With the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring the former governor, Mr Ayo Fayose, winner of last Saturday's governorship election in Ekiti State, concerns have emerged over the non-accreditation of over 50 percent of voters for the election.
According to a breakdown of the results by the electoral commission, of the 733,766 registered voters in Ekiti State, 364,509 of them did not turn up for accreditation for the governorship election.
Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had scored 203,090 votes to defeat the incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who polled 120,433 votes, while Opeyemi Bamidele of the Labour Party (LP) came third with 18,135 votes.
However, INEC's summary of the results obtained by LEADERSHIP revealed that while the total number of registered voters was 733,766, the number of voters accredited for Saturday's poll was just 369,257. The total number of votes cast was 360,455, with 350,366 of them valid and 10,089 invalid.
But the huge difference in the number of non-accredited voters and the whereabouts of such cards have sparked fresh concerns as, ahead of the election, there were agitations for the use of card readers to curtail such occurrences.
However, the chief press secretary to INEC national chairman, Kayode Idowu, when contacted, explained that of the 732,166 registered voters, 476,870 - representing, 64.98 percent - collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).
He said the non-accredited cards had since been returned to INEC headquarters, adding that about 80 percent of those who collected their cards voted.
LEADERSHIP recalls that while INEC ruled out the use of card readers in the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, it stated that they would be used in the 2015 general elections.
Governors Fayemi and his Osun State counterpart Rauf Aregbesola had, in the run up to last Saturday's election, called on INEC to rescind its decision on the use of electronic card readers for the governorship elections.
But INEC chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega had insisted that the commission would not use card readers for the elections, maintaining that "it will not be wise to use a pilot scheme in an election that will be keenly contested."
The APC had, however, maintained that "contrary to what INEC has said, the e-card reader is very adaptable, and its application is not subject to any environmental peculiarity once the basics of operations are met. It is therefore surprising to read INEC's claim that the sensitivity of the elections in Ekiti and Osun will not recommend the use of the card reader."
The party had contended that "impersonation, multiple voting and endless altercations and associated tension will be eliminated at the voting centres with the use of e-card reader and not by any other means.
"Also, the e-card reader will ensure the automatic recording of all accredited voters with verified permanent voter cards in such a way that does not lend itself to manipulation, thus preventing the falsification of results at the collation centres."
However, a source at the electoral commission told LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity that the cards of the non-accredited voters were immediately returned to the commission in Abuja, dispelling fears that the cards were used for other purposes.
Responding to questions over the whereabouts of the non-accredited cards, the source noted that "immediately the election closed, all the voter cards that were not accredited were returned to the national headquarters in Abuja."
However, reactions have continued to trail the outcome of the election.
The executive director, Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Abuja, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said the outcome of the Ekiti gubernatorial election highlighted a high degree of voter apathy.
He decried a situation whereby nearly 50 percent of registered voters neglected to pick up their permanent voter cards and, therefore, could not be accredited to vote. He blamed this apathy on inadequate mobilisation by INEC, the political parties and civil society organisations.
"The election outcome also reminds us that Nigerian voters do not pay enough attention to the performance of elected officials because they are more concerned about stomach infrastructure instead of physical infrastructure and development," Igbuzor said.
The former ActionAid country director also noted that the intimidation of APC leaders in the days leading to the election, as well as the decision of teachers to vote against Fayemi for introducing a competence test for them, may have worked against the incumbent.
Also, a PDP chieftain in Delta State, Chief Andrew Desi, said people were hungry and indifferent.
"Who would like to queue up for hours to collect a permanent voter card when he is hungry?" he queried.
According to him, the Ekiti electorate voted against the overbearing influence of former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, whose claim to leadership of the Yoruba race remains controversial and questionable.
On his part, a political scientist at the Bayero University, Kano, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage, said "the outcome of the Ekiti election was almost predictable, not because of the performance of the APC government, but because of the events leading up to the elections."
He cited the activities of the federal government, which amounted to intimidation of APC leaders at the party's final rally and on the day of the election, and lamented the absence of a level playing field.
Fayemi Accepts Defeat...
Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi has conceded defeat and congratulated Fayose, declaring that he had no option than to accept the result of the election if indeed it was the will of the Ekiti people.
Fayemi, who disclosed during a broadcast, said that he has spoken with Fayose. He, however, noted that under his (Fayemi) administration, the bar of governance was raised.
"Yesterday, (Saturday) Ekiti State decided. Following the gubernatorial elections held in the land of honour, Ekiti State, Nigeria, INEC has officially returned the candidate of the PDP as the winner of the election.
"If indeed this is the will of the Ekiti People, I stand in deference to your will. If the result of the elections is an expression of the voice of our people, we must all heed your voice.
"I have just spoken with my brother, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, congratulating him on his victory. In a few hours from now, I would be meeting the governor-elect to discuss the future of our dear state and how we would work together to institute a smooth transition programme."
He noted that it had been a hard-fought election and that a lot of unsavoury issues had cropped up in the course of the campaigns, but that the citizens must stay united to make progress.
