(By Dr. Wumi Akintide)
“A one party dictatorship is not good for Nigeria but the opposition must also show they know what they are doing and they must also demonstrate to voters the clear differences between them and the ruling party they want to replace. I don’t see that in the APC if you see what I see.“
I never thought our wasted generation would ever live to see a day in Nigerian politics when a loser in an election would pick up his phone to call his nemesis and later issue a very thoughtful concession statement to an opponent who has just beaten him flat in an election many people would normally have expected him to win as the Governor in power.
Kayode Fayemi has just done in Ado Ekiti and I throw my salute to him. I see that as a big plus for Nigeria. I also want to use this platform to congratulate Ayo Fayose the clear winner in that election even though I would not have voted for him. He did what he had to do to win and like I acknowledge in my previous article on him and Kayode Fayemi, posted on the Internet, he is not a pushover in Ekiti or Nigerian Politics given his track record as a former Governor in Ekiti who has now led the opposition to defeat two Governors in Ekiti back to back. I am talking of Governor Adebayo and Governor Fayemi. He, Ayo Fayose has got to be doing something right to have done that. Ayo Fayose, the only politician to call the bluff of General Olusegun Obasanjo when he refused to support his third term agenda is not a political strategist to be taken lightly. I respect him for his courage and conviction but more so now for his resourcefulness in grass-root Politics and his command and control structure in Ekiti.
We can call him names as much as we want, the man knows his people and he surely knows how to win with his “Adelabu Penkelemess” streak of politics and hubris. The elites and the intellectuals in Ekiti are those who favor Kayode Fayemi as intelligently explained to me by my God son, Ilupeju-Ekiti -born Kayode Daramola of New York who has an uncanny insight into Ekiti and Nigerian Politics because he has friends on both sides of the isle of the political divide, and he is razorblade-sharp in his analysis of the political situation in Ekiti and more so in Nigeria. Another Nigerian observer of consequence I must acknowledge in this write-up is the Akure-born Olatubosun Adedipe of East Orange, New Jersey who regularly speaks to me and update me on what is going on in Nigeria from his own perspective. I pay attention to Nigerian politics because I really want the country to do well. I have no permanent friend or enemy in politics as some think I do. You are my friend if you perform and keep the faith regardless of your party labels.
The two gentlemen, Kayode and Olatubosun both agreed that the Ekiti intellectuals and the elites were the people supporting Fayemi while the great majority of the grass roots in Ekiti were evidently rooting for Fayose because they prefer his down-to-earth approach to politics and his willingness to come down to their level, freely mix with them and assure them his Government is going to side with them if they return him to power. Above all, Fayose has pitched his tent with the Jonathan-led Federal Government who is willing and ready to bank-roll his campaigns using the limitless power, resources and leverage of the Federal Government which has no qualms at all using the Police and the Military to intimidate and persecute opposition APC Governors like Governor Amaechi of River’s State and Governor Oshiomhole of Edo who had wanted to come give a helping hand to their colleague in Ekiti. Jonathan had their planes grounded in Akure Airport just because he could. I remain opposed to Jonathan using intimidation and pressure which should have been reserved or directed to Boko Haram and their backers to destabilize and oppress Governors who are merely exercising their rights under the Constitution to help a colleague in some political distress. President Jonathan had no restraint or reservation at all using the Police, the Military and his Security contingent to intimidate those Governors and the Opposition in Nigeria. I remain opposed to that move because a virile opposition is a big plus in a Democracy as clearly shown in most of the developed nations like the UK and America where the Opposition parties are equally protected by the Law and viewed as alternate or shadow Government or a Government-in-waiting if the Government in power fumbles. A situation where one party is allowed to forever dominate power is not good for Democracy as I have often argued in all of my write-ups.
I commend Professor Jega and his INEC for doing a good job in Ekiti which has been praised by both the winner and the loser as free and fair. The concession statement issued by Dr. Fayemi did not contradict that assumption and I did not see in that statement any suggestion that Dr. Fayemi would be running to the Tribunal to dispute the validity and accuracy of that election as losers normally do in most Nigerian elections. I take that as a sign of progress. I have tried to study the details of the voters registration data put out by INEC before the election and the tabulation of the results from each of the 16 Local Governments in Ekiti after the election. The mere fact that the ballots were counted and recorded by each party’s polling agents before the final collation of the returns at the INEC Headquarters in Ado- Ekiti not Abuja, speaks to the validity and accuracy of those returns in my opinion.
Ayo Fayose has recorded a convincing win and he did it without any substantial help from the Labor Party candidate Bamidele whose role was to be a spoiler by taking away votes that should have gone to Dr. Fayemi had he not broken away from the APC to run on the platform of the Labor Party. Dr. Fayemi’s failure in the election cannot be claimed by Mr. Bamidele. If you add the votes received by Dr. Fayemi and Bandele together, Fayemi would still have lost to Ayo Fayose by more than 60,000 votes or thereabout. It was therefore a landslide victory for Fayose any way you slice it.
That said, I like to make a quick comment on why Dr. Fayemi in spite of his decency and integrity as Governor had to lose so badly to Fayose who many have described as a rabble rouser with some justification. There is some method, however, to Ayo’s madness if you want to characterize it that way. The intellectuals and the elites in Ekiti do not vote as much as the market women, ordinary people, the youths, taxi drivers and Okada riders and Transport Union operatives and civil servants across the state. Dr. Fayemi had ran foul of the great majority of the voters and civil servants by trying to reform the Civil Service too quickly and by introducing competitive examinations for teachers and civil servants and by delaying the appointments of his Cabinet just to save money when he first took office and by reducing the number of Commissioners and Chairmen of Boards and Parastatals and by not seeking the favor and cooperation of the central Government in Abuja which is out to frustrate his Government and cause him to fail like Obasanjo did to the Tinubu and the Fashola Administration in Lagos when he refused to pay them their entitlements or subventions from Federal Allocation.
