Ekiti Elections: Take It On The Chin And Move On

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By Ola' Idowu
The elections in Ekiti has come and peacefully gone, but there are some certain reverberations from it and possibly lessons to learn from the elections. But one thing you want to do as the losing party from the polls in Ekiti, is to just take it on the chin and quickly move on to the next set of elections.

Make no mistake about it, Ekiti has gone backwards with their choice of Ayo Fayose of the PDP as their Governor-elect and I'm not anyway partisan in saying so, as the facts about the man chosen and his party attest so much to my claims. The people of Ekiti have always being prided as been very educated and producing a large array of graduates from Bachelors degree all the way to Ph.D. degree holders and lots of Professors but from their choice in the Guber elections held penultimate weekend, I have reasons to fully come to the conclusion that education is not the singular determinant of how forward thinking a man can be, as no matter how educated a man is he can still appear backward in certain things.

I recall many years back when I had a discussion with an indigene of Ekiti state who then was an undergraduate in one the universities back home. He was a young man from humble backgrounds and we got talking about Ekiti politics and their governor then Niyi Adebayo. He told me the people of the state couldn't wait to vote him out as they didn't know he was the son of General Adeyinka Adebayo (Rtd.). He said everyone thought he was a young, unknown, educated man just like them all when they voted him into office in 1999, but later found out who is father is. I reminded him the governor was performing, and his father was the former governor of defunct Western Nigeria, he calmly told me Ekiti people don't care about all that and would vote him out when the time comes. In 2003, they did just that and elected Fayose in a free but not totally fair elections.

I had to recall this discussion with my Ekiti friend then to better understand what happened in the 2014 elections, and I have come to the conclusion that Ekiti people are anti-elites and their struggle is a class war against any form of educated elites that would come 'dictate' to the many poor but educated men and women in the state. Theirs is a struggle based on fear and a lack of understanding, which makes people of the state look backward in their choices despite their level of education. As an African living in the diaspora I have personally come across lots of educated Africans who have lived abroad for decades and are still backward in their thought process and mentality. Many of them still believe in sangomas, na'angas, witch-doctors and herbalists, as well as stereotypes about other people despite living in a mentally developed nation. My conclusion with such people has always been their lack of wisdom and in cases where they appear wise, definitely their lack of understanding, sophistication and what they choose to expose themselves too (e.g people, places and things). Lots of poor, educated people in Ekiti state unfortunately fall into that category, as a large chunk of them despite their education live in rural communities in Emure-Ekiti, Afao-Ekiti amongst others.

They travel all over the country to get educated through the help of their families, uncles, aunties and cooperative societies but still come home on holidays to live in their villages in Emure and Afao and thus their mentality and level of sophistication stays the same despite their education. The few ones who get to live in Akure, Ibadan and Lagos are possibly the ones who go on and change their mentality, sophistication and deepen their understanding due to the people and things they get exposed too. In essence, the ones back home would see such people as elitists anyway, and a typical Ekiti in my estimation prefers a grass to grace story. They see themselves in a Fayose who would eat a cob of corn while dancing with them on the roadside. They see his hardship in 'making' it, even if he did so by dubious means, as what can happen to them if they struggle to get an education and eventually make it too.

Maybe Kayode Fayemi was the unknown, young educated man like them all when they voted for him and stood by him during his travails to reclaim his mandate, but they might have started seeing him as elitist when for example he rightly asked teachers in the state to come write an Educational Needs Assessment Test and wrongly insisted students (majority of them poor) in the state university to pay their tuition fees in full before they could sit exams, when they were initially allowed to pay install-mentally. They may also wrongly have decided Fayemi was elitist when his fellow APC governors descended on the state in their private jets and helicopters to attend his final rally, and the PDP acted like the saviour of the masses in stopping them from gaining entrance, a tactic by Fayose and the PDP that might have resonated with Ekiti people who for me I believe are anti-elites.

Also, to compound matters you have people like Musiliu Obanikoro (a Lagosian) coming to them and playing on their fears that a good man like Bola Tinubu was coming to use their state as an investment. Tinubu surely isn't perfect but he is a humane and likeable person (from what those who know him say and from my reading of his behaviour and disposition) and far better a person than what people who envy him say, and there is no way he would use a poor state like Ekiti as an investment. What would you then say of PDP's South-West Chairman Buruji Kasamu who allegedly donated N1 billion naira to Fayose's campaign?. This is a man from Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State and resides in Lagos state, so what connection does he have with the people of Ekiti to donate such a large sum to Fayose's campaign? Also, would the money donated be for charity and not some kind of investment he wishes to recoup later? Whatever anyone says, Ekiti has retrogressed with Fayose's election and they have proven to everyone that being educated is not what matters but your level of understanding, sophistication, awareness and exposure is what really counts in making right decisions.

Lessons from Ekiti also shows that President Goodluck Jonathan can also be unseated by the APC and there's nothing like the power of incumbency in a free and fair election where the police and bastardised military are not used to intimidate voters. If the APC get their strategy and tactics right, Jonathan would be history come 2015 as Ekiti elections has shown. Its also nice to see Fayemi concede victory within hours of the result being announced, and probably makes him the first Nigerian politician in my immediate memory to have ever done so. It helps to strengthen democracy and serves as a precedent for other politicians and shows he truly belongs to a democratic party. Its time for APC and indeed Tinubu to take the Ekiti result on the chin and move on. It was just a one-off and could be blamed on the party for not doing its research properly about the Ekiti masses. In Osun state, the reverse is the case as they people of that state are richer than the people of Ekiti and more elitist in their outlook.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola understands that, hence the modern touch he gave his campaign many years back including the massive electronic TV he installed outside his Gbongan road campaign office in Osogbo back in 2007 which was the first of its kind in the state. He understood how modern and elitist his people are, and also matched it with some cultural understanding by tagging his movement Oranmiyan. Its time for Tinubu and all the top notch of the APC to descend on Osun in full force and campaign round the clock, not leaving it till some days before the elections. Time to reach out to all the elites in Osun state and get them on board as the PDP understands this much hence their choice of a crooked, ex-convict, yet Osun elite in Iyiola Omisore. The people of Osun state are more sophisticated and have better understanding than that of Ekiti even without their level of education. As for Ekiti who have gone backward again, the APC should take it on the chin and just move on like they seem to have done.

Ola' Idowu a Management Consultant and Researcher writes in from the UK.