I read the article of Governor Babatunde Fashola on the much talked about Ekiti Poll. He titled it: “My take away”. In other words, that was what he was able to take home after the Ekiti party. In Nigeria, especially in the south west, most parties offer take-aways, and it is only appropriate that what APC found in their take-away pack was a scathing rebuke.
Governor Fashola is by nature a very simple person. It is to his credit that he has been able to successfully govern the centre of excellence, Nigeria’s toughest state (after Borno and Yobe, of course); without loosing his easy-going mien. He is an obvious departure from the loud and intimidating nature of his predecessor, the Jagaban. He cruises around without siren-blaring motorcade, his convoy is often quite modest, and his official vehicle bears the simple inscription: LASG 01, often without the extravagance of gold-plated coat of arms, or draping flags. He dresses like the civil servant next door, and is by far the best governor I have seen in my own lifetime thus far.
But, often, Mr Fashola is betrayed by his own simplicity. He asks questions sometimes that makes you remind yourself that this young man (he is 51, by the way), is a senior advocate of Nigeria. Last year, while at a parade to mark Nigeria’s fifty third independence anniversary, he boyishly queried whatever reasons why we were about to celebrate our centenary. He sincerely wondered how, just four years after clocking fifty, we had suddenly reached a hundred. He shocked us all further by openly claiming ignorance about whatever happened in 1914.
The summary of Governor Fashola’s article about Ekiti is that his party, the APC lost, simply because people are now only interested in “stomachstructure”, as he succinctly coined it, and not in infrastructure. He arrived at that conclusion, as usual by putting two and two together, as he is fond of doing, and simply arriving at four! His opinion is that everyone agreed that Governor Fayemi, the gentleman incumbent, did exceedingly well. And that if he could so scandalously lose, then it’s not due to poor performance. He claims that Ekitis were eager to vote him out because “he spoke too much english”, was elitist, and didn’t mingle with the masses. He also claimed that Fayose, only got voted in because he distributed rice, ate roasted maize in the markets, and was at home with the masses. Unfortunately, these is an oversimplification of what transpired.
The truth is that the APC, first and foremost has an exaggerated opinion of itself. This cancer had developed with the former ACN, where because of some clean sweep of votes in Lagos, it assumed it was untouchable. I believe the greatest burden the APC has to bear in the southwest especially is their godfather, the Lion of Bourdillion. Tinubu continues to arrogate unto himself the kind of powers he neither has, nor can have in Yorubaland. As long as he continues to run the party like a personal property, what happened in Ekiti will continue to repeat itself. It happened in Kogi, then Ondo, Anambra, and now Ekiti. A man cannot think he can make his word law for a people as sophisticated as the Yorubas. From the time Governor Fayemi was forced down the throats of the party faithful dictatorially, without an option of an open contest, I knew Ekiti was drifting away from APC.
The election was free and fair. And the pattern it took will confound pundits for years. All former governors, supporting Fayemi lost in their local governments. All house of reps members and senators lost their councils too. Infact, Governor Fayemi lost his local council too. Actually, Fayose swept all the local governments. That’s not the result of few bags of rice distributed as Fashola wants us to believe. Fayose couldn’t have sent rice to over two hundred thousand people that thumbprinted in his favour. And, we know that Fayemi’s party shared rice too. They distributed kerosene in Ondo as well, and #100 recharge cards in Anambra. So let not the pot call the kettle black.
The performance or otherwise of Fayemi is another matter entirely. For the entire state to speak with such aggression shows something is not quite right. Maybe his projects didn’t impact them as much as they wanted, or they felt there was too much of outside interference. But to assume Fayose won simply because he often walkes among the people “shoeless” (an apparent jibe at Jonathan), as Fashola claims, is wrong. Remember, Fayose ruled them before. So, it was down to a choice between two roads once taken. They chose Fayose, because, in their opinion, Ekiti would be safer with him.
My advice to the APC is to rebrand or die. Governor Fashola’s performance has been it’s selling point. But the overbearing shadows of Asiwaju, is its greatest distraction. Somehow, APC has always failed to listen. And that is why voters ignore their roads and schools, and continue to reject voting their future into what seems like a man’s expansionist programme.
Olufemi Ogunseye is a journalist and freelance writer. Follow @olufemisp