Those in power recognised, capitalised on Ekiti people’s poverty — Oluyede, ADC gov candidate

Wole Oluyede

The governorship candidate of African Democratic Congress in Ekiti State, Dr Wole Oluyede, an Australia-based medical practitioner, in this interview with ABIODUN NEJO, talks about vote-buying and other related issues during the June 18 governorship election.

Could you briefly give your personal assessment of the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti?

That was not how to conduct an election. There was nothing good or fair about the election. Vote-buying was so evident all over the place. Independent National Electoral Commission  appeared instructed to disrupt the election. In my polling booth, the election  didn’t start until 11am. The polling officers there told me they didn’t have a stamp to complete their processes. They brought the stamp out of a bag at 11am. It was evident that they were trying to make people get into fracas with one another. We maintained decorum and didn’t fight. I don’t think anybody trusted anything after that. Whatever the outcome of the election shows we are not ready for democracy.

Specifically, could you please shed more light on what made you say this?

There were several factors that played different roles in the election. Everybody that was involved in the election was compromised. The INEC officials were totally inept. If anybody says that INEC did a good job, it was crystal clear that things were so bad that they could not even recognise what is good.

Yes, the election was conducted, materials got to the polling booths, but when you look at the basic operational issues, were they followed? It was so evident that they favoured a particular party. The agents of that particular party were the ones INEC was asking questions.

Things were made difficult in areas that belonged to opposition parties. In my hometown, people using official vehicles went around with policemen, pointing at people they needed to arrest and openly gave bribes all over the place. Was that a free and fair election? The security people were compromised as well.

Are you considering challenging the process on the basis of vote-buying?

It is a waste of time. I don’t believe in the futility of going to court. I am not going to contest the result. I am not sure how the courts will justify nullifying the election and if it is rerun election, will that stop vote-buying? I think it will only provide another opportunity and it is only going to be a further waste of the resources of Nigeria. So, I am not interested in that.

 That means the best candidate emerged. Isn’t it?

That does not mean that I agree that the best candidate won, I don’t.  However, I believe that the person that Ekiti deserves won the election. What do I mean by that? The question here is – were Ekiti people raped? No, it was consensual intercourse. Ekiti people cannot say the forced anything on them.

Until Thursday, two days before the election, the majority in Ekiti were complaining that the All Progressives Congress was not doing well, but when they woke up on Saturday morning, everybody was waiting for ‘dibo ko sebe’ (vote and cook soup). The majority of the people did that. So, we cannot say it was forced on them. Whatever the results are, nothing was foisted on the people. It was a voluntary choice that they made based on how much money they got.

Why do you think voters preferred money that day?

Personally, I learnt a new lesson about Ekiti people and if I had known, I would not have become a politician. I became a politician because I believed or I thought that I knew Ekiti people and that Ekiti people have strong will that they will be able to make a choice.

Even if the people say that the has weaponised poverty, the Ekiti people have actually owned poverty. They see it as a right of choice because the people are poor; anybody that brings money will take their votes.

So anybody that is coming in with the plan to solve the problem of poverty is only wasting his time. Why do you have to cure a problem that somebody owns?

All through the period of the electioneering, we spent a lot of time talking about solving the problems of Ekiti, it is very obvious that the main problem Ekiti has right now is that we are poor, that is why we cannot afford anything; that is why we cannot afford to pay salaries; we cannot afford to pay pensions, that is why gratuities are not paid; and there are no deliberate plans to create wealth. That is why anybody will want to buy people’s votes.

More worrisome is that Ekiti people do not recognise this problem and if they do, are they really willing to change their minds about themselves? In the course of going around and talking to the people, I realised they actually think that ‘it is your problem to want to solve our problem for us and you have to pay us to solve that problem for us.’

Every community I went to, even in the capital city, had a complaint about the s presence not being felt and being there. They say ‘we don’t have good roads, this is a new area, we don’t have power supply, the has not been involved, we need transformers, and our drain is not good.’

As a person who believes in charity, I told them, the has to do that, it’s good you are helping yourselves, how do I help, and I donated. Some of them would say they would give their votes in the communities to the highest bidder to which I told them to look at the people who would provide those needs and change things. The people in power were able to recognise this and they used it to their advantage and they used the powers that they have to coerce all the coordinators. So, I don’t think Ekiti people were forced, they forced themselves into it.

Why did you join the race considering your flourishing medical practice in Australia?

I was in the race because I felt I could do a lot of things better for Ekiti people. Even, let us look at the unfair way people of Ekiti South Senatorial District here have been cheated out of being the governor of Ekiti State. The people of Ikere Ekiti, my hometown, in particular, put so much pressure on me, saying it was our turn to do it. They impressed on me that it was our turn to do it.

If I had known, I would have laughed it off, but I couldn’t because I thought they were so serious. It was so intense that if I didn’t do it, they would have said that I failed them. I am glad I did. I have no regrets but at least nobody can come to me now and say it is the turn of Ikere again. That is the reality. They came here, we started that journey. I was not running as a southern candidate or Ikere candidate, but I believe that anybody should have a base, so I built a base, but the base did not hold because of ‘Dibo ko sebe.’

What I found out, however, was that there was so much timidity, they probably didn’t recognise themselves as Southern Ekiti. There is no evidence that there is a vision connecting Ilawe to Igbara Odo to Ikere to Ise to Emure to Omuo, no sense of connection and they are so disillusioned and the politicians and leaders are not interested or they are thankful for any token that is given to them as individuals.

What are your regrets contesting in the election?

I ran and I have no regrets but I am not going to do it again. The reason I am not going to do it again is that I think that the governorship of Ekiti State is for the highest bidder and since I don’t think that I would be the highest bidder at any point in time and I won’t waste my time and energy. There is no point I will bring in my hard earned resources, spend it on running around, trying to talk to people to change and they won’t change their minds to even help themselves, and at the end of the day, I would have to buy the army, police, Department of State Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, INEC and the people themselves to vote. What is the point? It is a tragedy. For me, I didn’t have so much loss apart from my loss of hope.

 So, how do you now intend to better the lots of Ekiti people?

One of my friends told me that I did not understand Ekiti and advised that maybe I should start doing what I know best – charity. I think it is therapeutic, I think I will be engaged in charity. I have always been involved in charity and it is not going to be difficult because charity only goes to those who deserve it. So, if Ekiti is a charity place, they will get charity and I will passionately follow charity, but not politics again.

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