By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged how Kayode Fayemi , a former minister of Mines and Steel Development and the governorship Candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, trounced Kolapo Olusola Eleka, a Professor and Ekiti state Deputy governor of Ekiti state and who incidentally was the Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the Saturday July 14, 2018 , governorship election in the state.
Eleka was favoured to win the election by book makers because of the strong grip of Ayodele Fayose , the governor on the state but they failed to read the handwriting on the wall of plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to sabotage him because of his strong link to Fayose, who was considered a bad market for him.
Investigation by the Magazine shows that prior to the election, officials of INEC, had told those that care to listen that PDP will lose the election to prove to Fayose that he has no powers to sway victory to Eleka, the PDP Candidate. To show that the Ekiti governorship election was a done deal, the Commission never restricted the movement of people to the state during the election. People were allowed to come into the state by air and by road to transact their businesses and go without interruption.
A Clergy man who was at Ekiti during the election was said to have been taken into confidence by the INEC officials who discussed freely in his presence because of his clean suit and calmness. They may have mistaken him as a Department of State Security , DSS, official, as they discussed how they would take away the state from PDP.
The clergy man was in state with other clergy men between Saturday and Sunday to see things themselves. He confirmed that non registered voters in the state had voters card, noting that he was under pressure by his colleagues to go and collect money from the APC Camp since he had a voting card but turned it down. He discountenanced claims of snatching of ballot boxes by APC party tugs as there was no basis for it. He disclosed that that security operatives deployed to the state hada standingorder to shoot at sight anyone that dares to do so.
The security operative, he said , kept their distance at the ward voting centers but were battle ready that even television cameras could hardly pick anyone of them. The implication was that people voted without clustering around to foment trouble . He described the emergence of Fayemi, the APC governorship Candidate , as ”official rigging”.
According to him, the INEC officials may have known that without being strict with the evaluation of the thumb printing of the ballot papers by voters in the sixteen local government Areas of the state, Eleka, the PDP Candidate , may win the election which may tell on the APC government. They have every reason to be strict with the thumb printing of the ballot papers because of the enthusiasm with which the old men and women trooped out to vote in the election. They knew that many of them could not thumb print correctly , which could give the Commission powers to reject many votes. Moreso, they knew that these aged voters had sympathy for Fayose, who, they regarded as a friend of the poor in the state.
It was gathered that the PDP Candidate ballot boxes in all the local government Areas collation center were thoroughly scrutinised to ensure that ballot papers which the thumb printing ink crossed the space provided for it, even with a small margin, was rejected, meaning that the Commission was acting out a script of the Presidency.
The fallout was that of the 405,861 accredited voters, and the 384,594 who voted, 18,857 votes were rejected, thus giving Fayemi an edge over Eleka , of the PDP. The Magazine learnt the rejected votes was more pronounced in Ido Osi local government Area, a PDP , stronghold in the state.
Many believe that if the INEC officials had adopted the same measure in scrutinising the ballot papers in Fayemi of the APC ballot boxes, he could have lost the election. A source disclosed that the plot to officially rig out the PDP governorship Candidate in the election was perfectly executed that it would be difficult to upturn the election in the Election tribunal as INEC and the APC would insist on recounting of the votes which may not favour the PDP as all the loopholes to fault the election may have been blocked.
Political analysts believe that Eleka and the PDP leadership in the state aretaking advantage of the family bond between Aminat Zakari, a national Commissioner in INEC, in-charge of Operations, and who incidentally had acted as the Chairman of the Commission at different times to lay claim that they were wrongly denied victory. It was not surprising why Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman and other officials of the Commission are elated that Eleka, the PDP Candidate are heading to the Election Tribunal and the Court to challenge the Ekiti election because nothing would come out of it.
Given what had happened at the Ekiti governorship election, the PDP fear that INEC officials may repeat the feat in the 2019 general election thus ,sending a signal to the Commission that it may not participate in the election if there is no level playing field for the participating parties.
Uche Secondus, the Rivers state born national Chairman of the party was said to have dropped the hint at a meeting with officials of the International Republican Institute, IRI and the National Democratic Insitute, NDI, at the party Secretariat last Thursday at Abuja. In a voice laden with emotion, Secondus was said to have told the August visitors that the” manner at which the Commission conducted the Ekiti election was not satisfactory at all as it worked for the opposition APC to win”.
The PDP national Chairman did not hesitate in telling the IRI and NDI visitors that the PDP had lost ‘Confidence in INEC. ” We are still contemplating on whether we will participate in the 2019 general elections or not”, he had said. He believes that the Commission could still collude with the security agencies personnel , even after you had voted and the votes counted .
A policeman deployed to the election was said to have been paid N120,00. as his three night allowance for his services and loyalty when his monthly salary was below N60,000.00 , given his rank. The police cob was said to have prayed to be involved in more special assignments for the Federal government under, President Buhari, particular the Osun election.
Notwithstanding the complaints against the Ekiti election by critics and threats by the PDP to boycott the 2019 general election in protest to what happened, the Commission remained unshaken as it swings into action to prepare the ground for the Saturday 22, 2018, Osun state governorship election and the 2019 general elections election. Already Buhari has sent a request of N242 billion to the Bukola Saraki led Senate for approval for the Commission’s logistics and operations in the conduct of the election.
Insiders informed the Magazine that the major problem faced by the Yakubu led Commission for now , was the problem of vote buying in elections in the country. The Ekiti governorship election may have exposed the APC and the PDP as the greatest defaulters and which may likely happen in the approaching Osun and 2019 general election .
Eyewitness account disclosed that the Ekiti election gave an insight to the Electoral umpire personnel of what would happen in 2019, as the two parties tried to outsmart each other . Again, the clerg man confirmed that the APC initially started wooing voters in the wards in the 16 local government Areas in the state with N4,000.00 but on a condition that the voter must take a snap-shot of the ballot box to show that it was actually dropped for Fayemi, the APC flag bearer’s. The party was forced to increase it to N1000.00 when information filtered out that the PDP , gave out N7,000.00 to voters. The decision by the APC to raise the money given out to voters was said to have influenced the Eleka Campaign Organisation to raise its own bar to N9,000.00. It could not increse it to N10,000.00 to be at par with APC because of paucity of funds.
Worried by the votes buying , Yakubu, the INEC boss was said to have met with the Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC, in the 36 states of the Federation including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, recenly, where they reviewed the Ekiti election, to ensure that all the identified lapses discovered in the election would not repeat itself in the Osun case and the 2019 general election.