions by criminal elements.
Those who will vote today
Ekiti State has 16 local government areas. There are five local governments in each of North and Central senatorial districts while the South has six local government areas.
In Ekiti North, there are Ikole, Ido/Osi, Oye, Ilejemeje and Moba local government areas. The Central district has Ado Ekiti, Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ekiti West, Ijero and Efon local government areas, while the South district has Ikere, Ekiti East, Gbonyin, Ekiti South West, Ise/Orun and Emure local government areas.
While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Professor Kolapo Olusola, hails from Ikere-Ekiti, seen as the headquarters of Ekiti South district, which is agitating to have a governor from the region for the first time, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hails from Isan-Ekiti in Oye Local Government Area.
According to INEC, the number of registration areas is 177 and the total number of polling units, 2,195, added to 256 voting points, gives a total number of 2,451 voting units and points.
The electoral umpire also announced that the total number of registered voters stands at 913,334 and of that number, 667,064 collected their permanent voter cards. It said a total of 246,270 permanent voter cards remained uncollected.
The figures 4 years ago
The total votes cast in the state in 2014, according to INEC records, were 369,455. Of this number, the PDP polled 203,090, while the APC, which came next to it, had a total of 120,433 votes.
In Ado Ekiti Local Government Area where there were 137,155 registered voters, the PDP polled 41,169 votes against APC’s 13,927. In Efon, the registered voters totalled 22,828 with the PDP having 5,335 and APC, 3,422. A total of 23,532 voters were registered by INEC in Ekiti East with the PDP having 12,498 and APC, 8,584. Ekiti West had 40,858 votes with the PDP polling 10,702 against APC’s 7,860.
In Ekiti South West, the voters totalled 42,097. The PDP had 11,038 votes, while the APC had 6,746. There were 27,074 registered voters in Emure with the PDP having 7,086 votes and APC, 4,332. Gbonyin recorded 41,783 votes with the PDP having 11,046 against APC’s 8,138. Ido Osi had 42,868 votes, out of which the PDP polled 13,045 and APC, 9,348; Ikole had 49,390 votes, the PDP polling 14,238 and the APC, 8,804.
Ikere had a total of 45,611 with the PDP having 16,191 and APC 7,989. Registered voters in Ilejemeje were 11,816. The PDP had 3,670 votes, while the APC had 3,336. A total of 54,085 were registered in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area where the PDP polled 13,038 votes against APC’s 6,834. Ise Orun had 35,001 registered voters of which the PDP had 10,136 and APC, 5,809.
There were 40,567 registered voters in Moba out which the PDP got 8,878 and the APC, 7,994. Oye had a total of 45,918 registered voters. The PDP had 11,200 votes and APC, 10,176.
There are signs of possible voter apathy –TMG
One of the groups accredited to monitor today’s governorship election in Ekiti State, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), has expressed concern that the election might suffer from voter apathy due to some preceding activities.
TMG, which addressed a press conference in Ado Ekiti, on Friday, said “we have observed that events leading to the election are showing signs that there would be voter apathy.”
At the press conference addressed by its chairperson, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and the South West Coordinator, Mr Sulaiman Argbagbu, TMG said it also noted that the huge deployment of security personnel for the election was causing tension and also showed that politicians had not learnt any lesson over the past periods.
TMG also announced that it had identified various violence-prone areas in the state, saying the flashpoints it had identified included Ikere Ekiti, Oye Ekiti, Ire Ekiti, Ise and Efon Alaaye.
It also said that in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, areas like Ajilosun, Atikankan, Odo Ado, Mathew Street, Ogbon Ado, Ijigbo were seen as places where there could be trouble.
“In a state as fragile as Ekiti, it is expedient that the gubernatorial election is done in a manner that ensures safety of lives and property, knowing fully that Nigeria in recent times has 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 voters’ turnout, the 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 agents and political violence or threat of violence are vicious circle that undermines the credibility of the electoral process, intimidate the electorate and result in poor voters’ turnout,” Akiyode-Afolabi.
Tight security across Ekiti
All entry points into Ekiti were well manned by security operatives who conducted a thorough search of all vehicles entering and exiting the state.
At the Efon Alaaye end of the state, different checkpoints were manned by soldiers and policemen who conducted searches on motorists with courtesy.
Buyers and sellers who usually converged on the Efon Alaaye junction avoided the area when Saturday Tribune passed the place Friday afternoon.
INEC expresses confidence in YIAGA AFRICA’s observation plan for poll
Another group monitoring the election, YIAGA AFRICA, has received the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in charge of South-West Nigeria, Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyebi, at its WatchingTheVote (WTV) Data Centre in Ado-Ekiti, with INEC commending the plan of the group to monitor the polls.
Prince Soyebi, who was at the YIAGA Data Centre to see for himself preparation of the WTV team, said what YIAGA AFRICA was doing, especially when it comes to election observation, was commendable and expressed faith in the plan.
A statement by the Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo, said the group was appreciative of the visit of Prince Soyebi, which it described as an encouragement towards achieving credible elections in Nigeria.
“On Election Day, YIAGA Africa will employ the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation. WTV will deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 25 mobile observers located in all 16 local government areas (LGAs) of Ekiti State. YIAGA will also deploy 16 collation centre observers to cover all Ekiti’s LGA-level collation centres,” the statement said.