The Ekiti Election: How We Should See It, By Tonneey Nnamudi
As the dust gradually settles on the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti state, it behoves us to ponder and reflect on the events of that election, especially as it is a prelude to the general elections of next year. The said election took place on the 21st day of June, 2014. It was a keenly contested election even though the results almost proved otherwise. Two major candidates amidst others stood out – the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi of APC and former governor, Ayodele Fayose of PDP. One thing is clear, both candidates have at least, had a taste of that office. In the result announced by INEC, the candidate of the PDP, Ayodele Fayose polled a total of 203,090 votes while the candidate of the APC, Kayode Fayemi polled a total of 120,433 votes. Thus, the PDP candidate was declared the winner of the election and was returned elected. Recall that the runner-up, Kayode Fayemi (the candidate of the APC) is the incumbent governor of Ekiti state.
A SHINING EXAMPLE
Upon the announcement of the election results, congratulatory messages began to pour in from all corners. From the presidency to the common masses, they all congratulated the governor-elect, Ayodele Fayose on his wide-margin victory at the polls. The congratulatory message that was most sunning was that of Governor Kayode Fayemi. Less than 24 hours after the election, the incumbent governor (Fayemi) conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent while pledging his willingness to allow the will of the people to prevail. Here is a quote from his congratulatory speech:
“If indeed this is the will of the Ekiti people, I stand in deference to your will. If the result of the election is an expression of the voice of our people, we must all heed your voice.”
This statement from Fayemi was as shocking as it was commendable, obviously because it was a rarity in our Nigerian version of politics. The message travelled far and wide, such that, as people congratulated Fayose, they equally commended Fayemi for his exceptional display of good sportsmanship.
FAYEMI’S CONTRIBUTION TO NIGERIAN POLITICS
In analyzing the Ekiti election, we must appreciate what Fayemi has done, not just for Ekiti, but for Nigerian politics. Fayemi (being an intellectual) has proved that the literate and elite class must lead by example and that in the words of Nelson Mandela – “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Now, Fayemi has done it, others must follow suit. This is what makes American politics stand out – losers congratulate winners. John McCain congratulated Barack Obama on his first term victory in 2008. Mitt Romney equally congratulated Barack Obama on his second term victory in 2012. Both were his opponents in the election. Fayemi congratulated Fayose on his victory. Indeed, Fayemi has refined and beautified (or if you like, Americanized) the politics of Ekiti and Nigeria in general. It seemed an impossible feat because it has not been done before, but Fayemi has done it.
THE PEOPLE’S WILL
Does this mean that we are coming to the end of the “do-or-die” political era? I hope so. But, this can’t happen against the will of the people. This is judging by the fact that, it is the right of the people to decide and elect their leaders. Those who are favoured by the people to lead them, automatically get the endorsement of God. No wonder they say in Latin, Vox populi vox Dei – the voice of the people is the voice of God. However, for those whom the people have decided otherwise, they shouldn’t bear grudges. The general interest of the people should be more important. After the electoral loss, the loser of the Ekiti election could have followed the usual trend, to threaten fire and brimstone and then begin a series of never-ending tribunal war which ends up destabilizing and overheating the polity. When these happen, the masses are at a loss because when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. However, in Ekiti, there was a Fayemi who taught us a unique lesson even in defeat. He chose to respect the people’s will against his personal ambition of a second term in office. We certainly need more of his type in this nation and his story should be told to future generations.
WHY HE LOST
To set the records straight, the incumbent governor did not lose because he didn’t perform well. He did very wonderful projects and has thus set the tone for a greater and future Ekiti. The probable reason for his loss may be due to the fact that he was more of a technocrat rather than a conventional Nigerian politician. It was also alleged that, rather than follow the “chop, I chop” policy of some politicians, Fayemi dedicated the funds of the state to the building of projects that will stand as legacies. Since money was not really exchanging hands, the masses felt impoverished. Furthermore, he ran an elitist government that was more aligned with the elites of Ekiti which implied that the greater majority of Ekiti masses (the unlettered class) were left in political lurch and thus, they felt ignored. This becomes plausible given the fact that the unlettered class are in the majority and they also constitute the voting majority. It is arguably true that Ekiti state has the record of the highest number of professors in Nigeria (a consequence of Awolowo’s educational policy), but the question is – how many of these professors and elites will actually vote? The truth be said – many of these elites don’t vote. If it is in fact true that Fayemi’s votes came from the elites, then it becomes very clear that the elites of Ekiti are simply in the minority.
THE GRASSROOT POPULARITY AND STOMACH POLITICS
The Ekiti election has proven to us that the role of grassroot in winning elections in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. Fayose still had the admiration and popular appeal of the Ekiti masses even after his previous stint in office some years back. He is a great grassroot politician and mobilizer who is in tune with the common masses and obviously knows how to sweep them off their feet – from hugging and dancing with market women in the markets to riding okada and gisting with okada men at okada parks and even the sharing of rice. He has the perfect touch of a grassroot politician. Even if every other thing would have failed him, certainly not the sharing of rice. Although the APC candidate later started his own brand of rice-sharing, but he started rather late. Remember that in a nation like Nigeria, you have a rice to vote and your vote is your rice. While the incumbent governorgrammatically and eloquently itemized his achievements, the people wanted more – they wanted to eat rice. The achievements were not just enough because it was a contest between infrastructure and stomach-structure. The people were obviously hungry and Fayose capitalized on it.
POLITICKING AND POLITWEETING
The Ekiti election was a contest between “politicking” and “politweeting” – while Fayose was politicking, Fayemi was politweeting. By the way, politicking is when you use every available means (including sharing of rice) to convince people to vote for you in an election while politweeting is when you and your supporters tell your followers all what you have done and what you intend to do, using the social media platform of twitter. Given that the illiterate masses do not have twitter accounts, it becomes easier to understand why the results of the election appeared the way they did.
In this election, we heard of what has been described as “brazen harassment” of some governors who were on their way to attend the final rally of the incumbent governor, how they were vehemently prevented from attending by soldiers. The APC in her official statement has also claimed that there were cases of intimidation of her party officials and members by security operatives. This has been described in some quarters as the “over-militarization” of Ekiti elections. This has prompted the party’s spokesperson, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to state that APC will head to court to challenge the infractions on her members even as he insinuated that the election was neither free nor fair. The claim of federal interference was also not ruled out. While we may appreciate the fact that there was relative calm and orderliness during the election, if there were actually proven cases of harassment and intimidation of voters, then the fairness of the election becomes a bit compromised.
The election has indeed come and gone. A winner emerged, losers also emerged. The Attahiru Jega-led INEC must be commended for doing a good job and standing true to its role as an unbiased umpire. This is a sure way of boosting our confidence in the body, ahead of next year’s general elections. While we continually urge Fayose to justify the confidence reposed in him by the people of Ekiti, by giving them the best of quality leadership, we must also commend Fayemi for showing us a shining example of an ideal democrat; a democrat that eschews bitterness, rancor and violence. We need to keep this is in mind as we approach the general elections of next year.
Tonneey NNAMUDI – an orator, opinion writer and political critic cum activist can be contacted via Email: email@example.com and Twitter: @tonneeyencarta
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org