I just returned from Ekiti where I reported the governorship election.
And I learnt a few lessons. The saddest part was that people can actually vote against their long-term interest in exchange for instant gratification.
I saw middle age and young people gleefully collecting bribe ranging from N3,000 to N10,000 to vote candidate they despise.
Days to the elections, same people on the street were chanting hilarious but a warning song like Alagbara mo mero baba ole/ Ao gbodo gbo BAO l’enu yin mon.
Roughly translated as “powerful, but thoughless lot, we dare you mouth BAO again in our midst.”
I was curious and asked a few that I met why do they despise the ruling party so much and the response was that Ekiti people had suffered hunger and deprivation in the last four years.
They spoke about absence of clear leadership in the midst of insecurity. Of high cost of living and exorbitant school fee. They wanted a change.
But on the day of election, politicians among them had a different plan. They stationed party agent by the corner of the polling booth to monitor how people vote, and give them bribe afterwards.
Truth be told, each party offers bribes, but APC offer was the highest. And because more people wanted higher bribe, they voted for the highest bidder.
On the election day in Ado-Ekiti, I sat close to a couple of young girls who were giggling about how they almost voted for a party that offered N3,000 before they got promise of N7000 from the ruling party. They were so happy to show the money to their friends.
They cared less that someone in INEC uniform was seated nearby. Observers we deployed to the 16 local government areas in the state came back with similar reports.
The election was largely smooth. INEC appeared to be well prepared. BVAS worked well in many places. There were no case of major violence or rigging like we experienced in Kogi state.
The key issue in the Ekiti election is vote buying. Politicians bought votes. People sold their votes.
And so the lesson I learnt is that the candidates who do not have war chest to dispense in the 2023 election will struggle to win majority vote.
People will talk ideal before the day of election, but on that very day, politicians will be waiting for customers, not voters. And many registered voters will become customers on election day.
This is what I learnt in the Ekiti Election.
Again, I wish the people of Ekiti the best of luck in the next four years.
© Ajibola Amzat
June 19, 2022.