Today, thousands of Ekiti residents would go to the polling units to elect the next governor of the hilly state that will occupy the Government House, Oke Ayoba, Ado-Ekiti from October 16, 2022.
Sixteen eminent individuals will be slugging it out among themselves for the state’s premium office. Among the candidates are 14 males and two females.
The combatants include Reuben Famuyibo of the Accord Party (AP), Oluwole Oluyede of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Kemi Elebute Halle of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Biodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olabisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Ranti Ajayi of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
In the past several weeks, many of the gladiators have been combing the 16 local governments that make up the state to sell their programmes to the public. There have also been tension and some violent incidents, involving mostly the APC and SDP.
Last weekend, clashes between supporters of both parties in Itaji Ekiti left one person dead. His name was given as Tope Ajayi. The two parties accused the other party of being responsible for the clash.
While Jackson Adebayo, the spokesperson of the Segun Oni campaign, organisation said the APC supporters attacked SDP members, Taiwo Olatunbosun, the director of Media and Publicity of the Biodun Oyebanji Campaign Organisation, said the APC supporters were attacked by the SDP thugs.
After the incident, traditional rulers in the state held a meeting with the governorship candidates at the palace of Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe. At the meeting, the monarchs preached peace.
Said Oba Adejugbe at the meeting: “Our state can only move forward in a peaceful environment. Violence before, during and after elections is totally unnecessary and completely unwarranted because we are not at war. The essence of election is to allow the will of the people to prevail. The people are supposed to decide who will govern them and that is all. Democracy is not about killing or bloodbath, but an avenue where choices are made freely.”
On Wednesday, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese and member of the National Peace Committee, Bishop Matthew Kukah, also preached peace during the signing of a peace accord among the governorship candidates. Eleven candidates signed the peace accord during the exercise which was organised by the National Peace Committee.
Kukah appealed to the electorate to live up to the ideals of the state, which is integrity and honour. He urged them to emulate Edo, Anambra and Ondo states where credible and violence-free elections were conducted,
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also expressed its readiness to conduct a free, fair, transparent and hitch-free election. INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at the Election Stakeholders’ Meeting on Ekiti State Governorship Election attended by party leaders and candidates of participating parties, security agencies, and civil society organisations in Ado-Ekiti, reassured the Ekiti people that the decision of who would become the next governor of the state would be that of the electorate through their votes.
Inspector General of police, Usman Baba also assured the residents that the necessary arrangements had been put in place to ensure transparency and security on Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
Also, the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of today’s Ekiti State Governorship Election, Babatunde Kokumo has disclosed that over 19,000 police personnel are on ground in Ekiti State for the election, assuring the residents of their safety.Kokumo, who is the DIG in charge of Force Criminal Investigations Department, (FCID) and who was also in charge of the South West at the Force Headquarters in Abuja was redeployed for the election by the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali.
Speaking exclusively with Saturday Sun in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State Capital, Kokumo said: “The personnel, comprising conventional police officers, Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Special Forces personnel, Explosives Ordinance Unit (EOD), Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), INTERPOL, Special Protection Unit (SPU), Force Public Relations Department (FPRD), as well as Police Medical Teams, are on ground to guarantee free, fair, credible and acceptable election.
“In addition, five Armoured Personnel Carriers for patrol as well as four helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for aerial surveillance amongst other unique operational capabilities are on ground.”
Analysts have noted that the battle is among the three major gladiators – Biodun Oyebanji of the APC, Segun Oni of the SDP and Bisi Kolawole of the PDP, even though some of the other contenders could also not be overlooked. The Sun