In what would have come as a shock to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) particularly their non-Ekiti twitter followers, Dr Kayode Fayemi emerged as the governor-elect in the Ekiti gubernatorial election.
Fayemi who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former governor himself defeated Professor Kolapo Eleka of the incumbent party.
The twitter polls may not have reflected the expectation of many Nigerians particularly supporters of the PDP as while the PDP dominated many online polls; the reverse was the case in the state.
For some political observers and analyst, PDP’s defeat would probably be something they were not expecting considering the fact that the governor, Ayodele Fayose gave an air of someone who had the state by his fingertip and could direct the citizens to do whatever he wanted as long as he asked. He prides himself as someone who understood the local politics required to win in the state as it helped him in 2014. Who would have a thought the eating of amala in public and riding on a motorcycle would not deliver the state to PDP?
Different factors affect the outcome of any election and whether it is the ingenuity of the winner or the mistake of the loser, the electorate have the final decision to make.
Below are 6 possible reasons why the PDP may have lost the Ekit gubernatorial election.
1. Fayose vs Fayemi
Although Professor Eleka was the candidate of the PDP, the election looked more like a contest between Governor Fayose and Fayemi. Fayose single-handedly anointed Eleka as his candidate in spite of the grumbling from other interested members who felt he was running the party in Ekiti like a personal affair. In protest, several top members of the party defected to the opposition APC. In doing so, they took with them their supporters and added to the growing popularity of the APC.
Things might have been forgiven if Fayose allowed his anointed candidate to be involved in the campaign. Rather, it looked like Fayose was running for a third term in office. Perhaps he thought his popularity was strong enough to sway the electorate into voting for his candidate. He had probably forgotten that the people whom he owed months of salaries were not so happy seeing his face on campaign posters. To them, it was a choice between Fayemi and Fayose even though the latter was not the candidate; they were probably tired of seeing his face. After all, there was every possibility that Eleka would have been Fayose’s stooge if he had won.
2. Too little, too late
Fayose has managed the affairs of Ekiti in an almost Machiavellian manner: He owes months of salaries but once in a while, he would personally following a truck full of rice and handover to citizens celebrating citizens. It was a tactic that gave the picture of someone who understood the pain of the people but with every tactic, it could only last till its expiry date. Fayose failed to understand the body language of the people.
A day before the election, it was reported that civil servants in the state were paid N3, 00 perhaps to encourage them to vote the PDP. It was an attempt that was already too late to make any impact on the people who were probably used to the governor’s antics. Of what incentive is N3,000 to people who are owed months of salaries?
3. Federal might
The party at the centre in Nigeria has the machinery to help it win election at the lower level. This can be done either by making sure the election is not rigged by the opposition or perhaps help them to win as well. It was claimed that the PDP’s victory in 2014 was due to the support the party got from the federal government in deploying security operatives to restrict the opposition’s campaign and also to rig the election. In 2018, the APC which is the party at the centre was also accused of using its position to affect the election.
4. Lesson learnt
Fayemi lost the 2014 election largely due to how he managed the campaign. While Fayose was using his street tactic to connect to the electorate, Fayemi was reportedly staying aloof in his campaign. Fayemi smartly recognised this weakness in 2018 and made sure not to repeat this mistake. He connected with local politicians who helped connect to the people and articulate his plans. In short, he beat Fayose’s party in its own game.
5. Voiceless and faceless Eleka
Eleka would probably be wondering if he participated in the campaign at all as he was dwarfed by Fayose’s image who looked like he was running for third term himself. In fact, he was largely referred to by the media and commentators as Fayose’s deputy rather than by his own name. It would probably not be surprising if some Ekiti electorate didn’t know him by name. He said little and left Fayose to run the campaign. At the end, the loss seemed like a Fayose loss and not his own. His failure to assert himself into the election and sell himself was a major disaster that cost them the election.
6. The battle of cash
It is fair to assume that the cash that was available at PDP’s disposal during the 2014 Ekiti election helped it win but in 2018, the party was unable to challenge with the same financial power thus limiting its financial incentive. It was rumoured that money was still shared by the party but it wasn’t as much as the wad of cash doled out by the opponent. Whether these allegation are true or otherwise, what is clear is that PDP was financially limited in competing in the election and for a party that succeeded with cash in 2014, its inability to replicate it proved to be its downfall.