Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose, Wednesday stormed the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for an interactive session with the Commission over the July 14 governorship election in the state.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the meeting with national commissioners, Fayose (who doubles as Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum) said:
“I felt I should come and have an interactive session with INEC to share my ideas on the issue that has to do with INEC that is of concern, and the bragging of some [of the] opposition at the centre in respect [to the] general elections in Ekiti 2018.
“INEC is a public place, it is a public office, and any citizen of this country should be able to ask questions, and I have come here to ask questions as it affects the July 14, 2018 elections in my state, and as it affects 2019 elections,” the outspoken governor said.
He continued that:
“We heard a lot of things and we feel that it is within our rights to ask INEC questions and we were all warmly received by all National Commissioners seated, and I expressed my concerns; all that I have heard, all that is making rounds and it was a very [issue-oriented] session, quite educative and so far so good. I am satisfied because they have been able to allay my fears.”
Asked his biggest takeaway from the chairman and the specific issues they discussed, Governor Fayose said:
“We discussed issues generally. I told you that there were [a] number of issues making [the] rounds, particularly coming from the APC stalwarts in our state.
“You don’t want to sit down there and assume anything. I am a man of action, I am very proactive and I will not take the chance. So, I felt I should see them and ask questions and I have asked [a] number of questions and they have answered me. They have gone through the whole process, what to expect from INEC.
“They promised not to descend to the arena, which is quite reassuring and I am satisfied. If I have other issues or any question to ask, I won’t waste time to ask. But I felt they have said and cleared issues, and for now, I am satisfied,” he said.
“I listened to them (INEC) so far as it affects [the] Ekiti election. What they have said so far is reassuring. If I have questions again, I will come here. And if I come here and they don’t want to see me, I will tell the public they don’t want to see [me]; but today, even without notice, I was well-received and they were patient, transparently patient, to explain one after the other all the concerns,” he said.
Fayose equally reacted to a statement from the PDP that it has lost confidence in the leadership of INEC over the issue of underage voting in some parts of the country, saying:
“Well, let me say this, anyone will be concerned by underage voting, you will not blame the PDP or any party protesting.
“It is the duty of INEC to equally allay their fears. If you are the umpire, the referee, you must not only be neutral but be seen to be neutral. It is a shame for you to see people bringing children of four years, five years, coming to register. For our nation, it is a shame.
“For the level of our democracy today, in 21st century, it is a shame. It is good that INEC said they will look into it, and I want to give them [the] benefit of [the] doubt, so that they can look into it and address the nation, because the buck stops on Prof. Mahmood’s table. I am sure he would not want to compromise anything for his name. That’s my view,” the governor said.