By Ernest Chinwo and Victor Ogunje
Port Harcourt and Ado-Ekiti — Barely one month to the governorship election in Ekiti State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured Nigerians that the poll would be free and fair, stating that it had put in place measures that would make it impossible for the exercise to be manipulated.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof. Abdulganiy Raji, gave the assurance in Ido Ekiti during a Town Hall meeting tagged : ‘Vote not Fight’ to sensitise the youths, said INEC had gone digital and that the voting would be monitored electronically.
He told the people to be vigilant and insist on their votes being counted.
The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, was also of the same charge, saying God will deal with whoever planned to plunge the state into crisis during the July 14 governorship election. Speaking yesterday, while presenting the candidates of his party, Prof. Kolapo Olusola and Mr. Kazeem Ayodeji Ogunsakin, to the Ewi of Ado, Oba Rufus Aladesanmi Adejugbe, the governor stated that the state deserveds peace.
“Anybody that brings violence to this state would come under the judgement of God. Anybody that attempts to manipulate this state would come under the judgement of God. We handed the state over to God and we pray that anybody, including myself and any other politician, that brings violence to this state would face the judgement of God,” he said.
Fayose explained the reasons why he threw his weight behind the deputy governorship candidacy of the 39-year old Ogunsakin, predicating this on the enormous support he got from Ado Ekiti people, who gave him the largest votes in 2014. “Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have supported Ogunsakin but for the fact that he has performed admirably well as Chairman of Ado Local Government Area and hails from the town, which gave me highest votes to re-elect me in 2014,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that INEC and the Police are responsible for electoral fraud in the country.
Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt yesterday when the new INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Mr. Obo Effanga, paid him a courtesy visit, Wike said if the police and INEC played by the electoral rules, elections would be credible and peaceful.
While urging INEC to conduct credible polls in 2019, the governor stated that conflicts arise from elections when INEC fails to do the right thing and bows to the pressure of politicians from the ruling party.
He charged the Resident Electoral Commissioner to resist any attempt by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to prevail on him to rig the elections on their behalf.
“If you resist it and conduct free and fair elections, every elected officer will have no other choice then to perform. If the person does not perform , the person knows that re-election will be difficult. You should use this opportunity to avert electoral crisis in Rivers State by conducting credible elections. We are heightening projects delivery because we want to build the confidence of the people that their mandate is not taken for granted. If we are relying on INEC, we will not work for the people,” Wike said.
He said the PDP in Rivers State would not bring any pressure on INEC because of the high performance of his administration.
“We don’t have any pressure to bring to you. We have no business to pressurise you. Our business is on the field – to work for the people. Those who are doing nothing, but who believe they are in power and they must rig elections are those that will bring pressure to you. Resist that pressure and conduct credible polls,” Wike said.
Wike alleged that the immediate past Rivers INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Aniedi Ikiowak, was used by the APC-led federal government to steal the people’s mandate and print fake electoral materials.