In from Olumide Olaoluwa . . . .
Chilling and damning. These best describe the revelations last Sunday of the alleged rigging of Ekiti State 2014 governorship election for Ayo Fayose. Like a man under a spell, ex Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) secretary of the state, Dr Temitope Aluko, regaled the nation with heart-wrenching specifics of how ex-President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly made $37million, plus military might available for the victory of Fayose.
According to Aluko, who was the chief returning officer for Fayose at the poll, Jonathan gave express directives to security chiefs to allow Fayose function as the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) on his behalf for the poll that he won in all local governments in the state.
Based on this presidential directive, Aluko, who headed the Security and Logistics unit for the campaign, alleged that soldiers practically received instructions from Fayose. The security apparatus were compromised, leading to massive arrest of chieftains of All Progressives Congress (APC) and practical grounding of former Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) workers were also bought over with special polling units arranged for the PDP across the state. With the water-tight ploy, Aluko said, the election was already predetermined even before voters left their homes.
But Fayose’s case is no isolation. He is part of a general electoral decadence in the nation. This machination has benefited elected officials across party divides.
With opposition leaders in specially arranged detention camps and only PDP voters mobilised to the polling centres, Aluko pointed out local and international observers couldn’t decode the manipulative machination at work on the Election Day. It was a clear case of the more you look, the less you see.
On the whole, details of the rigging plot are repulsive. It is a shocking reminder of how most elections in the nation were concluded weeks even before they took place. The voters, as it mostly turns out, are just programmed to actualise the scientific manipulations of their civic obligation.
Sadly, as in Ekiti State, even forensic experts and the brightest legal luminaries are unable to prove the insidious machination. That way, Elections tribunals and even the Supreme Court are left with nothing, but to invalidate the mandates stolen from the voting public.
Seventeen years of democratic experience in this present dispensation, and Nigerian voters are still subject to the situation in which desperate politicians hijack the system to install as it were, candidates other than a popular one.
Many Nigerians are of the view that Aluko’s revelations should be a wakeup call for the need to strengthen institutions and the electoral system, to guide against atrocities of the kind he alleges took place in Ekiti State.
On the whole, details of the rigging plot are repulsive. It is a shocking reminder of how most elections in the nation were concluded weeks even before they took place.
Getting back at Fayose?
But the Ekiti revelations create some doubting holes. They are clearly targeted at Governor Ayo Fayose, whose election has been ironically affirmed by the Supreme Court, and Nigerians expectedly are incensed for the quantum of desperation and backroom manipulations that brought Fayose to power.
But observers are wondering if the revelations are not motivated by Fayose unrelenting criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC-led government. The controversial governor has effectively turned himself to the opposition arrowhead for the current administration. He has criticised every policy, every move and every decision of the federal government.
He has become the ‘bone in the throat’ of the APC government, a real pain in the neck whose statements send cold shivers down the spine of federal government officials. Nobody takes up such a delicate job without a fight-back. So, are the Ekitigate revelations aimed at getting back at Fayose?
It is very suspicious Aluko chose to wait for over a year to reveal the insidious plot. Could he have been incited by the ruling government, bothered by Fayose’s scathing criticisms to spill the bean? Could Aluko, who confessed he was outplayed by Fayose in the power-sharing ratio, and the federal government found a common enemy in the Ekiti State governor?
The truth is that the nation’s electoral system is still very far from where it should be, and a lot more still needs to be done to make electorates’ votes count.
According to his confessions, Aluko participated in the rigging scheme because he was hoping to be made Chief of Staff. Had the sharing formula worked as planned, will Aluko be singing like he is now? Won’t he have shut up and enjoyed the prestige and resources that come with the high-profile position?
His revelation is more suspect, his person seemingly untrustworthy given that the same Aluko had painted a different scenario on the Ekiti governorship poll while under oath at the Election Tribunal, when he was called as a witness by the PDP and Governor Fayose.
But Fayose’s case is no isolation. He is part of a general electoral decadence in the nation. This machination has benefitted elected officials across party divides.
It is doubtful Fayose will be on the spotlight like this if he had chosen to be silent like other PDP governors. Had he defected to the ruling APC, will the revelations come to be? It is hard to dispel the perception that Fayose might have been a victim of his opposition views and politics. No matter how hard government explains it away, Ekitigate is not an exception in the atrocities that accompany elections in the country.
And no matter how much Nigerians try to crucify Aluko for his part in the drama, or his reasons for coming out, the truth is that the nation’s electoral system is still very far from where it should be, and a lot more still needs to be done to make electorates’votes count.