It is a test case of the INEC’s preparedness for the 2019 general election
Come Saturday, the people of Ekiti State will go to the poll to elect their next governor. The election will not just be a test of credibility for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) whose chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, is being accused of bias by the opposition, it will also reveal the level of preparedness of the commission for the 2019 general election. It is therefore in the interest of all the critical stakeholders to ensure that the exercise is free, fair and credible.
If the process leading to the emergence of the candidates of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) which controls the centre and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ruling the state were any guide, nothing should be left to chance in the election. First, the APC governorship primary presided over by Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State was suddenly called off following an outbreak of violence despite a deployment of numerous security forces to the venue of the election in Ado Ekiti. It took a repeat exercise for the then Minister of Mines and Steel Development, a former governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to emerge as winner.
The exercise leading to the emergence of the PDP candidate was no less acrimonious. With Governor Ayo Fayose as the campaign manager for his deputy, Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka whom he wants as his successor, it was no surprise that the outcome was rejected by some of the aspirants, notably a former Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, who eventually dumped the party to team up with the opposition in the state. There are of course other parties in the race but it is safe to bet that the contest will be a straight fight between Fayemi of APC and Olusola of PDP.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that powerful forces in both Abuja and Ado Ekiti with interests in the election might compromise the process to influence its outcome. This underscores the reason the election has been described as a test of credibility for INEC and the current administration. We therefore call on the commission to ensure that sophisticated arrangements meant to guarantee effective logistics for the poll are put in place.
It is noteworthy that this election is taking place in one of the smallest states of the country with only 16 local governments. Therefore, any report of late arrival of electoral materials and non-functionality of electoral devices could be viewed as a mark of failure and incompetence while question marks would be raised about the capacity of INEC to conduct the 2019 general election.
However, we reiterate our usual caution that election is a process and not an event. To that extent, the role of the security agencies before, during and after the exercise is very critical. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that state power is not deployed for partisan purposes. Even when his party has a stake in this election, it is important for him to remember that he is the president of the country and not just a party man. We also urge Governor Fayose to restrain himself from all impulses to self-help or incitement to violence. He should allow the people of Ekiti State to determine who rules them after him in an atmosphere of peace.
We call on the Inspector-General of Police, the Commandant of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps and heads of other security agencies that will be involved in the election to educate and warn their men against compromising their professional responsibilities. They must provide only strict security services meant to enhance the successful conduct of the poll and should eschew any partial acts that could cast doubts on the credibility of the election. At the end of the day, the people of Ekiti State reserve the right to elect the candidate they deem most fit to govern them for the next four years.
May the best candidate win.
The election has been described as a test of credibility for INEC and the current administration. We call on the commission to ensure that sophisticated arrangements meant to guarantee effective logistics for the poll are put in place