By Dele A. Sonubi
We all thought all hell was going to come loose in Ekiti state in the recently concluded elections in June 2014. This was the fear since two major giants are interested in the political office seat of Ekiti. There was the major political part of the south west, the well-known and well mobilized opposition party APC which then had the sitting governor as an incumbent and previous experiences in Nigerian’s political history had informed us that “the power of incumbency is a massive one in a re-election bid. Secondly, there was the PDP that was desperate to add more states to its collections of states and wanted to do it at any or all costs. PDP had recently lost 5 governors which defected to a new party and its political dominance and calculations had reduced by significant differences. So the battle lines were drawn and citizens knew that it was going to be a true- to- fact; “do or die election”. So people like me were sent to stand down and stay away for security purposes. My driver that made it back to ado where his family was, informed me of the great numbers of specially trained police dogs, anti-riot police called Mopol, military tanks and personnel so many law enforcement particularly the one under the control of the federal government that were in the state to quell any insurgencies. The fear was justified, the precautions were necessary, but adding military to the equations was scary yet, independently and objectively acceptable if the military men do not intimidate voters.
I was similarly told that military guys were seen chasing party agents who were offering cash in exchange for votes. The federal government knowingly sent in its security apparatus to defeat the plans of the APC to canvass and or buy votes to its advantage. So, APC could not intimidate, buy votes and or rig the elections on the strength of the incumbency. So things went naturally and votes were truly cast and counted. This was one election in Nigerian history where it was truly one man, one vote. And the votes were counted. Isn’t that ironic? And this perfect system of electoral victory was used to bring in a man known as a foolish crook!!! Isn’t it ironic and funny how we project ourselves in this country? What kind of unpredictable group of citizens are we. We had one chance to show who we truly were. If this had been in a country where there is proper sanity, politicians with credibility issues will never stand for election talk less of being elected. It is only in Nigeria that this will happen. It is only in Ekiti State that the people will proudly say, “…we want him- no matter who you think he is, we want him”!!! A politician in Europe once resigned because one of his domestic staff had issues with immigrations. The crises in Italy with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi got to the peak when he was taken to court for sleeping with an “under aged prostitute” Moral credibility became an issue before political competences. One prime minister resigned because a boat capsized and she felt responsible. Bill Clinton was nearly impeached and sent out of the office because he did not penetrate but had sexually related scandals with one Monika Lewinsky!!! Here we vote for Barnabas!!!
So APC and its incumbent govern lost the election in Ekiti. Fayemi was indeed arrogant politically and socially and this was his liability. But he was a high quality politician, not a jobber or looser who wanted politics to become a man! That was the personality of this highly educated man, who meant well and felt that this should be obvious enough for political patronage and he did not have to go to the garage or gutter or slum to eat with people as demonstrations that he meant well. He went to work, did his best, reformed the civil service retiring redundant and ineffective directors and partisan servants, embarked on demotion and reviews of teachers, (planned to even do more of such when re-elected), went on massive infrastructure and development changes of the state and felt he owe nor would give anyone apologies for meaning well for the people and the state. He did and under normal circumstances, these should have been fine. In another country where sanity reigns, these are fine enough for re-elections hands down. But Ekiti was not and is not a sane state. The Ekiti people hardly knew what they want, and they could hardly be satisfied with something. One thing though, they wanted something to eat now, and later ask for change. They partied when Oni was illegally sworn in as governor of the state. Not long after wards, they started crying that Oni was not their best and hallowed for Fayemi. The educated and politically illiterate Fayemi came with reforms and even university dons that should have known better, the dons that should have been teaching their students that changes are not magical; they require policy guide, and time to germinate. Policy takes time to formulate, implementation requires dedication and consistencies but these dons said no, Fayemi has to go!!!
The madness in Ekiti is plain. Any objective observer from outside Ekiti may marvel at what transpired in Ekiti. The plans of any party to rig the votes in Ekiti were effectively blocked leaving the scene plain for true decision of the people. Before the elections, people had complained and sworn that they would vote out the incumbent governor and were determined to do that. They governor, his people, his party and everyone around him were under the illusions that since he was a working governor, true democrat, a dignified actor, a honorable man, a highly intelligent and well educated social activist, he should and would win again. Although he did not take the people for granted, he campaigned and went around, but the damages had been done. No one wants progress. Everyone wants what they could eat for now. So the tactic of performance could not play out here. It was the tactic of boot out and let us have a change. And they have got it. A t-shirt wearing, polo flying governor!!!
At the election, PDP present Ayo Fayose, a well know crook. I was in Ekiti and I saw the so called poultry that Fayose built with Ekiti State money. A year after he left office, snakes and other rodents were living there and I saw the roads, most of them were totally collapsed. I could have sworn Ekiti people would have boasted never again would we have such a person as our governor. This was a man booted out of office because of corruptions and related social and legal offences. He is still facing corruption charges by the anti-gravity agency EFFCC. This is the man that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria lifted his hands as the best man they have.
And the party was right nominating Fayose because he won the elections obtaining almost three times what his opponent got. That was a landmark. This is a clear evidence of people saying No to Fayemi; No to structural changes, No to reform in the dampened education sector that got Ekiti State to become the 34th in WAEC rating; No to reform of the state from being totally dependent on federal allocation to a state that is now seeking commercial developments; No to class and sophistication in governance, No to leadership that was prepared to be leaders; No to reason; No to what is descent and YES to someone known to have messed up once! Are we crazy in this country or it is me that is having the wrong eye glasses? The votes and supports for Fayose were massive and clearly overwhelming.
Fayemi and indeed APC should learn an important lesson here, “it is not everything shining that is gold” building bridges and making enduring roads the same way Awolowo did is not exactly what the people want. Our standards have so fallen that we cannot tell the difference any more. Our illusions have been so deluded that we no longer see any significant difference between stealing and corruption. We have become something else. “These uprising will bring out the beast in us”
Here is a classical comparison with the biblical judgment that led to Christianity as we know it now. This is the modern day Pilate, Jesus the Christ, the people of Israel and Barabbas story. When the people presented their accusation of Jesus, the judge Pilate could not find any fault in the accused person other than Jesus’s arrogance and “illusions” (calling himself son of God and that if you bring down a temple he would reconstruct it in three days). These were not strong reasons to want to execute or crucify a man. He asked for whom to pardon and give mercy between the comedian who called himself “the Christ” and a notorious thief Barabbas. There was an overwhelming demand for a thief. At first he did not believe what he heard. He asked again until he was sure he had to wash his hands off the blood of the “innocent accused”. In a similar incidence Ekiti people screamed at INEC that they do not want Fayemi, they want a man known to them as a crook. It was their state, it was their government and like Piltate of the Bible, Jega had to wash his hands clean and return the man they want.
Be careful what you ask for; you might just get it!
[email protected] writes from Lagos
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