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Published On: Fri, Jul 4th, 2014

Understanding democracy: The Ekiti feedback

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By Bobby Udoh

After a below par Gubernatorial election in Anambra state in November 2013, we have witnessed a much better Gubernatorial election in Ekiti last Saturday, 21st June, 2014. This is progress and encouraging news for our young democracy. In this election, INEC significantly improved their execution of the logistics, security was adequate, the turnout of voters was better, a few cases of rigging, results were collated and announced at each poling unit and under 24 hours, the returning officer declared Ayo Fayose of PDP the winner with total voting numbers for each Local Government Area made known.

It is worth commending the loser and incumbent Governor, Kayode Fayemi for swiftly accepting defeat, calling on Fayose to congratulate him and keeping a good spirit in words and deeds, which included the setting up of a transition committee with the Governor-elect. We must also commend President Jonathan for allowing INEC to do their job without interference and for providing adequate security. This is not to say it was a perfect election. It may have been free for the electorate but not fair for the opposing political parties.

It is interesting that during an election year (especially with Ekiti and Osun before the general elections), the new Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan (Osun State) and the new Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro (Lagos State) are from the South West and from opposition states. Their first major assignment seems to be their heavy involvement in the Ekiti elections with thousands of Police and military men under their control.

This strategic approach by the PDP-led Federal Government ensured the restrictions of APC leaders within and from outside the state whilst facilitating free access to members of the PDP (including those from other states, like Chris Uba). With time, we will hear more about what that free access enabled for the PDP.

The use of security agencies against opposition parties is downright wrong and must be condemned but it will require more strategic planning by the opposition and the involvement of more Nigerians to put a stop to the illegal use of security agencies. What did we learn about our young democracy from this election?

The people decided the outcome: The power of their vote was the main determining factor whether they chose the best candidate or not. This is the core foundation of democracy because the mandate to govern was legitimately secured through these votes. Yes, they may have been some inducements but even with such influence amongst some, most Ekiti citizens expressed their preference through their vote and they did this as a result of their fears and expectations.

many would say Ekiti is a state with many PhD holders, it does not take away the fact that the level of human development amongst most citizens is low, like every other part of Nigeria. With focus on the present and on self, the ground was more suited for ‘stomach infrastructure’ rather than real infrastructure and reforms.

In the First Republic, the late K.O. Mbadiwe described it thus “The first democracy is the democracy of the stomach” and in this dispensation, the late Lamidi Adedibu called it “amala politics”. Unfortunately, our level of human development has not increased and with our educational and family systems getting worse, ‘stomach infrastructure’ remains a key feature amongst the masses.

The other outcome of ourlow level of human development is the lack of patience on the part of the electorate. If there is no quick gain from a policy or programme, people will vote for change at the next elections. Great policies and reforms implementation does not equate to electoral gains but rather the label – elitist. Therefore performing leaders can lose free and fair elections

Whether we like them or not, we’ve got to admit that the PDP has more citizens participating in their party activities and many of these citizens are producing ideas on how to win over voters. With control over resources in the very powerful centre, the incentives (still part of the ‘stomach infrastructure’) on offer were enticing and secured the involvement of smart citizens who harnessed Fayose’s grassroot popularity and emphasised Fayemi’s lack of ‘local content’.

In summary, we have to accept that we are in a democracy and there are opportunities it offers. Only the involvement of a critical mass of citizens will ensure that these opportunities are properly harnessed for the development of our nation. Our participation in politics will increase the level of idea generation, implementation and communication. Get involved. No more excuses.

Bobby Udoh via bobbyudoh.com

 

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