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The Ekiti Electoral Bellwether, By Adewale Ajadi

For many people who see the challenge of the future of Nigerian Democracy in 2015 my sincere apologies to them but, frankly, the determining event is just few days away.

Here in Nigeria we often do not do a good job of heeding advance warning or anticipating defining events and patterns. We seem to live by almost fatalistic complacency assuming it will be alright anyway so that when things do not go well we find a scapegoat as if it is our entitlement to have good fortune and make progress.

For example the Super Eagles had a game with Ethiopia in high altitude but do not acclimatize but land on the day of the match. The match could have been a very easy win ended up a draw. Here we are the whole of Nigeria watching the Ekiti election like it is a spectator sport rather than a defining election. We stand at a distance seeing the candidates as almost equal gladiators, sadly what happens in Ekiti will most likely affect the rest of the country fundamentally.

In Ekiti the simpler look shows that the two main candidates are the current incumbent Governor Dr Kayode Fayemi with a track record of disciplined management and visible impact in key aspects of the state socio-economy.

The main rival is former Governor Ayo Fayose his legacy something he apologises for, resulting in indictment for corruption and murder as well as impeachment out of office with tacit acceptance of his own party.

In between all of these is the question to those who constantly say that the problem of Nigeria is leadership how could this really be a competitive election? It almost looks like the kind of thing that makes the state of Lousianna the laughing stock of the United States.

Here we stand in the often reputed ‘most educated state in Nigeria’ watching what should be a simple matter. If we are to assume that this election should be how it is, not even the most ardent supporter of former Governor Fayose sees the corruption indictment as out of order. The cry is familiarity and yes ‘infrastructure of the stomach’ a phrase that is shorthand for direct share of Government funds rather than development for a more productive society.

The question for all people of Ekiti and Nigerians at large was asked in a gathering I attended by Mr Bismarck Rewane about elections in general. Out of these contenders who will you have look after your daughter and household? If you cannot entrust your daughter to someone’s care how can you entrust thousands of sons , daughters and lives to that person?

Ekiti elections challenge the character of everyday Nigerians and their seeming desperation to share in the rent. How far are we willing to be complicit in the things we spend most of our days criticising?

lf we stand aside and allow what is so blatantly a walk away from the future we want are we not at the very least negligent and at worst reckless? If you are eligible to register and did not well you cannot use the dislike of politics as excuse when wheel comes off the rail. If you are registered and do not vote then even worse is your investment into the notion that nothing works and have no standing to complain that we live under impunity of the political elite. If you actually voted but your concern is only what you think will benefit you and instantly, then at the very least you will accept responsibility for any destructive consequence of your choice. I also suspect what works in Ekiti will be exported if not all over the country but at the very least in the rest of the Southwest.

Ekiti also asks a deeper systematic question whether due process and management matters however impersonal or that familiarity accompanied by the ability to associate trumps all.

A nation of nearly 170 million cannot afford the kind of organisation and management incompetence that has leads to squandered opportunities, wasted lives and progress stalled. If Ekiti signals that management competence does not matter it will be a profound lesson that has a very serious implication for our country going forward. We must then accept that the capacity for our choice to be the friend of our daughters is more important than the effective possibly stricter care for their development.

There can be no fence sitters we must all help answer the question to whom will we trust  our daughter and household on the 21st of June in the Ekiti election? Whatever is our answer we must all make it consciously and be fully ready for the consequences.

Adewale Ajadi, a development expert and lawyer, writes from the Niger Delta.

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