The developments that ruined the botched primary of the APC in Ekiti state call for sober reflection. It is appalling that a whopping 33 individuals aspire to slug it out with each other to determine who wears the crown. Despite the ugly outcome of the primary, the APC keeps waxing stronger in Ekiti state because it is considered as the best alternative. This is one major reason for the large number of aspirants. The aspirants engaged the delegates for weeks, moving from ward to ward, town to town. They became brides to all the 33 aspirants. The aspirants wooed, courted, pampered, enticed and induced them, so as to be considered as the best among the 33 suitors. They all claimed to be the chosen one.
Politics is expensive in Nigeria not just because of campaign materials but because of inducement. Inducement is so endemic in every stratum of our society and no sector can be exempted. In every political contest (intra or inter party), politicians always try to outsmart one another by influencing the electorate in whatever form they deem necessary. Right or wrong, this remains a recurrent drama in every election. Truth be told, contestants in every part of our society also induce to sway things in their favour. In businesses, clubs, campuses, labour unions, professional bodies, and communities, even in churches or mosques, people make moves to gain upper hand in contests for leadership position. We know and agree that this is bad but unfortunately it is the reality of how things are at the moment.
There is no contestant among the 33 aspirants of the APC that did not induce the delegates in one way or the other. Every aspirant visited and induced the delegates at least once before the botched May 5th primary. The reception and the inducement gave each aspirant the needed confidence to forge ahead. People say “don’t ever count your chicks until they are hatched”. But this is not applicable in politics. Some aspirants got carried away with what they saw or experienced on the field while meeting the delegates and declared themselves the undisputable winner even before the actual election. That’s why the reality was so shocking and unbelievable at the real contest. The delegates gave every aspirant their ear, but only one their voice.
God bless Governor Al-Makura and his team. In his wisdom, he conceded to the demand of the aspirants that delegates who are illiterates and can’t vote on their own should be allowed to call the agent of his/her preferred aspirant for guidance. This mutual and unanimous agreement that was reached in good faith turned out to be the clog in the wheel of arrangement. The election was going on smoothly but not without bad feelings and bickering here and there. The issue was that too many delegates were declaring themselves illiterates and calling the agent of a particular aspirant for assistance. It was like ratio one to ten, 1:10. The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind, but the goodness of a person spreads in all direction. Why are the illiterate delegates continuously calling the agent of Fayemi? Is he the only aspirant? This became a topic of gossip among other agents and aspirants. The 1st three (3) local governments were bearable but the 4th local government was the stroke that broke the camel’s back.
Unlike the other three (3) local governments where just few people asked for help, more than half of the delegates from the 4th local government asked for help. Amazingly majority of them continued to call the agent of the same aspirant. Tension started building because if the trend should continue, there will be no need to count the ballot papers before the result is known. Somehow the other camps consoled themselves and calmed down because the 4th local government was considered as the stronghold of the aspirant in question. Pandemonium broke out when delegates from the 5th local government filed out to vote and majority of the illiterates also called on the agent of Fayemi for assistance. Despite this odd reality, no law was broken and no crime was committed but some people felt that the process must be truncated otherwise this particular aspirant will win.
A dog must be given a bad name to hang it! Series of stories and theories were thrown up. The agent of Fayemi was accused of giving or saying something to the delegates. That must be the reason they keep calling him. The agent was snapping picture of ballot papers. The agent was giving out paper to the delegates to write serial number of ballot paper. They even accused Fayemi of having more agents than them. So many unreasonable lies were flying around just to justify the destruction. The process was truncated. Wait a minute. Come to think about it, if the agent of Fayemi was the problem, why making the delegates pay for it? They met, passed votes of no confidence on the panel and the delegates. The panel must be changed and the delegates must not be allowed to determine the flag bearer. They all clamored for option A4, except Bafem, Fappy, JKF and Kayode Ojo. Even the state APC chairman, Chief Jide Awe and his team moved against the delegates and supported option A4. They wanted to throw away the bath water with the baby. The same delegates they have all romanced for months suddenly became persona non grata. The delegates can’t be trusted again. They are betrayers. Why were they calling only the agent of Fayemi? For once, their attention was no longer on Fayemi but the delegates and they must be disenfranchised at all cost.
Fayemi was taunted as a political neophyte that stands no chance if he dares contest the primary. They campaigned for months but he campaigned for just three (3) weeks. They blackmailed and called him names but forgot something fundamental. Dr. John Kayode Fayemi needs no introduction to the delegates. They were and still are his delegates. Fayemi was accused of inducing the delegates with money and other valuables. Let us assume that these allegations were true, is there anyone of the aspirants that didn’t give out money to the delegates? If you gave out #5,000 to a delegate while I gave out #20,000, what crime have l committed that you didn’t? Instead of making mountain out of a mole hill, they should simply accept the fact that JKF is more popular and acceptable. If inducement is the only thing it takes to win primary election, President Buhari wouldn’t be our president today. While other aspirants shared dollars, Buhari shared handbills and yet he won the primary.
Commonsensically speaking, can the rule of the game be changed at the middle of the game? The national working committee of the APC rejected their obnoxious proposal and insisted that the delegates must be allowed to choose the flag bearer of the party. They failed at pushing the delegates to the backline and render them voiceless. This is another opportunity for the delegates to come out en mass and speak with a louder voice.
To all the delegates participating in the primary, you were condemned and almost punished for not choosing them. Another opportunity is presenting itself. This is your chance to get yourself to do whatever is necessary for you to be heard and respected. You will again file out very soon to freely use the power the constitution bestowed on you but which they desperately tried to deny you. You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are. Use your power wisely and make the right choice. JKF will make you proud again.
*Adegboyega Ajayi, an APC stalwart writes from Ikoro Ekiti. Email: email@example.com