Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Wednesday, 25th June, 2014, took a critical look at the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti State saying the outcome raised fundamental questions that deserved attention.
The Governor, who was responding to a question from a state house correspondent at Lagos House, Marina who wanted to know if the All Progressives Congress was willing to learn lessons from the Ekiti election as being advanced by some commentators, said the supposed lessons from there raise frightening and disturbing dimensions to conduct of politics and questions on human behaviour.
Governor Fashola, saluted the government and people of Ekiti State, especially the Governor for the leadership and sense of decency that they have shown as a good example of statesmanship.
“It has not come without some cost but perhaps then the question of lessons really needs to be examined because I believe that in partisan politics, politicians approach the electorate with challenging ideas, manifestoes with the intention to bring on changes and that every election is an assessment of what the people think, how people behave and that is what is inherent when you count the votes”, Governor Fashola explained.
However, the Governor, noted it would appear that taken from face value that the lessons are about whether the people of Ekiti State are really saying that election was just about money and rice which is very easy to provide.
“Development work is difficult to initiate and execute and development work that brings on change is what every election ask for. It will also from time to time occasion debates and policy choices and which legitimately must be criticised,” he said.
The Lagos Governor maintained that it must be a very dangerous message to simply suggest that once anyone gives people money then this is the way it would happen and that it is frightening for him in a democracy because it raises the question about what state governors have been doing for seven years.
“Should we just be giving money and when people ask about security, we say we have given you the money, go and rent your own security? So when people ask about hospitals and drugs we say you have collected money, is that a model for development? He asked.
The Governor, who explained that he is not suggesting that his party would monopolise the debate about what the best policy is, said that there must be another side and a debate that recognises that development comes at a cost and that even those who are privileged to serve don’t claim to have a monopoly of ideas.
According to Fashola, though Lagos State has demonstrated time after time how flexible it can be about policy issues if it sees a stronger argument but that to simply suggest that in All Progressives Congress (APC) governed states where a lot of development is taking place the road to winning power is simply to go and give money is a very worrisome lesson to learn.
Analysing his conclusion further, the Governor noted that if anyone examines the way the people of Ekiti have behaved two weeks ago or one week ago, nobody who was a self respecting public commentator could comfortably stand up and say Governor Fayemi would lose the election.
“Nobody could say that anybody said that. The worst that you could say was that it looked close, if it did. Is this the way human beings have behaved? is this the normal way to behave. Does a Governor whom everybody says did well lose even in his own ward? If he was such a bad Governor? Was the Deputy also a bad Deputy that she too lost? Was the Speaker of the House also bad and I know that this may be difficult to convey but I want Nigerians to listen to the message and not the messenger because I have a partisan interest.
“Let us simply examine human behaviour here and perhaps you should remember that the Governor- elect now from his own party was told to all of us that he had criminal issues to answer. They removed him, they took him to court and have not come back to come and tell us that he has been acquitted and they bring him back to the same state. Is that consistent with human behaviour with this behaviour. Do human beings behave like that? He reiterated.
Giving further insights into the savoury circumstances that led to Fayose’s ouster from office before, Governor Fashola noted that though human memories may have faded, it seems curious that that it could be to such an extent that the same Governor now defeats an incumbent who everybody says has done well in all local governments, adding that those are issues that he thinks should be pondered over and more questions asked about what happened.
“Just from the human behavioural angle, is there any incumbent that has lost an election like this before, I don’t know ,I may be naive. But do people behave like this? Is this the way they reward development and then we say that politics is dirty, somebody comes with some very respectable qualifications and the reaction we now get is that he speaks too much English. Where would you speak English except in Ekiti?
“You have many professors there anyway and they say he is elitist. And you know I just don’t understand because this is the same Governor that has an unprecedented welfare programme where a certain category of citizens get a fixed amount of money every month for the last three years. Is it consistent with human behaviour to leave that sure income for what have been at best temporary gift for three months. Is that normal?. Even if people were excited, would it be in that overwhelming number. For me those are issues that are worrisome”, he stated.
Also speaking on the reported statement of acceptance of defeat issued by Dr Fayemi, Governor Fashola said anyone should read Dr Fayemi’s statement of acceptance in full details and stand back along with the issues that he has raised in the interview about human behaviour.
“I continue to reiterate that I am partisan but asking questions so that I can become better, but that said, he (Dr Fayemi) said if this was the decision of the people in Ekiti, was this their decision? Is that decision consistent with human behaviour, is this what we are used to. If that is it and is a big if then he accepts”, the Governor stressed
Fashola said he was aware that there were instructions to cause mayhem in the state but that Dr Fayemi decided that he was not going to sacrifice any blood simply because of an election and saved his people from a slaughter which was intended if they had protested.
“That is a matter of fact. He had said what happened is a matter for research and so an election is a process starting with voters registration, voters accreditation, display of voters list and balloting. What has happened now is balloting and the announcement of results”, he said.
The Governor added that for post balloting issues, the matter is never foreclosed because one can go back and look at an election process including litigation that sometime follow an election which is part of that process because it is all contemplated within one law which is the electoral law.
He stated that the prosecution of electoral offenders is also part of the continuing process and that the Nigerian electoral process would only be richer if everyone understands that balloting is one stage of a process that has just been concluded.