We Won’t Join the Charade – APC:
By Abiodun Nejo:
For a second time in the administration of Governor Ayodele Fayose last Saturday, effort to deepen democracy with conduct of local government elections to produce democratically elected chairmen and councilors into the 16 council areas of Ekiti State came to fruition.
However, the council polls, just like the 2015 Ekiti State Local Government Elections before it, were devoid of the expected robust contest for the political offices as the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) stayed away. Although four other political parties participated alongside the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the opinion was that the just-concluded council election was an all- PDP affair and a design by the governor to test the popularity and as well readiness of his party for the July 2018 governorship election.
The elections went peacefully and orderly across the state with security operatives at hand to prevent breakdown of law and order. While some polling units recorded impressive turnout, it was low in others. Secretary to State Government, Dr Modupe Slade, who voted at Aremo Osodi Unit 8, Ifaki Ekiti, lauded Fayose for the conduct of council elections, assuring that PDP would sweep the polls in view of the giant strides of the governor in terms of good governance and infrastructures development.
Also, House of Representatives member, Honestly Kehinde Agboola, who voted at Imero Polling Unit, Odo Oro Ekiti described the election as an opportunity to assess the performance of the Fayose-led PDP government in the state, adding that it was an avenue for equitable distribution of opportunities.When the Fayose administration held the council election in December 2015, the opposition APC boycotted the polls, alleging that the State Independent Electoral commission (SIEC) comprised of card-carrying PDP members and as such, there was no way the election would be free and fair.
The APC even dragged the electoral body and the state government to court on the composition praying the court to declare the SIEC headed by Justice Kayode Bamisile (rtd) and all actions taken by it including the 2015 election illegal.While Fayose said his commitment to conduct of council elections at regular interval was based on his conviction that democracy should thrive at the grassroots and the need for implementation of the provisions of the constitution to the letter as far as election was concerned, the APC believes what obtains at the council polls are far from democracy. For the APC, two years after, when the elections were to be held again on the expiration of the tenure of the council officials elected in 2015, the situation was yet to change, hence its decision not to participate. Although the opposition APC initially said its members would participate in the December 2017 council election, it backpedalled, saying development in the build up to the poll had made it unnecessary for them to participate in the poll which APC alleged had been designed to favour PDP.
The APC said: “No democratic institution or political party worth its salt will waste its resources and time to participate in a compromised election and under a lawless administration as exemplified by Fayose”. Consequently, the party urged APC members to go about their legitimate businesses or stay at home on the election day while the governor conducts his “illegal and compromised election”.
However, observers are quick to dismiss the APC, saying the inability of its expected candidates to present tax clearance for three years or pay N150,000 for the tax, was the reason the party chickened out of the polls. The electoral body said five political parties – the ruling PDP, Action Democratic Party (ADP), Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Peoples Democratic Action (PDA) participated in the council election.
SIEC Chairman, Bamisile said on Friday: “The five political parties duly filed their nominations and they were screened. In the screening, we found out that their candidates met all the requirements and their nominations were approved. “We want to charge our people to troop out in large numbers to cast their votes. There will be early distribution of materials to all the 2,195 polling units for the elections to commence in due course. “Those who have clocked the age of 18 and had registered with INEC and had already got the permanent voter cards will be allowed to vote. We have met with the security chiefs. We held several meetings with them and they had assured us that adequate security will be provided. “We also want to assure our people that there won’t be manipulations. The elections will be free and fair and it will be conducted under a violence-free atmosphere. There will be restriction of human and vehicular movements from 7am till 2pm. This will be effected by the security agencies for the elections to go on uninterrupted and hitch-free,” Bamisile stated.
Whether the main opposition party would participate or not, the governor did not take anything for granted in preparing for the election as he personally supervised the conduct of the primaries on local government by local government basis. The PDP National Working Committee (NWC) headed by the party National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, was in the state last week to present party flag to the candidates at a rally which held in the heart of Ado Ekiti, the state capital.Secondus assured PDP members that the party would no longer impose candidates for elections at any level from local government to presidential polls to ensure emergence of popular candidates and end to post-primary wrangling. The PDP boss, who praised Fayose for flooding every part of the state with meaningful projects, asked residents to compensate him and his administration with votes at both the Saturday’s council election and the gubernatorial coming up in July next year.
Secondus urged all those still interested in one elective office or the other in the state not to lose hope, but come out to participate in such primaries if they were sure of their popularity and ability to deliver. Fayose, who said PDP, based on preparations and popularity, was ready to win all available seats in the council election across the 16 council areas, said it was also a means of preparing for the 2018 governorship election in the state and the 2019 general elections. The governor promised the party national leadership that going by the volume of his administration’s delivery of democracy dividends in the area of life-transforming projects and programmes, all the 16 local government councils as well as the 177 wards would be delivered to the party in the council as well as next governorship election. Addressing the crowd, Fayose said the APC would be disgraced in Ekiti during all elections in the state as he called on the PDP members to come out and vote for the party’s candidates in the local government election.
Fayose noted: “We are set to take over Nigeria. We deserve to be President in Nigeria again. We are set to go to the Villa. For the local government election on Saturday, we are ready and we are even prepared for the 2018 governorship election”. The APC, in a statement by the Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, two days before the election, said it was boycotting the election because of what it described as a “misnomer, undemocratic and compromised election from the beginning”.
Olatunbosun stated: “The compromised SIEC is composed of members who are card-carrying members of the PDP with a mandate to endorse and implement the decisions and directives of Governor Fayose and his party. “Again, the process of the emergence of the so-called candidates of PDP under the supervision of almighty Fayose inside Ekiti State Government House was patently illegal and unconstitutional, yet SIEC accepted and approved of such undemocratic and illegal conduct, which points to the direction the charade is headed,” the party stated. However, with the turn of events at the elections, PDP could not have done less than sweeping the polls.