By Muyiwa Adetiba
If you asked many people to mention the person Fayemi contested against in last Saturday’s election, the name that would most likely come up would be Fayose. Many of us would be hard put to remember that the contest was really between Dr Kayode Fayemi and one Professor Olusola Eleka, Fayose’s Deputy Governor. So dominant was Fayose that the real contestant became a mere footage, an addendum. It is one thing to nominate a successor.
Most politicians do. At least in Africa. Or to campaign, even vigorously for your choice. Many politicians would do that as well. Or to promise on his behalf, that your choice would ensure continuity. Some politicians would go that far especially if they think they have had successful tenures. It is another thing entirely to subsume your nominee’s campaign. That is hardly done. It is even worse when you are feisty and combative while your nominee seems nondescript and unassertive. That was what Fayose did to Eleka’s campaign.
So it turned out to be a fight between Fayemi and Fayose, two old foes. One a wily, impetuous man who shoots from the hip and rides rough shod on real or perceived enemies. The other, an astute, soft spoken man who weighs his words and appears to pick his fights. A contest between one who is conscious of the antecedence and legacy of his Ekiti lineage and another who wants to project a weirdly different Ekiti image of petulance and aggression.
If Professor Eleka appeared in the picture at all, it was in the silhouette. His personality was not defined for all to see. His socio/economic policies were not presented to the voting public. He projected an image of a diffident, timid man who could not hold his own. A man in the shadows; a proxy; a stooge.
The whole campaign took the hue of 2014 when he was Fayose’s running mate. Perhaps that is what he still is. Maybe it was Fayose’s definition of a third term. It was becoming clear from the complexion of the campaigns and the actions of Fayose, including the last gasp theatrics, that he would have claimed full credit had Eleka been successful at the polls. Most ex-Governors operate in the shadows through remote control. Fayose would have operated in the open with every post-election decision bearing his imprint. I am not sure it was clear to the Ekiti voters that they were indirectly voting for Fayose’s third term bid. A feat he almost pulled off judging from how close the final votes were.
That the result in the end became too close to call, that the outcome represented the thinking and expectations of the independent monitors, shows, to me at least, that it was reasonably credible and fair. Secondly, that all the other political parties could not collectively muster ten thousand votes, shows the dominance of APC and PDP in our polity. And shows also, that the so called coalition of 37 parties is nothing but a membership drive for PDP and that the country is slowly, but unfortunately, inching towards a two party state. Unfortunate because both parties are hardly distinguishable from each other in terms of ideology, economic thrust, character and even personnel.
Curiously, the man Fayemi, who couldn’t win a single Local Government as a sitting Governor, was able to win about 13 Local Governments last week. It is either the people of Ekiti realised belatedly that Fayemi was a better leader after all and turned around to embrace his second coming, or that this election was massively rigged in his favour or that the election of four years ago was massively rigged against him. If the first of the last two scenarios is the case, then he had the decency to ‘give’ Fayose the State capital and his Local Government.
And if the latter, he was by being denied his own ward even as an incumbent, deliberately, cruelly stripped naked and humiliated. In which case, with the knife in his hand this time around, and the Federal might at his behest, he must have shown some class by not reciprocating in full measure. Finally, Fayemi conceded defeat within 48 hours despite alleged irregularities and started the hand-over process. Neither Fayose nor Eleka has reciprocated that noble gesture yet. The difference in the personalities is 7up clear.
Many critics said the election was over policed. If that served to give the electorate a sense of security as evidenced in the large turn-out, then it was a good thing. But if it served to intimidate or harass opposition, then it should be condemned. The fact that PDP did the same thing four years ago notwithstanding.
Then we come to the vexed issue of vote inducement through money. As much as I condemn the parties for attempting to, and succeeding in buying votes, I blame those who were willing to sell their birth rights for a mess of porridge as it were. I do not know whether it is the level of poverty or the level of cynicism in the rank and file that is responsible for this. Politicians are as notorious for not fulfilling their electoral promises as they are for lining their pockets.
So one can understand those who think the best time to take as much as they can from politicians is when they are canvasing for votes. Unfortunately, this only encourages them to steal more so they can offer more for votes. For as long as the highest bidder gets our nod, then performance would no longer be the yardstick for electing political office holders. We will all be worse off for it.
Finally, I do not know why Fayemi chose to contest again. I thought he should have moved on. Like Oprah Winfrey once said, there are many ways to serve the people outside of politics. In his case, I thought he could have done better with the solid mineral portfolio. It is a chaotic and an untapped goldmine as it is.
But maybe like Obasanjo, there was something he forgot in Ado-Ekiti that he wanted back so badly. He dropped a few notches by this decision to contest from the pedestal I held him. Be that as it may, I am glad that Fayose will soon stop speaking for the Ekiti people. His notion of politics belittles and embarrasses Ekitiland. His utterances and behaviour do not represent the best of Ekiti people or even the Yoruba people at large. Courtesy and respect for elders are some of the things that depict us. These qualities are alien to Fayose. We are essentially ‘Omoluabis.’