Elections come and go, but the decisions made by the people of the state will live on in the annals of its history, shaping the structures of the people and their living standards.
The things I witnessed in Ekiti are so numerous that it’s proof of how far we are from actual freedom. It’s proof that we aren’t quite there yet. And tragically, it’s proof that the people have been denied education and poverty has been weaponised to prevent the people from making the right decisions as it concerns political leaders.
At least there were no security challenges as witnessed in Anambra, nor threats by some opposing units, at least not till the elections were over. The surroundings came with a grail of calmness and relative love for strangers, using me and my partner as a case study.
Vote buying isn’t a strange thing, but in Ekiti, it was as normal as anything can be. Voting education was as terrible as if the people weren’t infirmed yet. Although it was relatively peaceful, going by the conduct and acceptability of the election. However, in contrast to its population and its total number of registered voters, the accredited voters, and then the number of those who actually came out to vote, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of an observer.
With a total number of 988,923 registered voters, only 360,753 voters came out to actually vote, representing a 37.5% voter turnout. A very poor turnout since 2003. This is another reason to understand that voter apathy is very much alive, another tragedy in the state’s democratic process and a failure in the crux of governance in losing the people’s trust.
On the eve of the election, while mapping my local government coverage, Gbonyin local government to be precise, with a total population number estimated to be above 145,713, its 2006 census. With a total vote of 20,293 compared to the old population census written above, there is every reason to be concerned, especially with the 2023 general election approaching and every certainty that the actual population must have increased.
The people of Gbonyin like most Yoruba-speaking communities were friendly and mutual in their dealings, but more than 70% were not completely educated and were in fact lodged in the doldrums of poverty.
These affected the voting patterns of the people, whom I presumed to be subjective in their political culture. And even though many didn’t vote, those who did vote were induced with little or no promise of stipends.
These things were expected to be penalised but weren’t due to the insensitivity of the various security apparatus deployed. In the long run, the freedom of the people of Gbonyin may never come at any moment from now. They don’t know that they have sold their four years for cash in different ranges. From five thousand to two thousand five hundred, depending on which political party you voted for.
A few words about my companion
Allow me to introduce you to my colleagues. For we were all shared across the 16 Ekiti local government chairman. Some of us were lucky enough to have come from the state, while some are students at the various institutions down there. So, for some of these people, the terrain wasn’t as difficult as one would expect.
For me, fate pitted me against Mofiyin-Foluwa, a newbie in the act of election observation. And it was all a memorable stint at the end of the day, one that makes me feel that we can perhaps work together for the next time, at least with an eye on Osun.
She was always ready for the next challenge and always ready to work and listen to instructions. Perhaps due to the fear imbibed in her by Nicholas, she always listened to her boss. And she never once refused to listen during the two days we spent together, despite the fact that we spent much of our time in the company of the police officers assigned to secure the ballot boxes in Ekiti state.
For Fiyin, there’s always something to say about the food we were served. It’s either salty or tasteless. Sometimes she goes to bed hungry, for her mind was just in the concluding part of our time in Ekiti. The election came and collation was our most important part. To me, she remains the best I have worked with in the long run to actualise the winners and losers of the Ekiti election.
Elections proper and the things I saw
Gbonyin, like the rest of Ekiti, fell for vote-buying during the elections, selling, reselling, and causing a little commotion in terms of money inducement.
I saw older women, expected to know even better, grandfathers, and surprisingly, youths in their numbers, not only selling their franchise but also encouraging others to do the same as well. There is really nothing much to say that is new, but it’s just strange that it has now become our new pattern and the true change we clamour for is not anytime close.
It’s obvious judging by what played out in Ekiti after the results were announced and the winner was declared. The people have spoken, the decisions have been taken, and the larger group have chosen their governor for another four and possibly eight years. Those who sold their votes may not have the right to complain.
On a lighter note, I saw beautification made by nature. I saw rocks all around the state, some like gods that fell off heaven, some like gods banished from eternity into boundless and timeless fruition. It was a great journey to the land of honour after all. However, the journey has just begun for the people of Ekiti.
And by implication, our long walk to freedom hasn’t started yet.
DISCLAIMER: This story has been published on Campus Reporter with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.
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