Ekiti Decides: All Eyes On INEC - Matrixliveng
Ekiti Decides: All Eyes On INEC
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Ekiti Decides: All Eyes On INEC

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Ahead of the 2023 General Election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be poised to use the elections in Ekiti State and Osun State to test its preparedness for the general poll.

The Ekiti gubernatorial poll will be the first election to be conducted under the current Amended Electoral Act, and the second state election to be conducted using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

Observers opined that the election would be a litmus test for INEC on how prepared the commission is for the general election next year, and would also be an opportunity to assess the role of security agencies and the commitment of parties to electoral integrity.

Kunle Okunola, a political analyst, said: “The election would play a key role in making Nigerians have confidence in the electoral body. That is, how effective and efficient INEC in the Ekiti election would determine the level of trust and confidence Nigerians would have in the body.

“INEC should do everything possible to stop vote-buying during the election. The body should ensure that its machines are in good shape for the conduct of the election.”

Similarly, the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, pointed out that the Ekiti governorship elections will serve as a litmus test for the Independent National Electoral Commission as it plans the 2023 elections in the country.

Speaking at a Sensitisation Forum on Peaceful Conduct of 2022 Governorship Election in Ekiti State, IPAC’s National Chairman, Engr. Yabagi Sani said that although INEC has demonstrated its readiness for the governorship election, the progress or the failure of the Commission would be determined by the sanctity of the actual voting process.

According to him, the Ekiti election would be a litmus test to INEC on the veracity and integrity of its reforms and innovations ahead of the 2023 elections.

Yabagi said, “To us in IPAC, Ekiti 2022 is a litmus test to INEC on the veracity and integrity of the commendable administrative reforms and technological innovations introduced recently by the Commission with the lofty goals of delivering credible and transparently free and fair elections.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that INEC cannot afford and must not, fail in the attainment of the noble goals.

“Very pertinently, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, must give hope to the people of Ekiti, the rest of the nation and the world at large, that, the era of daylight robbery of the people’s right to choose their representatives is over in Nigeria.”

INEC has expressed its readiness to conduct a free and fair governorship election in the state.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the assurance on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He revealed that over 980,000 residents have been captured in the commission’s voters’ register but less than 200,000 of the figure were expected at the polling units.

“As of today, we have a total of 988,923 voters on the voters’ register,” Okoye said. “This is the number that will vote during this governorship election.

Meanwhile, as Ekiti residents get prepared to elect the next governor of the state, it promises to be an interesting contest.

Some of the leading candidates are Oluwole Oluyede of Action Democratic Congress; Biodun Oyebanji of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Olabisi Kolawole of People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Segun Oni of Social Democratic Party (SDP); and Ranti Ajayi of Young Progressives Party (YPP)

There are two female candidates: Kemi Josephine Elebute-Halle of Action Democratic Congress, and Christianah Modupe Olatawura of Action Peoples Party.

Pundits and political watchers say that the contest would be a three-horse race between Oyebanji, Kolawole and Oni, a former governor of the state.

This would be so largely due to the candidates’ popularity, structure across the state, and financial strength, which had become critical to winning elections in the current democratic setting in Nigeria.

However, just like any other election, it is expected that the smaller political parties and their candidates would go into an alliance with the bigger parties, whose candidates have a brighter chance of doing well at the poll.

The incumbent governor, Fayemi, is supporting the APC candidate, Oyebanji, while his predecessor, Ayo Fayose, is supporting his godson, Kolawole.

The involvement of the three political heavyweights, Fayemi, Fayose and Oni, has made the situation across the state tense ahead of Saturday’s election.

Fayemi and Fayose, who were presidential aspirants in the recently concluded APC and PDP presidential primaries, are doing all they can to win the election for their respective parties ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Oni, who was once a member of the PDP and APC, had dumped the PDP for SDP after failing in his bid to win the PDP ticket.

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