The Yoruba of Nigeria’s southwest say you do not appreciate the result of the movements of a woman holed in the kitchen until she presents the outcome of her efforts at the table before her husband and his guests. The head of the family and his friends would hear her singing accompanied by a clatter of cooking utensils and footsteps. But since they hardly understand what is happening, the hungry hectoring husband and friends would harass the woman to make haste.
Later the aroma of the soup would waft through to them and that is when they would have a foretaste of what is on the way. Finally the salivating guests would come face to face with the product from the kitchen; they would hail the woman and salute her work. It would dawn on them that what they did earlier, being impatient and raining verbal assaults on the woman while she was in the kitchen, was uncalled for!
Something akin to that is what has happened in Ekiti state.
President Goodluck Jonathan took some steps on the question of security and gave ballot umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a free hand to run the poll in Ekiti. Now I have it on good authority that the president, a few days before the election, called Ayo Fayose, the candidate of his own party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to a private meeting. He is reported to have advised Fayose to play clean, that he the president would not throw his weight behind him and his supporters if they resorted to any breach of the law. He wished the candidate well and urged him to rely solely on the raw votes of the people. Of course Jonathan also as required by convention had to openly show the PDP’s support for Fayose by attending the party’s rally in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital where he campaigned for the party’s candidate.
Thereafter, upon receiving security reports that some elements of the political class in Ekiti were planning to unleash violence after the release of the vote results, President Jonathan, promptly dispatched well-armed troops and police personnel to the state to keep the law and order and protect the vote of the people from being tampered with. The president declared that he did not care whose ox was gored, whether it was his party’s or that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the other major party, or any other party for that matter. All he desired was that as the federal chief security officer, he must protect the wishes of the people as expressed through the poll.
Many who did not understand the president raised voices of dissent and criticism. They pilloried him for allegedly attempting to rig the election for PDP. But strident social critic Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka was not one of those who opposed Jonathan’s action. He said: “I am not saying that troops should not be sent to maintain law and order and to ensure that rigging does not take place.”
I am glad to report that the president’s plan worked out perfectly. There was no rigging. The votes of the electorates counted. And despite all the pre-election fears that there would be war and a collapse of everything that stood for peace and tranquility in Ekiti, we witnessed the contrary. There was no violence before, during and after the exercise. The poll was transparent with no apprehension about a so-called federal might rigging the ballot to favor Fayose. Such was PDP’s flawless victory that Fayose’s opposite number Kayode Fayemi immediately conceded defeat, while independent monitors, local and international, rated the poll a free and fair one. It was victory for sanity. It was also an endorsement of president Jonathan’s handling of the issue as well as of his performance at the national level.
Ekiti 2014, according to analysts, is a foretaste of 2015. It represents hope in a president who has repeatedly told his compatriots not to despair about the current challenges the country is facing. He says we should hold him to his word, the oath he swore to, namely to abide by the constitution and give all his best in service to the country. Like the cook in the kitchen, he says he is preparing a delicacy that would delight us all.
In Ekiti he has proved this. He has satisfied a key tenet of democracy. Jonathan has waved his magic wand of good luck to deliver a dividend of democracy, that is a free, fair and peaceful election, when we all had thought another wetie was in the offing. Fayose of PDP may be enjoying this legendary good luck which wins tough elections. But in a larger sense, the whole nation and all the political and non-political classes are eating from the food that has emerged from the broth of Goodluck Jonathan, who himself stood unruffled in the kitchen in the face of derisive attacks.
This good luck should be savored by all nationwide to guide us in the poll in Osun state on August 9, 2014 and in the bigger one to come-2015 Elections.
-Dr. Agunbiade is a retired lecturer in Ipoti-Ekiti, Ekiti state