Intrigues, cash bazaar that defined Ekiti governorship poll
For a long time to come, last Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State will remain a reference point on the complex mix of politics and practice of democracy in a highly impoverished society.
Apart from few skirmishes in some polling units, the election, which was adjudged free and fair by local and international observers, was characterized by intrigues and inducement, otherwise referred to as “mobilisation” of voters by the two major contending political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).
While, the PDP adopted what analysts called “pre-paid” method of mobilisation, the APC got better result with its “see and buy” model of inducement. Indeed, it was open secret that the outgoing governor, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, did not only appeal to the electorate to vote for the candidate of his party, Prof Kolapo Olusola, but also credited the bank accounts of civil servants and pensioners with N3, 000 to mobilize them to vote for Olusola.
Also, about 10,000 applicants for the 2,000 jobs he promised at the eve of election were said to have also received alert of N1, 500 each. Besides, a day before, that is Friday afternoon, voters with Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), were given N4, 000 each in all the 177 wards in the state to sway vote for the PDP candidate.The old governor’s office in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, was turned into a collection centre for those in Ward 9 and 10, while similar activity took place in the Government House throughout the same day.
However, those doling out the cash were not doing it without writing down the collector’s names and PVC numbers. It was gathered that most electorate that earlier collected money from the PDP turned round to collect N5, 000 from APC agents, after showing evidence of having voted for the party’s candidate.Even with an average of five policemen at each polling unit, voters were not disturbed from showing their thumb-printed ballot papers to party agents, who gave instant reward for the vote.
Bemoaning the level of inducement, the Accord Party candidate, Mr. Abiodun Aluko, said he was also a beneficiary of the government inducement adding, “Funny enough, I am a pensioner and I received an alert to go and vote for the PDP. My wife is also a pensioner and she received an alert from the state government to go and vote for the PDP.
“They have agents: APC is distributing N5, 000 and PDP is distributing N4, 000 right now on this field. We are making a mockery of democracy.”Aluko disclosed that when he received the alert, “I thought they have reduced my pension to N3, 000 and I have to call the pension office, only to be told that the money was a mobilisation from the governor to vote for the PDP.”
Aluko, who is a former deputy governor of the state, cast his vote at St John’s Anglican Primary School, Unit 1, Ward 9, Ikere Ekiti, Ikere Local Council. He lamented that whoever voted for any party, because of N4, 000 or N5, 000 had sold his or her conscience and should be prepared for the consequences in the next four years.He said: “And, when they have sold their conscience, whatever happens in the next four years, to whoever is the winner, that is his headache. So, you don’t have a right to complain that the government has not performed, because you have collected your own dividend upfront.
“The government can do whatever it likes and when you approach it, it will say, but I paid for your services; did I not pay you on Election Day? That is your own share of the loot, you take N4, 000 and the government will take back N4b.”A chieftain of the PDP, who pleaded for anonymity said his party adopted “pre-paid” method which some party chieftains kicked against, because of the fear that the APC might use the federal might to stop their agents from sharing money at the polling units.
“Most voters that collected money from us voted for the APC to collect their N5, 000. When I approached one of them at Okesa polling unit 4 she said, ‘would the money she received from government made up for the agony of not receiving salary in the last eight months?”But, beyond the allegation of intimidation, some observers had predicted that the PDP would lose the election. They hinged their prediction on the inability of Fayose to separate politics from governance and its dire consequences on the state in the last four years. To them, the result of the election was a verdict on Fayose’s performance.
They cited the manner he stopped school children in the state from benefitting from the Home grown school feeding programme of the Federal Government for political considerations. The withdrawal of computers given to secondary school students during Fayemi’s first term in office, cancellation of free education and introduction of levies at all schools, including private nursery schools in the state were part of his alleged “sins” that cost his party the election.
