Generally, two sets of factors affect the outcome of elections in Nigeria: The negative and the positive. The looming governorship election in Ekiti state will be no different. Negative factors include election rigging: Thuggery and violence, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple thumb-printing or voting; falsification of election results; and outright writing of results even where no voting took place. In recent times, however, more sophisticated and less visible forms of rigging have reared their ugly heads: Manipulation and doctoring of voters’ list; man-made technical hitches, such as the deliberate malfunctioning of equipment and machinery; power black-out and suspension or postponing of counting of ballot papers overnight, as was done in Edo State, to allow for manipulation and falsification of results overnight. A more brazen form of election-rigging reared its ugly head in Ondo state where voters were openly cajoled and bribed with money. “E dibo k’e s’ebe” thus entered our political lexicon. Militarization of election process, ostensibly to provide foolproof security but which, in actual and practical sense, is meant to frighten, brutalize, and intimidate the opposition so as to keep them away on polling day, is a part of the new fad. Opponents are arrested, locked up and taken out of circulation on the eve of election, thereby denying them the opportunity to cast their vote as well as help to organise their party members to do similarly. The field is thus left wide open for one party to ride roughshod over its opponents. This is called “Federal might”
As the July 14 Ekiti governorship election beckons, stakeholders have expressed misgivings about “Federal might” whose signs were said to have begun to show its face in the violence that attended the beginning of APC campaigns. A prominent victim of the violence, Hon. Bamidele Opeyemi, has been flown abroad for treatment. As if that is not enough, subsequent APC campaigns have reportedly witnessed large-scale destruction of posters and billboards of opponents. Social media was awash with two brutal killings recorded again last week when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo officially flagged off the APC campaign at the Kayode Oluyemi Stadium in Ado-Ekiti. One of the dead was a police officer run down by a hit-and-run car in the APC convoy. Ekiti has had a chequered history of election violence and Ido-Osi is not far from the mind of many. To extirpate the orgy of violence this time around is a task that must be done. There are, thus, enough positive factors that will influence the July 14 election, which is generally believed to be a two-horse race between PDP and APC.
The first factor is new breed versus old breed or the fresh versus the stale. PDP parades a new breed governorship candidate in Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka and his running mate Alhaj Deji Ogunshakin unlike the APC whose governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and running mate, 74-year-old Bisi Egbeyemi, are old breed politicians or “stalelites” in campus jargon. Eleka is fresh from the academia whereas Fayemi and Egbeyemi, are “ex-this” and “ex-that” politicians. If the crave is for fresh blood with fresh ideas and devoid of bag and baggage, the advantage lies with Eleka, who has not been accused of any corrupt acts. Fayemi was indicted recently by a commission of inquiry set up by the Ekiti State Government. Second factor is zoning. Out of Ekiti’s three senatorial districts, only Ekiti South has not produced a governor since the Fourth Republic started running in 1999. Ekiti North, where Fayemi hails from, has produced Fayemi (four years) and Segun Oni from Ifaki (three-and-half years), making a total of seven-and-half years. Ekiti Central has produced Otunba Niyi Adebayo (four years) and the incumbent Gov. Ayo Fayose (three-and-half years during his first term and four years currently); making eleven-and-half years. Eleka from Ikere, which is the most populous town in Ekiti South, is the answer to Ekiti South’s cry of marginalization. Third factor is the clamour for youth empowerment politically. To this end, President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the “not-too-young-to-run” bill. It is therefore a travesty that Ekiti APC’s running mate is a 74-year-old grandpa. The joke is that he should have given the slot to his son, in the same way that Eleka Snr. yielded his place to Eleka Jnr. Some have also argued that the National Assembly should pass another bill to be known as “too old to run.” PDP’s Eleka is 50 years old while his running mate is 39.
Religion is a potent factor in Nigeria’s politics. Although Ekiti has a majority Christian population, it also has a significant number of Muslims whose clamour has been that they should be accorded adequate representation in State matters. Except for the tenure of Segun Oni when a Muslim was deputy governor, they have not been that lucky until now that PDP chose a Muslim from Ado-Ekiti as running mate. Permutations that Fayemi would chose a Muslim/woman as running mate and kill two very important birds with one stone fell flat on its face when he came up with Egbeyemi. That choice disappointed Muslims and drove them straight into PDP’s arms. The demography of Ekiti is another factor to consider. Ado-Ekiti is the most important voting centre, followed by Ikere. PDP combines both in Eleka (Ikere) and Ogunshakin (Ado) while APC combines small Isan (Fayemi) with Ado (Egbeyemi). If Ikere and Ekiti South generally rally round Eleka and Ado repays PDP/Fayose for the astounding development Fayose has brought to Ado, then, the odds favour PDP/Eleka. Track records still play a role in how people vote, especially the informed segments of the electorate. Fayemi/APC lost the 2014 election scandalously principally because the people were not satisfied with their performance. Huge debts and uncompleted projects hallmark APC/Fayemi’s tenure whereas the Fayose/Eleka administration, which received less than 50 percent of the Federal allocations that Fayemi received, can point to a plethora of dualised roads, high court complex, new Governor’s office, modern Oja-Oba market, a 1.3 kilometre flyover, to mention but a few. Given the task of supervising the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka turned around the fortunes of education in the state. Ekiti, which was among the least performing states in education under Fayemi/APC, came first back-to-back in NECO examinations in 2016 and 2017. In WAEC, it also moved from a score of less than 40 percent to over 70 percent.
