Ekiti’s harvest of accusations

In this report, KAMARUDEEN OGUNDELE examines the counter accusations among political parties in Ekiti of plots to rig the June 21 governorship election in the state

Who is planning to rig the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State? This is the question on the lips of many residents of Ekiti as the governorship election gets nearer. There have been counter-accusations among political parties on plots to rig the election in the past few weeks. The principal actors are the ruling All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

First to fire the salvo last Monday was the campaign team of the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi, who is the governorship candidate of the APC in the forthcoming election.

The Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation accused the Peoples Democratic Party and the presidency of concluding plans to forcefully declare the party’s candidate, Ayo Fayose, winner of the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State.

The organisation alleged that part of the grand design was to deploy soldiers and policemen in Ekiti to scare residents and voters, who may want to resist the plan.

A statement signed by the spokesperson of the KFCO, Dimeji Daniels quoted an unnamed national leader of the PDP as saying, “The APC is just wasting its time by campaigning around the state. By the time we mobilise soldiers and policemen to those communities, many would run into the bush.”

But in a swift reaction, Ayo Fayose Campaign Organisation described the allegations as “sheer blackmail from the All Progressives Congress”.

Daniels had said, “What the PDP is seeking to create in Ekiti is a war situation to have its way at all costs. They have perfected plans in Abuja to declare Fayose and damn the consequences.

“The PDP should dust its history books and read up how Ekiti people dealt with external impostors during the Ekiti parapo war against imperialism and poll-riggers in 1965, 1983 and 2007 – 2010. It is said that people study history so as not to repeat mistakes of the past. But the PDP is certainly showing that it is a bad student of history.”

For choosing Fayose and Iyiola Omisore as candidates in Ekiti and Osun respectively, Daniels argued that this indicated that the PDP was not banking on votes, but on the use of force and federal might.

The organisation also expressed worry at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s sudden U-turn on the use of card readers for the conduct of Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections.

It accused the commission of maintaining silence in spite of allegations against the PDP that it was copying the VIN numbers on voter cards for use in cloning several fake voter cards.

“We call on INEC to ensure that the Ayoka debacle of April 2009 is not rehashed on June 21. We also urge President Goodluck Jonathan to act like a true statesman by ensuring that the Ekiti election is free, fair and credible.

“We equally urge the Nigerian Army not to allow desperate power-thirsty politicians drag its name in the mud, while we call on civil society organisations and the international community to beam its searchlight on Ekiti State during, before and after the election to prevent agents of darkness from sending the state back to the dark days.

“We also urge all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the PDP from carrying out its devilish act in Ekiti State,” Daniels said.

But countering the accusation, the Director of Media and Publicity of AFCO, Mr. Gboyega Aribisogan, said the ruling party was only crying wolf when there was none.

He said there was the need to beef up security in Ekiti State because the election was an isolated one.

He said, “This is sheer blackmail from the APC. The coming election is an isolated one and there is no way any political party, be it LP, APC or PDP will deny the fact that there is the need for adequate security in the election.

“The PDP has done enough to convince every Ekiti person that the party is ready for the election. If APC is now afraid to face the electorate on June 21, they should rather come out and say it rather than resorting to this jejune and unfounded story.

“The Presidency is also aware of the importance of this election and he is making every preparation in order to avoid a repeat of the Anambra fiasco. The presidency is doing all these within the confines of the law.”

On Wednesday Fayose, raised fresh allegations of plots to rig the election against the APC.

He accused the APC of colluding with some unnamed INEC officials to rig the June 21 governorship election.

In a statement made available to journalists in Ado Ekiti by his spokesman, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, Fayose described a statement credited to the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, that the PDP planned to rig the poll as “reckless” talk.

He posited that the grand plan of the APC was to cause mayhem before and during the election so as to discredit the election results.

He said, “One of their strategies is collusion with Ekiti INEC officials and buying of voter card from unsuspecting Ekiti people with N2,000 or N5,000.

“During my campaign tour to rural areas in Ekiti, many people told me that some APC chieftains came to purchase their cards with the promise to return them but failed to do so. We have lodged complaints at the appropriate quarters and PDP is battle ready to prevent rigging of this poll by whosoever.”

Fayose stated that it was in the nature of the APC and its leaders to accuse people of what they intended to do.

Also speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH, the Director, Media and Publicity for the APC in Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Dipe, who said his party had no plans to rig the election in a state where it is popular.

According to him, it is only an unpopular party and its ‘rejected candidate’ that will plan to rig elections against the people’s will.

Dipe told our correspondent, “It cannot be true; the APC is very organised and we are in serious campaign. Have you seen the opposition in serious campaign? We do ours in an organised way and we do it well for people to see. There is no way we could be plotting to rig. They just want to divert people’s attention from their plan.”

The Chief Publicity Secretary for Ekiti State PDP, Mr. Kola Oluwawole, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the allegation against his party by the APC was a far cry from the reality.

He maintained that the ruling party was planning to rig and had started buying voter cards from the electorate.

He said, “It is the APC that is planning to rig the election and every plan that they are taking is being exposed through divine arrangement. Every attempt to deny the PDP members to obtain the permanent voter card has been exposed.

“It is common knowledge that APC has been going about purchasing permanent voter cards from non-suspecting voters for N5,000 and N10,000. APC has been the aggressor terrorising voters and their opponents.”

While reacting to the allegations of rigging complicity against INEC, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, told SUNDAY PUNCH that politicians were only playing games with accusations against the commission.

He said it was not true that the electoral umpire planned to use card readers in the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections.

Idowu said, “It is not true that we are going to use a card reader; we have never said so. What INEC said was that it will use permanent voter cards in Ekiti and Osun for the first time in the country. Then subsequent bye elections before 2015, we will use card readers. Politicians are just saying it for political games.

“That kind of allegation is not worth responding to. If all contestants are accusing you of doing the same thing against one another, it shows you are neutral and independent,” he added.