Ekiti is a land of dubious contradictions. It is landlocked, yet one of its monikers is Fountain of Knowledge. Ekiti is the land of disturbing opposites; it’s the home of the beauty and the beast, the lamb and the tiger, black and white, violence and peace, arrogance and humility, absurdity swallowing reason, warm and cold spring, Fayose and Fayemi. Unlike the people of Badagry, Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt, the Ekiti weren’t among the first set of Nigerians to behold the white man.
But, on the cusp of present-day curious reality, Ekiti rose to become the most western-education enamoured state in the federation, minting the largest number of academics in the country. How did Ekiti arrive at the pinnacle of this phenomenal glory? Science has established a link between yam consumption and twin births. But science hasn’t established a nexus between yam consumption and proficiency in academics though pounded yam remains the staple food of Ekiti people.
Ekiti derived its name from its hilly topography, which yielded to the expedition led by Olofin, a prominent son of Oduduwa, the fabled progenitor of the Yoruba, during a peregrination to discover an abode away from Ile-Ife, the Source – which was becoming congested, according to the Yoruba creation story.
In awe of the immeasurable beauty of Ekiti’s innumerable hills, Olofin and his band of earliest settlers named the newfound land Ile Olokiti, meaning: Land of Hills. Ile Olokiti, according to legend, is today the metamorphosis of Ile Ekiti. In Yoruba, ‘okiti’ is another word for ‘tumble,’ hence the idea of height and descent still subsists in its meaning. Another nickname of Ekiti is “Land of Honour and Integrity”. However, recent political happenings in the state show that honour and integrity last week took flight through Ado, the state capital. Ekiti, no doubt, is a bitter metaphor of the Nigerian state.
Generally, Ekiti people are seen as headstrong, rugged, inflexible, iron-willed, accommodating, hardworking and perseverant. I need to be very careful with my choice of words here; my in-laws will read this article. The Ekiti, like their Ondo State neighbour, and partly, the Ijesa of Osun, are believed to be the most volatile people in Yoruba land. I’m Ijesa, so, no innuendo intended.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo threw statesmanship to the dogs in 2007 when he described the fast-approaching general election of the time a do-or-die affair. The 2007 election lived up to the billing of the President, who rather than protect the sanctity of democracy and the election, chose to expose the country to bloodletting by promoting violence. The 2007 general election turned out to be one of the bloodiest elections in the history of the country as no fewer than 50 persons were killed in the ensuing violence with casualties littering Osun, Rivers, Ondo, Lagos, Delta, Kogi, Kwara, Anambra and Edo states.
During the bloody election, the then Action Congress of Nigeria put up a strong challenge against the hegemony of Obasanjo’s Peoples Democratic Party at the state level, as states like Osun, Edo and Ondo were prised away from the vice-like claw of the PDP by the armada deployed by a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
In the 2011 governorship election, Oyo and Ekiti states also fell to the ACN as the influence of the PDP significantly waned against the well-run media machinery of the Lagos-gingered opposition party. Caught in the web of self-inflicted immolation begotten by avarice, insensitivity, vanity and arrogance, a drowning PDP flailed at straws as it was swept away by the currents of rivers Osun, Ogun, Owena and Ogunpa into the Lagos lagoon. Lagos thus lived up to its name which means a lake in Portuguese, serving as spring for motivation and action against the PDP. The achievements of the Babatunde Fashola-led APC administration in the state became a standard of measurement for all state administrations in the country and a poster for alternative governance.
So, tired of the corruption and cluelessness of the Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP administration, Nigerians massively voted incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, and also obliterated the vestiges of the PDP in the South-West, Kwara, Kogi and 15 other states. Hope of a new dawn had come, Nigerians happily thought. Buhari will fight corruption and insecurity. He will make the lame walk and the blind see. But three years in the saddle, corruption is still hale and hearty, insecurity is as fit as a fiddle but change was dead on arrival. Despite all this, pro-Buhari supporters blindly want Nigerians to believe that corruption got a black eye from the President’s combination of jabs, hooks and uppercuts just as insecurity suffered a spinal-cord injury following his karate kicks.
But the Ekiti governorship primary and state congresses of the APC across the federation put the lie to any security claims by the Buhari government. In Rivers State, the APC youths chased out judges, workers and litigants from the state High Court, Port Harcourt, on Friday, when the supporters of the Senator representing River South-East district, Magnus Abe, clashed with the supporters of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. The supporters of Abe had stormed the court to seek an injunction restraining the Amaechi faction from holding local government congress of the party on Saturday.
Online video of the desecration of the court showed a party under the siege of political fiends. The sound of non-stop gunshots in the video was reminiscent of the last days of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el-Rufai had to declare a curfew to curb violence likely to arise from the party’s congress. In Imo, suspected hoodlums set the APC secretariat in Owerri, the state capital, ablaze on Friday. The state’s party chairman, Hilary Eke, said the hoodlums attacked the secretariat “just to frustrate the LGA congress of the party on Saturday”. In Agege, a Lagos suburb, one person reportedly lost his life during the Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area congress of the ruining, sorry, ruling party, on Saturday, just as gunfight marred the two parallel congresses held in the Owan Local Government Area of Edo, on Saturday. Two parallel congresses were also held in Kwara, Ondo, Ebonyi, Kogi, Bayelsa and Adamawa states where factional political leaders affirmed their various congresses as the authentic. The APC’s story of woes continued in Oyo, where a teenage girl was killed on the heels of the state congress in the Ibadan-North Local Government Area on Saturday.
Stating the obvious, Tinubu, a national leader of the APC, said the crises that characterised the congresses were orchestrated by wayward party members seeking to impose their will on the majority. He said, “The problems came from those who sought to pollute the exercise by either strong or surreptitious imposition.” For me, the bloodletting and violence which greeted the APC congresses underscores the sad reality that the Nigerian politician seeks elective posts only for his personal benefits.
Unlike the peaceful Ekiti PDP governorship primary which produced Governor Ayodele Fayose’s protégé and Deputy Governor, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, as candidate, the Ekiti APC governorship primary was a show of shame. The first governorship primary of the party held penultimate week ended in a fiasco as disgruntled party members openly smashed ballot boxes and trampled on ballot papers. If it was the PDP primary that went awry, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, might have threatened Fayose with arrest while the almighty media machinery of the APC would have snacked what remained of the PDP’s goodwill.
It is rather ironic that the APC, which calls itself a party of progressives, hasn’t come out to apologise to Nigerians for the insanity that attended its governorship primary in Ekiti and the congresses across the country. If bloodletting and violence are symptomatic of insecurity and insecurity was a cardinal point in the manifesto that shot President Buhari into power, then failure was the hallmark of the APC’s congressional attempt at enshrining internal democracy. The APC must find other words for corruption, change and contradiction.