By Mayowa Akinleye
The election of the Federation of Ekiti State Students Union (FESSU) that was held on the 13th, August 2022 at the Okeemo Hall Ilawe-Ekiti contravenes established codes of practice and ethics that govern the conduct of an election that is free, fair and credible. The election should be cancelled on two grounds which include Electoral Malpractice and the deviation from the established election guidelines set by the committee.
There were three instances of gross malpractice that the electoral chairman engaged in:
- Negotiating and advocating for certain aspirants.
- Malicious misrepresentation
Negotiating and advocating for certain aspirants
The first election scheduled for 12, March 2022 was planned to be a consensus election that will harmonize all the interests before the election.
In a meeting with stakeholders that included the president, senate president and members of the electoral committee. The consensus was reached as regards which aspirants got what position. The electoral chairman actively negotiated for aspirants that were in his interest.
It didn’t matter at the time because that action though wrong was required at that table. It was the perceived deviation from the agreed consensus on election day that fueled the disruption of the election.
In an online meeting held by the electoral committee on 30th March to review and draw lessons from the botched election. I raised this point in a voice note as one of the reasons that weakened our position as a committee.
“Because of the interest that members of the electoral committee had and I am saying this directly to my chairman. Micheal, I can speak to you honestly on this. It is this individual interest that we have in lobbying for who gets what that makes our position difficult. This means if we will conduct a new election, you must remove and I am speaking directly to you oga, you must remove these specific interests”
Transcript from voice note I made during the meeting on 30th March.
Following the honest conclusions from the meeting. We developed some recommendations to guide a new election and a new date was proposed.
The proposed date failed due to security tensions around the gubernatorial election and it was summarily decided to conduct the FESSU election after the state gubernatorial election has been concluded.
Fast forward to July 8th, the chairman reached out to me and began conversations to convene a new election for July 30th. I presented again the recommendations we earlier made and he immediately adopted that we run with them.
Based on this and other deliberations, a notice of election was released to the public on the 15th of July.
Within 24 hours of his initial approval, the chairman made a turnaround and released an edited version of this notice. Removing clauses 3 & 4 without ratification.
Clauses 3 and 4 are very crucial to the success of the election as they will help
- Ensure the list of electorates used in the earlier cancelled election is reviewed and updated as required.
- Provide crowd control by limiting the population at the election venue to only current serving chapter executives, agents, and accredited stakeholders and observers.
- Compel the senate president to release the list of electorates in time to give all the aspirants sufficient time to cross-check and mobilize as necessary.
All in a bid to improve the transparency and integrity of the election. The chairman understood this too and the impact it would have on the election.
“ Egbon, mo really appreciate efforts yin. eshe gan. Olorun o ni doju tin yin. I have read through it , Owa okay, very very okay ……E ti je o soft, Mr Bolaji fun wa ni advice kan pe list of eligible senators ti a fe kii Senate President release ni 24th pe ki o release list yen earlier, boya 19th or 20th. So that the aspirants can have enough time to work on the senators. What do you think?
Transcript from a voice note Micheal sent me on the 15th of July.
This turnaround could only have happened due to external interference. I was now convinced that he was acting to protect certain interests and was compromised. It became immediately clear that any election conducted by Ayeni Micheal would not be free, fair and credible.
1. The chairman in a bid to keep me in the dark maliciously misrepresented the leadership of the electoral committee by presenting a letterhead that falsely identified Mr. Olowolafe Temitope as the secretary of the Electoral committee.
2. There was deliberate obfuscation as regards the election venue. As evidenced by the fact that:
- After instructing me to secure the NUJ Hall for election use, he also forwarded letters to mobilize security for a different venue with a letterhead that misrepresented the secretary of the committee.
- Constant changing of the election venue.
The election result that was released by the chairman to announce the winner of the election that was held yesterday claimed to have the assent and signature of Mayowa Olajide Akinleye, Secretary of the Electoral committee.
This is forgery and perjury as it is untrue. Incidences of this type of duplicity had happened earlier and I have strongly communicated against its practice.
Unless that Mr Ayeni Micheal can provide
- Visual proof of my presence at the election venue. And
- My signature on the result sheet and ballot papers used in the election.
The result of that election cannot be binding.
Deviation from the established election guidelines set by the committee.
According to the Independent national electoral commission (INEC), elections are not a single event but a collection of activities involved in the democratic selection of individuals to lead a group.
This means that every step involved in an election is important and must be dutifully executed. Any form of deviation from the set guidelines for any election renders the entire process invalid.
In this instance, the set of guidelines for Saturday’s election in the Notice of Election released on July 22nd were not entirely adhered to.
1. There was no aspirants meeting as required by CLAUSE 5
2. Aspirants did not sign the letter of Indemnity put in place to enforce the safety of participants and the orderly conduct in the elections as required by CLAUSE 4
If we also take into account expunged provisions from the July 15th release that Mr Ayeni Micheal altered.
3. There were no stakeholders meeting before this election as required by CLAUSE.
4. The list of eligible senators was not published before the election as required by CLAUSE 3.
The above actions pointedly prove that the electoral chairman, Mr Ayeni Micheal is compromised and has continuously acted without regard to the office he represents by upholding personal interest at the expense of the wider interest of Ekiti state students across the country.
Allowing this gross misconduct to slide by upholding the results of this election will set a bad precedent for the administration and the continued viability of the union.
In the spirit of fairness and due process, It is important therefore that the results of this election be dismissed. It is also imperative that either
1. The entire electoral committee should be dissolved and another appointed to convene another election. Or
2. Ayeni Micheal should be removed as the chairman and an acting chairman appointed and mandated to convene a fresh election within the next 14 days.
I must extend my sincere apologies to all the aspirants and the senators for the back and forth as regards the election. To repeat words that I have expressed to some of them. I am not your friend and I am not your enemy.
My commitment is to due process, fairness and the greatness of the Federation of Ekiti State Students Union. I might be unfairly labelled an agent of chaos yet I won’t disagree because I understand that it is always from the ashes of chaos that order is established.
Mayowa Olajide Akinleye
Secretary, Electoral committee of the Federation of Ekiti State Students Union (FESSU).
This is not the opinion of TechnocratMedia but that of the author who was a member of the Electoral Committee of the Association.