Key Risk Factors:
· Delay or non-arrival of election materials and personnel may be misinterpreted as an attempt to rig the election.
· History of electoral violence in the state and incidents of violence that have characterised the campaign period.
· Mutual suspicion of rigging between the parties and candidates, and threats of violence
· Possibility of influence from either the federal or regional level
Key Mitigating Factors:
· Timely distribution of election materials and personnel by INEC.
· Enforcement of code of conduct for political parties and readiness to prosecute electoral offenders.
· Training of DPOs, Area commanders and other security agencies on Election Security Management.
· Strategic and early deployment of adequate security to identified areas of threat in the state.
· Adequate sensitization of the electorate on the electoral process and need to eschew violence.
The Ekiti state governorship election scheduled for June 21, 2014 is attracting significant interest because of the anticipated keen contest expected from the three major contending political parties and candidates, as well as concern about election related violence. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is also being watched by those interested in the conduct and outcome of this election. After the not-so-impressive conduct of the Ekiti Governorship election, many regard the Ekiti state election as a test-case of INEC’s preparedness for the 2015 general elections. Attention is also on the security agencies, particularly the police, with regards to election security. Historically, violence has always been associated with elections in Ekiti State, and already pockets of violence were recorded during party primaries and the on-going campaigns. Moreover, coming at a time many would regard as the most challenging for Nigeria security wise, the Ekiti election will no doubt test the capacity of security agencies to provide security for future elections. This edition of CLEEN Foundation’s Election Security Brief (ESB) examines the security threats and mitigating factors as well as recommends measures to prevent electoral violence in the Ekiti election.
Brief History of Ekiti State
Ekiti State, located in South West Nigeria, was created on October 1, 1996 from the old Ondo State by the military government of late General Sani Abacha. It is bounded in the South by Ondo State, on the North by Kwara State, on the East by Kogi State. The state has 3 senatorial districts, 6 federal constituencies, 26 State House of Assembly Seats and 16 Local Government Areas. Ekiti Central and Ekiti North Senatorial Districts both have five local governments each, while Ekiti South Senatorial District has six local government areas. The culturally homogenous people of Ekiti speak the same dialect of the Yoruba language known as Ekiti. However, there are slight variations of the dialect in some areas based on their proximity to Ekiti’s borders with neighbouring States. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Ekiti. It provides income and employment for more than 75% of the population of Ekiti State. The state is also blessed with mineral resources which remained mostly untapped. With a population estimate of 2,737,186 and total land mass of 6,353 km2 (2,453 sq mi), Ekiti State is also reputed for the academic prowess of the citizens and holds the record of producing the highest number of professors in Nigeria.
For the 2014 gubernatorial election, Ekiti has 732,166 registered voters, 2,195 polling units, 2,803 voting points, 117 collation centres and 16 local government collation centres.
The local government areas are grouped into three senatorial districts:
- Ekiti North Senatorial District – Ido Osi, Ikole, Ilejemeje, Moba, Oye
- Ekiti Central Senatorial District – Ado Ekiti, Efon, Ekiti West, Ijero, Irepodun/Ifelodun
- Ekiti South Senatorial District – Ekiti East, Ekiti South West, Emure, Gbonyin, Ikere, Ise/Orun
Politics in Ekiti State
Upon creation, Ekiti State was administered by two military administrators: Lt. Col. Mohammed Bawa from October 1996 to August 1998 and Navy Captain Atanda Yusuf from August 1998 to May 1999. Ondo State, from which Ekiti was carved from, was known for supporting progressive political parties, but with supports sometimes changing towards grassroots candidates who may not necessarily belong to popular progressive platforms. This trait was reflected in the outcome of the transition election in 1999 with Governor Niyi Adebayo of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) becoming the first civilian governor of the state. AD was an offshoot of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) formed by prominent followers of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The Alliance for Democracy effectively won the six south west states, including Ekiti, in the 1999 election. Conversely, in 2003 the entire south west states, with the exception of Lagos State, were won by the PDP. Mr. Ayo Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was elected as Governor, as part of the PDP almost-clean sweep of the South west. Ayo Fayose’s tenure was terminated three years later through impeachment by the State House of Assembly. Fayose’s impeachment on October 16 by the State Assembly (and brief replacement by Speaker Aderemi) was declared illegal by Federal Government; the period was followed by a prolonged political crisis.
