On Thursday May 3, we had local council election in the UK. It was a chastening experience for me as a Nigerian. Across the UK’s landscape, you could feel peace, silence and undisturbed tranquility. Polling booths opened from as early as 7.00am for night shifters to cast their vote on the way home to rest after a long night. And also, for we 9 to 5ivers on our way to work in the morning. I cast my vote on that sunny and beautiful morning – simply, painlessly and noiselessly!!! I walked in and out in seconds and thus discharged my civic duty in an atmosphere devoid of police presence, violence, thugs, intimidation and coercion.
The three candidates I gave my vote to have never crossed my path and may never be. As long as they represent my party and are carriers of its manifestoes, I know I am in safe hand. My trust is in the party to deliver as promised and not in the colour, creed, deep pocket, religion or personalities of the local councilors I voted for. By the next day, the counting was over. The winners are grinning on the television in an atmosphere of electoral joy, peace, positive sportsmanship and warm handshakes. No accusations or counter accusations of election rigging. No accusation of imposition of candidates. No Godfatherism. No alleged kidnap of ballot boxes. No state collusion with candidates. No bitterness. No rancour. No threat. No recourse to assassination of the winner.
Now, what can Nigeria do to transmute from its ongoing barbaric electoral base into a solid gold of democratic landscape devoid of mayhem, candidate imposition, anti-democratic tendencies, assassination, ballot rape, intimidation, police collusion, bribery and killing? Can we reconstruct a democratic architecture that allows for peaceful election? Is there any way we could drain the poison killing our electoral and voting processes? Is there any way we could, in Nigeria, stop reinforcing the belief that we are all barbarians, selfish and greedy creatures?
Here, Dr. John Olukayode Fayemi is on my mind. Ekiti is on my mind. Ekiti is now entwined like a poison ivy in a tragic hubris marked by a profound and almost tangible sadness among probity-driven and idealistic-minded Nigerian democrats.
Ekiti now sits precariously at a tipping point. It is under a white-hot political trial. It now hovers between hell and damnation or both. One thing though, Ekiti will not be destroyed by the politicians angling for its soul, but by those who watch what is about to happen there and do nothing.
I have never been a fan of the outgoing governor. Peter Ayodele Fayose’s political antecedent does not inspire a thinking Nigerian. His political Wikipedia reads like a page from a book of iniquity. He is variously seen as a bombastic, disrespectful, cantankerous, arrogant and over-confident rascal who exploited both the poverty of the poor and the vulnerability of the marginalised. In Nigerian politics, he leads people like Melaye and Adeleke on the depravity meter.
Fayose realised early on that Ekiti was a state seething with hunger and unemployment. With a mixture of populism and grassroots wisdom, Fayose rice bundle became an instant hit among his people. Again, realising that unemployment was a disease, our man, acting more like a Croesus, distributed N5, 000 to anything that moved in Ekiti. These gifts or dividends of democracy were pre-emptive strikes on future looting and corrupt governance.
So Saturday 5th of May 2018 was epically a bad day for Ekiti grassroots democracy. What hit our viewing sensibility on that day could be said to be the beginning of annus horribilis for All Progressive Congress (APC) in that state and Nigeria at large. The Ekiti APC Governorship Congress mayhem was but the overture to an operatic 2019 general election of future turbulence, pain, killing and mini civil wars across Nigeria. That mass ballot box rage is like the black raven in Edgar Allan Poe – a deadly harbinger of the kind of bloodbath that will darken Ekiti landscape in October 2018 and Nigeria come 2019.
Dr. John Olukayode Fayemi’s body language signposts so many anxieties: this guy is a glory seeker, desperate, stubborn, over-ambitious, proud, snobbish and drunk on the conviction that he must win Ekiti this time – by any means possible. There is no clearer articulation today of what to come tomorrow than Fayemi’s recent grandiloquent statement that he would use the Army and Police in a scorch earth operation to return to his old lair of Ekiti State House. Again, there is no clearer evidence of what to come tomorrow than Fayemi’s vengeful, over-bloated ego and his dark desire to shame and eventually jail Ayodele Fayose and wipe out his legacy in his private fiefdom of Ekiti.
In western democracy, political actors live by the purity of its tenets. That is, you do not buy votes by distributing rice and money. In Africa, we operate a deviant mutation of democracy that is reflecting a sub-narrative of why PDP, a nest of thieves, looters, killers, assassins, greed-addicted cabal, vision-killers, stagnating forces, impostors, ritualists and blood suckers could all combined to overwhelm Ekiti with emergency stomach infrastructure and conquered and reclaimed the soul of its Esaus through its archangel called, Ayo Fayose.
On Saturday 12 May 2018, Fayemi won the Ekiti APC Governorship Congress. He polled 941 votes. His closest rival, Segun Oni managed 481. There was humility and contrition in his acceptance speech. He has since taken on the role of a hell-raiser. What then are the Fayemian grand gestures to the people of Ekiti? If a Fayose could ephemeralised basic state infrastructure and turned it on its head and linked it with the hungry stomach of his people, and in the process, harvested their votes, what then would Fayemi give to the people of the state to make them do a U-turn and clamour for him?
Or is Fayemi ready to deploy, arguably, the most benighted enablers – state collusion, money and thugs – for his electoral success? Is Fayemi’s Ekiti fantasy becoming the truest symbol of the sleazy truth about how politics really operates in Nigeria? What does he want to prove by his desire to govern Ekiti state again? If Fayose rigged himself in, is Fayemi now going to overcome all the odds planted around Ekiti by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by going for a brutalising, nasty and bloody encounter with Fayose’s clone, Eleka, in his private fiefdom?
Today, Fayemi’s natural habitat should be that totemic height of educated decorum, honour, integrity, detachment and accountability so often associated with his name. The question is, why is this fascination with govermentality? Why this fanatical embrace of do-or-die passion to rule Ekiti again? His ongoing self-harming tendency to slide into the flammable politics of Ekiti, a state that is iconically tainted with head-banging Fayose zealots, thugs, outlaw, radicalism, mayhem and rascality should be reconsidered. Put it this way, Fayose is looking for a battle with Fayemi through his anointed proxy, his deputy governor, Kolapo Olusola, aka Eleka, to sustain the crude narrative of the success of stomach infrastructures and also prove to the world that his talisman still works its potency in the hungry stomachs of the poor and the vulnerable of Ekiti kete.