Four years ago, there was jubilation in Aso Rock over the outcome of the governorship election in Ekiti state. Four years after, there is jubilation in Aso Rock over the outcome of another governorship election. It was PDP that celebrated in 2014; it is now the turn of APC.
The victory of Kayode Fayemi couldn’t have come at a better time for the ruling APC. With the PDP regrouping for the 2019 general election, a win in Ekiti would have put a spring in their steps and a spanner in the works of APC.
Here are the five things to remember about the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti.
1. FEDERAL MIGHT — AGAIN
The 2014 and 2018 elections had a lot of things in common and one of these is the influence of the party controlling the centre. While in control of government at federal level, PDP deployed tools that helped Ayodele Fayose to defeat Fayemi. Human and material resources were not lacking. APC big guns were blocked from entering the state on election eve.
Fast forward to four years later. The APC government also gave massive support to Fayemi. Buhari conveyed meetings at Aso Rock and gave his party charge to deliver Ekiti. He also led a delegation to the state to campaign for his former minister. PDP even complained that they were contesting against the security agencies.
The mega rally of the APC provided another avenue for the Ekiti governor-elect to intimidate his opponents. Ministers, governors, senators, house of reps members and influential personalities stormed the rally.
Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi state, promised to be in Ekiti during the election. It’s unclear if he fulfilled the promise.
The power of incumbency at the state level could not save Fayose and his candidate.
2. CASH FOR VOTES
It’s no news that the two leading parties used money to sway votes in their favour. Although agents and supporters of PDP and APC tried to conceal the act initially, reports later spread across town. People were given between N3,000 and N5,000 in exchange of their votes.
“Stomach infrastructure” was one of the reasons given for the loss of Fayemi in the last election. People said while Fayemi was investing in infrastructure, Fayose focused on the people’s stomach. This time around the APC matched the PDP naira for naira, kobo for kobo. Bags of rice, sachets of salt were in circulation.
It was so brazen that when after casting his ballot at the polling unit 1, St. David Primary School, Afao, Fayose told journalists about it.
“What they call see and buy money politics is thriving everywhere (in Ekiti) with the police and civil defence giving signs to people sharing the money so that they can pay the voters,” he had said.
Shortly after he said that, a voter in Ikere confessed to TheCable that he got N3,000 from the PDP for voting.
In Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, police arrested some persons distributing money for votes.
This is a major highlight of every election in Nigeria, though.
3. ‘ONDO EXPERIENCE’
In 2016, when the APC defeated PDP in a governorship election just like it has done in Ekiti, Fayemi, then a member of the federal cabinet, played a major role. He was on ground all through the election period, strategising and looking out for the way to deliver Ondo for the ruling party.
Before 2016, Ondo had been under the control of the opposition for over 12 years. The last time it belonged to a political bloc of the south-west was the era of the late Adebayo Adefarati. All attempts to bring the state into the mainstream fold in the region were counterproductive.
But it took the intervention of Fayemi and some APC chieftains to deliver Ondo for the APC. Being a neighbouring state with Ekiti and sharing a lot of things in common, Fayemi would have mastered the art knowing that it would be useful for him.
4. OLUSOLA’S (LACK OF) POLITICAL CLOUT
Being a former governor and minister, Fayemi appears well experienced than his opponent. The perception that his candidacy was strongly backed by the federal government posed an intimidation to his opponent, who had just Fayose.
Until his emergence as deputy governor of Ekiti, Olusola was no actor on the political stage.
However, Fayemi had governed the state between 2010 and 2014. He also served as minister of solid minerals development. Also, Fayemi, has achievements from when he had previously ruled the state, with which he campaigned, unlike Olusola who only sought to consolidate on the works of Fayose.
He was seen not to have the charisma, and the boldness to make and stand by his own decisions. To some, this was evident in most of the campaign billboards screaming ‘continuity’ where the picture of Fayose appeared bolder than that of Olusola, the candidate.
The video released on the election eve also did damage to the PDP candidate. Fayose is known for his hardline stance on a wide range of issues. Although a practising Christian, clutching a Bible few hours to election and asking your preferred successor to kneel before you indirectly sent signal to a lot of people.
The Fayose people know is not an ordained pastor. He could have organised prayers for his deputy but asking him to kneel down while he laid his hand on the governorship hopeful left tongues wagging. If that move was meant to attract voters, it did exactly the opposite.
5. WELFARE OF WORKERS
Presently, civil servants in Ekiti are being owed for at least six months. Many live from hand to mouth and repeated assurances did not end the way they thought. In a state where many depend on salaries, no excuse, not even the construction of the first of its kind bridge in Nigeria – apologies for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan – would make the people stand on your side.
The non-payment of workers salaries worked against the candidacy of Olusola. A hungry man is an angry man. Some who would ordinarily have thumbed it for Olusola did otherwise when they get to their polling units.
Afterall, Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the APC, told Ekiti people that Fayemi would clear the backlog. Yes, people find it difficult to trust politicians but they might have just decided to try someone else.