by Tola Sarumi
Real change has to be plotted from the community to community, let the local councillor go to his Ward and tell them why he once again deserves their vote, and if he wants to be reelected, he had better hand out rice
Predictably, there has already been much hand wringing over the outcome of the Ekiti elections. How could this happen to a governor who all and sundry would expect is performing at a far more impressive level than most Nigerian governors?
By most indices, Ekiti has made real progress since Gov. Fayemi took office, roads have been constructed, the civil service reformed, a real focus on improving education standards, etcetera. How could they reject such a man?
Let me start by saying, the outcome of this particular election shows that the opposition is not ready, and apparently has a long way to go. There is nothing wrong per se with what Fayemi, popularly know as JKF has done, by all accounts he deported himself as one would expect of a politician of his ilk, he was true to his ideology, he was let down by his party, the APC.
See, there are technocrats, men (as they often are) who would gladly school any listener on the inner working of a government of which JKF is clearly one and there are those that can lick soup off their forefinger in public whilst telling the people why the government has not kept all its fanciful promises.
These depictions are a little simplistic but you need to understand that every JKF needs a Bola Tinubu or even an Adedibu, someone that allows the governor to get on with cerebral business of governing whilst they willingly engage in the necessary rough play that keep the governor close to his public. The governor is a gentleman, a rare one in Nigerian politics and I do honestly wish him all the best.
Now that the above has been taken care of, let me address the crux of my vexation at the analyses that have been done since the results were made clear. Some say it’s a case of the people choosing rice over rights, other, with glee, shout that elections are not won on twitter. Permit me to say, both these summations are foolish.
The progressives, the would be saviours of the Nigerian from itself, are unwilling to work, to really carry the people they wish to rescue along. Why is it that in all these APC states, there is no devolution of power? All decisions are made at Government House in a ‘trust me, I know what’s best for you’ fashion? Is this a way to encourage a responsible and aware voting public?
You remember them directly only during election season, you do not trust that they can make decisions about their own communities because you in your government house know best. It’s no fault of JKF’s that there’s a court imposed estoppel on Local Government elections in Ekiti, okay. But did he in anyway reach out to local communities to make decisions at the source? No, he also exhibited this paternalism that plagues a sizeable percentage of the elite, the desire to convince people that an all encompassiong trust in their decisions is all that is needed for the people’s lives to be better. What makes the APC progressive then? Let me use Lagos State where I am from for example, the Local Governments and LCDAs are powerless talk shops headed by men whose sole qualification for office is fealty to the party (and the omniprescient Bola Tinubu), almost every decision requires the consent of the government at Alausa before it can be made.
It’s maddening, these same hypocritical Progressives, stung by the stunning rejection in Ekiti, put it down to the Ayo Fayose’s disbursement of rice, like this was the first time such freebies have been handed out by a candidate.
The progressives are asking a people whose consent and opinions they hardly seek to, come Election Day, once against trust the all knowing governor. Do they forget that in Nigeria, there is no trust between the governed and the governing? For all the people know, every governor is a thief, a sizeable number of them have proven this to be true, so why should they not enjoy the inducements handed out at come Election Day?
Do the people really believe that votes matters one way or the other? These same progressives turn up their noses at an electorate that chose ‘stomach infrastructure’ over continued change. May I tell you how much I loathe that phrase? It’s everything that is wrong with these would be members of talented tenth!
Real change has to be plotted from the community to community, let the local councillor go to his Ward and tell them why he once again deserves their vote, and if he wants to be reelected, he had better hand out rice. The people won’t live on Election Day rice forever but this is how you prove you’re not an ‘Ada ni kan je’ (a greedy being).
See Street Fight, the highly recommended film on the Newark Mayoral Election featuring Corey Booker. Booker could not secure the votes of seniors because they perceived him as cheap for sending them 99 cent birthday cards. He insisted he was above this practice of handing out gifts and he found out to his detriment what a foolish stance that was.
Booker also lost to the race to the then incumbent, Sharpe James, a man that was later convicted of various corruption offences. The people knew James wasn’t squeaky clean but they chose him because he was familiar, he exhibited some of the idiosyncrasies that made Newark a less than desirable city but they could identify with that. I am not saying comprise your integrity, just know that; Your progressive ideals alone will never be enough, ever.
You have to convince people you are one of them, what makes American presidential candidates go bowling in full glare of the cameras or sip beer for all to see? Do you think voters don’t already know that things are not the way they ought to be, do they have a real choice to be different?
A majority of Nigerians now cannot genuinely remember when things functioned as they ought, this utter decay of moral and political will to do what’s right has been the norm for over a quarter of a century. Yet, imagine a situation where these foreign educated Liberals and Progressives ride into town on their morality horse, their coterie made of up other well educated fellows, to tell the people that everything about their of life is wrong and needs mending? Would the inevitable resentment that’ll follow be surprising?
Politics is often a quid pro quo deal, and that reality is stark in Nigeria, the problem with the Progressive lot is that they know that the system is broken, but they appear loath to put in the real work required to mend it. Obvious inducements will cease to be the practice du jour in Nigeria only when the electorate is sure that the men seeking office are not doing so in a bid to line their own pockets and when genuine participatory Democracy is the order of the day.
If the opposition is serious about 2015, they’ll see the resounding defeat in Ekiti as a chance to recalibrate their approach, it may already be too late though.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.