People of Ekiti State will today elect a new governor. Thirty-five political parties are presenting candidates in the election many believe is strictly between the two strongest political parties in the state, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC).
Out of the 913,334 eligible voters in the state, only 646,000 will determine who becomes the next governor of the state since only this figure had collected their PVC, which will enable them vote, while about 250,000 are yet to collect theirs.
The state government has declared a public holiday yesterday, Friday, to enable prospective voters travel to their wards to enable them vote today since there is expected to be restriction of vehicular movement.
Current Deputy Governor, Mr Kolapo Olusola, is flying the ticket of PDP and is being backed by the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, while a former governor of the state, Mr Kayode Fayemi, is contesting on the platform of APC.
Other parties and their candidates, like Mr Sikiru Lawal of Labour Party, Mr. Bisi Omoyeni of Mega Party of Nigeria, and Surveyor Biodun Aluko of Accord, are former Deputy Governors with admirers and sympathizers across party divides. The dominance of PDP and APC notwithstanding, they are still going to make an impact today, but not likely to pose much danger to the strongest two.
The two major candidates have been in a fierce battle, making allegations and counter-allegations against each other to woo the electorate.
While Fayemi is banking on his past record to campaign, PDP candidate Olusola on the other hand, is relying heavily on popularity and grassroots support of his outgoing principal.
Olusola, whose manifesto is tagged ‘Shield’, said he would touch on infrastructure, economy, education, agriculture, development, among others.
Many are of the view that the contest may not be as easy as it was for Fayose in 2014 when he defeated Fayemi in all the 16 council areas of the state. Those in that school of thought are saying that those who made Fayemi’s defeat easier in 2014 had defected to APC to coalesce efforts with the former minister to undo Fayose, who many politicians in the state perceive as a common adversary.
The likes of Mr Ayo Arise, former Minister of Works, Mr Dayo Adeyeye, former Speaker, Mr Dele Olugbemi, former commissioners, Mr Owoseeni Ajayi and Mr Deji Adesua respectively, PDP Majority Leader in the Assembly, Mr Ebenezer Alagbada and Chief Whip, Mr Sunday Akinniyi, former Special Adviser on Tourism, Mr Demola Bello, former Senior Special Assistant on Finance, Mr. Cyril Fasuyi and other bigwigs, are now in APC. These people are not only in APC, they are determined to give Fayose a figurative bloodied nose in today’s election.
Though fear and anxiety have gripped residents, security operatives have assured the people of peace.
Resident Electoral Commissioner of the state, Mr Abdul Ganiyu Olayinka Raji, promised a transparent exercise, adding that all the processes used by the commission was transparent with the involvement of representatives of all the parties participating in the election. He explained that Ekiti is calm and all hands were on deck to conduct credible, fair and free election in the state.
To ensure the credibility of the polls, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Operations, Mr. Habilal Joshak, had earlier announced that security details of all important personalities in the state, including those of Fayose and Fayemi, will be withdrawn on Saturday. He added that he would work with one Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. H.H Karma and three other commissioners of police, who will man each of the senatorial districts.
Justifying withdrawal of security aides, he said allowing anybody to go to the polling booth with armed men contradicts Electoral Act adding that police had contacted security details of both Governor Fayose and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Fayemi, and other top government officials to report at 6am at the police headquarters in Ado Ekiti today.
Joshak urged his men not to work for any political party, saying anyone found exhibiting such will have himself to blame.
As voters get set to vote today, policemen are stationed at strategic areas in the state, especially Ado Ekiti, with some patrolling the streets. Police HQ had earlier said 30,000 security officials would be deployed in the state for the election.