Ayodele Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State, recently endorsed Kolapo Olusola, his current deputy, as the person to fly the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state’s 2018 governorship election.
This has caused some stir among the party members in the state, who likened the development as a show of godfatherism which should have no place in modern politics.
The governor, or at least his supporters, may have ‘crossed the red line’ by erecting bill boards showing Fayose raising Olusola’s hand with the inscription: “Meet your next Governor”.
According to Section 99 of the electoral act, campaigns by political parties should commence 90 days, and end 24 hours before the polls.
The act states: “99 (1) For the purpose of this act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.
(2) A registered political party which through any person acting on its behalf during the 24 hours before polling day –
(a) advertises on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking; or
(b) procures for publication or acquiesces in the publication of an advertisement in a Newspaper, for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular candidate, commits an offence under this act and upon conviction is liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.”
AbdulGaniy Olayinka Raji, the new Ekiti State Resident Electoral Commissioner, raised the issue during a press conference on Wednesday in Ado-Ekiti.
Raji stressed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC, has the powers to prosecute politicians who engaged in any form of “early campaign” before the time allowed by law.
“All these acts are not in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended),” he said.
“Activities that look like campaign are against the Constitution and people should desist from them.
“Any offender convicted is liable to a maximum fine of N500,000 and a jail term at the discretion of the judge. The law also permits INEC to remove such billboards.”
It is left to be seen whether any legal action will be taken against the PDP and the other political parties who have already kick-started campaigns for elections that has still more than 90 days away.