Ekiti State was consequently administered by Retired General Tunji Olurin, who was appointed administrator after the declaration of a state of emergency by President Olusegun Obasanjo. On April 27, 2007 Olurin was replaced by Tope Ademiluyi as Acting Governor. Segun Oni emerged from controversial primaries within the PDP and was elected governor in the 2007 election which was marred by widespread irregularities. The then Action Congress (AC) candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi challenged his election and forced a rerun in May 2009. The May 2009 rerun was characterized by even worse rigging and the election was disputed again. Eventually, after three years, the election of Oni was terminated by the court and Dr. Kayode Fayemi was declared the duly elected governor of Ekiti State.
The PDP is keen on winning back those states the party lost to the opposition in the South west. A successful outing for the PDP in Ekiti State may be the needed booster for recovering its lost political edge in the region. On the other hand, since democratic transition in 1999, none of the governors have successfully been elected for two terms. While PDP Ayo Fayose is attempting to return for a second term (technically), the incumbent Governor, Kayode Fayemi will attempt to come back for a second term in office. Whichever way the election goes, both the PDP and APC may have the opportunity to break the one term jinx.
Parties and Candidates in the Gubernatorial Election
Eighteen (18) political parties have been cleared to contest and field candidates for the June 21 gubernatorial election and they include the following:
1. Action Alliance (AA) – Mr Opeyemi Akinyemi
2. All Progressive Congress (APC) – Governor Kayode Fayemi
3. Accord Party (AP) – Mr Kole Ajayi
4. African Democratic Congress (ADC) – Mr. Okoko Bola
5. African Peoples’ Alliance, (APA) – Mr Adebayo Ogunlola
6. Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, (ACPN) – Mr Peter Bamigbade
7. Alliance for Democracy (AD) – Mr Osekita Victor
8. Citizens Popular Party (CPP) – Mr. Ayodele Olayinka
9. KOWA Party (KP) – Pastor Ade Joseph
10.Labour Party (LP) – Mr Opeyemi Bamidele
11. Mega Progressive Peoples Party, (MPPP) – Mr Akinbola Joseph
12. National Conscience Party, (NCP) – Mr. Ilesanmi Emmanuel
13. People’s Democratic Change (PDC) – Mr. banjo Gboyega
14. Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) – Mr Gbenga Adekunle
15. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – Chief Ayo Fayose
16. Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) – Mr Animasanu Goke
17. Social Democratic Party (SDP) – Mr Adekola Ayo
18. United Democratic Party, (UDP) – Mr. Adeniyi Philip
Regardless of the numbers of parties and candidates, the real contest is expected to be between APC, PDP and LP.
APC candidate: Kayode Fayemi
Dr. Kayode Fayemi emerged as the Governor of Ekiti State in 2010 after three years of contesting the outcome of the 2007 election through the legal system. Fayemi’s campaign has been centered on what his supporters regards as his excellent record and performance. Implementation of his 8 points agenda in his first term was described by many as pace setting. His administration’s 8-point agenda is centered on: Governance, Infrastructural Development, Modernizing Agriculture, Education and Human Capital Development, Health Care Services, Industrial Development, Tourism Development, and Gender Equality and Woman Empowerment.
Before his foray into mainstream politics, Dr. Kayode Fayemi was a technocrat of no mean achievement, though relatively unknown. He was a former Director of the Centre for Democracy & Development, a research and training institution dedicated to the study and promotion of democratic development, peace-building and human security in Africa. As such he was better known to civil society practitioners who saw his interest in politics as a welcome development. He was a lecturer, journalist, researcher and Strategy Development adviser in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The incumbent Governor of Ekiti State was on Saturday 14th April 2014 endorsed as the governorship candidate of the APC in the state’s gubernatorial elections scheduled for June 21. This endorsement marked the effort at the constitutional second term of four years which has not been enjoyed by any past governor. The APC structures in the south-west, Edo State, Nasarawa and Imo State, etc, have featured prominently in his campaign.
