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The Ekiti Gubernatorial Election as Progress

Source: pointblanknews.com

By: Ikeogu Oke[1]
Email: [email protected] ; Tel: +234-(0)8034531501

By progress, I mean that genuine sense of improvement that comes with

comparing what is to what used to be, or where one is to where one used to

be. And with a past in which our former President, Olusegun Obasanjo,

openly declared the 2007 presidential election “a do or die affair”, and

with the election-related threats recently flung at our national

consciousness by various leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC),

the peaceful conduct of the June 21, 2014, gubernatorial election in Ekiti

State is a major index of political and moral progress for the Nigerian

state.
As if to complement the “do or die” declaration by former President

Obasanjo, Chief Bola Tinubu, the APC leader, as reported in a publication

on page 60 of Saturday Sun of June 14, 2014, had said: “They are already

planning to rig elections but we are ready to protect your votes… It is

going to be rig and roast. We are prepared not to go to court but to drive

you out…”
As if Chief Tinubu's prediction of electoral malpractices and promise to

respond by roasting vote riggers was not chilling enough, Mallam Nasir

El-Rufai, another APC chieftain, was quoted in the same publication as

having said: “The next election is likely to be violent and many people

are likely going to die. And the only alternative to get power is to take

it by force…”
So not only can we compare what happened in Ekiti to the “do or die” era

of election conduct where, having made the threat, President Obasanjo made

good his word by delivering an election that was marred by massive

irregularities even by the admission of the candidate declared winner, the

late President Umaru Yar' Adua who, ironically, still went to court to

defend what therefore amounted to an underserved mandate.

We can also compare the Ekiti election to a scenario where, going by the

said utterances of Chief Tinubu and Mallam El-Rufai, some of our leaders

expect us to be headed as a nation with regard to elections and their

outcome. That destination, as it were, is a situation characterised by

massive vote rigging and other serious electoral malpractices and response

with violence by those who feel cheated by such irregularities, as

evidenced by the APC's pledge not to seek redress in court but to take the

law into its hands by implementing a “rig and roast” policy that hints at

a plan to burn suspected electoral offenders as an alternative to

electoral litigation.
In passing, I have wondered if, in enunciating the “rig and roast” policy

and in declaring that “we are prepared not to go to court”, Chief Tinubu

gave any thought to the implication of such utterances for a leader who is

proposing his as an alternative leadership platform to what we currently

have, especially in comparison to President Goodluck Jonathan having once

declared that his election is not worth the shedding of anyone's blood? It

prompts one to wonder if those who speak like the APC leader believe any

nation of peace-loving people would prefer any leader who sees violence as

a proper route to power to one who does not.
But Ekiti must have surprised even such prophets of electoral violence;

what with the rare grace exhibited by the loser and incumbent Governor,

Kayode Fayemi, by conceding victory to his opponent, Ayo Fayose, and the

general acclaim the election has received for being free, fair, and devoid

of violence. And having not roasted anyone in connection with the election

as it vowed to do in response to vote rigging, the APC has invariably

conceded that it was free of rigging.
My mission in this piece, however, is not to condemn the APC for

advocating electoral violence as evidenced by Chief Tinubu's “rig and

roast” policy, though I expect anyone who associates good leadership with

civil utterance and conduct to be shocked by the policy and the

behavioural pattern its advocates, even as an antidote to vote rigging – a

wrong we generally agree should be abolished from our lives as Nigerians

which, as the Ekiti election has proven, can be eliminated without

recourse to violence.
Rather, my mission is to urge us to look at Ekiti and see that there is

hope for a better Nigeria. That that better Nigeria can be built by

Nigerians, since the Ekiti election was not conducted by foreigners, and

any role non-Nigerian elements like international observers might have

played in the election was insignificant compared to the roles played by

the Nigerian government and institutions like the Independent National

Electoral Commission (INEC) an the security agencies to ensure its proper

conduct.
It is also to urge us to see how the doomsday prediction that our country

would disintegrate come 2015 can be compared to the prediction of

electoral violence prior to the Ekiti polls. And that such prediction,

like the one of electoral violence, cannot come true if our people,

government and institutions conduct themselves responsibly, as in the

Ekiti polls. That, in all, our destiny is in our grasp.

It is equally to urge us to forgive those who advocate violence as a means

of gaining political power, who may have been sobered by the Ekiti

experience and the attendant lesson that Nigerians can conduct themselves

so well as to deflate their negative intent and expectations.

The End
[1]Oke, a writer, poet, and public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.


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