Fayemi’s decision to turn the Ekiti University into a multi campus University to save funds and overheads on personnel which was the right thing to do, by the way, was part of his problems in a bread and butter politics we all play in Nigeria but more so in Ekiti which used to be almost half of Ondo State before its creation. Once upon a time Ekiti used to control 4 out of the 9 Local Government in Ondo State and because Ekiti used to be the intellectual power house of Ondo State, Ekiti literarily dominated Ondo State Public Service and the Parastatals. I recall Ekiti holding most of the important positions in Ondo State while Bandele Otiko, the Akure-born alumnus of Christ School, Ado-Ekiti was the military Governor. That did not stop the Ekitis from thrashing or rubbishing Otiko as “Governor Ofifo” meaning Governor “Do Nothing” because Ondo State was starved of funds by the then Federal Government with Buhari and Idiagbon as leaders in that Government. I was in Government at the time so I knew what exactly transpired and I was close to Governor Otiko. Ekiti would desert you in a heartbeat if they don’t feel they are getting enough from your Government. Dr. Fayemi probably knew, that but he was far too principled and too decent to get down and dirty. The Ekitis like most Nigerians are not easy to govern is my point.
They carried back to Ekiti State some of the traits that make the rest of Ondo State to resent and distrust them at the time. As some of those traits began to play out, most of the 16 Local Governments in Ekiti began to feel the pressure at a time when the internally-generated revenues in Ekiti could not sustain the state. The State has to rely on subventions from the Federal Government which was not willing or open to help a government controlled by the opposition. Ekiti State became one of the poorest states in Nigeria that Dr. Fayemi has to manage. His was an uphill task as Governor. It was the combinations of those factors that conspired to do him in.
Many in Ekiti had the feeling that Ahmed Tinubu the APC leader in Lagos was macro-managing Dr. Fayemi’s Government like Tinubu has been doing to Fashola in Lagos and Aregbesola in Osun for better or for worse. They believe Tinubu was forcing Fayemi to start awarding contracts to contractors sent to him by Jagaban Tinubu as the national leader of APC. That perception did not sit well with most Ekiti voters, and Dr. Fayemi was in no position to quickly disabuse their minds about that. The disarray that the Opposition APC currently faced in Nigeria may also have played a role in the outcome of the Ekiti election. Up till now the APC is yet to settle on who exactly are going to be their flag bearers in the 2015 elections. The in-fighting currently going on in the APC and the determination of the PDP and the Federal Government to fuel that instability and confusion is part of what has played out in the recently concluded Ekiti election and the Osun election may go the way like Ekiti if care is not taken. One would have thought that the Boko Haram problems faced by the Jonathan Administration in Abuja should have been a drag or created an adverse effect on the PDP political fortunes in Nigeria. Nigerians don’t think like voters in civilized countries do. All they care about is how to remain in power by all means so they can continue to loot the resources of the central Government sad to say. You can expect a major reallignment of political forces in Ekiti starting today with the return of Fayose.
I am able to say this because I am not a card-carrying member of any party in Nigeria and I was for many years an insider in Government at the Federal level. I am an independent observer. I speak the truth to power regardless of whose horse is gored. The duplicity of the Labor Party led by Governor Mimiko of Ondo State is another factor in Ekiti State election. Olusegun Mimiko is only a Labor Party member by name. He is definitely looking for the most appropriate time to formally declare for the PDP. He is in a Caucus with the PDP Governors Association and he is today a Deputy Chairman in that Caucus. He is also actively wooing the relics of the Afenifere in Ondo State and in much of the Southwest to toe his line. What more evidence does anybody need? When President Jonathan went to Ekiti to campaign for Ayo Fayose, Mimiko led a powerful delegation of his Labor Party to openly pitch his tent with the President.
Olusegun Mimiko is busy making preparations for his life and career after serving as two-term Governor of Ondo State and only a blind man will not know where he is going to end up after he leaves office. He wants to be relevant in Nigerian Politics for the rest of his life and cannot afford to be in the Opposition having tasted of the forbidden fruit for more than a decade in one lucrative position or the other. That is why his Government has resisted all attempts to have him join the caucus of the APC Governors till tomorrow. He is able to do that because Ondo State is one of the richest states in Nigeria today because of revenues going to her as an oil-producing state.
The relics of Afenifere and the defunct AD in the West are busy making nocturnal overtures to the Jonathan-led PDP without saying it too loud because many of their leaders have their eyes fixed on getting some favors from the Federal Government. The Ekiti voters are not oblivious to all these factors and the combination of those factors is what inform the very poor performance of Dr. Fayemi in the just concluded election in Ekiti. Governor Ayo Fayose in a move hard to imagine in Nigeria has this morning paid a visit to Dr. Fayemi to start mending fences. That is a good thing for Nigeria and I totally welcome it without abandoning my position that a virile opposition is a must in a Democracy we all must encourage.
A one party dictatorship is not good for Nigeria but the opposition must also show they know what they are doing and they must also demonstrate to voters the clear differences between them and the ruling party they want to replace. I don’t see that in the APC if you see what I see.
A statement from the US Embassy today congratulating INEC and all the parties involved in the Ekiti election is the first assurance to me and to most objective observers in Nigeria that the Ekiti election was not only free but fair all things considered. I join the Embassy in congratulating the INEC and both Ayo Fayose and Dr. Fayemi for moving in the right direction to stabilize Democracy in Nigeria without too much bitterness. A lot still remains to be done as we go forward, but Nigeria is on to a good start with the Ekiti election. The outcome of the Ekiti election should be a major concern to the APC going forward. Need I say more?
I rest my case.
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