Raheem Akingbolu Opinions
THE people of Ekiti State have some standout qualities; they are highly cerebral, cosmopolitan and principled. As a result of this, Ekiti people are respected and revered anywhere in the world. The archetypal expectation from an Ekiti person is to be above board, to be transparent and to be integrity personified. Records are everywhere of how different individuals from Ekiti have impacted well on various government agencies, ministries and even international organisations. These virtues may be fast eroding though.
With all these attributes and record of brilliant performances, one will expect that Ekiti State should be a primus inter pares in election conduct and governance. Unfortunately, the reverse has always been the case. Perhaps more than any state in Nigeria, Ekiti has consistently been in the news for wrong reasons in the last 16 years. Among other crisis, the people have witnessed daylight robbery in primary election, in-fighting within political organisations, impeachment, election robbery and humiliation of traditional rulers by a sitting governor. Questions are daily being asked by concerned stakeholders and friends of the state to know why we are always getting it wrong whenever the time to choose our leaders arises. No wonder, the fact that the 21-year-old state has produced 10 governors has become a subject of academic discourse in many forums, whereas states that were created same year as Ekiti have produced only four governors.
As the 2018 gubernatorial election approaches, observers are watching very keenly how we will use the election to rewrite our history. Unfortunately, some individuals who are close allies of some of our political leaders are already using various platforms to open our old wounds. In a desperate attempt to market their preferred candidates; lies and blackmails have suddenly become the order of the day. For residents and citizens of Ekiti, home and abroad, I think the time to act is now. One may be tempted to ask why politicians always treat Ekiti like a toy. They seem to think that with little razzmatazz, Ekiti people will buy into their programmes. Today, it is sad that about 32 people are already warming up to take over from the current governor, Ayo Fayose. The question to ask is whether the governorship seat is more than one. Agreed, most of the willing aspirants are mere pretenders, who are probably signifying their intentions in other to negotiate for lesser political offices whenever the governor emerges in 2018.
While it is easy to dismiss those that have been labeled ‘visitors in Ekiti politics’ by a commentator, Lola Apempe, it is difficult to ignore about five aspirants. Though only a few have publicly declared their interest, many things are pointing to the fact that two former governors of the state, Chief Segun Oni and Dr. Kayode Fayemi are still keen about occupying the seat. Also in recent times, supporters of Babafemi Ojudu, Opeyemi Bamidele and Gbenga Aluko have also consistently echoed their 2018 ambitions. Another person that may be difficult to dismiss is Yinka Akerele.
But whichever way one looks at it, one man whose interest in the 2018 cannot be disputed is the current governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose. Constitutionally, many will dismiss this on the basis that Fayose has no right to contest again but the fact remains that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and another party that may spring up from it will have Fayose’s major input. Considering Fayose’s gargantuan political ability to sway Ekiti people the way he likes, members of the All Progressive Congress will need to get it right very well to win the 2018 election. To win in Ekiti, APC as a matter of urgency must unite and present a candidate that can appeal to all demography; the old, the youths, the elites and the market women. To achieve this, leaders of the party must shun sentiment and unnecessary emotions.
Looking at the trend of conversation around the governorship in the last two months, it is easy to conclude that some individuals, who were great beneficiaries of former Governors Oni and Fayemi, are the one marketing the leaders to ensure their own political future. Selfishness! At this time of our political evolution in Ekiti, we should not think of selfish interest but individuals who can bring the total change to the state. And for APC to win the election and align the state with the party at the center, they should think of a grass root leader who can combine the Omoluabi the Ekitis are known for with mobilization skill. For instance, like him or hate him, Fayose knows the arithmetic of Ekiti politics more than most of the people that are currently being paraded.
Perhaps, if the position is to be doled out to the highest bidder or on appointment, some aspirants stand a good chance of clinching the seat. However, as much as the flag bearer can only be chosen by the delegates, they stand no chance. Such contenders can easily access funds and influence people that matter at the highest hierarchy of government but they are not known to be popular among the masses in Ekiti. Beyond this, the enmity between them has polarised the party to a large extent, therefore presenting any one of them may lead to protest voting pattern that would not help the party.
If there is another issue that is generating debate in the state, it is the issue of zoning. Much as zoning is morally acceptable, most times it denies a state of picking its best. Again, the corresponding factor in the state for now appears not to favour such sentiments. The idea now is about capacity to win election and ability to transform the state. These factors are far above any emotional expression on zoning.Finally, in presenting anybody for the 2018 election, many salient factors needs to be considered and all hands must be on the deck. Instead of being driven by emotions and sentiments, the search for APC candidate must be taken as serious assignment of all stakeholders.
Akingbolu, a journalist, writes in from Lagos