Deciding Factors Of Ekiti Elections - by Kamarudeen Ogundele

Not a few were surprised by the outcome of the Ekiti governorship election in which a former Ekiti Governor and Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Mr. Ayo Fayose, defeated the incumbent Governor and All Progressives Congress candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

The results of the election proved bookmakers wrong. Many analysts had predicted a tough battle between Fayemi and Fayose, considering the support they both enjoyed. But it seems the incumbent committed some miscalculation in his political moves and policies implemented in the state. Civil servants, especially teachers in the state were among those that constituted themselves into political albatross for the governor for daring to ask them to write examination otherwise known as Teachers Development Needs Assessment, to test their proficiency.

The governor on assumption of duty also reduced the 27.5 percent Teachers’ Pecuniary Allowance to 16 percent. Although the governor claimed the decision was taken after a meeting with the teachers, where he told them about the lean resources in the state; it was clear that the teachers were waiting for the right time to strike using their vote. Ado-Ekiti by its nature is a civil servant and students town. This means anyone who wants to conquer the state must carry the people of the town along. An overview of the electioneering period showed that the governor had it rough in the education sector with the teachers and students conspiring against him. Specifically, the students of the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, lamented the introduction of no school fee, no examination policy. The students, who were hitherto allowed to pay in installment were aggrieved with the school’s policy, which they suspected had the backing of the governor. The students also accused the government of making them pay exorbitant tuition. In protest, they form a ring of opposition against the government. Many of the students like the teachers in primary and secondary schools swore to vote the government out of power.

When the political crisis in the state reached the peak, the management of EKSU decided to shut the school and send the students home. The students again saw this as another avenue to blackmail the government by accusing it of being responsible for slowing down their academic progression. Explanation by the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo, that the move was a proactive measure aimed at ensuring that the students were safe with their parents and guardians during the polls failed to dissuade the students.

Ekundayo maintained that there were no plans to disenfranchise the students as most of the students were resident in the state and would, therefore, be able to vote during the election if they were registered. He wondered why a decision that was statutorily that of the EKSU Governing Council was being linked to the Ekiti State Government.

“It is common knowledge that the election is around the corner. Everyone knows that security is the number one issue in Nigeria today. I am sure the council of the university made up of seasoned administrators and caring parents must have held wide ranging consultations in arriving at its decisions.

“I know that they must have considered the fact that most of the students don’t live with their parents and they could easily fall prey into the hands of unscrupulous politicians who could negatively use them during the elections,” Ekundayo noted. Capitalising on the student grievances, Fayose distributed free rice to them with a promise of N2,000 to each of them but later reduced to N1,000. He also told the students that the closure of the school was a ploy by the APC-led government to disenfranchise them.

But the acrimony among political parties was a serious concern for the election. There were pockets of clashes among supporters which resulted in damages of properties and loss of live. This necessitated the deployment of soldiers and other security agencies in the state.

Confirming the fears, the Ekiti Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Halilu Pai, at a training organised for the police by British Department For International Development in Ado-Ekiti called for deployment of police in flashpoints in the State.

Pai, who urged the police to allow INEC staff to take charge of the conduct of the election, cautioned against unhealthy rivalry between police and INEC staff.

He said, “The police must be aware that many will not vote in this election because of the fears and expectations that there may be crisis. So they must deploy more men to areas marked as flashpoints and areas with history of violence for us to achieve success.

In the wake of the crisis, the Army authorities also ordered a shoot on sight of anyone found with “offensive weapons” in Ekiti State ahead of the June 21 governorship election. The Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure, Brig. Gen. Aliyu Momoh, disclosed this to journalists in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday while parading three men caught with ballot papers by the army.

The men-Olufemi Ose (driver), Akanbi Oluwasegun, Biodun Erinfolami-were arrested with an articulated truck loaded with ballot papers in the state capital.

Momoh said, “We are not here harass anyone. We are here to keep peace.

“My men are here to ensure a free and fair election. We are not going to take anything for granted. Although we have 10 days to the election, but we are already on ground.”