Labour Party Candidate: Opeyemi Bamidele
Honourable Opeyemi Bamidele is a trained lawyer, an experienced politician and political activist. He is a serving Honourable member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Ekiti State from the Ado Ekiti/Ifelodun-Ifelodun (Federal Constituency). He has served in various capacities in the Lagos State government administration of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola. Elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Honourable Opeyemi Bamidele decamped to the Labour Party due to political differences with the leadership of APC. A former President of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), he was an active member of NADECO, a pro-democracy group which opposed military annulment of the June 12 election. Starting off early in politics, he was the National Director of Publicity, Alliance for Democracy (AD) 2000 and 2004. In 1993, He was National Accreditation Officer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) National Convention, where Bashorun MKO Abiola emerged as presidential candidate.
PDP Candidate: Ayo Fayose
Ayo Fayose, a grassroots politician was the second democratically elected Governor of Ekiti State. Elected on the platform of the PDP, Fayose and his deputy, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, were impeached by 24 of the 26 law makers of Ekiti State House of Assembly over allegation of corruption. Fayose is still very popular in Ekiti State and commands good followership, perhaps more than other candidates that contested the PDP primary against him. His popularity, despite the burden of impeachment for corrupt enrichment might have informed his preference by the PDP as its candidate for the June 21 elections. PDP is keen at winning back Ekiti State. It was no surprise therefore that the ex-governor emerged as the candidate of the PDP on March 22, having won the party’s primary with 462 votes out of the 470 votes cast by delegates. Though the declaration of Fayose was disputed by Senator Gbenga Aluko, who claimed to have emerged as the party’s consensus candidate out of 13 aspirants, the dispute was later settled with the Senator accepting the party’s position and expressing his support for Fayose. The corruption cases against the ex-governor remains an albatross which he would have to deal with to emerge as a governor for the second time.
Synthesis of Security Threats
The following are the key threats to security in the 21 June 2014 Ekiti State gubernatorial election:
· Non arrival or delay in the arrival of election materials and personnel is a risk factor which must be avoided. These may be regarded as a deliberate ploy by the parties, especially when it happens in areas where they have strength and keen interest.
· Mutual suspicion by political parties and their candidates is considered a risk factor. Unsubstantiated claims of recruitment of mercenaries and plans to rig the election are being spread around the state. Supporters of political parties eager for electoral victory may be on edge before, during and after elections if things seem to be working against their party’s interest.
· Unregulated utterances and threats of violence emerging from pre-campaign political gatherings is a major risk factor. Leaders of leading parties in the elections have publicly threatened violence if the election is rigged, thereby preparing the minds of their supporters for electoral violence.
· Intervention by extra geo-political interests in the election may lead to violence. Likely use of federal influence in support of PDP candidate is being insinuated by the APC, while the PDP and LP on the other hand are claiming that APC leadership based in Lagos is all out to influence the election.
· The decision of INEC not to use the card reader for the election as against its earlier plan is a major risk factor for the election. Some political parties and their supporters hold the position that the card reader has the advantage of reducing rigging and other electoral fraud. As such, INEC’s decision not to use the machine may be an excuse for violence by parties who may lose at polls.
· Suspicion about bias by security agencies in favour of any of the parties or candidates is a risk factor for violence during the Ekiti Poll. There is suspicion among some quarters that the federal government may use security forces to intimate voters during the election.
· Inadequate manning of polling units and security provision for election workers is a major risk factor. Observers noted that there were inadequate security provisions during the CVR exercise.
Potential Flash Points
The best strategy to effectively stem electoral violence during the June 21 election is for security agencies to be prepared to deal with issues of electoral violence in all the 177 wards and 16 local government areas across Ekiti State. Additionally, preparing for the worst case scenario may be the best, as contest for the governorship election increases in intensity. Ishan, the Governor’s area, as well as, every area where major political figures and appointees comes from need to be watched. Every point of entry from surrounding states, including Kogi, Ondo and Kwara state, need to be watched, just as was done during the Ondo state governorship election in 2012. However, in terms of records of electoral violence occurrences, the following areas are regarded as the hotspots to pay very careful attention:
- Emure: historically has always been problematic and right now, every candidate will want to win there because it is easier to have an LGA once you win in Emure.
