By Adewale Adeoye
With penultimate week’s primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), we need to ask, will the anchor of Ekiti people hold in this new storm? Will the people drift or remain as firm as rock in the desire to protect the state’s flag with its emblem “Land of Honour?” Well, I do not know all that go on in the mind of the Presidency, but I can conjecture some. In one instance, the next election in Ekiti is a test case for the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) as the 2015 presidential election draws near. The South West, (SW) is critical to any party or person that wishes to win the Presidential election. SW has the second largest number of voters after the North West. As at March 2011, North West has 19, 803,689 million voters, North East is 10, 749,059 and South West is 14, 296,163. This means that Yorubaland will be crucial to winning. President Goodluck Jonathan wants to contest the election. He also wants to win the election for many reasons. He is of the Ijaw stock. To him and many of his fanatical supporters, it is the turn of the “Ijaw,” a nationality that has been truly oppressed and never thought the Presidency mantle would come its way albeit mysteriously. Jonathan and his supporters also think he should not be disgraced from office and that everything must be done to ensure his victory at the poll. Unfortunately, those campaigning for the President have played the ethnic card far more than viewing his bid from the prism of superior economic and political programmes, aimed at promoting the common good. I have been informed that the choice of Jogunomi was aimed at creating so much violence that there would be a state of emergency, the imposition of a despot who would conduct the election after Jogunomi himself would have been disqualified.
Without any iota of doubt in my mind, the SW is the home of egalitarian politics. The region has a tradition, to a good measure, of being associated with decent politics. It is expected that voters in this region will measure Jonathan based on his economic programmes which have left many in pains and anguish. These few years, leaders in the SW have been able to submerge the PDP and its terrifying tradition of underdevelopment. So, the PDP thinks, it is only through force that the seat of the Ekiti governor could be taken away from those holding sway. Once this in-road is made, the PDP will ensure its victory in the coming Presidential poll across the SW. From the recent experience in Ekiti and Anambra States, it is unlikely the PDP will play by the rules on June 21. For PDP, the coming election may not be about the people, but about the height of gangsterism.
The group that supports Jogunomi are already boasting that there will be no election but that their candidate will be announced in Abuja, a conscious attempt to add petrol to the glowing fire of discontent across the country. If this happens, I predict, the human rights movement and the people of the SW , will resist and I see this as the beginning of greater hurdles and bigger turmoil for Mr President. With the return of Jogunomi, it appears the election in Ekiti will be long and dreary. Let us admit. Jogunomi had the tactics of creating a false sense of populism. He would go from one market to the other, even sharing roasted plantain with commons. He would share money to locals and even attend birthday ceremonies of cobblers and peasants alike. Such were the intrigues that saw him as the ephemeral darling of poor people who have been used to seeing their elected representatives drive in tainted cars with scorn and contempt for bystanders. But given this new option, many would wish to see their governor in armored tanks than to have a capon, though accustomed to riding on Okada, but with his hands soaked in red.
Many would wish to see a governor insulated for ages from the people, than a rogue who eats with the people but poison them after each meal. Yet, Jogunomi should not be treated with kid gloves. He is underrated to the peril of the masses. For a nation which moral values continue to dwindle, it is easy to promote Obafemi Martins as a national hero than talking about the great books of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo. However, as the Yoruba saying goes, even when a man is crying, his vision is not blurred. In the first place, Ekiti people passed through horror chamber for three and half years. Under his reign, Ekiti had three deputy governors, three Secretaries to the State government, and four Speakers of the House of Assembly. His tenure was painted with blood, tears and pains unleashed on the people. How can the people forget so easily that Dr Ayo Daramola was murdered in cold blood during the reign of Jogunomi? How can the people lose their sense of history, that he was said to have personally supervised the murder of Mr Tunde Omojola, at Ifaki-Ekiti? One dreadful night, Kehinde Fasubaa was killed. His twin brother, Taye Fasubaa, escaped the bullets of the assassins. A former member of the House of Assembly who worked with him told me Jogunomi had no respect for the state’s Tenders Board. He handed cash to contractors and took his 10 percent right in the presence of his retinue of aides and leisure girls. Most weekends in his horrendous era, the state house was converted to sex camps with young girls as objects. “Any time the state collected the monthly allocation, he would meet the Accountant General and begin to beat his head with his two hands, shouting, “E o mi ti deeee!” meaning that “my money has come.” He was said to have stuck his walking stick in the stomach of one of the first class traditional rulers in the state telling him that “you claim you are not enjoying my government, look at your big stomach?” One source said during his reign, ‘coke, guns, sex and drugs’ were the four words that defined the social aspect of Ekiti statecraft. It is yet to be understood why the PDP decided to get stuck in this self-defeatist mud. As it is, the June 21 election is going to be a test of the integrity for the people of Ekiti and the Yoruba nation at large, for it is better to die than to live as slaves. It is going to be the standard to measure the future of democracy in Nigeria and of course, the index to assess the capacity of the Yoruba people to sustain the progressive tradition that took 500 years to build. As at now, we can only hope that June 21 does not become June 12.
*Adeoye, an award-winning journalist, wrote this piece for WESTERN POST.