"Elections tend to be highly divisive affairs that often see brother rising against brother. Despite our diverse party affiliations, and regardless of which way we voted on Saturday, we must remember that we are all sons and daughters of Ekiti State. Ekiti is ours to build together.
Fayemi had words for his supporters: "To members of our party, our campaign team and indeed all Ekiti people who defied the siege on our state to cast their votes for our party, I salute your exemplary courage and doggedness in the face of harassment. Thank you for staying the course. The incidences of brazen harassment, intimidation and allied infractions on fundamental human rights, which many of you suffered in the hands of agents of the state, would be documented and communicated to the appropriate authorities, for the records.
Tambuwal hails Fayose, applauds Fayemi for conceding defeat
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal , has congratulated Fayose on his governorship election victory.
In the same vein, Tambuwal equally congratulated Fayemi for conceding defeat, saying the governor's action (to congratulate his opponent) was a clear proof that our politics is imbibing standard global practices associated with electioneering process.
Fayose's Victory, a sign of what awaits opposition in 2015 - Gov Aliyu
Niger State governor Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu has stated that the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ekiti State governorship election is a signal of the way the ruling party will cruise to victory in the 2015 general elections.
Aliyu, in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Mr Israel Ayegba Ebije, congratulated the PDP governor-elect Ayo Fayose on his victory over the incumbent, Kayode Fayose of All Progressives Peoples Party (APC).
He said the victory was well deserved, adding that the election was free and fair and mirrored the true desire of the people to welcome back PDP rule in Ekiti. He added that the Ekiti example would serve as an example of what the opposition party will face in the next general election.
"Let me congratulate Ayo Fayose for his well-deserved victory. From what observers said about the election, it was indeed free and fair and a reflection of the people's interest in the PDP as a party that can deliver properly on dividends of democracy.
"Let me also appeal for calm especially for those who have lost out in the contest. They must see the wish of the people as the will of God. They must therefore, in the interest of the people and desire to move the state forward, work with the Fayose. I am, indeed, glad a contestant in the spirit of true democratic practice has congratulated the winner already," Aliyu said.
Jonathan, Mark, Fayemi others congratulate Fayose
Congratulations have continued to pour in for Mr. Ayodele Peter Fayose, winner of Saturady's governorship election in Ekiti State.
Leading the pack of dignitaries who sent congratulatory message to the newly elected governor was President Goodluck Jonathan who described Fayose's victory as overwhelming. He urged Fayose to utilise the second chance provided for him to build an administration that would ensure that all Ekiti people were carried along, their political affiliations or loyalties notwithstanding.
In a statement issued by his special adviser on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, Jonathan also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies and the people of Ekiti State for the successful conduct of the election.
The national leadership of the PDP described Fayose's victory as a statement of the preference of the PDP by the entire people of Ekiti State and, by extension, all Nigerians ahead of 2015.
PDP national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday, also praised the fairness of the election, saying: "We are particularly elated that the will of the people of Ekiti State prevailed and we sincerely congratulate them for realising their yearning for a truly democratically elected administration in their dear state."
Senate President David Mark also sent a message of congratulation to the governor-elect, even as he commended security operatives INEC for the smooth conduct of the election.
In the message, Senator Mark told Fayose to justify the mandate of the people by embarking on projects and programmes that would have direct positive impacts on Ekiti citizens.
In a rare show of sportsmanship, the incumbent governor and APC candidate in the election, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has congratulated Mr. Fayose for the victory.
Fayemi, in a broadcast yesterday, said he had no option than to accept the result of the election and to congratulate Fayose "if indeed the outcome of the election is the will of the Ekiti people."
The governor revealed that he had spoken with Fayose to congratulate him on his victory, adding that he would be meeting the governor-elect in the next few hours to fashion out ways to institute a smooth transition programme.
Members of the Oyo State PDP yesterday thronged major streets in the state capital celebrating Fayose's victory.
The PDP members were seen in convoy of vehicles singing victory songs, with warning that the party was poised to win the general election in 2015.
Meanwhile, former Oyo State governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has also congratulated Fayose on his electoral victory.
Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on his part said that the beauty of democracy is the fact that the will of the people prevails.
Aregbesola, in his response to the outcome of the Ekiti poll, said if it was the true reflection of the people's wishes, his party would have no option but to abide by the outcome.
Meanwhile, a cross section of Ado-Ekiti residents yesterday took to the streets celebrating Fayose's victory.
The residents, who spoke in separate interviews, urged the governor-elect to re-introduce some of the laudable initiatives he executed during his first term between 2003 and 2006.
Fayose, on his part, has promised to work with his rivals Fayemi, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele of the Labour Party and other key contestants to develop the state and improve the living standards of the people.
He also gave the assurance that his government would see to the completion of all projects initiated by the incumbent administration.
Addressing a press conference to mark his victory at the poll yesterday, Fayose dedicated the victory to God and the people of the state.
"I owe my victory to God and the common man in Ekiti. It will be impossible for me to come back eight years after I left the government without their support. This is still Ekiti, the homogenous state that speaks only one language. Four years is very small in the life of any government," he said.