By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis
The Inter-Party Advisory Council on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the just concluded Ekiti State election, which it said, was a daylight robbery and a slap on democracy.
The council almost disclosed that its observation team witnessed a brazen act of vote-buying by agents of political parties while officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agents look the other way.
The concerns were raised by the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, Yabagi Yusuf Sani, at the council’s national secretariat, Abuja on Wednesday.
Sani said, “Sadly, the election was a daylight robbery characterized by brazen and outrageous vote buying, sundry electoral malpractices and voter apathy thereby putting in question the legality of the process leading to declaration of Biodun Oyebanji, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress as the winner.
“It is obvious that the voters who sold their ballots for a mess of electoral porridge have inadvertently mortgaged their future for the next four years by electing a leader who may not have necessarily been their choice if the election were to be devoid of obscene use of money to induce voters,” he said.
According to him, the ugly Ekiti episode has eroded the value of the hard work by INEC, which also has inadvertently affected the perception of the citizens as to the capacity of the commission to conduct and ensure credible election results.
The IPAC chairman also urged the commission to meticulously evaluate its performance in Ekiti with a view to improving in the forthcoming Osun State governorship election, adding every vote must count and be counted in the overall result without inducement of the electorate.
He noted that the council was initially optimistic that with improved technology, particularly the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System for verification, accreditation and confirmation of eligible voters, the gubernatorial election would be credible even with adequate security agents and operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at strategic locations in the State.
“Sadly, it didn’t turn out as expected. The IPAC is deeply saddened and worried about the ugly high incidence of vote-trading between electorates and political actors in open connivance with some security agents saddled with the responsibility of arresting and prosecuting electoral offenders and their sponsors.
“This unfortunate vicious circle of electing leaders after inducement has been the bane of the nation’s democracy since Independence in 1960, particularly since the return of democracy in 1999.
“Election is the beauty of democracy, the ballot is sacrosanct and should not be traded on for any reason or for no reason whatsoever. The destinies of millions of fellow compatriots are at stake when the will and mandate of the people is brazenly stolen through vote-buying by political buccaneers masquerading as democrats with a mission to loot our common patrimony,” he said.