THE Ekiti rerun election to add up to the votes upheld by the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, in the disputed governorship is living up to expectation. Beyond that, it has taken a corner, considering the stalemate arising from it.
No close observer of Ekiti politics had expected a smooth sail for the two main contending parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Action Congress (AC) and their candidates, Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi. Yet, not many saw it coming to the point of setting precedence in the country’s election rerun.
It had been known to be a tough fight for both parties. PDP and AC were equally matched for the poll, in terms of supporters (or thugs, indigenous or imported), financial muscle, godfathers and all that makes election thick.
As for arsenals, they were (or are) headed for mutual destruction, in the event of losing the election.
Ekiti and Ekiti people are not new to tension or charged political atmosphere. Nor are they afraid of protecting their votes and making sure that they count this time around. But the dimension the whole exercise is taking is becoming frightening, even to the warriors and foot soldiers, in and outside Ekiti.
Unlike in the past, even observers and journalists were not spared in the orgy of violence, as some of them were beaten and manhandled by political thugs and handed over to the police for God knows what offence. And trust the police, they were routed to Abuja for further ‘questioning.’
It also brings to the fore the desperation of our politicians in their crave for power. If not, why should a governorship election cost so much human and material resources, even at a second attempt?
The purported resignation of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, the rejection of it by the federal government and rumours of her not ever resigning have further cast shadows on the election and whatever finally comes out of it.
Quite unlike the rerun in Adamawa, Kogi, Bayelsa, Sokoto and Cross River states, that of Ekiti is a sticking point. For an election in just 63 wards in 10 councils, policed by about 10, 000 personnel, many had expected it to be free and fair.
After its bashing from local and international observers over the conduct of the 2007 elections, many had thought that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would use a small election as in Ekiti as a test-run to show a difference and hope for a free and fair election in Anambra State next year and general election in 2011.
While many hail Mrs. Adebayo’s purported resignation, others feel that by her action, she had complicated the matters. They believe she should have gone ahead to announce the results according to the law and her conscience in the first place before disappearing from the scene, only to resurface in Abuja to sing another song.
And now, whatever results she finally announces, considering the circumstances surrounding her actions in the past few days is sure to be tainted and disputed. It would be difficult to situate her, her conscience and her duties. It would be difficult to determine whether she is acting according to her conscience, the dictates of the job or is goaded by extraneous forces.
From the fireworks already on display, it is obvious that the Ekiti debacle has just begun and another legal battle over the state’s governorship lies in wait, just as the people wait for their ‘real’ votes to be counted and to count.
If Ekiti is a foretaste of future elections, then Nigerians had better geared up their lioncloths, unless there is a pull back to a position of give and take by the gladiators, or they are called to order by the godfathers.
Until then, not much has changed about Nigerian elections, and not many lessons learnt from the 2007 exercise, especially by the electoral body and security agencies.