By Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.
I started my independent life by training as a reputation manager, so I probably understand public perception management and behavioural effects in a manner that would escape a casual observer.
Nigerians have a way of designing stories to soothe their narrative ignoring the lessons therein. I have been seeing posts with the claims that the Ekiti election was rigged- this is simply not exactly so. The Ekiti Gubernatorial Election was substantially credible, free and fair than expected except for the open money inducement which in itself is against the law but has been a normal tradition with us for long. Both parties shared money anyways, a double jeopardy that cancels out counter-claims by either of the two major parties’ grievance, even though APC had more free hand to share money at the polls.
I am a PDP member and I will remain in the party because I believe the current APC Federal Government is a disaster. However, I think PDP lost for the following reasons:
Fall out within the party too close to the election period which was as a result of the process that selected the PDP flag bearer. The leadership of the party should always give the people a free hand to select their flag bearers and make efforts to see that sincere reconciliation follows after the primary election. The party must also take into note psyche of the general voters.
Aggrieved members should not be treated with disdain. Adeyeye was never more popular than Fayose, but he was a major force and the next figure in the party. Adeyeye’s exit was extremely close to the election and that happened with lots of active PDP members moving out of the party. PDP should have with all efforts appealed to him to remain in the party.
Fayose’s conflict with one of the traditional rulers close to the election time in Ikere Ekiti. The popular conflict with Olukere was unfortunate. The Ikere traditional ruler was in detention for some days courtesy of Fayose. Some see it as an effrontery against the traditional institution and this happened close to election. The PDP can comfortably win election with Ado and Ikere alone hoping to get little more from other places. However, despite having Eleka from Ikere, the voting difference was not impressive. Ikere vote was divided along love and hatred for Fayose.
Fayose’s last games were counter productive. Fayose is loved, no doubt, in his area of influence even beyond Ekiti but it is for his courage and capacity not as a weak or defeated person. That Fayose’s neck alone was broken in a tear-gassed struggle is bad. That Fayose sat on the floor, cried on National Television is a surrender attribute and did not invoke the necessary sympathy. Supposing such had happened to Eleka the Guber candidate the people of Ekiti and beyond might have pitied him but Fayose who in himself is seen as a rock should not have projected such a beaten and broken image.
Monetary Inducement also greatly factored in. There was appreciable presence of money on the APC side on the election ground as voters got as much as 5k to 10k but not everywhere, some people voted freely. PDP also shared money but a larger percentage of the monies were transferred to people’s account a day before the election. However, APC did ‘better’ to buy votes.
Fayose’s refusal to welcome Buhari was quite extreme and that alone could have had certain effects on the election. In fact, such alone can blackmail or influence Buhari towards releasing any amount for the election. Fayose got that wrong.
There is also the failure of Fayose and the PDP to submerge the personality of Fayose in the emerging image of Professor Olusola Eleka. A lot of observers and keen followers of events in Ekiti were rightly confused as to who between Eleka and Fayose was standing in for the election. There wasn’t a significant media presence of Eleka so the public could place a face and personality to his candidacy. As such, all likely bias against Fayose was visited on Eleka, against the public projections of Kayode Fayemi, a one-time governor of the state. The people did not see the election as their election and that was one of the reasons it was easy buy people over.
Poverty. Ekiti is poor no doubt. With Salaries not been paid for months, survival is poor, so people could vote any kobo.
There is a lot at stake at the national level, so this defeat should be honorably accepted in view of preparing against the general elections next year.
***Olajengbesi, a public interest lawyer is contesting for Oriade/Obokun Federal Constituency in Osun State in 2019 in the House of Representatives, under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).