#EkitiDecides: 50 Percent of Registered Voters in Ekiti Not Accredited To Vote
Concerns have emerged over the non-accreditation of over 50 percent of voters for the last Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State, where the former governor, Ayodele Fayose emerged victorious.
According to a breakdown of the results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the total number of registered voters was 733,766, but the number of voters accredited for Saturday’s poll was just 369,257. The total number of votes cast was 360,455, with 350,366 of them valid and 10,089 invalid.
This breakdown meant that 364,509 of the total number 733,766 registered voters did not turn up for accreditation for the governorship election, But the huge difference in the number of non-accredited voters and the whereabouts of such cards have sparked fresh concerns as, ahead of the election, there were agitations for the use of card readers to curtail such occurrences.
However, the chief press secretary to INEC national chairman, Kayode Idowu, when contacted, explained that of the 732,166 registered voters, 476,870 – representing, 64.98 percent – collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).
He said the non-accredited cards had since been returned to INEC headquarters, adding that about 80 percent of those who collected their cards voted.
It would be recalled that while INEC ruled out the use of card readers in the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, it stated that they would be used in the 2015 general elections.
Governors Fayemi and his Osun State counterpart Rauf Aregbesola had, in the run up to last Saturday’s election, called on INEC to rescind its decision on the use of electronic card readers for the governorship elections.
But INEC chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega had insisted that the commission would not use card readers for the elections, maintaining that “it will not be wise to use a pilot scheme in an election that will be keenly contested.”
The APC had, however, maintained that “contrary to what INEC has said, the e-card reader is very adaptable, and its application is not subject to any environmental peculiarity once the basics of operations are met. It is therefore surprising to read INEC’s claim that the sensitivity of the elections in Ekiti and Osun will not recommend the use of the card reader.”
The party had contended that “impersonation, multiple voting and endless altercations and associated tension will be eliminated at the voting centres with the use of e-card reader and not by any other means.
“Also, the e-card reader will ensure the automatic recording of all accredited voters with verified permanent voter cards in such a way that does not lend itself to manipulation, thus preventing the falsification of results at the collation centres.”
However, a source at the electoral commission who spoke on condition of anonymity that the cards of the non-accredited voters were immediately returned to the commission in Abuja, dispelling fears that the cards were used for other purposes.
Responding to questions over the whereabouts of the non-accredited cards, the source noted that “immediately the election closed, all the voter cards that were not accredited were returned to the national headquarters in Abuja.”
However, reactions have continued to trail the outcome of the election.
The executive director, Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Abuja, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said the outcome of the Ekiti gubernatorial election highlighted a high degree of voter apathy.
He decried a situation whereby nearly 50 percent of registered voters neglected to pick up their permanent voter cards and, therefore, could not be accredited to vote. He blamed this apathy on inadequate mobilisation by INEC, the political parties and civil society organisations.
“The election outcome also reminds us that Nigerian voters do not pay enough attention to the performance of elected officials because they are more concerned about stomach infrastructure instead of physical infrastructure and development,” Igbuzor said.
The former ActionAid country director also noted that the intimidation of APC leaders in the days leading to the election, as well as the decision of teachers to vote against Fayemi for introducing a competence test for them, may have worked against the incumbent.
Also, a PDP chieftain in Delta State, Chief Andrew Desi, said people were hungry and indifferent.
“Who would like to queue up for hours to collect a permanent voter card when he is hungry?” he queried.
According to him, the Ekiti electorate voted against the overbearing influence of former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, whose claim to leadership of the Yoruba race remains controversial and questionable.
On his part, a political scientist at the Bayero University, Kano, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage, said “the outcome of the Ekiti election was almost predictable, not because of the performance of the APC government, but because of the events leading up to the elections.”
He cited the activities of the federal government, which amounted to intimidation of APC leaders at the party’s final rally and on the day of the election, and lamented the absence of a level playing field.
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