Ekiti 2022: Need for power shift to the southern epicenter
Bar all odds, eligible voters – old and new – will soon file out again to elect a new governor for Ekiti State after the incumbent, Dr Kayode Fayemi, must have served out his constitutionally permissible term in office. It is going to be an important exercise because for organic development and inclusive growth to happen in the state, the man in the saddle must have the intellectual wherewithal and experiential knowledge to drive the state on a sustainable developmental pathway.
Against the foregoing, at the last check, the political temperature of the state is rising by the day as the atmosphere is getting turbocharged with a growing list of all kinds of governorship aspirants – pretenders and contenders – all chorusing they are the best fit to take over the baton of leadership from Dr Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in 2022. It’s not yet time to assess their capacity and capability for the onerous task ahead.
First thing first. Based on my impassioned observation, there are two broad tendencies across the political firmament of the state at the moment: those who want a change of government and political party – the PDP – and those who want continuity per the APC, which is the ruling party in the state.
There’s, however, another tendency that’s beginning to gather momentum and it’s premised on the evergreen Omoluabi ethos of fairness, justice, equity and inclusion. And this tendency is about the need for gubernatorial power to shift to Ekiti South in 2022! Ekiti people are known for what is just, fair and inclusive. It is expected of them, therefore, to live up to these ideals in choosing a new governor in the forthcoming election.
By the way, some bit of historical introspection will be relevant to the crux of our intervention here. Ekiti State was created in 1996 by the military administration of the late General Sani Abacha. Nigeria returned to the path of civil rule or what some analysts call democracy in 1999. From 1999 till date, the country has practised twenty-three years of unbroken and uninterrupted democratic government.
By implication, Ekiti State, being one of the subsets of Nigeria, has also practised twenty-three years of civilian rule, unbroken. In all of these years, gubernatorial power, which is the highest executive power at the state level, has only been rotating between Ekiti Central and Ekiti North senatorial districts to the utter and wicked exclusion of Ekiti South, which accommodates the second biggest city in the state – Ikere- Yet, the state is politically delineated into three senatorial districts – Ekiti North, Ekiti Central and Ekiti South. Pray to tell, what unpardonable sin has Ekiti South committed all through these years to deny its people the topmost political position in the state?
At this critical juncture, it is pertinent to recall here that the agitation for power shift from Ekiti Central in 2007 was what led to the emergence of Governors Segun Oni of the PDP and later Kayode Fayemi of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) respectively. Before the ascension to power of the duo, Otunba Niyi Adebayo from Ekiti Central and Ayodele Fayose, also from Ekiti Central, had monopolized the governance architecture of the state until power shift agitators began to amplify the struggle which eventually culminated in the two dominant parties then -PDP and APC – ceding their gubernatorial tickets to aspirants from Ekiti North.
It’s, however, surprising today that the major beneficiaries of power rotation in the years past are the strongest advocates against the same power shift today because of their selfish and unholy interests to perpetuate power in one or two zones to the detriment of Ekiti South. But does anyone know why these anti-power shift campaigners are hell-bent on truncating the chances of Ekiti South come 2022? Their principal point is that Ekiti State is a homogenous state and therefore anyone can aspire to govern it regardless of where he or she is coming from. Those who hold onto this fallacious point are like the British weather; they change at will, are unreliable and thus do not deserve to be taken seriously by any sensible and rational person. They are no witnesses of truth and equity.
First off, Ekiti State is not culturally homogenous, language-wise, as some unsuspecting members of the public are being misled to believe so. While there is the general Ekiti language, there are communities and ancestral enclaves in the state who have their age-long dialects and cultural idiosyncrasies distinct and asymmetrical to the general Ekiti cultural DNA. This alone is valid enough to puncture the perennially sold lie that Ekiti is culturally homogenous.
Let’s even agree for the sake of commonality in a culture that Ekiti is the same, what about political delineation? There is a reason Ekiti is politically delineated into three political zones. It is for administrative convenience and inclusion. If I may ask: why has no one from Ekiti Central or North come to Ekiti South to be elected as a senator since they claim Ekiti is homogenous and vice-versa? I am yet to see someone from Ekiti South representing a Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives in either Ekiti North or Central! Where then is the talk of homogeneity coming from?
Yes, power is not served a la carte or given on a silver plate. That is a given. Those who seek power must be able and willing to break all the barriers they may encounter in their quest to win. In doing all of this, however, the need to emplace fairness and equity in the political equation of the state regarding the distribution of power is as essential as those who seek justice in the court of law rather than resort to self-help.
Just like it is morally fair and politically expedient for presidential power to shift to the southern part of the country come 2023 as currently being canvassed by the southern governors’ forum, it is also morally imperative to allow power to shift to the southern part of Ekiti State in the forthcoming governorship election. One can only hope Governor Fayemi, a one-time beneficiary of zoning, will prevail on his party members and allow the gubernatorial slot ceded to Ekiti South. Once the APC shows the way in this regard, PDP will have no option than to follow suit. Anything short of this is akin to excising Ekiti South out of the tripod stand that makes up the state.
Kadri wrote from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.