*Outgoing Gov Fayemi in the eyes of the people
*The roadmap to Osun election, by Ben Obi, presidential advisor
By Clifford Ndujihe & Dapo Akinrefon
The Ekiti governorship election may have come and gone with the winner still basking in the euphoria of victory and the losers taking stock but the lessons remain.
The peaceful and seamless conduct of the poll raises the hope that the Osun State gubernatorial election scheduled for August 9 and the 2015 elections would be credible, if useful lessons learnt from the exercise were utilised.
Mr Ayodele Fayose, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), won the election, beating the incumbent and the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Governor Kayode Fayemi, among others.
Leading contenders for the Ekiti election bickered so intensely to the extent that violence hallmarked the campaigns. Indeed, Ekiti Commissioner of Police, Felix Uyanna, at a stakeholders’ forum, said the APC, PDP and LP were the parties fomenting trouble and marshaled out plans to check them during the election.
Following accusations and counter-accusations among the candidates, allegations of bias against the police and the INEC as well as the pedigree of Ekiti electorate in protesting rigged polls, there was anxiety that the bubble might burst.
However, to the contrary, nothing untoward happened. Ekiti witnessed a free and fair and credible election with the chief loser, Fayemi, accepting the outcome and congratulating the winner. Thus, for the first time in a long while, the election petition tribunal may be jobless after a keenly contested governorship election.
In essence, if the INEC is unbiased, the security agencies did their work diligently, voters refuse to be intimidated as they vote and protect their votes and politicians shun the do-or-die attitude and embrace politics without bitterness like Fayemi did, our future polls will violence-free and credible as we witnessed in Ekiti.
We must make Osun poll credible –Ben Obi
Commenting on the Ekiti election, Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, urged stakeholders to also make the August governorship election in Osun rancour-free and credible.
Obi conducted a stakeholders’ workshop in Ekiti three weeks to the poll where the candidates and other stakeholders including INEC and the police promised to conduct a credible election. He earlier conducted similar workshops in Edo, Ondo and Anambra and the elections in these states were peaceful.
Asked if he would repeat the workshop in Osun, he told Sunday Vanguard on phone that all hands must be on deck to make our elections violence-free. He disclosed that he has started speaking with the stakeholders in Osun to make the poll better than that of Ekiti.
A peep into how the Ekiti election was conducted reveals a process that can be copied and replicated.
Prior the election, tension was high in the course of the electioneering campaigns.
The frontline political parties – APC, PDP and LP — engaged in accusations and counter-accusations over attacks on their supporters.
However, on election day, not one gun shot was fired. The heavy security presence sent shivers down the spines of trouble makers.
Those in the business of fomenting ? trouble found it difficult to carry out their trade as the fear of soldiers was the beginning of wisdom.
On the day of the election, vehicles were frisked at every road block mounted by security operatives.
Trekking to vote
Due to the long distance to respective polling units, voters had to take long walks to cast their votes. Movement restriction caused voters to hang around polling units to monitor INEC officials and adhoc staff, who, before now, had been perceived to be prone to being compromised during elections.
Ballot boxes were also closely monitored by youths who were determined to “protect their votes”.
Mood of the people before and after
Many people did envisage that the outcome of the election would go the way it went.
It was expected that performance would count for Fayemi, the incumbent and APC candidate, but it was not to be.
Indeed, 24 hours to the election, many students traveled to their hometowns to engage in last-minute mobilization for their candidates.
Also the APC-led government, in an attempt to curry favour from civil servants and students, paid bursary and served promotion notice to civil servants due for promotion.
But this did not perform the magic as students and civil servants embraced the PDP candidate, Fayose.
Soon after the votes had been counted, wild jubilations erupted in each of the polling units as shouts of ‘power’, ‘up PDP’ and ‘victory for Fayose’ rented the air.
In Afao-Ekiti, the PDP candidate’s hometown, there were shouts of joy as residents poured into the streets to celebrate.
Lessons from the election
The election has shown that performance alone will not do the trick in securing victory at any elections.
Though Fayemi’s administration achieved some developmental strides, they were not enough to secure a second term for him.
Also, the outcome of the exercise further shows that people want politicians and political parties that would identify with them at the grassroots.
This informed Fayose’s choice because the lower class viewed him as ‘one of their own’.
Some analysts propound that despite their education, the people in Ekiti were not enlightened on the issues on the ground.
They hold the view that belly politics rather than issue-based politics is now playing out in areas where poverty remains the order of the day.
Large crowds, little votes
Another vital lesson to be learnt from the election is the fact that large turn out at campaign rallies does not translate to votes on the day of election.
In the course of the electioneering campaigns, the frontline political parties experienced large turn out of people, who thronged their rallies.
But the experience showed that large crowd at these rallies does no mean that supporters or admirers would cast their votes? or support a particular political party or candidate on election day.