Incumbency is another factor that may play out in the Ekiti elections. The image of Fayose looms large over the election as he is a grassroots as well as consummate politician. There is no way his influence will not play a big role in the election’s outcome. Fayose connects well with the people. He speaks their language and Eleka has keyed into that. This contrasts sharply with Fayemi’s elitist posturing. While the slogan of APC/Fayemi is reclamation, that of PDP/Eleka is continuity. Interestingly, it is the hugely successful Lagos template that PDP wants to replicate in Ekiti. No one can deny that continuity has served Lagos well in terms of good and focused governance; massive infrastructural development; stability, and an impressive growth of the economy to such an extent that Lagos is the only state in the country able to stand on its feet without depending on handouts from Abuja. Ekiti PDP believes it could replicate in Ekiti the template that has worked admirably in Lagos, hence the clamour for continuity.
Sequel to the pronouncement by President Muhammadu Buhari that Democracy Day in Nigeria will be observed henceforth on June 12 instead of May 29, many public commentators have expressed various opinion about the ideality or otherwise of the presidential pronouncement. From my vacation retreat in Chicago, USA, I have, with consummate attention, digested the broad commentaries made or written by many respected compatriots such as Prof. Ango Abdullahi, NADECO Chieftain, Elder Ayo Adebanjo; Alhaji Tanko Yakassai of ACF fame; dogged fighter/former Secretary-General of NUPENG, Frank Kokori; legal savant, Femi Falana; Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, former Foreign Affairs Minister/ D-G, NIIA; former 1993 Presidential contestant, Bashir Tofa; and syndicated newspaper columnists Tony Iredia of Sunday Vanguard and your humble self, including a plethora of readers’ comments on the internet.
The pros and cons gave political and legal reasons and, of course, biased/ethnic sentiments as expected. Of all these comments, the consensus tilted towards the doubtfulness of the good intention of Buhari. Many believed it was self-serving and politically-motivated in order to curry for votes for Buhari from the South-West geopolitical zone where the late MKO Abiola hailed from, when Nigerians go to the polls in 2019. To many discerning minds, this sinister motive cannot be discarded regardless of the encomium Buhari is receiving from political jobbers and his motley of praise-singers for declaring June 12 as Democracy Day.
As you have convincingly argued in your write-up, “Buhari should move away from the cosmetic to the substantive need of this country, which is RESTRUCTURING (capital mine); he should stop chasing shadows and go after the substance.” Elder Ayo Adebanjo openly supported this same view expressed by you. Ditto other concerned compatriots.
Again, more pungent is the point raised by Tony Iredia in his piece “So, why was June 12 annulled?” in the Sunday Vanguard edition of June 10, 2018, where he wrote “the truth is, having a particular day described by a nation as its Democracy Day does not necessarily mean that such a nation is [sincerely] democratic”
In Nigeria, the political class loudmouth democracy but stubbornly refuse to imbibe and decently practice the tenets of democracy, to wit: respect for people power, strict adherence to the rule of law, credible elections, respect for majority rule and minority rights, non-partisan/incorruptible judiciary and absolute respect for institutional authority.
On all these world-established norms of democracy, Nigerian politicians, including the President himself, are patently hypocritical! It is a case of doing as I say, not as I do. Political perfidy and infidelity is the norm. So, as a nation, which democracy do we celebrate? Is it the proper Athenian model of democracy or our Made-in-Nigeria mockery of democracy? –Yacoob Abiodun
Your article on June 12 is a good and balanced write-up but the most painful aspect of it is that most people enjoying the benefit did not partake in the struggle. Secondly, we need not blame past leaders who were not northerners. They could not do what Buhari has now done because of the fear of what the northerners could do. Abiola was charged to court; has the government dropped the charges against him? What led to the introduction of Sharia in the early days of the Obasanjo administration? Was Buhari not among the beneficiaries of the annulment of June 12? You did a good job in your analysis simply because you partook in the struggle. The proscription of The PUNCH, edited by you in that turbulent period, the sealing up of its premises and your detention, mean that you and others like oga Lere Fagbola have stories to tell. – Dele Olorunnimbe, Ilorin.
I have been an ardent reader of the Tribune titles for 45 years. Your regular column in the Sunday Tribune, most especially your contribution on June 12, is always point blank. Twelve out of 16 LGAs in Kwara state are Yoruba but suspected Fulani herdsmen killed my cousin, Elder Segun Ogunyomi, three weeks ago on his farm. He was a Level 16 officer with five months left to retire. – Elder Mike Jimoh.
I am an avid reader of your column and an age-long fanatical believer in your beliefs but I disagree vehemently with your views on Babagana Kingibe. Was Abiola a saint? Have you forgotten the ignoble role he played towards sabotaging Awolowo’s political efforts even though both were same Yoruba from same Ogun state? Did you think the “progressives” from national to ward level wholeheartedly supported the June 12 revalidation struggle? From all indications, June 12 was built on betrayals by the political actors, hence the series of betrayals. Let us allow sleeping dog to lie! There are more important issues that deserve our attention! – 08033821875.
Yours of 10th June refers. God bless you real good. As for the Jagaban Borgu, he is in cul-de-sac and has few options left until after 2019 when, by the grace of God, these human butchers are voted out of power. – Prince ‘Bola Olaoye, Osogbo.
Perfectly captured, including Kingibe the misfit. Nigeria will soon brew and perk. Tinubu is “spiral or domino” soon. Excellent job and God bless. Sir T.
Buhari is busy wasting time on June 12 when serious issues of threat to life and property, unemployment, inflation, hunger etc are unattended to. It is easy to use Abiola’s name to con citizens for votes as election beckons but what have they delivered since democracy resumed in 1999? It has been stealing and deceit galore. – 08066759838.
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