By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ekiti State, Prof. Abduganiy Raji, has said the commission is expecting directive from the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to conduct a by- election into the vacant seat in the state House of Assembly.
The Ekiti Southwest Constituency II, comprising Igbara Odo and Ogotun towns became vacant following the death of the lawmaker representing the area, Hon. Michael Adedeji.
Adedeji, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker, was shot in the head by suspected gunmen at Onigaari, GRA, Ado Ekiti on October 26, 2018 and died a few days later at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido Ekiti.
Some are already expressing fear that the by-election may no longer hold since the tenure of the former occupant would lapse next year May.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti Thursday, Raji said the INEC under his control is fully prepared to conduct a free, fair and credible election to fill the vacant seat.
Raji, who spoke through the commission’s Public Relations Officer, Alhaji Taiwo Gbadegesin, stated that he had written to the INEC national chairman on the vacancy and only awaiting directive to set machinery in motion for the conduct of the election.
“We are set for the election and we hope that the by-election will be conducted by January. We have written to Abuja, I mean, to INEC national chairman and we are expecting them to set the timetable for us to conduct the election.
“You know it is important for the constituency to have a representative to speak for them and the commission is not unaware of this. We are prepared for the poll, but we can’t unilaterally decide, it has to be given from Abuja.
“I want to assure our people that there is no reason to be apprehensive about this, the by-election will be held in due course, that we assure the constituents from that area.
“The RECs all over the country are in Abuja holding meetings with INEC National leadership and I know this by-election will be tabled at the conference.
“We didn’t disappoint Nigerians during the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State in spite of the fear that pervaded the land that the election could either be aborted or botched by threats from politicians, but we were above board and delivered.
“This should be the expectation of our people anytime this by-election takes place,” Raji stated.
The REC disclosed that the commission is battle ready for the 2019 polls in terms of logistics and personnel that would guarantee conduct of transparent polls in Ekiti.
Raji stated that many of the personnel have been exposed to further trainings in Abuja, Enugu and Imo States, where they were taken to acquire new innovations in electioneering process, particularly in the use of Information and Communication Technology gadgets like smart card readers.
“We are ready for 2019, because it is another crucial elections that would chart a course for the country and we can’t afford to disappoint Nigerians.
“We have resolved the issue of dearth of personnel. As we speak, we have enough staff to prosecute the election.
“Training is crucial to the success of elections and that we have done and we will still do more for Nigerians to have elections that meet global standard and that can make us proud of our country,” she said.