What Ekiti’s Recent Governorship Election Says About Nigeria -By ‘Tope Fasua

Filed under: Political Issues |

Tope Fasua

Yorubas say we should not all sleep and put our heads in one direction. This means people should think outside-the-box sometimes, and bring on new perspectives, no matter what this is worth. This also means that traditionally and historically our people understand the value of being contrarian. They also say that 20 children cannot play together for 20 years. This means that our people know that change is constant and that RENEWAL is essential. It is therefore against the spirit and wiring of our people that we remain fixated on a certain narrative: e.g. the PDP/APC narrative, for so long. But that was when we had much value as a people. PDP and APC are one and the same and we will not get tired of saying this. Everyone in APC has been in PDP at one point or the other, and vice versa. Well, almost. Now that Fayemi has won, check them out in Ekiti: All those who worked for Fayose will switch fast to Fayemi. Even at the national level, we can see those that the president is shamelessly roiling with, in the name of politics. It’s disgusting. It is all about their bellies, their fat accounts, the need to stay relevant, to feed the excesses that they are now used to, the many concubines, the unwarranted foreign trips, the expensive schools for their children, the access to big SUVs and mansions, their egos. That is why I’m not a politician but a nation-builder. Nigerian politics has never been about THE PEOPLE OF EKITI, who have unfortunately been gutted. In the next four years, chances are those people will be in a worse condition – afterall Fayemi had been there before and what magic did he perform? This election opened my eyes to the terrible state of poverty in Ekiti. I traveled there a bit, went to villages I’d never been before.

From the beginning of the elections, and due to the ubiquitous presence of social media, the world had been seeing images – photos and videos of poor citizens being induced to vote by the top echelons of these two parties who have access to the public till. A BBC report the night before captured women returning from where they had gone to collect N4,000, with which they were required to vote for one of the two parties’s candidates. The next day during the election proper, it was vote-and-show. Images are replete as voters showed agents of particular parties that they thumbed the right places and then marched to some backyard to collect their four or five thousand naira. I was also told of how a small chieftain in one of the villages received N500,000 cash that morning – which he was to share to voters around the area.

Brothers ditched brothers for a penny. Parents went against their children. Wives turned their backs on their husbands. All for the Nigerian brand of poverty politics. The youth took over. They saw it as another game between two favourite English football teams. They compared notes and did all they had to do to conjure numbers for the ones paying them. Two parties had a field day. The rest were hangers on. The two parties had access to state resources. That was the only way they could foot the bill. Not only does nobody produce anything in Nigeria, even if they did, no sane businessman will use his hard-earned profit to gamble in politics. So people’s taxes are used to play this game. And the people will surely pay for it. In fact we’ve been paying for this for a long time.

What does this say about Buhari’s government, or personally as a president who is all about the anti-corruption fight? The Ekiti election shows that we are certainly not making progress in Nigeria. That is a State reputed for its many professors, who have probably since deserted their villages and towns and never looked back, and whose children have nothing to do with Ekiti. Well, people were so desperately poor that nothing could convince them not to sell their future for a mess of pottage (not even the Biblical fate that befalls those who sell their birthrights). And indeed so many people in that State are desperately poor, such as to justify the recently released report by the World Poverty Index that says Nigerians are now the poorest people in the world; a report that Buhari’s ministers like to deny and contest, the findings of which however is as clear as day. Some of us have been complaining bitterly about the decrepit state in which our people live – from their housing to their environment to the food they eat, their access to schools and hospitals. This is matched by the unpardonably wicked luxury in which our so-called leaders across the spectrum live. Buhari seems to have no perspective on income inequality. He doesn’t just seem to care about doing anything serious about it because he too has been enjoying all these appurtenances of office since he came. I am not talking of the Abacha loot he intends to share for political reasons. Our leaders simply need to reorder their priorities in order to lift millions out of poverty. The ideas are out there. I have offered a few myself.

The election in Ekiti is a wakeup call to Yorubas. We cannot be reveling in unacceptable ignorance and poverty in the year 2018. The rest of Nigeria has respect for Yorubas but these kinds of events erode that respect. Imagine! The candidate who came third in that elections had actually withdrawn for the PDP candidate a week before the elections. His name is Dada Ayoyinka; totally unknown, and not even google-able. He doesn’t even have a face on the ballot. His party is PDC. They scored 1,242 votes.

Perhaps in the attempt to mass-produce ballots, some ignorant people thumbed PDC instead of PDP. Imagine the level of ignorance and illiteracy that this depicts. It used to be that a few other parties will pull their weights. This time, our people allegedly flocked in one direction. What is happening to Yoruba minds? Is PDP the standard? Is APC the standard? Are we okay with the way Nigeria is today? We can’t do better than this as a people? Do the poor and disenfranchised deserve any pity? Are we destined to this sordid way of life? We need clarifications please.

Is it not a great irony, that in a State reputed for it’s education and intellection, the two arrogant and corrupt political parties which ignored the most-transparent and intellectual aspect of an election – the debates, were also the ones that 97 per cent of the voters were ready to kill themselves to vote for? Are there so few intellectuals and self-respecting people who are keen on knowing substance in Nigeria’s Fountain of Knowledge? Is there anyone in Ekiti who has a sense of history to understand that Nigeria cannot keep going around in a yoyo between the characters who have laid this country waste in the last 19 years and beyond?

For as long as maternal and infant mortality, the out-of-school children phenomenon, and crass poverty are still part of the fabric of our national life, this election says that our people have little or no value on and for their own lives; that anyone will find it almost impossible to convince them that their lives can be even a little better; that in a world that has banished some sort of unsightly poverty, filth, stench and what have you, our people are still roiling in such irritations and they really don’t want a marked departure from the present circumstances.

