WELCOME SPEECH BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR TRANSPARENCY ADVOCACY (CTA) DURING THE STAKEHOLDERS’ MEETING IN PREPARATION TOWARDS THE JUNE 18, 2022, EKITI STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION HELD AT KOLTOTEL PLAZA AND SUITES ON MAY 31, 2022
It is with great pleasure that I welcome everyone to this meeting. The last time we were here was in 2018 for the Governorship Election that was held on July 14, 2018. I am glad we have returned.
Recall that the appeals court overturned Segun Oni’s election in October 2010 and granted the mandate to Dr. Kayode Fayemi, whose term expired in 2014, and that since then, elections in the state have been held outside of the national election cycle. There was an election in 2018, and another will occur on June 18, 2022.
As stated by the Independent National Electoral Commission, 35 political parties fielded candidates and competed in the 2018 Governorship Election (INEC). The delisting of various political parties by INEC has reduced the number of political parties in Nigeria, leaving 18 political parties as of today. However, just sixteen political parties will register candidates in the upcoming election.
As of 2018, there were 909,585 registered voters in Ekiti State, of which 405,861 (just under 50 percent) were accredited to vote. In that election, just 384,594 ballots were valid, leaving over 21,000 as invalid or annulled.
It is essential to examine these past occurrences to determine how best to organize for a better election. The election that will take place on June 18, 2022, will be the sixth election for governor of Ekiti State. As of this date, according to INEC records, sixteen political parties are vying for votes from eligible voters in 2,441 polling units (including 250 newly established polling units) in 177 Wards to determine the next governor of the state.
There are now 988,923 registered voters in Ekiti State (79,338 more than 2018). These numbers include 502,906 females (51 %) and 486 017 males (49 %). According to these numbers, more women than men are registered to vote. However, the contradiction is that there are 15 male candidates for governor, but there is only one female candidate for governor and seven female deputy governor candidates.
This is not a meeting for too many speeches in the strictest sense, but rather a discussion; an exchange between parties working toward a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election with all elements of openness. Permit me to note that the participants have been meticulously chosen to represent all vital segments of the electorate, who are the actual CEOs of the election process.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set this election for Saturday, June 18, 2022. As an accredited domestic observer group, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, together with many other stakeholders, is preparing for the election with the mandate to contribute to a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election in Ekiti State. This meeting is part of a series in which the CTA has engaged numerous stakeholders to measure the election-related sentiments and preparations of citizens, legislators, security agencies, and the Election Management Body.
As citizens and stakeholders with an equal stake in the political events in our state, transparency should be the defining characteristic of every group, agency, individual, the media, security services, civil society, and citizens engaging in the 18 June 2022 election.
We believe that all of us represented here today, including INEC, would serve the interest of the people by deploying improved technology such as the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (B-VAS), which replaced the Smart Card Reader, to achieve electoral process transparency. We hope this success will be repeated in the upcoming election for governor of Ekiti State. This meeting will focus on what’s new, what’s different from past experiences, and the New Electoral Act.
It is important to remind us as stakeholders of the need to ensure that all voices are heard, especially those of vulnerable groups such as women, youth, and people with disabilities, in the electoral process in order to foster better democratic practices, which in turn will assist the Electoral Umpire in establishing a credible path to elections and electoral process. No to vote buying and all forms of bribery.
The Center for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) will deploy 50 observers to the sixteen Local Government Areas of Ekiti State, including members of our expert team. In the weeks preceding the election, these observers will get training on the Electoral Act of 2022, election observation, and adherence to INEC Election Guidelines and the Covid-19 Protocols. On election day, CTA will also set up a Situation Room in Ado-Ekiti to gather reports from field observers around the state.
At this time, we in CTA are concerned about the low quality of campaigns. It is believed that politicians do not engage in campaigning but instead save money to influence voters on election day. Let me state unequivocally that any form of vote buying or improper financial inducement is an electoral offense. Sections 121(1)a-d, 127 of the Electoral Act of 2022 are explicit on this point (a-b). Those found guilty of bribery and conspiracy face a fine of $500,000 or one year in prison, or both. No to vote buying and all forms of bribery.
It is appropriate for politicians to engage in electoral campaigns. Equally, there have been reports of election violence and the militarization of the state, both of which may frighten away potential voters and people and should therefore be discouraged. We want peaceful elections in the state. Political parties should base their campaigns on issues and refrain from making statements that could threaten the state’s existing tranquility. In addition, security authorities should guarantee adequate protection for the populace during this time and election seasons. All other stakeholders should be responsible for ensuring that elections are credible, free, and fair. This is today’s message.
In order to achieve legitimate and peaceful elections, we will continue to discuss and collaborate with all parties involved. Our votes count, and we will work to ensure that they continue to count. Indeed, this is your state and election, and YOUR VOTE MUST COUNT.
The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) is a registered non-profit, non-governmental, non-partisan, and non-religious organization whose mission is to promote the benefits of transparency and accountability in public service and to reawaken the Nigerian society to embrace the principles of transparency and accountability.
CTA, an accredited election observer, serves as a watchdog in the electoral value chain and is involved in election observation in Nigeria.
The CTA truly appreciates everyone present at today’s meeting. Specifically, we would like to thank the Department of State Service (DSS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the National Orientation Agency (NOA), and the media organizations that allowed us an audience yesterday. Your presence is not taken for granted. It is our hope that INEC, the National Orientation Agency, the security agencies, traditional rulers, religious leaders, professional organizations, CSOs, and other participants who have in some way contributed to the success of our work and ultimately this meeting will continue to collaborate with us.
Once again, I sincerely welcome everyone and wish for a fruitful meeting.
Thank you for coming.