© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
PDP party officials caught paying bribes to voters in Ado Ekiti hours before election
Residents of Ado-Ekiti on Friday thronged to the government office for their share of what Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose once described as “stomach infrastructure”.
The ICIR reporter followed the crowd to the government office in Ado-Ekiti where officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were sharing cash to eligible voters who have obtained Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and have pledged to vote for the party’s candidate on Saturday.
Each official held a rumpled register where people, after showing their PVC, were invited to write their names as well as their addresses before they were paid.
“If you collect money, and you don’t vote, God will punish you,” one of the officials cursed.
Though the amount paid vary from ward to ward, few people complained. Some wards paid their members N5,000, some paid N4,000 while others paid N3,000. Despite the verification process put in place to prevent multiple cash collection, a number of voters succceded still in collecting bribes from more than one ward. But there were voters whose ward officials were no where to be found, and they were left stranded with nobody to pay them.
The absence of these officials generated tension among the stranded. A woman ward leader was seen at the entrance shouting at her phone to someone at the other end. The phone was on speaker mode so that others could hear their conversation.
“My people are here and nobody is around to take care of them,” she shouted on top of her voice, while the person at the other end continuosly told her to calm down.
One of the affected is Mr. Omosebi Peter Sunday and his wife, Omosebi Funmilayo Dorcas.
Mr. Omosebi, 49, who lives in Oke -Bola in Ado Ekiti said he has waited since noon but his ward leader whom he identified as Ade has not paid him and his wife, despite the fact that people from other wards were getting paid in his presence. He felt it was a ploy to evade paying them. Fuming with anger, he swore to cast his vote for the candidate of All Progressive Congress, APC, if he was not paid before the election day. “And my wife will not vote too; she votes for whoever I vote for.”
Notwithstanding, most of the Okada riders who independently spoke to the ICIR indicated their preference for the PDP candidate, Kolapo Olusola Eleka – bribe or no bribe.
According to a motorcyclist, who said he hailed from Anambra, but a resident of Ado-Ekiti, the vote for Olusola is the vote for Fayose. And Fayose, unlike Fayemi, was kind to Okada riders as a governor, he said.
“Fayemi almost sent us out of business before he lost in 2014. So, this is another time to pay him for his insentivity to the poor people of Ekiti.”
He expressed confidence that Olusola would win the election, even if the party did not gratify the electorate.
The ICIR was unbale to visit other Ekiti towns where the APC candidate and candidates of other parties are also holding sway.
But an opinion poll conducted by Crowd Force, a data crowdsourcing platform, also rated Olusola above other candidates. According to the poll, while the PDP candidate scored 54 percent, Kayode Fayemi, the flagbearer of APC scored 28 percent, followed by ADP candidate, Segun Adewale who scored 8 percent and SDP candidate Akinloye Ayegbusi who scored 3 percent.
Meanwhile, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC is confident that the election would be transparent and credible.
Deputy Director, Publicity Mr. Emeka Ugboaja, who spoke to the ICIR during accredtation of journalists said it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for any candidate to rig the election.
“I dont know how those sharing money will rig the process.”
INEC has earlier announced a new innovation which allows it to track all vehicles carrying sesnsitive materials to locations real time from departure, en route and arrival. The Commssion also has promised to transmit Ekiti Election Results electronically.
Ugboaja said INEC has learnt lesson in previous elections and has therefore upgraded its system.