The drama in Ekiti ahead of the governorship election in that Southwest State, has made for interesting reading and viewing.
A rustic State tucked in the heart of the Yoruba race, Ekiti often morphs into a theater of war at election time. And yes, popcorns will be in order until Monday.
At the core of all the drama is the lust for power and the extent to which politicians can go to grab power. The main protagonists in the Ekiti election battle are incumbent Governor Ayodele Fayose, PDP candidate Kolapo Olusola-Eleka and APC candidate Kayode Fayemi.
For obvious reasons, Fayose is backing Eleka to succeed him. Fayemi who was unseated by Fayose in 2014, has returned to complete his second term of 8 years. And incumbent deputy governor Eleka is the proverbial puppet who will only go where the puppeteer says he should go. Eleka is in this whole battle to do what Fayose commands and nothing more. He is not allowed a mind of his own. If you thought Fayose's name was on the ballot in this election, that's because it is, through Eleka.
Fayemi still feels that he was unjustly ejected from Ekiti government house in 2014 by Senator Musiliu Obanikoro (who was then Minister of State for defense), former President Goodluck Jonathan, Fayose and a battalion of soldiers--never mind that Fayemi hurriedly conceded victory by putting a phone call across to Fayose as soon as it was clear he had been flogged in all 16 local governments of Ekiti.
There was that recorded phone conversation after the election in which Fayose and Obanikoro were heard barking rigging instructions to soldiers and a group of security personnel. Both men said the recording was a fake. According to reports at the time, the PDP flooded Ekiti with a plane load of cash, soldiers and stomach infrastructure to ‘steal’ the election from incumbent Governor Fayemi and his APC.
APC leaders were placed under house arrest and hounded; and Fayemi famously had an altercation with a police boss on an Ekiti street during the 2014 election.
It is little wonder that as Fayemi returns to fight Fayose again, there have been talks of APC and President Buhari flooding Ekiti with cash, soldiers, 33,000 police officers and stomach infrastructure. Some APC faithful say this is payback time for Fayose and the PDP. They say they want Fayose to have a taste of his 2014 medicine. It is little wonder that a governorship election involving just one State in the federation, has become a battleground and an avenue to heat up the entire polity.
There is another interesting story that says Obanikoro who allegedly teamed up with Fayose to rig the 2014 vote, is now in Fayemi’s camp with orders to deal with old friend Fayose. Obanikoro has since defected to the APC from the PDP.
I have followed the Ekiti election keenly and it’s been all about accusations, finger pointing, insults and more insults. The two major candidates or political parties have been rather quiet on what they intend to do for voters should they win. There’s not been coherent policy proposals from the PDP or APC. It’s been all about grabbing power just for the sake of it. It’s been about exchanging blows, gunshots, teargas canisters and a governor breaking down in tears because he says he was physically attacked. There's been so much propaganda and little substance from Ekiti. It's been all sabre-rattling out there in Ekiti. Politicians who promise nothing before election are more likely to offer nothing after election.
To show how much respect the two major candidates have for voters, they shunned a pre-election debate put together by the media and civil society organisations.
Ekiti will have a new governor on Sunday, July 15, 2018. What no one can guarantee at the moment is whether Ekiti would begin to enjoy the dividends of democracy based off the values and manifestoes of either Eleka or Fayemi. Once again in a Nigerian election, voters have been handed the shortest end of the stick.