By Ola Ajayi
Ekiti State Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, weekend, said a large movement was the only antidote that could stem the tide of electoral malpractices which have rubbished our hard-won democracy.
Reflecting on the controversial supplementary election that ushered in the incumbent Governor Segun Oni, he alluded that stealing oneâ€™s vote was worse than armed robbery.
What happened in Ekiti where old women and other people stood to defend their votes had opened the minds of others in the South West region.
His words: For me, rigging is the worst form of armed robbery. When somebody steals your vote, he has stolen your entire being. The challenge is that we must do all we can to build leaders in our communities.â€
He said this while delivering a lecture entitled, â€œPreventing Conflict and Deepening Democracy in Nigeria: Structural Challenges to electoral and Constitutional Legitimacyâ€, organised by the Peace and Conflict Studies Association, University of Ibadan.
Dr. Fayemi added that it would be difficult for Nigerians to get to their promised land if they fold their arms expecting any Messiah to come and cleanse the country. He advised that all citizens must rise up to defend their rights.
According to him, the main challenge of civil society and political leadership therefore is to reconnect democratic choices with people’s day-to-day experience and to extend democratic principles to everyday situations in citizensâ€™ communities and constituencies.
â€œAs Nigeria drifts down to the depth of increasing violent conflict, there is a need to move away from current disappointment and ask if anything could really have been different, given the origins of the current civilian ruleâ€, he stated.
Many of the internal contradictions of the Nigerian State, he noted, have been sharpened to a point that the bare bones are now visible. The failure to address the nationality question in an inclusive manner is evident in the varied responses across the country to conflicts over identity, nationality, self determination and autonomyâ€, Fayemi said.
He said: â€œPolitical parties are full of inadequacies that can not address the challenges posed in our current civilian rule. But we can start with electoral reform by starting a large movement as a first step in a comprehensive electoral reform. That was displayed in Ekiti and can be replicated throughout Nigeria.
â€œWe all have a role to play in it. The society can get better if we all become citizens, claiming our rights, not mere subjects. There is room for cautious optimism if we organise resistance to current impunity and continue to speak truth to power, but only if we see elections as part of a wider struggle to address problems of militarism, accountability and entrenchment of the rule of law, not as an end in itselfâ€, he stated.