By Muhammad Ajah
Ekiti people decided who governs them in the next four years in a free and fair election held on Saturday July 14, 2018. More than 30 contestants featured in the election. Oshiomhole’s APC got 197,459 votes to defeat Secondus’ PDP which got 178,114 votes, with the difference of 19,345 votes. Votes cast were 316,019. APC won 12 local government areas, the highest catchment areas being Ado with 28,111 votes, Oye 14,995, Ikole 14,552, Ijero 14,192 and Irepodun/Ifelodun with 13,869 votes. APC in Ado lost to PDP which got 32,810 votes there. PDP won in four local government areas: Ado, Efon, Emure and Ikere. A lot of the governorship candidates have congratulated the winner of the election confessed by every group to be free and fair. Obasanjo has congratulated too. It is good news for Nigeria’s democracy. Kudos to Nigerians!
My interest is in the congratulatory messages President Buhari and APC chairman sent to Dr. John Kayode Fayemi (JKF) over his victory, as well as the call for calm by the opposition, the PDP. The underlying word in a statement issued by Buhari’s special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, was “magnanimity”. This word was always missing after every election in Nigeria. Except that Buhari has exemplified it himself by allowing a large chunk of the members of the opposition to remain in his government for over three years now, it has never happened before in Nigeria. By that, he has displayed the spirit of “all citizens are important”. It should not be the old system of “winner carries all and losers get nothing”. It is a credit to Buhari. So, he advises the governor-elect and APC members to be “magnanimous in victory” as the incoming administration prepares to unfold a new lease of life for the people of Ekiti state through purposeful and responsible governance.
He commended the people of the state, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies, local and international observers and monitors, and all stakeholders in Ekiti state for their maturity and sense of patriotism throughout the election and urged for a successful transition. What this requires is that the outgoing governor, Ayo Fayose, should also be courageous enough to handover peacefully, according to the law of the land. Fayose must be man enough to reorganize himself and do the needful, maybe by not wasting the scarce resources of the state in any legal tussle that may yield nothing tangle at the end. Let him be man enough to accept defeat, as exemplified by his then party leader, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2015.
The election was well contested by the Ekiti citizens. A frontline online news outfit, Premium Times, captured the contestants in the election with the backgrounds of many of them, though only three candidates made impact. They are John Olukayode Fayemi (APC), Kolapo Olusola Eleka (PDP), Ayodeji Lawrence Ayodele (APGA), Sikiru Lawal Tae (LP), Abiodun Aluko (AP), Jeremiah Adebisi Omoyeni (MPN), Shola Omolola (AA), Ben Olaniyi Agboola (AD), Babatunde Henry Afe (ANRP), Segun Adewale (ADP), Bode Olowoporoku (NDPC), Dare Bejide (PPN), Orubuloye Dele Lucas (AGA), Tosin Ajibare (ID), Olajumoke Saheed (DA), Temitope Omotayo (YPP), Tope Adebayo (APDA), Akinloye Ayegbusi (SDP), Saheed Olawale Jimoh (APA), Oribamise Stephen Ojo (AGAP), Olanrewaju Olalekan (DPC). Adegboye Ajayi (BNPP), David-Adesua Ayodele (DA), Sule Olalekan Ganiyu (FJP), Adewale OlusholaAkinyele(GPN), Akerele Oluyinka Gbenga(DPP), Amuda Temitope Kazeem(KOWA), Jegede Olabode Gregory (MMN), Babatunde OladapoAlegbeleye (NDLP),Oladosu Olaniyan (NPC), Ayoyinka Oluwaseun Dada (PDC), Animashaun Goke (PPA), Adeleye John Olusegun (UDP), Gboyega Olufemi Jacob (UPN) and Fakorede Ayodeji Ebenezer (YDP).
I was thrilled by a joke from a friend who said that it was already a divine victory because of the names of the leaders of the two leading political parties. The APC is led by the first man created by God who is “Adams” Oshiomhole while the PDP is led by a man who bears the name “Secondus” meaning second. So, it was clear that Adams will always come first while Secondus will always come second. Apart from that, it is important to note that Adams was playing a return match, having been defeated in 2014 by Fayose. Recall that Adams, as then Edo state governor alongside his then Rivers state counterpart, Chibuike Amaechi, was blocked from entering Ekiti during the 2014 gubernatorial election that produced Fayose in the state.
According to INEC’s record, the 16 local government areas of the state has 177 registration centers, 2,195 poling units, 256 polling points and a total of 913,334 registered voters. Out of the voters, 667,270 were accredited to vote representing 73% of the registered voters. Out of this number, only 316,019, less than half of the voters’ population, cast their votes in the last election. This is really sad. This means that majority of those who register for elections in Nigeria do not actually utilize their mandate. And those who refuse to exercise their franchise are often the greatest bad critics of the government which they do not participate in choosing. This development, on the other hand, means that government’s education and orientation agencies in collaboration with the INEC still have a lot to do in sensitizing Nigerians. It is not enough to acquire the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). It must be used to choose the leaders who will make Nigeria and states great and make Nigeria’s democracy be actually for the people. I want a time when people who sell their PVCs will be arrested and prosecuted. I want a time when money politics will be unattractive in Nigeria.
From all points of view, the election was a great event for Nigeria, a great success and a great credit to the present administration. Even the opposition seems to be happy with its freeness and fairness. Both APC and PDP did their best, but the voice of the peoples was on the part of APC. National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, believing in democratic ethics and norms, wants Nigerians not to be deterred by the outcome of the election. He is appreciative to PDP supporters during the election. He assures them that justice would prevail. In a statement by his special adviser on media, Ike Abonyi, he said that PDP accepts the fact that Nigerians had resolved to stop the circle of bad governance, violence and bloodletting in the country.
“What I want to assure Nigerians and other lovers of democracy and rule of law is that PDP and its partners are undaunted and will not look back until this country is rescued. The signs are there both in the spirit and physical world that God has decided to rescue Nigeria and the journey has since begun; what we need is patience and steadfastness,’’ he said, and thanked the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) for its support and determination to rescue Nigeria. He advised all PDP supporters, particularly in Ekiti, to eschew violence and wait for the rule of law to prevail.
On his own part, Oshiomhole, has advised Fayemi to resist the temptation of vengeance and channel his energy to rebuilding the state. A message issued by his chief press secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, said the victory was not only for the APC but for the good people of Ekiti and Nigerians at large. He wants Fayemi to work hard to reunite the party and carry the interests of all stakeholders in the governance of the state. “This victory which is coming three weeks after our National Convention is a huge vote of confidence on our party and the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.” He congratulated Ekiti people for formally closing the remnants of the PDP in the Southwest, despite the intimidation and harassment they suffered in the hands of the out-going PDP government prior to the election.
Senior special assistant to President Buhari on media, Garba Shehu, expressed gratitude to the Ekiti electorate for speaking through their votes. In an article he titled “Fayose: In The End, A High-Powered Nothing”, he noted that with Ekiti, the APC controls 25 out of the 36 states of the federation; the six states of the Southwest are in its fold. He noted that Fayemi’s victory has given a fresh hope that fake news, lies and propaganda run only short distances “because they have short legs.” According to him, “you can’t beat something with nothing. After all the noise, theatricals and drama, Fayose’s fall came with a thud, not a bang: a high-powered nothing.”
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.