It is quite interesting, even though very unsatisfactory that the whole of Ekiti state and Nigeria at large has focused on just two things after the very highly anticipated Ekiti state election. Basically, the only subjects that are being discussed by lots of Nigerians are the results of the election.
In Nigeria, it is quite a norm for winners of elections to celebrate openly regardless of what route they had to follow to achieve victory in the elections. On the other hand, losers constantly dwell on how the process was not free and fair and how things would have turned out better for them if only the process was transparent enough. This is done both when an election is perceived as unfair and when everything appeared to go on perfectly and the people’s choices were made. More often than not, loses in Nigerian elections forget that they would be speaking differently if the elections had gone in their favour. Although this does not apply to everyone, most times, candidates that emerge victorious in elections in Nigeria have an understanding of beneficence while celebrating their electoral victory while candidates that do not emerge victorious do not know how to accept defeat in good faith. The default attitude of either side in electoral contests in Nigeria is the tragic harbinger tendencies of our democratic journey.
The Battle between Fayose and Fayemi
A prophet was not needed for the people of Ekiti state to know that Governor Ayodele Fayose was not running for a third term in office. Whilst it was very obvious that Professor Eleka was the candidate that was fielded by the People’s Democratic Party to contest for the post of the governor of Ekiti state, it very much appeared like Governor Ayodele Fayose was the one contesting for the post of the governor of Ekiti state. Now, although still relatively unknown, a lot of things were wrong with the choice of Governor Fayose’s deputy, Professor Eleka as the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate for the just concluded Ekiti state gubernatorial election. As one man, Fayose overlooked the interest of other members of the PDP in the position of state governor and singlehandedly picked his deputy Professor Eleka as the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party in the Ekiti gubernatorial election. Ayo Fayose’s selection of Prof Eleka, although not openly challenged weakened the camp of the People’s Democratic Party and this was capitalized on by the opposition, the APC. Now, the choice of Prof Eleka as the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party led to a form of protest and the decamping of lots of “good heads” from the camp of the PDP to that of the APC. Well, this obviously added to the strength of the APC both in numbers and in influence as the outcome of the election portrays.
In as much as the choice of Prof Eleka by Fayose was considered one of the reasons why the PDP lost the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti state, it, in itself was perhaps not enough reason for the People’s Democratic Party to have lost the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti state. One major reason why the Ekiti gubernatorial election was lost by the People’s Democratic Party was because it appeared that Governor Ayodele Fayose was the one competing with Dr. Kayode Fayemi for the post of the governor of Ekiti state. If only Prof Eleka had been at the fore-front of the whole campaign process, things most likely would have been different. Throughout the course of campaign, Fayose made it appear like Prof Eleka was faceless and voiceless. He, perhaps thought that his popularity in Ekiti state and in south-western Nigeria as a whole was enough to pull in the much needed votes for the People’s Democratic Party to retain the highest seat in the state. One thing that Governor Fayose allowed to escape his mind was the fact that he had not paid the civil servants in Ekiti state their salaries, and seeing his face in campaign posters was going to make them vote against the PDP. So basically, the people of Ekiti state felt that they were choosing between Kayode Fayemi and Ayodele Fayose. In as much as the latter was the incumbent governor of the state, the former stood a better chance among the civil servants of Ekiti state. Even if Eleka had handled the entire process of election campaign, the PDP most likely would have lost as the people of Ekiti state would still have had to choose between Fayose and Fayemi as a victory for Eleka would mean a victory for Fayemi and Fayose would still have had a hand in government, something the people of Ekiti, especially civil servants would not want to happen.
Fayose ran and is obviously still running Ekiti state in a very personalized way. He owes salaries, in spite of this, he would distribute bags of rice to people of the state. This action gave the people of Ekiti state the perception that he felt their pain and perhaps wanted to alleviate it in the little way that he could. Although this tactic was no doubt very effective, it was not a tactic that as going to last the test of time.
