“A man who tosses worms in the river isn’t necessarily a friend of the fish. All the fishes who take him for a friend, who think the worms got no hook in it usually end up in the frying pan.”—Malcom X.
Last Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State that saw to the second coming of Kayode Fayemi is a development that is laced with mixed feelings irrespective of the side of divide one is on. To members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it was karma at work, a payback time to incumbent governor, Ayo Fayose and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who in 2014 deployed state machinery to muscle members of the then opposition, APC. To members of the PDP, what happened was daylight robbery, a brazen act that portends ill to their continued hold on power. To democrats, the deployment of the military, and heavy monetization by both political parties lay to waste the little gains the country has made in this democratic voyage. Finally, countrymen who found time to situate the treachery of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Ayo Fayose in the proper perspective are completely in sync with the reality of the dethronement of the latter by any means necessary. These people, many of whom have great disdain for the APC—as they do for the PDP—see the occurrence in Ekiti as a consolation to the loss suffered by the people who for the umpteenth time have failed to rise above their bellies to put an end to transactional politicking.
While politicians are known to speak in glowing terms of the beauty of democracy as the best and noble form of governance—an argument hinged on its representative nature,—they’ve however failed to match those words with action. Olusegun Obasanjo, perhaps one with the most opportunity to entrench democratic practices in the country stayed in office for eight years leaving democracy in tatters. Having lost a bid to alter the constitution to accommodate his infantile and narcissistic cravings for power, he threw caution to the wind, forced a vegetable on the nation and presided over a ‘do or die’ election whose worthlessness is so egregious as to make its most beneficiary deny its credibility. Umaru Yar’adua wowed the nation with a public declaration of assets, a gesture with no precedence in the nation’s history only to leave an undemocratic legacy that saw him go on medical vacation for months without putting his deputy in charge as demanded by the constitution. Goodluck Jonathan came on the back of democratic struggle, one that saw many Nigerians including a septuagenarian, Noble Laureate Wole Soyinka walk under the blazing sun to protest against the ravaging cabal who held the country by the jugular. Since his deserving dethronement, neither his reclusive lifestyle nor the foolish words of defence by a few of his coteries have been sufficient to show that he put the country on a better democratic pedestal than he met it. Muhammadu Buhari, the lanky general who perhaps has been a major victim of political aberrations has since assuming office deepened the distortions of democratic ethos and principles, wearing a stern and decisive demeanour on issues concerning his personal life while waffling on others bordering on the nation’s political hygiene. He has neither acted statesmanlike nor demonstrated impartiality in the mass murder of almost 400 Shiites in Kaduna, a cleansing spearheaded by the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai; he continues to bark without biting on the deracination ongoing in most parts of the country, one that has led to arson, killings and displacement of thousands, mostly farmers whom the entirety of the populace look up to for food.
The resumè of their counterparts in the states are no different from those who have at one point or the other led the country at the national level. This is most visible in the complete emasculation of the local governments by state governors, making it almost impossible for parties that differ from that of a sitting governor to win a seat in the local council since 1999 when the country returned to democratic ways. Former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu is revered both nationally and internationally as a believer of democracy but on scrutiny, appears to us as a mild dictator whose conception of democracy hovers around the satiation of his insatiable appetite. If his biography is to be written, his political life would be dotted with impositions and transactional politicking in the most brazen forms. With the likes of Tinubu and Bukola Saraki, we’ve seen the establishment and sustenance of a political culture that makes it appealing to people to resign gainful, productive employments to go into full time politics, or at least rely on dole out from politicians to feed, clothe and sustain lifestyles that people who till from sunup to sundown cannot dream of.
Babatunde Fashola speaks intellection and walks erudition, with his foray into politics seen by many as rekindling hope for Nigerians who have lost faith in the redemption of our democracy. But as we later found out—thanks to the rift between himself and his successor,—he left a legacy that is tainted with graft. Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun revels in democratic contradictions, benefitting from suffrage while tearing to shreds, the rights of his people in a manner suggesting despotism. Each time he opens his mouth to speak on a podium founded on the firm principles of republicanism, all we remember is the sack of a teacher who authored a composition that was critical of a number of his policies. His predecessor, Gbenga Daniel was pictured pants-down initiating some surrogates into the occult world. It’s an endless list of Janus-faced persons whom nationals have put in charge of nurturing their democracy.
It is on this shoddy foundation the sham of Ekiti rests. With players having perfected the art of deploying democracy to further the perpetuation of their ruinous hold on power, the inalienable rights electorates have to choose whosoever they believe hold the keys to their prosperity are of no consequence. This is why Ayo Fayose—who has brought nothing to governance save a rabid display of idiocy—could torture us with the sight of naira notes to force the people into putting his lackey in office. One would have thought that as an incumbent, all he needed do was sit in the comfort of his home, relying on his achievements and records to do the magic! Kayode Fayemi also governed the state a few years ago, with a demeanour suggesting gentlemanliness, one is at a loss at the way and manner he behaved as though his life depended on his return to office. From the APC primary that witnessed heavy inducement of delegates and outright violence to the election proper, one could see a man in stark conflict with that which he showcases on the outside.
While some of us are glad that karma was invoked on Ayo Fayose, we however loathe to wake up to the sad reality that the people of Ekiti, having ‘tasted’ both parties and established for a certainty that they are sides of a coin returned one of them to office. They were supposed to spurn whatever inducement or if they choose to accept, do so with the intention of identifying with an unblemished alternative from amongst the few Young Turks who have faces on the ballot. Rewarding the APC with a mandate is nothing short of an endorsement of the failings of the Buhari administration, one that is notorious for passing the buck on issues of national concern.
Nigerians must be reminded that the repudiation of a disastrous incumbent will come to nought if all they can show for it is the accommodation of a corrupt alternative. They have threaded this path for decades with nothing to show for it. Our collective angst against Goodluck Jonathan boxed us into a consensus chant of ‘anyone but Jonathan’, a good move that would have made sense had we not settled for a colourless alternative. Until Nigerians begin a process of owning their democracy instead of relying on members of the corrupt elite to choose whom to queue behind, the task of removing the country from the doldrums will remain impossible.
The people of Ekiti allowed the two shameless parties reduce them to fishes, baiting them with worms to get them to thinking they could escape being eaten by bad governance and corruption—exclusive trademarks of the two leading political platforms. We’ve got to be realistic on this democratic journey by not seeing new entrants into politics as jokers and pipe dreamers if a statement is to be made to the people whom the Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-kuti called vagabonds in power (VIPs). The idea that we are stuck between the APC and PDP is fallacious, for both parties have over time demonstrated a lack of discipline needed to stir the nation away from poverty and pain to the arena of freedom, justice and prosperity.
Modiu can be reached on [email protected]