I never thought our wasted generation would ever live to see a day in Nigerian politics when a loser in an election would pick up his phone to call his nemesis and later issue a very thoughtful concession statement to an opponent who has just beaten him flat in an election many people would normally have expected him to win as a sitting governor. Kayode Fayemi has just done in Ado Ekiti and I throw my salute to him. I see that as a big plus for Nigeria.
I also want to use this platform to congratulate Ayo Fayose the clear winner in that election even though I would not have voted for him. He did what he had to do to win and like I acknowledge in my previous article on him and Kayode Fayemi, posted on the Internet, he is not a pushover in Ekiti or Nigerian Politics given his track record as a former Governor in Ekiti who has now led the opposition to defeat two Governors in Ekiti back to back. I am talking of Governor Adebayo and Governor Fayemi. He, Ayo Fayose has got to be doing something right to have done that. Fayose, the only politician to call the bluff of then President Olusegun Obasanjo when he refused to support his third term agenda, is not a political strategist to be taken lightly. I respect him for his courage and conviction but more so now for his resourcefulness in grass-roots politics and his command and control structure in Ekiti.
I commend Professor Jega and his INEC for doing a good job in Ekiti which has been praised by both the winner and the loser as free and fair. The concession statement issued by Fayemi did not contradict that assumption and I did not see in that statement any suggestion that Fayemi would be running to the Tribunal to dispute the validity and accuracy of that election as losers normally do in most Nigerian elections.
I take that as a sign of progress. I have tried to study the details of the voters registration data put out by INEC before the election and the tabulation of the results from each of the 16 Local Governments in Ekiti after the election. The mere fact that the ballots were counted and recorded by each party’s polling agents before the final collation of the returns at the INEC Headquarters in Ado- Ekiti not Abuja, speaks to the validity and accuracy of those returns in my opinion.
Fayose has recorded a convincing win and he did it without any substantial help from the Labour Party candidate Bamidele whose role was to be a spoiler by taking away votes that should have gone to Fayemi had he not broken away from the APC to run on the platform of the Labour Party. Fayemi’s failure in the election cannot be claimed by Bamidele. If you add the votes received by Fayemi and Bamidele together, Fayemi would still have lost to Fayose by more than 60,000 votes or thereabout.
That said, I like to make a quick comment on why Fayemi, in spite of his decency and integrity as governor, had to lose so badly to Fayose who many have described as a rabble rouser with some justification. There is some method, however, to Ayo’s madness if you want to characterize it that way. The intellectuals and the elites in Ekiti do not vote as much as the market women, ordinary people, the youths, taxi drivers and okada riders and transport union operatives and civil servants across the state. Fayemi had run afoul of the great majority of the voters and civil servants by trying to reform the civil service too quickly and by introducing competitive examinations for teachers and civil servants. He delayed the appointment of his cabinet just to save money when he first took office. He reduced the number of Commissioners and Chairmen of Boards and Parastatals and refused to seek the favour and cooperation of the central government in Abuja which was out to frustrate his government.
Many in Ekiti had the feeling that Ahmed Tinubu, the APC leader in Lagos was macro-managing Fayemi’s government just as he has been doing to Fashola in Lagos and Aregbesola in Osun for better or for worse. They believed Tinubu was forcing Fayemi to start awarding contracts to contractors sent to him by Jagaban Tinubu as the national leader of APC. That perception did not sit well with most Ekiti voters, and Fayemi was in no position to quickly disabuse their minds.
The relics of Afenifere and the defunct AD in the West are busy making nocturnal overtures to the Jonathan-led PDP without saying it too loud because many of their leaders have their eyes fixed on getting some favours from the Federal Government. The Ekiti voters are not oblivious to all these factors and the combination of those factors is what inform the very poor performance of Fayemi in the just concluded election in Ekiti. Fayose in a move hard to imagine in Nigeria has this morning paid a visit to Fayemi to start mending fences. That is a good thing for Nigeria and I totally welcome it without abandoning my position that a virile opposition is a must in a democracy we all must encourage.
A one party dictatorship is not good for Nigeria but the opposition must also show they know what they are doing and they must also demonstrate to voters the clear differences between them and the ruling party they want to replace. I don’t see that in the APC if you see what I see.
A statement from the US Embassy today congratulating INEC and all the parties involved in the Ekiti election is the first assurance to me and to most objective observers in Nigeria that the Ekiti election was not only free but fair all things considered. I join the Embassy in congratulating the INEC and both Fayose and Fayemi for moving in the right direction to stabilize Democracy in Nigeria without too much bitterness. A lot still remains to be done as we go forward, but Nigeria is on to a good start with the Ekiti election. The outcome of the Ekiti election should be a major concern to the APC going forward. Need I say more?
Wumi Akintide is on linkedIn