We need to ensure the security of lives and property of everyone in Ekiti State. But the deployment of 30,000 policemen to Ekiti is not a step in the right direction. The election is just being over-regulated. We may not have a free, fair and transparent election in the state with that arrangement.
We have security challenges everywhere and 30,000 policemen are not needed for Ekiti election. With such intimidating deployments, it means that the government is only concerned about power and not about the welfare and security of the people.
The ruling party is concerned with taking power for their governors by all means.
Elections and governance in Nigeria are based on money and power, particularly stolen money. So, how can we expect a free, fair and credible election?
What the INEC is supposed to do to avert violence, it cannot do. This has been proven by the previous elections; they can’t stop rigging or violence. Things may not be different from what we have had. The system does not also give the INEC the ability to conduct a credible election. Look at the issue of the collection of the Permanent Voters Card and the stress that people go through to get those cards.
We may not have a legitimate government. We need to change our orientation about elections and getting to power by all means. •Alhaji Balarabe Musa (A former Governor of old Kaduna State)
When you deploy 30,000 armed police officers in an election, what do you think will happen? Given the nature of elections, I think deployments are needed, but do you need 30,000 officers which is about 10 per cent of the national police force? Ekiti State is less than one per cent of Nigeria’s land mass and under one per cent of the voting population. To deploy 10 per cent of the police force and 14 per cent of the active policing assets that we have to police this election is madness.
And when you do that, you will surely guarantee violence. It guarantees high-handed policing, you make things it difficult. If they had deployed assets for the purpose of addressing logistics, I can understand that. There are places in Nigeria where you cannot do elections without such deployment like Rivers State, Bayelsa State; the Niger Delta in general and some parts of the North-East and the North-West and obviously the Middle Belt.
But do you need 30,000 policemen, two helicopters, 10 Armoured Personnel Vehicles, 250 patrol vehicles, 2,000 DSS personnel, 4,000 other assets just for the Ekiti election? That almost certainly guarantees that there will be violence.
And they have deployed all of these assets without announcing any rules of engagement. If there had been any rules of engagement announced and there had been training for the assets on these rules of engagement, you can at least match up the people to the rules of engagement, but there was nothing like that. Are we saying security personnel do not perpetrate violence in Nigeria?
So, who deters the security personnel if they are the ones fomenting the violence? I know Supreme Court cases in which they found that police personnel were stuffing ballot boxes. The Uwais electoral reform committee report in 2008 specifically stated that the police in Nigeria had a history of ballot stuffing, of violence intimidation and killing people around elections. This is in black and white in Presidential commissioned report. I know that in a lot of states, police personnel were involved in chasing away election administrators, police personnel acting as party agents.
All these are documented in cases decided by courts in Nigeria. So, why will all that change all of a sudden? In 2014, 15,000 policemen were deployed in Ekiti and we complained that this was too much. This was four years ago.
Today, it is 30,000. So, I haven’t changed my views. The problem is that when you are in power you set bad precedents and when another person takes power, they rely on your bad precedent and do worse. That is the problem. It is unfortunate that those who promised change are even doing worse than the people they wanted to change. Things will change the moment people understand that they will not always be in power. •Prof. Chidi Odinkalu (A former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission)
The Ekiti State election is the barometer that will further X-ray the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s position to non-interference in the functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission. The administration demonstrated this commitment during the Anambra governorship election. We expect the same commitment to be sustained in the Ekiti election.
I expect the candidates, especially those of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress, Prof. Kolapo Olusola and Dr Kayode Fayemi respectively, to act responsibly. I expect Ayodele Fayose, the incumbent governor, and Fayemi, a former state governor not to do anything that will lead to loss of lives and property. They have the higher responsibility to the people of Ekiti State to ensure that peace reigns before, during and after the election.
Security agencies should be independent; their allowances must be paid to insulate them from corruption. We have heard what happened in Maiduguri where some police officers were deployed to maintain peace, law and order, but their allowances were not paid. Such non-payment of allowances may make security agents susceptible to corruption and to do the bidding of politicians; so adequate allowances must be paid to security agents.
Experience of electoral violence in this country has shown that politicians who sponsor electoral violence have never been successfully prosecuted and punished.
Politicians must exhibit maturity and talk to their supporters to avoid any form of electoral violence.
For public officers, such as INEC monitoring and returning officers, I expect them not to compromise their positions. Peaceful, free and fair election will boost the credentials of Buhari’s administration. I am appealing to INEC especially, to ensure transparent, free and fair election. •Mr Issah Manzuma (A former Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin branch)
The issue here is not about threat of violence, I am in Ekiti as we speak, and there is no violence. The narrative people are trying to push is to say violence to scare away people from coming out to vote. The real issue we should all be concerned about here is the attempt by politicians to buy votes.
After the 2011 post-election violence, the issue in our elections have not been violence but that of vote buying. We have always sent policemen to states for elections and in all of those elections there was no crisis. In Edo, there was no violence, it was vote buying, in Ondo there was no violence it was vote buying; in Anambra, there was no violence, it was vote buying.
So, if you follow elections in this part of the world, it is like a wrestling match, people will brag, people will talk and show themselves; go and look at the statistics. After 2011, the currency of engagement has been money.
The system is locked up, you can’t use money to manipulate the system any longer, politicians are going to polling booths with money to buy votes; this is what we must fight to stop. •Ezenwa Nwagwu (Executive Director, Partners for Electoral Reforms)
The violence brewing in Ekiti State is state-sponsored; therefore it is only the state that can put a stop to it.
The time has come for us to stop playing politics with the shenanigans of politicians.
My take is that troublemakers should be arrested irrespective of their positions in society. The law should be made to take its course to act as a deterrent to troublemakers. •Mr Ere Ebikekeme (A former member, House of Representatives)