By Uche Mbah
There seems to be palpable fear towards the upcoming elections in Ekiti state based on the number of security presence that has been sighted in the state. At the last count, six Helicopters, 250 police patrol vehicles,30,000 policemen, 5 Army generals, 6 Police AIGs, 300 DSS officers, 35,000 military officers, unidentified number of military vehicles and 165 Armored Personnel Carriers were said to be on ground for the state governorship elections. Even for the last campaign days, more may be expected depending on need. This has been severely criticized by the opposition parties and, indeed, most Nigerians who wonder why it has become imperative for the heavy security presence in the state when there is no war. not even the war torn states of the north east has been faced with this level of security presence. In fact, when President Buhari was in Ekiti urging the electorate to vote for John Fayemi, the APC candidate so that there will be cattle colony and many indigenes of Ekiti will be employed, an estimated sixty people were being massacred in Taraba and Adamawa states. These comprise of women, children and pregnant women. The killings were said to have been done by the Fulani militia in their ongoing expansionists war which, according to Femi Adesina, has degenerated into blatant robbery-your Land or your life.
Buhari appearance in Ekiti came with its own drama. First, Governor Fayose vowed not to be part of his reception at the Airport-a move criticized by many. The he took the case further: he held meetings with the transport owners to ground their cars and buses on the day of the rally citing fears of death through the hands of the security agencies, who they feared are in cohort with the state opposition party. Then he went ahead to hold a Parallel convention the same day. On arrival at the airprt, Buhari was received by a coterie of Traditional rulers, all fawning in respect. At the end of the day, not one word about the people being massacred in Taraba and Adamawa. Later, he was quoted as saying that the opposition is using the herdsmen crisis to blackmail him.
As the election approached, the Independent National Electoral commission held a stakeholders meeting to fine-tune the modalities for the election. The meeting ended in chaos. the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, representative, took the microphone and reeled out a catalogue of what he described as evidence of INEC collaborating with the ruling party at Federal level. He refused to relinquish the microphone when his allotted time was up, cuasing a fiasco that ended the meeting. Part of their fears were that since the INEC Director of Operations, Amina Zackary, is Buhari’s Niece and calls him uncle publicly, she is far removed from becoming an unbiased umpire. Her position is such that that even the INEC chairman will give little or no opposition to her decisions.
The rally eventually held, with allegations that the Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello, brought in busloads of people from Kogi to beef up the crowd.
A comic relief appeared to have happened when the minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, openly canvased for votes for Ayo fayose, the incumbent governor whose tenure is about to end. He has been sponsoring his deputy for the governorship, which is a rare thing for incumbents to do. The faux pas appears difficult to defend. Coincidentally, at the same time he was creating the goof, Fayose was said to be at the PDP rally praying and reading from two translations of the Bible-English and Yoruba. Some superstitious people had tried to link the two issues together.
Aside the APC and Security presence, it has been gathered that all bigwigs in PDP will be at the election venue during the elections. Names like Ike Ekeremmadu, Deputy senate President; Goodluck Jonathan, immediate past President, Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, the South east governors,Serake Dickson, Bayelsa Governor and a host of others, and indeed, all PDP governors, former senate president, David Mark are expected to be there. Other nPDP and rAPC members who may not be there are expected to provide logistics from behind the scene. Unconfirmed reports indicate that former president Olusegun Obasanjo may use the opportunity for the reconciliation with governor Fayose, since he has been embarking on reconciliation mission to garner support for removing Buhari. And he has activated his alleged international connection in terms of election monitoring, an activity the former President Goodluck Jonathan seem to be the anchor. Hence Jonathan’s report on the election is expected to galvanize sympathy with the international community. Both the British High Commission and American Embassy has shown more than a scathing interest in the election. Already there has been allegations and counter allegations of PVC cloning, and INEC has banned the use of phones at the booths.
But in all these, feelers from Ekiti state indicate a business-as-usual atmosphere devoid of internal acrimony. it appears that the state is focused on what they want. This appears surprising since so many big wigs in PDP have in recent times decamped to APC.
All said and done, an epic battle is expected during the polls as both the APC and PDP sees it as a test run on 2019 election permutations.