By Funmilola Ajala…
In the postulations of George Bernard Shaw, “An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.”
Since 2014, the people of Ekiti had carried an unwanted appellation of ‘wakkie and die’ only reserved for the most gluttonous humans. They were perceived by many as a people whose destiny was traded at the sight of a bowl of pottage. The term ‘stomach infrastructure’ – as trumpeted by Ayo Fayose – could hardly be divorced from Ekiti whenever and wherever politicking in the Nigerian context was been discussed.
Four years down the lane, the Ekiti-kete appeared to have redeemed themselves by not only displaying an applauding sense of maturity beyond political adolescence, but also shed the toga of dogmatism and bias often associated with electioneering in Nigeria, nay Africa. The declaration, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that Dr. Kayode Fayemi, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, won the July 14, 2018 gubernatorial election, is no doubt a plus for the voting population in Ekiti who – by the results – have distinguished themselves as harbouring no unchecked eternal political loyalty to a particular personality, or a party. Nonetheless, the question of ideological distinction persists still.
Although not with a landslide, Fayemi – in defeating Prof. Kolapo Olusola, the anointed candidate of his arch political adversary, Fayose – may have bought himself a rosy side of history. Recall that, in the aftermath of his loss at the polls in 2014, the Isan-Ekiti born technocrat had (under a heavy cloud of doubt) agreed to ‘concede’ to the wish of the people, without the usual macabre dance to the election petition tribunal by politicians. Fayemi’s eventual conquest (so it now seems) can only be likened to the proverbial revenge meal which has been served his antagonist(s) very chilled.
However, while the drums are rolled out and teeth gnashing continues, depending on which side of the divides one falls, it is pertinent for Nigerians to interrogate some of the thorny issues which emanated from the recent electoral bout in the Fountain of Knowledge, without losing sight of the fast-approaching 2019 general elections.
To begin with, the unabated apathy among the electorates, once again, reared its ugly head in Ekiti, last Saturday. By INEC’s records, only 403,451 voted during the exercise out of the registered 909, 585 eligible voters, representing an uninspiring average turnout. There must be a diagnosis of the reasons why Nigerians see their PVC as a mere souvenir, deciding to disenfranchise themselves during elections. Before Ekiti, same was the experience in the previous governorship election conducted by INEC in Anambra State, in November 2017, where only 448,771 voters exercised their civil right, out of the 2.2million who made it onto the voters’ register.
Another cause of concern, as noticed in Ekiti, is vote-buying and financial inducement by the political class. To many observers of the exercise, the open commercialization of votes, almost across board, has once again brought to the fore, the unquenchable and infectious level of desperation for power by politicians. An obviously pained Governor Fayose, having being alerted of happenings on the day, simply described the scenario as a “charade” and “national shame”. Allegations abound that what happened in Ekiti, on Saturday, was a classical case of who could ‘out-rig’ the others; a reminiscence of similar events four years earlier. Again, the argument surfaces about how the political class has over the years deliberately fine-tuned poverty into a readymade tool use in remote-controlling the disadvantaged masses.
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And now to security, the media became inundated with reports of incidence of thuggery before and during the polls in Ekiti despite the deployment of over thirty thousand security personnel, just for that quadrennial exercise. Allegations of active complicity and compromise by some security officials in ballot box snatching, especially in remote localities, by hoodlums also made it to the social media, even as the hierarchy of the police expectedly denied knowledge of such occurrences. One is therefore pushed to inquire: what is the essence of having people practically locked in their houses by security agents on election days if some urchins are still allowed to do the ill-biddings of their political paymasters?
The embrace of modernization comes with lots of responsibilities which should be constantly put to checks, if humanity would be rescued from activating the self-destruct button. One aspect of civilization that falls into this category is the eruption and usage of new (social) media, most importantly its deployment in critical situations. On Saturday, the heavy hammer of the electronic media regulators in Nigeria, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), fell on both the TV and Radio outfits of the Ekiti State Broadcasting Service allegedly for allowing Governor Fayose use his platforms to announce Prof. Kolapo as winner of the election, in a clear “…breach of the Electoral Act and the Broadcasting Code on Political Broadcast”.
However, hundreds of individuals and groups went unpunished despite the unforgiveable nuisance they constitute on the blogosphere where they manufacture conjectures and assumptions unfoundedly throughout the day. Going into 2019, it must be realized that the unregulated usage of social media platforms for sensitive occasions (like unauthorized announcement of election results and outright dissemination of falsehood) remains among the biggest threats to our democracy.
In the end, the outcome of the gubernatorial contest in Ekiti may be a pointer to the possibility of how 2019 may pawn out. Although feelers from the media suggest that Nigerians are frustrated by the failure of the APC federal administration to fulfill many of its promises before becoming Aso-Rock landlords in May 2015. Nonetheless, the dramatic ending to the PDP reign in Ekiti is a potent shot that the real voters may not have totally forgiven the umbrella party for its profligacy while in charge. And it looks like the 2019 elections would still be a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, for the Nigerian electors.
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