July 5, 2022

With the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) made history as the first party in the Southwest state to win a governorship poll back to back, since the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. Before now, it had been a rotation between the ruling party and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

At the end of the exercise, the State Returning Officer and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof Kayode Adebowale, declared Biodun Oyebanji of the APC winner of the election with 187,057 votes, while Chief Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), came a distant second, polling 82,209 votes and Bisi Kolawole, the governorship candidate of the PDP coming third with 67,457 votes.

While Oyebanji trounced his co-contestants in 15 out of 16 councils, Kolawole led only in his Efon council. In fact, Oni was humbled in his Ido/Osi council, where APC got 10,321 and SDP 9,321.

Although many in the state have described the resounding victory as a referendum on Governor Kayode Fayemi’s success in managing the resources of the state and integrating Ekiti into national politics, others attribute it to the outcome of the unresolved crisis in the PDP after its governorship primary that forced Oni and his supporters to quit the party and join SDP, a relatively unknown party in Ekiti.

Besides, some analysts said the monetary inducement of voters played a significant role in determining the result. Though, they acknowledged that all the major political parties engaged in vote-buying but ‘the highest bidder’ laughed last. Indeed, they dismissed the whole process as a “caricature of democracy.”

Unknown to many, the Ekiti election had been won and lost on the day Oni left PDP and the choice of Fayemi to support the aspiration of his former Secretary to the State Government, Oyebanji in his quest to succeed him.

Also for the first time, APC had a landslide victory in Ado Ekiti and Ikere, the two major towns that control over 30 per cent of voters in the state. It was a surprise to many that in Ado Ekiti, the party polled 23,831 votes while PDP got 7,575 and SDP won 15,214 votes. In Ikere, where PDP had been a party to beat, APC trounced it by polling 12,086 votes, SDP 1,943 and PDP 3,789.

For many who thought the election would be a three-horse race, they were disappointed with the sudden cold feet developed by Fayose, who some PDP members said needed to explain the dismal performance of the party at the election. It was strange that PDP was not visible in the state before the election.

Despite the fact that the party did not hold a rally to galvanise support from the electorate, its candidate was also off the radar. And few days to the election, what was expected to be a stiff contest among three parties had become a two-horse race between APC and SDP.

Speaking on how APC got its landslide victory, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, said: “Ekiti people wanted continuity of the government of Fayemi. Since Fayemi took the oath of office, he has done creditably well and kept faith with its five-pillar development agenda – good governance, agriculture and rural development; social investments, knowledge economy, and infrastructure and industrial development.”

Meanwhile, Oni has rejected the results of the election, saying the outcome would be challenged in the court. Oni, who spoke through his state collation agent and former Attorney-General of the state, Owoseni Ajayi, noted that the results as declared by INEC did not reflect the true decision of the people, lamenting that the process was marred by financial inducement.

Ajayi, who refused to sign the election results, said, “we are rejecting the results because the election was characterised by violence and intimidation of voters and as a result, we will definitely challenge the outcome in court.”

Also, the Segun Oni Campaign Organisaton, on Sunday, rejected the outcome of Saturday’s election, saying it is unacceptable. Spokesman of the campaign organisation, Mr Moses Jolayemi, accused APC of engaging in vote-buying. He also accused security agencies of compromising during the election.

Besides, he said the SDP candidate will not concede defeat, saying the party will meet to take necessary steps.

Jolayemi said: “The outcome is unacceptable by us as a party because it is a travesty of democracy, it is a rape on democracy and clear daylight robbery, the APC has taken advantage of the peoples’ pathetic state of poverty and that is why you see that the APC refused to campaign. They were not going round doing rallies; we were the ones campaigning because they knew what they wanted to do.

When asked whether the SDP will be approaching the tribunal to seek redress, he said: “The decision will be taken in the next few hours. We are going to meet but the central message here is that this election is rejected. Segun Oni is not accepting the results, he is not conceding and he is not congratulating anybody because this is not an election.”

However, the PDP candidate, Bisi Kolawole, has congratulated the governor-elect. Kolawole stated this in a congratulatory message he personally signed and made available to newsmen, yesterday, in Ado Ekiti.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has warned INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to prosecute vote-buyers or face legal action.

The body also gave INEC seven days to gather information about reports of vote-buying, undue influence, intimidation, ballot box snatching, and other electoral offences by the three leading political parties in the just-concluded Ekiti governorship election.

In the letter dated June 18, and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Corruption of the ballot box intrudes on the freedom of Nigerian voters to make up their own minds. Vote-buying and other forms of electoral corruption freeze out the less wealthy candidates and parties.

“Wealthy candidates and their sponsors ought not to be allowed to profit from their crimes. We are concerned that impunity for vote-buying and electoral bribery is widely prevalent in Nigeria, as perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.”

According to SERAP, if voting is as important as INEC always claims it is, now is the time to end the buying of democracy by wealthy politicians and their sponsors.

 

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