However, the story of the second coming of Fayemi to Ekiti State Government House could be likened to the Biblical parable of a rejected stone that later became the pillar of the house. Fayemi stormed Ekiti like hurricane and became a game changer; right from the way he won the primary of APC to winning the governorship election.His victory seems to have been made possible by Fayose perceived failure to surpass his track records in infrastructural development, income generation, transparency in governance to attract foreign and local development partners, free education, social Welfare scheme and ability to spread development around the 132 communities of the state.
Besides, a strong alliance among PDP defectors, other parties and APC, backed up by huge support from the Federal Government made Fayose and his political godson, Prof. Olusola a mincemeat. Also, the strong desire of the Southwest leader of the APC to get Ekiti into their fold for the purpose of easy implementation of regional integration agenda worked in Fayemi’s favour.
Even at that, Fayose’s critics argued that he won election in 2014, because of his “stomach infrastructure agenda.” In fact, a Department of Stomach Infrastructure was created and a Special Adviser was appointed to head it, but little was heard of that department.The outgoing governor’s inability to clear the backlog of salaries owed civil servants and teachers that had always been supporting him became his albatross. Some of them that felt being monitored by Fayose’s loyalists did not turn up at the polling centres.
A teacher told The Guardian during the election that he decided not to vote to avoid intimidation. He said: “Fayose disappointed us. He promised us regular payment of salary and allowances, but he reneged. My wife is also a teacher and both of us have not received salary this year. But, he has money to build bridge on a dry land and to play politics.”
The mass movement of some party leaders from the PDP on account of the manner, he allegedly imposed Prof Olusola on them was another reason Fayose was visited with a disappointing outcome of the election. Fayose was quoted to have assured his core loyalists that he would leave the Government House along with his deputy in October 15, this year. But, by last year, he made a u-turn and declared the deputy governor his preferred candidate. That decision forced PDP stalwarts like Prince Dayo Adeyeye, his two-term Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, Barrister Owoseni Ajayi, Chief Segun Akinwunmi, Senator Fatimah Raji Rasaki, Ambassador Dare Bejide and many others, to dump the PDP and work against Fayose.
Fayose was also accused of dominating the campaign, while the voice of Olusola remained faint during the campaigns. This supported the views of Ekiti people that Olusola was a political neophyte that would be under perpetual control of Fayose.Most observers in the state had predicted that PDP would win election in only three local councils out of 16, namely Ado Ekiti, Ikere, and Efon Alaye, because those are the areas he was alleged to have concentrated development. But, that was not to be, because he won Emure local council with 7,121, while APC polled 7,048 votes.
Yet, the closeness of figures declared by the INEC after the election proved that Fayose is a good fighter that gave APC and its huge Federal Government support a run for their money.The Retuning Officer, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof Abel Idowu Olayinka, declared that Fayemi polled 197,459 votes to beat Prof Olusola, who got 178,121 votes. With the result, APC won in 12 local councils, while PDP won the remaining four. The heart-breaking results saw the agents of both parties panting, while the counting lasted.
Details of the results in other local councils include, in Ilejemeje APC-4,156, PDP-3,937; Irepodun/Ifelodun APC-13,869, PDP-11,456; Ido OSI APC-12,342, PDP-11,145; Oye APC-14,995, PDP-11,071; Efon Alaye APC-5,028, PDP-5,192; Moba APC- 11,837, PDP- 8,520; Ijero APC-14,192, PDP-11,077; Gboyin APC – 11,498, PDP- 8,027; Emure APC – 7,048, PDP- 7,121; Ikere APC- 11,515, PDP- 17,183;Ekiti West APC- 12,648, PDP- 10,137 Ikole APC- 14,522, PDP- 13,961; Ise/Orun APC- 11,908, PDP- 6,297; Ekiti East APC- 12,778, PDP- 11,564, Ekiti Southwest APC- 11,015 PDP- 8,423; and Ado APC- 28,111, PDP- 32,810.Although, APC supporters have rolled out drums since Sunday morning, when the result was announced, PDP has indicated its willingness to challenge the result of the election in the tribunal. With that attention would now shift to the courts for the final resolution of the heated Ekiti governorship election.