The election says that we live in our own Dark Ages in Nigeria; an age where even though the sun shines every morning, we pointedly, adamantly, and resolutely refuse to see the light. How can Nigeria make progress if our people are not making progress? How can Nigeria develop in any manner – economically, sociologically and otherwise – when our people are not developing? And so the challenge of leadership in Nigeria today is that a few of us must do all we can, put our own lives on the line, to take our people TO WHERE THEY MUST BE, indeed whether they like it, or know it, or not. Ekiti’s and Nigeria’s poor majority must be liberated, given a new vision, irrespective of their uninformed opinions on the matter. The PDP or APC will certainly not offer that kind of vision. We must let them know however, that there are no laurels for winning elections and grabbing power where the people are this ignorant and poor. There is nothing to be proud of if all you can do is join parties that are not taking the nation and people forward because there are so many big, greedy, entitled and corrupt mouths to feed. And the competition for development is not among us here, but between Nigeria and other nations of the world that are making some real progress. We need a wake up call.

For the countries where these kinds of things happened in the distant past (because many will come up with examples where politics was/is this stupid), they went into wars, and bloody revolutions, they eradicated classes and revolted, chopped off the heads of thousands and sent millions to their graves in needless attritions, just to press ‘reset’. Sometimes, the victims were fairly innocent people, who were unfortunate to be on the scene after the real perpetrators and oppressors may have left. And those countries never forgot where they were coming from. Are we ready for such purges in the near future? Are we trying to grab and enjoy in the immediate without thinking about the future? What legacies are we laying for our unborn and the children who are watching us now? We are blacks, and that means that in order to make progress we must be doubly clean and work doubly hard. Only those who can think properly will be terribly pained with just how we keep frittering away all our opportunities and the respect that we require to make some level of purchase. The rest are either gaming the system, kicking the can down the road, fooling around, praying to God for nothing to happen while they’re blindly looting the country of its resources. These people believe they are the luckiest people alive; for they can rob a people and get the same people to worship them. Many of them are actively stealing in billions and stashing the money abroad. These ones don’t just care.

In four years time, Ekiti elections will still be the same, or worse. The people will wait for bigger payouts on election day four years from now, even if they crawl out of hovels and whine about hunger once this present largesse is burnt on beer and goat meat. Or the payouts could be even smaller, depending on how much they have been ‘dealt with’. Those collapsing mud houses all over Ekiti State will still be there, only more rickety. Those riding okadas with university degrees will still be riding these. And if Ekiti is representative of the whole of Nigeria, there is no hope. Or is there? Will the Ekiti results, and the one-track-mindedness it depicts discourage those who believe there could be a profound change in Nigeria? It better not. Will Nigerians be put off the new parties (some of which are honest new attempts at a new beginning for our nation), and generally resign to their fates? They better not. We live in a globalised age. We see what happens elsewhere and how human beings are living much better, quality lives that dignify humanity. We too deserve some of that. Nigerians deserve some of that. Nigerians deserve good, perceptive, selfless, visionary governance. I am standing up to say enough already of the shame and opprobrium that is associated with the name Nigeria. The criminality, the illegal migrations, the child and human trafficking, drug dealing, criminalities and underachievements everywhere. Enough already!

I congratulate Dr. Fayemi. But all I want to tell him is this: Don’t give excuses like you governors usually do. You knew what you were going to meet, so don’t act surprised. Yes, Fayose took the debt burden of the State up to N117 billion. He added to what you were owing before he ‘won’ in 2014. None of the debt is sustainable or serviceable. Ekiti will probably never be able to pay because there is no cash flow coming from anywhere. The debt is a one-way street; it can only grow. In Ekiti, in every state and nationally, we are in another deeper debt trap as a result to the kind of economics that you, Kayode Fayemi, and your friends, plus the federal government you serve, subscribe to. Don’t go there to ‘blow grammar’. Make sure you aren’t deceived by your usual coterie of Oxford/Cambridge/Harvard consultants. They hardly develop any country/state they go to, much less Ekiti. They will collect the dollars and the people will remain exactly the same – or worse. You worked with them in your first term. They partly fed your insularity; your thumbing your nose at the Ekiti people as if they were smelling. Better not repeat the mistake this time else… I want to see the out-of-the-box ideas you want to bring to Ekiti anyway. We are tired already! All this is if the election is not upturned as it should be. Both of the marauding, big-for-nothing political parties – PDP and APC – were in gross contravention, especially of Section 130 of the Electoral Law as amended by deploying cash for votes all through. Some of their officers have confessed to this even on national TV and electronic evidences abound. The born-again members and officers of the parties (which are actually the same band of thieving brothers switching from one to the other), confess that since 1999 they’ve been playing games with our commonwealth.

It is instructive to note that in 1984, a certain Major General Muhammadu Buhari, about 41 years old, jailed some politicians for 300 years, not because they were found to be personally corrupt, but because they dipped hands into the coffers of their states and used TAXPAYERS’ money to ‘build’ their ‘great’ parties. Another gentleman named President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 openly hobnobs with such characters that he jails, sees absolutely nothing wrong with these issues, and even his own party is involved deeply in vote buying. We know how the fraud works. When huge amounts are disbursed from the coffers of states that are owing several months of salary, only 10 per cent is shared on the streets. Political seasons are the times when the worst is brought out of Nigerian politicians.

They will hear from us!

‘Tope Fasua, an Economist, author, blogger and entrepreneur, can be reached through [email protected].

 

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