By Kolawole Igandan
In Nigeria, the build up to general elections doesn’t start in the election year. It, in fact, begins the day the elected public office holder is sworn in.
Yes, in the Nigerian context, the moment a president or the governor is sworn in for a mandatory four years in office, he is already scheming for a re-election, not minding that his campaign promises are yet to be fulfilled.
What rings true to the average politician in our clime is that four years is just what it is, FOUR. To him or her, four years is just so short a time and the earlier the business of re-election starts, the better for his political future and that of his supporters.
Well, it doesn’t go for the winner alone, the loser would also immediately get cracking and start strategising on how to make real his ambition of occupying the position he just lost. That is the scenario and Nigerians have come to accept that as part of what comes with our fledging democracy. That leads me to the issue at hand – the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State. By all accounts, Ekiti is in the eye of the storm, and it is understandably so.
The political gladiators are holding the state by the jugular and the very desperate ones are employing all sorts of tactics to ensure they remain in power, or perhaps get to power. The three main candidates in the race are, Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, Dr. John Oluwakayode Fayemi and Congressman, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.
While I don’t intend to launch any tirade against some candidates, I must also caution that they must keep their eyes on the ball and do less of smear campaign and sheer propaganda because the Ekiti terrain has become sophisticated in the last four years.
The aftermath of the 2007 governorship election and the events that followed made the people of the state sagacious in their approach to political issues. Today, a click on the social media button is all you need to confirm that even young school leavers are desirous of making inputs into politics and governance in the state.
That is why it is necessary to take on the hot button issues rather than the insignificant name calling and bullying by the government of the day in Ekiti State. These days, it is common to listen to political leaders say anything that annoys everybody. They also say things to the sheer content of their supporters. The people of the state face a choice as they listen to these political leaders at their campaign rallies. Which matters more? Are they saying things they think need to be said or saying things that the people would rather not hear? The story today is that the only candidate who seems to be trudging on, making impactful connection with the people and not embarking on a talk shop is Dr. Peter Ayodele Fayose. This is the situation in Ekiti now, and the real significance of these new horizons will likely come in the next few days. Forget about what the next candidates are touting, the most important factor in the forth coming election is TRUST.
Who is that candidate that can be trusted? What is he bringing to bear? A lot of modern day analysts have made some brilliant postulations on the shape the election would take but those on ground in the state would rather not join issues with commentators who has not taken the initiative to engage, not politicians with vested interest, but those under estimated artisans, market women, youths, aged and others who form the very nucleus of the population of the state. The All Progressives Congress (APC) selling point seems to be what their candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has achieved in four years.
Now, my point is that, none of the governors that have served the state since 1999 has fared badly. That is the truth. They all came with a giddy enthusiasm to leave a mark. That is true of them, and this is largely because their reputation and integrity is at stake.
They realise that what counts is how they want to be perceived long after they have left office. What legacies and imprints they leave behind matters to them than all the gold and silver put together.
For instance, in Ekiti today, Fayose’s addresses are not in Ibadan or Afao Ekiti where he hails, they are in public buildings like the new Governor‘ s Office, Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye Multipurpose Hall, Lady Jibowu Hall, the two Presidential lodges and the chalets, Professor Sam Aluko Building housing the Ministry of Finance, The Trade Fair Complex, dualising of roads that leads to all entry points to Ekiti.
During his first coming, the civil service was transformed, pensions were paid promptly, promotions in the civil service and teaching were never delayed and salaries of workers were paid at the 20th of every month. What about the roads that were constructed in his time? The greatest of his achievement would be in the area of empowerment.
It is a known fact that the people of the state were the better for it under Fayose. That is why those in the vanguard of his comeback bid are the majority whose lives were transformed positively while he was at the helms. The truth is that his traducers and political opponents may not want to tell the media what everybody in Ekiti knows.
All the candidates had at one time or the other benefitted from the magnanimity and sagacity of Fayose. Fayemi himself was largely helped during the re-run election by Fayose to turn the tide against the ruling party then.
I doubt if Fayemi can swear now that Fayose was not part of his success story. The Accord Party candidate, Mr. Kole Ajayi, was part of Fayose’s kitchen cabinet during his first outing and at a time, his loudest battle cry was that “Fayose must be re-elected”. Opeyemi Bamidele of the Labour Party is also reaping from the debris of what a party made popular by Fayose.
Recall that Fayose used the Labour Party platform to contest the senatorial election in 2011. All his (Fayose) supporters are well spread in all the political parties and when push comes to shove, they will come back to where they belong.
Did I hear you say they are already scheming to be part of the train? Yes, I heard it too. That leads me to that timeless Yoruba idiom that attaches familiarity to what belongs to others.
For instance, they usually would refer to their friend’s or relative’s wife as their’s as well: “iyawo wa, iyawo wa” (our wife, our wife), but the idiom doesn’t end there, it has a caveat that says, ‘it is only at midnight that we will know who owns the iyawo (wife)’. The midnight is here and the choice is yours. Feel free!
• Igandan writes from Igbara-Odo Ekiti