by Segun Odeleye
During a recent event, Nigeria’s vice president Namadi Sambo, reportedly told candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti and Osun states where elections are expected to be held this year, that the forthcoming governorship election in the state is a war.
The Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi, has taken exception to the statement. When he spoke to journalists last weekend, Fayemi said that even though Sambo has every right to push for his party but must not do so in a way that will jeopardise the prevailing peace in Ekiti State.
“That is his legitimate right, but to have said what the media reported him to have purportedly said was quite unfortunate because we are not at war in Ekiti. We have been here three and a half years of peace – one of the most peaceful states in this country today.
“So for somebody who occupies one of the highest offices in the land as our vice president, to reduce the importance of his office and promote insecurity – either directly or by subterfuge, and in this case it is pretty much directly and it wasn’t used figuratively, he used it in a matter of fact that he was going to a war front.
“It is very reminiscent of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s do-or-die statement, which is really unbecoming of the person who occupies the number two office in the land. I still would like to take the vice president on himself. I hope he would deny saying that and it would be some form of reassurance. I think it is the underlying text that should worry us.
“There has been a lot of sabre-rattling about this election. All of us also saw what happened at Ilaje – Ese Odo and the role played by a minister of government who does not even come from the state, has no responsibility in the state. The way he was said to have purportedly – not even purportedly because the Resident Electoral Commissioner came out openly and said “let them challenge what I’m telling you in your report”, this was what this person did.
“In any decent government Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro would have been asked to leave by now. Because if you do anything that flies flagrantly in the eyes of the law – the INEC law is very clear. That appears to many people as a precursor of their plan for Ekiti and Osun elections. And INEC ought to be sending a very strong signal to Mr. President himself that we would not take kindly to these kinds of interference by the minister of state in an election that we want as a precursor for the 2015 presidential election”, he said.
The governor also revealed that intelligence report available to him indicates that some people are already sowing fake army and police uniform in preparation for the election.
“Because there is a lot of intelligence that is available to me about people sowing fake soldiers and policemen uniform, in preparation for Ekiti election and I hope INEC would be reassuring not just Ekiti people, but Nigerians, because the Ekiti election is even far more important than the 2015 election because if confidence is lost in INEC’s preparation and eventual implementation of the Ekiti election, that will rub off terribly on the 2015 election. I mean INEC is already on the tenterhooks. We know what happened in Anambra – it is already on the tenterhooks because of what happened in Anambra. To then see Ekiti election going in the wrong direction would totally put paid to any hope on the part of Nigerians that anything good can come out of the 2015 election and I don’t think President Jonathan needs that.
“I think he has conveyed an image of himself as a decent politician who is not going to manipulate or resort to extra-legal or illegal ways in election management in Nigeria.
I think INEC together with Inter Agency Committee and Security that would be involved in the election really need to give people a lot of reassurance following the Vice President statement. I think it is very unfortunate. I think it is unbecoming of his office.
“I think the Vice President really ought to withdraw the statement and reassure Nigerians that the agenda for Ekiti election is not going to be determined in Aso Rock but by Ekiti people because it is a referendum on the performance of the current government in Ekiti; it is not a national election. It should not be reduced to a national election”, he added.
However, Governor Fayemi warned that rigging can never happen in Ekiti as history has shown.
“This is Ekiti and people who are familiar with the history here would know that this is not a very good place to rig election. In Ekiti, you will discover that everybody is interested in what happens because we have 2.5million governors in this state.
“Every single indigene believed he has what it take – that he understands government and that he knows how to govern. So you can’t say such a person does not have an opinion. And when you try to manipulate elections in a place like Ekiti, the result has not been palatable. Whether you refer to 1964 – 65; Ekiti was even more of a resistance zone than Ikenne and of course, when you talk of 1983, we all can remember what happened here. Even though our son was the person seen to have perpetrated the crisis. They still did not spare him and his supporters”, said Governor Fayemi.