By Owei Lakemfa
EKITI State on Friday erupted in unprecedented celebration over the Court of Appeal’s declaration of Dr Kayode Fayemi as governor.
Patriots saluted the courage of the judiciary and lovers of democracy congratulated a steadfast democrat who had to fight for three and half years to snatch from usurpers, the peoples mandate. In sharp contrast, the old order in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was full of lamentations.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Rufai Alkali wept that a stolen mandate had been retrieved. His office expressed understandable “shock” and went on to make the false claim that “Ekiti State is one of its (PDP) strongholds”. PDP National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje declared “this judgement is terrible and unfortunate…No matter what, Ekiti remains a PDP state”.
The Court had declared Fayemi of the Action Congress Of Nigeria (ACN) the elected governor having clearly won the elections. By unanimous decision, it had cancelled the rigged votes cast in Ido-Osi area. Nigerians who followed the April 25, 2009 re-run elections knew that the votes in the area were allocations to the PDP. Even the then Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo had fled the state rather than announce the rigged results.
She had claimed that her “Christian” conscience would not let her announce the false results in Odo-Osi. But after then President Umaru Yar’Adua’s agents ‘captured’ her, she was brought to the Ministry of Communication and Information where the Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili produced her before the press. Adebayo agreed to return to Ekiti State where under heavy security, she announced what the Court of Appeal has affirmed were false results.
But an unrepentant PDP is not interested in the fine details of the judgement, in justice or in the fact that the nightmare of the people is over. It is not remorseful that its agents in that state had not only rigged elections but had been responsible for the bloody, Stone Age governance the state had been subjected to since 2003. So while the Good People of our Great Nation saw in the Court of Appeal judgement the ultimate triumph of the people’s will, all the PDP leaders saw and lamented is the loss of a “stronghold”.
The statements show that the ruling party is still very much in the mould of the PDP under the Generals led by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Ahmadu Ali and their fellow travellers who view the party not as an organisation of like minds with a programme to sell to the electorate, but as a military formation that demands one hundred and one per cent loyalty with the aim of “capturing” political offices and ruling the areas they control as captured territories.
Given this mindset and their mentality that elections are a “do-or-die” affair, it is inevitable that they view power not from a governance perspective, but from the prism of sharing a booty. That was why when former Power, and later, Justice Minister, Bola Ige tried to raise some governance issues when he served the Obasanjo administration, his fellow Minister, Sunday Afolabi told him publicly that he had been invited into government only to “come and chop”.
Given this mentality of a lost territory that was theirs for the looting, the national PDP officers could neither congratulate the traumatised people of Ekiti State for their liberation nor rejoice with the legitimately victorious. But whether or not the PDP acknowledges the fact that the sun once again is on the rise in Ekiti State, it cannot blurt out its rays.
With the victory of Fayemi and the people, the PDP’s perverse experiments in Ekiti State of building democracy without democrats, having power flow from the powerful rather than the people, and substituting governance with thuggery, has failed woefully.
These bizzare experiments began in 2003 with the now seemingly repentant Governor Ayo Fayose running an administration that was rash, harsh and brash. It quickly degenerated into a police state where might was right, people were brutalised, political murders were carried out and anarchy began to replace law and order.
The unstable polity witnessed change of deputy governors and things degenerated to the point that Fayose, his then Deputy Governor, Olujimi and Speaker of the State House Of Assembly at the same time claimed to be the governor of the state!
By the 2007 elections, the PDP in Ekiti State was in tatters: it was for the opposition for the taking as it was inconceivable that under a free choice, a long suffering people, subjected to so much criminal ‘governance’ and torture would willingly vote their tormentors back to power. When the leading opposition party, the ACN presented as its candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi, a respectful and calm intellectual with a history of pro-democracy struggles, knowledge of social relations and a demonstrable commitment to good governance, it was assumed that positive change had come to the state.
But this analysis and assumption did not contend with the PDP’s level of desperation; that it was not just contented with rigging, but was intent in physically seizing the state.
The PDP situation was further compounded when the imperial Presidency rejected the winner of the gubernatorial primaries, Mr Yinka Akerele, by-passed the runner-up and imposed the colourless Segun Oni who came third, on the party. With his electoral mandate stole, Fayemi headed for the courts. Rather than declare him winner on the basis of lawful votes cast as was done in Edo State, the Court ordered fresh elections in 10 local councils.
The Yar’Adua government gave the impression that it would ensure a peaceful, free and fair contest by deploying some ten thousand policemen. But it turned out to be quite bloody as a desperate PDP physically battered the opposition, election monitors and journalists before again stealing the mandate which has now been recovered.
Unfortunately, people like Oni who robbed the electorate, wasted the state’s resources for about four years will walk away as free men and retire to a life of splendour. This is part of the Nigerian tragedy.