Even if in the eyes of people, this tactic is still going to work, there is already an assurance that its effectiveness has expired. Just a day to the election, civil servants in Ekiti state got alerts of ?3000 respectively. This was believed to be a form of encouragement for them to vote in the People’s Democratic Party into power. In as much as that was a smart move, it was a trick that the people were already used to and were not going to fall for. The reason for this is simple, ?3000 is really of no use to an individual that is owed months of salaries and has no hope of being paid in the present time.
The Influence of the Federal Government
Former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu is perhaps one of the few governors that have been able to resist the influence of the federal government in their state affairs. As far as the Nigerian way of doing things is concerned, it is very possible for an election to be won in a state just because a candidate is in the same political party with the president of the country. There are quite a number of ways in which this can be done. The two most effective ways are ensuring that the opposition party does not have the liberty to rig the election and also by helping their candidate win by whatever means possible. This could be through rigging or through the use of security operatives to make sure that the opposition party does not have the freedom to carry out as much campaign as is necessary to emerge victorious. Although there are no proofs, it is believed that the People’s Democratic Party had a hand in the victory of Governor Ayodele Fayose in Ekiti in the 2014 elections. Rumours have it that security operatives were set-up to ensure that the opposition party in Ekiti state was not able to carry out effective campaigns. Fast-forward to 2018, the exact same thing was done. However, this time, it was not done in favour of the People’s Democratic Party.
Fayemi Learnt his Lesson Just four years ago, Kayode Fayemi was the incumbent governor of Ekiti state and lost an election to Ayodele Fayose. In as much as there could be lots of reasons why Fayemi lost the Ekiti state gubernatorial election in 2014, one major reason behind his loss was the manner in which he carried out his campaign. Four years ago, Ayodele Fayose went into the streets and built a relationship with those that he knew could get him into office, Fayemi was considered to have stayed detached in his manner of campaign. Well, just like the smart politician that everyone now knows him to be, Dr. Kayode Fayemi was able to recognize his weakness and he made sure that he did not repeat the same mistake in 2018. This time, he made use of Fayose’s trick and beat Fayose to it. In just the exact same way as Fayose made use of the grassroots four years ago, Dr. Kayode Fayemi built a political relationship with the grass root politicians in Ekiti state, and with their help, he was able to take power from Ayodele Fayose.
Professor Eleka was Simply a Puppet
If you did not follow the Ekiti elections very closely, you probably will not know the name of the flag bearer of the people’s Democratic Party in the just concluded elections. Even if you closely followed the election, there is a probability that you do not know Professor Eleka’s first name.
Throughout the build-up to the election, Professor Eleka was never really able to make a name for himself, he was either known as Governor Ayodele’s deputy or the flag-bearer of the People’s Democratic Party. While the campaign lasted it appeared like it was a tussle for power between Fayose and Fayemi. In as much as we can’t exactly tell if Professor Eleka was not able to campaign for himself or was simply not allowed to do any talking, the truth remains that he failed to stamp his feet as a governorship aspirant and that is perhaps a characteristic of someone that would be a pushover even as governor. The people of Ekiti state probably saw this coming and decided to give their votes to Fayemi instead of to Professor Eleka.
The Money Battle
As far as Nigerian politics is concerned, money is an active ingredient that is needed to win elections. It is no longer news that the All Progressive Congress in now the strongest political party in Nigeria. They currently occupy a position that was once occupied by the PDP for 16 years both politically and the government. The people’s democratic party are now left to play catch up. In as much as politics is a game that needs a lot of craftiness, money plays a major role, and it can be said that the richer party is usually the stronger party. At the moment, it appears that the People’s Democratic Party is not as rich as the All Progressive Congress and, therefore, not as powerful. Rumour has it that in the build up towards the Ekiti state gubernatorial election, the People’s Democratic Party shared a lot of cash to the residents of Ekiti state hoping that this would make them vote in its favour. Well, unfortunately, the All Progressive Congress did the same, however, this time in a bigger scale. Just as is typical of Nigerian politics, the bigger pocket wins.