The much anticipated governorship election in Ekiti state, the political hot potato of the South west, has come and gone. Winners and losers have emerged. According to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), the candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Dr.John Kayode Fayemi is the Governor-elect. He polled 197,459 votes to beat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Olusola Eleka who scored 178,121 votes. The votes of other fringe candidates, about 33 of them made no impact on the outcome of the result.
As expected, the winner, Dr. Fayemi, who lost in his re-election bid four years ago to the outgoing governor, Ayodele Fayose, has been celebrating the victory with his party supporters, while Prof. Eleka, who is also the present Deputy governor, has been whining and alleging all manner of irregularities in the July 14 poll. He has rejected the results declared by INEC. The PDP on its part, while also rejecting the outcome of the election, described it as “daylight robbery”.
Are you surprised by the attitude of the loser? What do you make of governor Fayose’s announcement of ‘his own result’ on the State-owned radio and television station, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act? I suspected it would get to this bizarre level. A good place to begin an answer is with some perspective. You see, the worst moment for a candidate in an election is the day after. It’s the time the loser begins to come to terms with the reality of the outcome. It’s a time that a sinking feeling sets in. It’s a feeling of anger, frustration and disillusionment.
At this time, reason takes a sudden flight. It’s indeed a time of sober reflection, a time when the loser begins to mull over the money he probably borrowed. Note that after losing election, some politicians are drowned in debts. It could be a nightmare for some. For others, seeing your political ambition extinguished could hurt as horrible as acid poured on a skin. I can feel the pain of Fayose, even though his name was not on the ballot. But, I guess, the election and its outcome have pretty much more to do with his person than the name of the Prof. Fayose, it is not unkind to say, must be ruminating what will be his fate after he hands the reins of power to his immediate predecessor, and now, successor. Think about that! Who says our politics is not a fun to follow. Again, I say, Fayose must be having his heart caught up with his head. He must be feeling like a man in a straight back chair, all alone. It hu rts.
But, must losing an election be the end of life? For many Nigerian politicians, yes, it is. That’s why, for many of them, election is a matter of life and death. That’s why, Sen. Francis Arthur Nzeribe used to say, ‘in election, first, try and win, let the loser go to the Tribunal’. In all honesty, Nzeribe’s argument is ancient. It makes election and power the ‘survival of the fittest’. It shouldn’t be the ideal thing in any decent, democratic society.
Whether the Ekiti election was largely free, fair, credible and transparent, and the result declared by INEC, the choice of the majority of Ekiti electorate, I will say emphatically yes. But, whether money played a part, field reports by reporters and election observers, the answer is, the two main political parties were guilty. Let’s not forget
that money is the lifeblood of politics, but it should not be allowed to determine the outcome of an election. Don’t expect Nigerian politicians to hail the outcome of the election when they lose. When they win, the umpire (INEC) becomes the ‘beautiful bride’ and when they lose, INEC becomes the ‘whipping boy’, and labelled the ‘enemy of our democracy’.
In all of this, one is not saying that INEC was inch perfect in the Ekiti election. That’s not my point. There’s still problems with the card reader machine and electronic transmission of results from the polling booths to the collation centre.
Mistakes in any of these could affect the integrity of the election. It’s assuring that INEC has said it has noted the various comments of election observers on the allegations of monetary inducement during the poll and a promise to improve on its success in future elections. Osun governorship election is fast approaching in November. INEC should use the coming elections to dispel the paranoia that it’s not truly independent and can be compromised.
What the PDP has done, rejecting the result of election doesn’t bode well for our democracy. Describing the outcome of the poll as “daylight robbery” is a knife at the soul of our democracy. The Election Tribunal is there for an aggrieved party to challenge the result with incontrovertible evidence. Unleashing verbal swipes at the winner and his party, gives the loser and his party, the PDP as sore losers.
Defeat is one of those times to test the sterner of a politician. Prof. Eleka and the PDP have failed that test. To stick to the high road and hope for a better performance next time around, is one essential quality many of our politicians have got it wrong. They fail to pick up the pieces and move on, believing that candour in defeat can bring victory in future contest. That’s where Fayemi won my heart, four years ago, when he was comprehensively by Fayose, against the ‘run of play’. But, he delivered perhaps the best concession