The pervasive volley of violence in Ekiti State less than two months to the state’s governorship election is an indication that the people to whom sovereignty belongs, and the non-partisan organizations should look beyond politicians for solutions to the problem.
This is even more so that history has shown that the state’s politicians, like their counterparts across the nation, appear not to be ready to discard the do-or-die politics that has continually plunged the state into crisis since the 15-year-old political dispensation began.
The non-partisan organisations such as the security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the mass media and the civil society must not only do their respective jobs to ensure a peaceful, credible, free and fair election but must also collaborate to ensure same.
For the better part of this nation’s nascent democracy, which kicked off in1999, Ekiti elections, especially the 2007 governorship election, have been anything but peaceful and credible because the non-partisan organizations, but the media, have abdicated their responsibilities.
Between 1999 and now, Ekiti has been in the throes of political crises that have drawn its epithet, “Land of Honour” in the mire. Ekiti State has the inglorious history of becoming the first state to taste a state of emergency and a high rate of turn over of governor and deputy governor under the nation’s nascent democracy.
During the 2007 governorship elections, INEC behaved like an appendage of the PDP-controlled Federal Government. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, 71-year-old Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, abdicated her duty as the officer-in-charge of the election in the middle of the election for days, only to reappear to declare the candidate of the PDP, Mr. Engineer Segun Oni, as the winner of the election, in a manner that gave an impression that she was playing the script of her masters.
As has been the case during post-independence elections in the nation, the security agencies became impotent organs as innocent citizens, including journalists were assaulted, harassed and brutalized in Oye-Ekiti and other parts of the state in a free for all by political thugs.
It took the intervention of the court for the rightful owner to be declared more than two years after the election. The Ekiti people lost their illustrious citizens and aspirants, including Ayodele Daramola, Kehinde Fasuba and Tunde Omojola and million worth millions of property to the political impasse. The office of the Independent National Electoral Commission was burnt down during the electoral impasse.
The National Orientation Agency, an arm of the Federal Ministry of Information charged with political education and enlightenment, among others, lost its voice and impact as nothing was heard of the agency before, during and after the election.
The same sombre political atmosphere has again come upon the state as it prepares for the impending governorship election. Thuggery, lawlessness, wanton destruction of party property by opposition, attacks on opposition, all element of the repulsive do-or-die attitude that characterized the 2007 governorship elections and threw the state into political stalemate are now being repeated in monumental proportions.
Two citizens of the state, Foluso Ogundare and Ayo Jeje, were killed barely one month into electioneering campaign.
All the candidates in the impending governorship election are targets of attack by hoodlums with each party fingering the other as the brain behind the act. The convoy of the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the All Progressives Congress was attacked on April 7 while returning from a campaign session.
Campaign speeches and jingles are hardly issues-based as each candidate freely attacks the personalities of his opponents.
All these raging instances of crises are indications that if the people, the rightful owners of the state and the agencies charged with ensuring order and political correctness leave politicking to the politicians, the state may become the fragments of itself.
Ekiti people must stand up in a decisive but dignified and peaceful manner to say enough is enough to this charade.
With about two months to the state governorship election, the people need to be enlightened on the elements that ensure good choice at elections. They also need to know that it is that choice that will deliver good governance, create jobs, salvage the economy and bring about peace. There is a need to let them know that sale of their votes is a one-off thing and a means of perpetually selling themselves and posterity into slavery.
The National Orientation Agency, the mass media and the civil society should be at the forefront of this political education and enlightenment efforts.
There is no doubt that the elite and decent people have been apathetic toward elections because of raging insecurity that have consistently dog elections. The security agencies have a chance to convince the Ekiti people and, indeed, the world, that they are capable of delivering security and peace at the polls.
With their experience in election matters, INEC and the security agencies must have strategic blueprint for counteracting and cracking every trick politicians may want to employ to rig the election. As research has shown, problems, be it security, military or organizational, are solved in the boardroom through brainstorming and intelligence gathering and effective/pro-active application of strategies.
INEC has given an impression through the elimination of multiple registrations from the state electoral register that it is ready to play the game according to the rules. But it needs to complete the job it started by ensuring that all the electoral processes are transparent, equitable and fair. It needs to make a statement to the aspirants, their loyalists and the voters that it is ready to implement it’s rules to the letter.
As a people who pride their state as the fountain of knowledge, Ekiti people must make a statement with this election that it is resolved to learn from history. They should reject any candidate whose conduct and body language are at variance with their needs and expectations – good governance, vibrant economy, employment and peace – with their votes.