Fellow Citizens of Ekiti State,
Our dear State is yet again on the threshold of a significant place in history. A threshold which we must cross in our journey to the Greater Ekiti of our dreams and aspirations. The burden history has placed on me as the Governor of this great State today is to remind us that peace is the most important asset we need to cross that historic threshold and walk on boldly onto our destined place in history.
According to the calendar guiding the 2014 gubernatorial elections in our dear state as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, today, Sunday, March 23, 2014 marks the official commencement of campaigns and allied activities by contestants and political parties participating in the Saturday, June 21, 2014 elections.
All campaign related activities are meant to cease by Thursday, June 19, 2014. As the barriers are removed to enable political parties, aspirants and candidates campaign openly in line with the Electoral Act, I admonish all the players to embrace new rules of engagement grounded in conversations. I charge all actors in the political space to exhibit the highest degree of nobility in word and conduct. My plea to all our political parties, aspirants, candidates and indeed all supporters is, let the conversations begin.
Let the political parties and the candidates they have opted to field begin to engage the good people of Ekiti State in robust conversations. Let the candidates begin to lay bare their plans to govern Ekiti State. Let them begin to present their alternative action plans for the development of critical sectors of our State before our people. Let all political parties traverse the nooks and crannies of Ekitiland freely to sell their plan of actions in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Let Ekitiland become Nigeria’s model of a political market place of ideas where the buyers and the sellers meet unmolested.
A political market place where ideas will be the currency of exchange. A political market place where conversations will be the defining rules of engagement between the sellers of the ideas and buyers of the ideas!
Let Ekitiland live up to her name as the Land of Honour and rise to her long earned reputation as the Fountain of Knowledge. Let knowledge rather than blood flow from this Fountain. Let this Fountain of Knowledge become a beacon for other States in Nigeria. Let us push the frontiers of creativity in governance with new knowledge during this electioneering campaign season. Let us present new knowledge about our economy. Let us advance new thinking about our healthcare system, our educational system, social security for the elderly, protection for the strong, help for the weak. This is how great nations and prosperous sub-national economies are built.
Good people of Ekiti State, this is our most opportune time to keep Ekiti State on the path of development and real growth by letting all political gladiators know that the rules of engagement in Ekiti politics have indeed changed. When they come to our communities with weapons of war, let us invite them to the theatre of ideas. Let me appeal to all our revered leaders of faiths and thoughts as well as all our traditional rulers to help spread and entrench our new rules of engagement in Ekitiland. Let this message go from the pulpit to the pew in our churches and from the Mimbar to the followers in our mosques.
Let it be known that Ekitiland has found and embraced a new culture of engagement. This is our sure path to a Greater Ekiti. This is how to ensure that desperate politicians wishing to trade in the old violent ways become stranded sellers in our new terrain of tolerance. We have come a long way as a people to achieve these modest gains in peace and economic progress in our state; we must never lose this momentum.
We must as a people, regardless of our political leanings collectively resolve to shape the character of the campaigns to reflect that badge of honour that distinguishes us as Ekiti people. We must re-enact the politics of ideology in our state by ensuring ours is an example of politics at its finest – the pure contest of ideas for hearts and minds devoid of violence. That is why we should be very vigilant and alert throughout this season.
We should be particularly wary of those who do not play by these rules of engagement, but who seek to come to power through monetization, intimidation and violence to mask their lack of acceptability.
To members of the fourth estate of the realm, I appeal that we use the instrumentality of our respective medium to objectively and truthfully report the ideas and the exchanges. This is how, as true members of the media witness, you can help our people make informed choices not only in this election cycle but in others to come. I appeal that you take more than a passing reportorial interest in the conversations during the campaign but that you dig deeper into the ideas and lay them before our people to decide. I appeal that you take your place in history as moderators of this new culture of engagement with the electorate. I appeal that you raise unbiased platforms for robust debates to enable our people see through the lines and make informed electoral decisions.
Finally, I appeal to all our security agencies to guarantee the safety of all participants in this contest irrespective of political affiliation or belief. If this new culture of engagement must endure, participants in our new political market place of ideas must be guaranteed their rights to freedom of speech, thought, association, movement, and life as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Yours is the constitutional responsibility to ensure that those who still want to trade the old ways, with weapons of violence are brought to justice. If they attempt to flee from justice, justice must be brought to them. I encourage the good people of Ekiti State, to go about your normal activities without fear as the government is up to the task of collaborating with relevant agencies to maintain law and order in the state. No individual’s political ambition, mine inclusive, is worth the spilling of the blood of any of our people.
I commit the days ahead to the sovereignty of the Almighty God as we take this major step forward in consolidating democratic governance in our state. May our shared love for Ekiti and our selfless pursuit of the common good, be blessed by God.
Long Live Ekiti State.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Dr. Kayode Fayemi
Governor, Ekiti State