Nigerians woke up on Sunday 22nd of June, 2014, to the pleasant surprise of Governor Kayode Fayemi, the Ekiti Statet APC sitting Governor, conceding victory to his main challenger, Mr Ayodele Fayose, the PDP candidate. As if this unprecedently unusual political behaviour was not shocking enough, Fayemi made a televised broadcast to the people of Ekiti State, congratulating Fayose, with his famous quotable quote, “the Ekiti people have spoken”. Here comes a new political dawn in Nigeria, nay, Africa, where the principle of “sit – tighteism” had always reigned supreme.
There are many lessons to be learnt from this trailer-blazing, agenda – setting paradigm shift from the usual, well known moans of “I – have – been – robbed by – my opponents” – inclination of the average Nigerian and African politician and political party.
First is that Ekiti State is indeed “the land of Honour”. That they would deny a performing, intellectually grounded sitting Governor with a Ph.D Degree, pairing with a Professor, their votes in preference for an HND Holder and a septuagenarian running mate, shows that the people, renowned for producing the highest number of professors in Nigeria, nay Africa, are simply motivated by their belief in the “can – do – it” practical attributes of Fayose, notwithstanding his limited educational qualifications, placed side by side with that of his opponent, Fayemi.
The second lesson to be learnt from the Fayemi political mantra is that when good men and women assume positions of authority, the problems of development and legitimacy of the electoral process are greatly minimized. The multiplier effect of Fayemi’s act on the campaign – weary people of Ekiti State can be better imagined, when placed side by side the mayhem, blood, sorrow, tears and anguish of 1983, during the highly disputed and controversial elections that enthroned Chief Akin Omoboriowo as the NPN Governor of the then Ondo State.
The highly sosphisticated people of Ondo State, many of them now in Ekiti State, rose up in anger, against the brazen manipulation of their votes and subsequent denial of their voice. They burnt, killed, protested and rejected the results. On the contrary, the election of Fayose threw the major cities of Ekiti State into wild jubilation, dancing and meriment. This underscores the point that when voters’ votes are not only counted, but allowed to count, the electoral process is edified democracy strengthened and deepened, and the popular will of the people (vox populi vox dei), is unsubverted.
The 3rd consequence of Fayose’s election and Fayemi’s capitulation, is that it is indeed possible and feasible to organize free and fair elections in Nigeria, elections that enjoy the legitimacy, credibility, credulity, acceptability and respectability of the electors. All that is required is the political will to ensure that the right thing is done and the people’s mandate is respected. In this regard, Attahiru Jega’s INEC must be commended for rising upto the billing. If they can replicate Ekiti 2014 in the general elections of 2015, then Nigeria would have arrived in the Committee of the democratic world. The security agents, including the Military, Police SSS, Civil Defence and others, who provided security and prevented electorate rigging and falsification of results, deserve Nigeria’s applause.
The losers in the Ekiti display of honour are the political buccaneers, the ethnic chauvinists, the religious bigots, the illicit money bags, the historical revisionists and the doomsday prophet, who see nothing but blood, blood and blood. The obvious first winner is Kayode Fayemi, so brave yet so humble in defeat. He wears the face of the African democrat, sitting comfortably in the pantheon of great world Leaders whose democratic credentials are not only unblemished, but phenomenal. Fayemi has etched his name and reputation in the golden sands of time with his political sagacity, rather than sheer brinkmanship. The second winner is Fayose, so magnanimous and so conciliatory in victory. He worked very hard, campaigning, dancing, singing, empathizing and synergizing with the holoi-poloi of Ekiti State. They showed their appreciation of his grassroots networking wizardry by speaking loudly through their votes. The third winner constitutes the good people of Ekiti State, who have successfully taught Nigerians, Africans and the Nigerian and African political class, one or two lessons in decent political behavior and culture of progressive communalism, plurality of ideas and a spirit of accommodation.
However, the greatest winner of this “Ekiti tsunami” of unusual political behaviour is our fledgling democracy that appears to have defied both centripetal and centrifugal forces, that are at once implosive and explosive, to anchor firmly on a solid foundation.