- Ikere: has a reputation for being volatile. There seems to be more sympathy for the PDP though the APC is very strong there. Any electoral outcome against the popular will of the people may result in violence.
- Ijero and Ikole: also needs also to be seriously watched
- Irepodun: PDP’s Ayo Fayose and Labour Party’s Opeyemi Bamidele are from this local government area. This significantly raises the likelihold of violence.
- Efon and Oye also need to be watched, particularly Oye where the incumbent Governor, Kayode Fayemi comes from.
- Ido Osi: The people of Ido Osi are still bitter that their votes did not count in the disputed election between Kayode Fayemi and their son, Segun Oni. Despite the defection of Segun Oni to the APC, the people are said to be prepared to ensure that their vote counts and particularly they are prepared for Kayode Fayemi.
- Gbonyin: The Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly is from here and it is a spot to watch.
Threats mitigation factors
The following are mitigation factors that may dilute the potency of the threats analysed above:
· INEC needs to ensure the timely distribution of election materials and arrival of personnel to the various units. This is important to ensure timely completion of the process, calm frayed nerves and remove suspicion of manipulation.
· Regular stakeholders meeting with political parties, candidates and supporters is important to caution them about making claims they cannot substantiate. Importantly, there may be the need for the application or enforcement of the code of conduct to guide the political parties.
· Wider publicity to sensitize electorates about the election process, particularly regarding the non usage of the card reader is necessary. It is important that INEC gains parties’ and public confidence that the usage or non-usage of card reader will have no effect on the conduct and outcome of election.
· As was done during the Ondo State governorship elections in 2012, securing Ekiti state access points from neighboring states will help reduce risk of importation of mercenaries and thugs for this election.
· Confidence of the public must be built on the neutrality and professionalism of security agencies. Importantly, the Police and other security agencies must ensure 100% neutrality during the elections.
· Adequate security must be provided for election materials and officials to deter would-be trouble makers. This is particularly important in areas identified as hotspots.
· Lastly, INEC and security agencies must send a clear and strong signal that they will not condone electoral malfeasance and that offenders will be duly prosecuted.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Campaigns for the Ekiti governorship election have already witnessed some level of inter-party violence. As noted by observers, the level of violence already witnessed is yet to be as volatile as those experienced in past elections held in Ekiti State. This may be due to pro-active steps which stakeholders have been taken. However, there is the need for greater sensitization of the public, political parties and their supporters on the need to eschew violence during the elections. INEC and the police need to caution political party leaders to stop using words and phrases such as “rig and burn” which may prepare the minds of their supporters for violence. On the other hand, such violence-coated statements may intimidate electorates and discourage many from exercising their electoral franchise. The following recommendations are suggested to further help deal with the risks to the June 21 election:
· INEC needs to build the confidence of the public for them to accept that the non-usage of the card reader machine for the governorship election will not affect both the its administration and outcome.
· Logistics arrangement for early deployment of election materials and personnel should be firmed up and back-up plans made.
· The police and other security agencies need to have plans for early and adequate security at the polling units. Moreover, allowances for security personnel should be paid up-front to ensure unhindered security presence at polls.
· A cross-cutting theme in every campaign across political parties is mandate protection. There is need for voter education by the political parties, INEC, NOA, the media and NGOs to educate the public on mandate protection. Voters who are keen to protect their mandate should be educated about what mandate protection is all about. This is necessary to counter the current misperception that mandate protection entails inflicting violence on perceived perpetrators of electoral fraud.
· Finally, it is important that political parties are encouraged to positively engage women and youths in the electoral process. Rather than being used as foot soldiers or agents of terror against opposing parties, the knowledge and strength of the youth could be utilized positively by the parties during campaigns and rallies. Provisions should be made for women and youths to understudy party administration and leadership for continuity and sustainability in the parties.