After Saturday’s resounding victory of the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) in the governorship election in Ekiti, residents of the state told PREMIUM TIMES that the worsening hardship occasioned by months of unpaid salaries was the reason they voted against the incumbent government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Kayode Fayemi, the candidate of the APC, won 12 out of the state’s 16 local governments to defeat Kolapo Olusola, the incumbent deputy governor and candidate of the PDP to emerge the governor-elect.
The outcome of the election is one of the most remarkable in the country’s recent democratic history as four years ago, Mr Fayemi was comprehensively defeated by the incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Mr Fayose had campaigned vigorously for his deputy to take over from him, but his efforts fell short. Residents of the state who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday said they voted against the ruling party because of worsening economic problem in the state.
Sunday Ogunbiyi, a local government employee at Ilupeju, Oye Local Government Area, said he has not been paid for nine months. He said the incumbent governor could not fulfil a promise he made to workers to pay at least one month out of their backlog of unpaid salaries before the election.
“Presently in Ekiti, the people are suffering from different problem such as inconsistent salary of the workers,” he said.
Mr Ogunbiyi said he believed that the in-coming governor will do all that is required to clear the backlog of unpaid salaries.
Similarly, in Ado Ekiti, Sulaiman Ajide said the suffering in the state had become unbearable and people needed some respite.
“People are suffering and that’s why they were bought. I know people who have not been paid since this year begin,” he said.
Joseph Owolabi, a mechanic in Oye, said he voted for Mr Fayemi due to the people-friendly policies he initiated in the state during his first tenure as governor.
“During Fayemi first tenure, he constructed the roads in LGs in Ekiti State. When Fayemi was governor there was good governance. Health care services and security was assured. There was welfare to the people. He gives N5,000 monthly to the elders for their upkeep,” he said.
He said the incumbent governor did not show respect for traditional rulers in the state and that he specifically voted against him because he did not allow other opposition candidates campaign freely.
However, some residents of Ado Ekiti, the state capital, and one of the four local governments won by the PDP, said he lost because the opposition indulged in massive vote-buying.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the largely peaceful election was marred in part by widespread vote-buying by members of the PDP and APC.
Olayinka Ogungbade said the incumbent lost because the opposition indulged in vote-buying. She said the people should know that politicians will recoup whatever money they spent after they get into office.
“If people collect money before voting, when the politicians get into office they will first recover their spent money,” she said.
Bunmi Olaiya also said the ruling party lost because the opposition induced voters with money.
“The election is unfair. The way they are sharing money in front of INEC officials is not good. Everyone is breaking the law. The INEC officials, the party agents, the security all collecting money. That is what made PDP lost because they sold their votes for N5,000.00,” she said.
Despite admitting to selling their votes for N5,000.00, some voters said the money did not influence who they voted for.
Sunday Oladele told PREMIUM TIMES he collected the N5,000.00 because “it is our money and we should collect it when offered”. He however said the money was not the reason he voted for Mr Fayemi.
“The past administration has not fulfilled the promises it made to the people,” he said.