Poverty as a Weapon: Implication of Ekiti Election on Nigerian Democracy

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The Ekiti  Election have come and gone although it is quite certain we have not heard the last of it. The hotly contested elections was full of drama and intrigue as has become the norm with Nigerian Politics where our politicians turn to Nollywood Actors anytime election season approaches.

 

In 2015, history was made when an incumbent President was defeated for the first time ever by an opposition candidate; people expected bloodshed and a divided country after because African leaders are not known to give up power so easily. It therefore came as a shock when the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) handed over the reins of the Presidency to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a historic move that shocked the world.

In his first inaugural speech to the Nation after he was sworn into office, one critical phrase picked on by Nigerians was “I am for everybody and I am for nobody”. The president promised to uphold the rule of the law at all times, fight corruption to a standstill, tackle insecurity by ending the insurgency in the North- east and improving the economy. It has been three years down the line and the country has never been worse.

 

The World Bank listed Nigeria as the new poverty capital of the world having overtaken India in that index. The Nigerian Government as usual decried the statistics declaring it false and opting to bury their heads in the sand instead.

Nigeria slid into recession within the first 8 months of Buhari’s Presidency due largely to his indecision to appoint key ministers to manage the economy. The past three years of his Presidency has been plagued with increase poverty and rising unemployment rates, tons of people lost their jobs in the first two years, there have been a total breakdown of the rule of law as the presidency itself disobeys court orders at will and security forces are more corrupt; they abduct and rob citizens and sometimes carry out extra-judicial killings at will, there has been an increase in the activities of armed groups within the country as Fulani herdsmen have gone on a killing rampage  with a concentration in the middle- belt states while Boko Haram has resumed the conquests of military bases, towns and villages across the North-East.

 

Recently the Government announced its plan to distribute N5000 each to the most ‘vulnerable’ and the ‘poorest’ families in the country with about $350 Million recovered from the Abacha family; empowerment they called it.

While the whole country including the National Assembly has kicked against such a gesture calling it ‘wasteful’ on the part of the federal government; the government in its infinite wisdom has implemented its decision in Ekiti State.

The fact that there was massive vote buying in the recently concluded Ekiti Elections is an open secret; it was done in the full glare of the world.  While the PDP could only afford to raise N4000 for each vote, the ruling party APC upped the ante by paying N5000 upwards for a vote and thus captured Ekiti for its candidate Kayode Fayemi.

In this election, the full weight of federal might was brought to bear; 55 thousand security operatives which included 30 thousand policemen for one election. This raised alarms with Nigerians because these security operatives were not sent to areas under siege by Fulani herdsmen and other criminal elements murdering innocent Nigerians in their sleep; but apparently to monitor the largest vote buying operation in the history of the country, which obviously is a bigger security issue in the eyes of the government.

 

The months leading up to the elections were full of drama and intrigue as major party contenders attacked each other through every possible means. The Ekiti state government under Fayose had owed workers salaries for six months same as almost every state government in the country.

The Federal provided bail outs from Paris Club loan refunds to state governments to enable them pay salaries being owed. While some complied, others like the Kogi state governor Yahya Bello did not. Ekiti state was not paid these funds and as such could not pay its workers as other states had done, to crown it up, Ekiti allocation for the month of June was not released. Of course this had a biting effect on the fragile economy of the state; it can therefore be rationalised that the people sold their votes because they were hungry.

 

The vote buying in the Ekiti Elections could very well set the stage for what to expect in the 2019 elections under the present Buhari led APC government. In selling their votes, the Ekiti people have forfeited the rights to good governance for the next four years. They have no moral ground to accuse the newly elected state governor to be accountable to the people for the next four years because he bought the position with money.

The Ekiti Elections has cemented the fact that President Buhari’s fight against corruption is a farce; corruption has never been worse in the country. As long as poverty remains a tool and a weapon for electoral victory and political statements, democracy in Nigeria remains endangered under this government.

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