The Ekiti Election and A New-Old Nigerian Sociology
The people of Ekiti State went to the poll last week Saturday. The outcome of the election is still a surprise to most people. People have been asking why the incumbent, Governor Fayemi lost and the challenger Mr. Fayose won. They believe, the writer too, Dr. Fayemi was a better candidate. Alas, the vast majority of Ekiti people scored the candidates differently. At this point, it became clear that the majority of Ekiti people have different criteria for rating candidates.
In the quest of trying to understand the voting behaviour of most Ekiti people, I spoke with a friend. This friend voted for Fayose- the winner of the election. He saw in Fayose a father-figure. Even though he is in no way related to the winner, he said Fayose is like a father to him. In his opinion, Fayose is a very good man; a friend of the masses.
He saw in the incumbent, namely Dr. Fayemi a fraudster! Dr. Fayemi had taken loan in the name of the state and increased tuition fee at state university, that is University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD).
It became clear that he prefers Fayose’s populism and rejects elitism as represented by the incumbent and the looser of the Saturday’s election.
In an interview conducted by Tolu Ogunlesi, Dr. Fayemi did not deny being an elite because he holds a doctorate degree from the prestigious King’s College, University of London. But he emphasized his style of governance as people oriented.
Since last week, I have raised a lot of questions, which I think we should address together.
(i) Is being an elite a political suicide and is Fayose not an elite? (ii) What is at stake for the people of the state in Dr. Fayemi’s *confession* to being an elite while Fayose presented himself as an *ordinary* man?
Most interesting is that nobody accused Dr. Fayemi of non-performance. His Achilles’ heel is that he is perceived to be disconnected from the masses. Analysts agree that he improved the conditions of roads and education. He introduced social welfare scheme. He provided infrastructure. Permit me asking rhetorically: Are these achievements meant for animals and not the common people of Ekiti state?
Here is a twit of Fayose, the Governor-Elect on election day: *I do not speak Latin but I know *salus populi, suprema lex*; the welfare of the people is the supreme law! So shall it be with us in Ekiti*.
One might ask what Fayose meant by the welfare of the people. For his argument to be logical, he must have other means of providing welfare to the people of Ekiti, which is different from Dr. Fayemi’s understanding of welfare.
Fayose was said to hang out with young people. He visited restaurants to eat with the common people. Some even say he went to joints where young people drank ogogoro- the local gin. Based on my understanding of joints, these young people certainly drank on Fayose’s bill. Such gestures are very much appreciated among the young.
Lest we forget, Fayose was reported to have given out a bag of rice plus 2000 Naira to every interested person during campaigns. Dr. Fayemi offered rice too, but it was cooked and restricted to at least a plate not a bag!
It is clear that Fayose is the better candidate, if we go by this understanding of welfarism.
In Dr. Fayemi’s concession speech, he stated that a new sociology of the Ekiti people might have emerged. I agree with him, but I see it beyond being a new phenomenon or particularly specific to Ekiti state.
Weeks before that election, I had argued that my greatest fear is not even the Nigerian politicians but Nigerians themselves! They have a different understanding of good governance. Providing infrastructures and creating a system where citizens create wealth for themselves is very unpopular in Nigeria. They rather expect you to give them fish, but do not teach them how to fish!
However, we should not blame the populace alone. Some Head of States promoted this culture starting from the 1970s. The Ekiti election is a result directly connected to this. The new sociology, upon which the Governor-Elect clearly rode to victory in Ekiti, almost had its way in Oyo State in 2011. Despite the failures of Alao Akala, he narrowly lost the election. It must be emphatically stated that Aloa Akala got votes from human beings! Not ghosts!
I am scared of these crops of Nigerians, who do not care if you raise the standard of education! fix infrastructures and institutionalized equitable wealth sharing!
Upcoming politicians study this prevailing dynamics. Those who want power at all cost would definitely structure the style of governance to suit this expectation of money-sharing on the streets! They might forget absolutely the main purpose of governance.
The Governor-Elect promised to perform. I hope he would be able to combine governance with eating roasted corn with the masses on the street of Ekiti state and riding on motorcycles as a sign of identification with the masses as he did during electoral campaigns!
By the way, we probably need ask why Dr. Fayemi could not hang out with the masses on the street like his opponent did! Was he too proud or he did not have the luxury of time? Anyway, let us wait and see how Fayose’s tenure would advance developments in the state. Until then, I keep my fingers crossed.