Ekiti election: Test for our democracy
The Ekiti State governorship election is around the corner and all eyes from far and wide are on the state because of its cruciality to determining the level of the people`s preparedness for the 2019 general elections. Its importance to the permutations of the ruling parties at the federal and state levels respectively cannot be overemphasized. Presently, Ekiti is the only state in the South West that is not under the control of the (APC) and it is the only state that the main opposition party is holding on to and hoping to build on in its quest to have a major breakthrough into the region. Consequently, you will agree with me that it is going to be an interesting contest in all ramifications. The situation is further embroidered with curious expectations as a result of the caliber and personalities of the candidates that are been thrown into the contest. The popularity, political acumen and the wherewithal at the disposal of these candidates and their party platforms have made it look very unpredictable.
However, the final determining factor as to how the contest will play out lies in the people (electorates). At this juncture, it would be paramount to state without fear of contradiction that, Ekiti people are well grounded in political activities (both practically and theoretically). They are people that know their onions; they know their rights from wrongs; they are versatile and are not pushovers when it comes to the political calculations of the South West in particular and Nigeria in general. The electorates have minds of their own and they cannot be likened to some others that rely on instructions from god-fathers and money-bags before taking political decisions. Even the uneducated and less privileged among them are `politically sound.’ The people are so special and important because of their political consciousness and uniqueness. All these qualities will be put to test on Saturday 14th instant at the polls.
In view of the aforementioned, I wish to use this medium to call on well-meaning Ekiti sons and daughters to do everything humanly possible to protect their political uniqueness. All the candidates vying for the position of governor (and their deputies) are bonafide indigenes of the state; you know them so well and do not need outsiders` to give you overview about their character and capacity to deliver on their promises; so, the ball is in your court to chose the best among them to take the state to the next level. You are to shun any act of manipulation or lawlessness from any quarters that the enemies of the states are waiting to capitalise on and cause confusion among the people. You have good names, reputations and dignities to protect; it is time to reiterate to the world that you are not just a state of `academic professors` but also of political authorities. You have always proven to be the `pride of democracy` in South West (in particular) and in Nigeria (in general) and, it is time to remain undaunted and make the region and country proud again. Though, you are temporary divided along political lines, you remain the same articulate and vibrant `Ekiti Ketes`. Thus, it is instructive to note that coming together to keep the beautiful flag of Ekiti flying to the admirations of all and sundry after the election is a task that must be accomplished.
At this juncture, I would wish to call on all political parties and their supporters with interest in the Ekiti election to also note that all eyes are on them. They are expected to play by the rules and avoid any act that could lead to discreditability of the exercise. Presently, the social media is flooded with the news that security operatives have besieged the states to prevent a particular party from holding their rally and even assaulted the governor in the process. In as much as the report is still sketchy and the veracity has not been confirmed, I do not want to believe that such act could still be carried out in the Nigeria of today in spite of all the negativities that is currently tainting the image of the country.
It is even disheartening to read some unreasonable, unfounded and unpatriotic comments that `what goes round comes around` because similar act was carried out in 2014 by the then ruling party. The question is, are we progressing or retrogressing as a country? Does it mean that at this age and time, some of us still believe that two wrongs can make a right? If the answer is in the affirmative and it is supported by majority of the people, then I think we should be considering looking beyond democracy as a suitable government for our country. In view of this fact, I am using this medium to call on the government to do the needful to ensure that the aims and essentials of democracy are not dragged in the mud as a result of desperation of some disgruntled elements to discredit the exercise in Ekiti. Democratic election is a game of numbers where majority votes carry the day; thus the people should be given a level playing ground to exercise their fundamental obligations.
Any other `backyard means` to arm-twist the people and steal their `right to decide` is not acceptable and should not be condoned by right thinking people and lovers of democracy. I am also using this medium to call on the international community to do the needful to protect democracy. If by now, we cannot comport ourselves and make the environment conducive for the conduct of a `state`s gubernatorial election,` one then wonders what awaits us in 2019 in the countdown to the general elections.
Apropos to the aforementioned, it is instructive for all and sundry, regardless of political affiliations to rise up and say `NO` to any act capable of truncating our democracy. If the selfish and desperate politicians are not bothered about `us`, it is high time we should be bothered about `ourselves` and take our destinies in our hands. This is time when the electorates should take up their responsibilities as the major determinants of outcome of elections through the legitimate means of one man, one vote. Any other means that will make our votes not to count should be resisted by every lawful means possible. All residence of the state are enjoined to go about their lawful duties without fear of intimidation from any quarters. There is no two ways to exercising your right to decide who takes over from the incumbent governor than to come out in your large numbers on Saturday to cast your votes. However, you must shun all acts capable of instigating violence before, during and after the exercise to remain true to your rating as the `most politically conscious people of the South West.`
To all the security operatives that will be involve in the exercise, my advice is for you to discharge your duty of maintaining law and order apolitically. Do not bring your profession into disrepute by allowing politicians to use you for their selfish interests. Remember, that you are under oath to serve the country to the best of the ethics of your profession; please remain steadfast.
Also, personnel of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are also advised to remain an unbiased umpire in the conduct of the election. It is your responsibility to make the exercise, free, fair and credible; please get it right.Hopefully, we shall all be part of the success story of Ekiti.
Oise-Oghaede, public policy analyst, lives in Suru-lere, Lagos.