Olawale Oshun is the chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group. He spoke with Premium Times on the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State.
What is the implication of this election in the Southwest?
What is important in this election is for it to be held within the ambit of democratic principles of fairness, equity, and transparency. Once it is held within that ambit, the Yoruba people will be satisfied with its result.
So, it is important to underscore this point that the election has to be free and fair and it has to be transparently so.
Looking at historical antecedents of elections in Ekiti, do you think this one will be different?
We cannot deny the skirmishes that happened in the build up to this election. But Ekiti people themselves will determine whatever happens and I just came back from mosque now and Ekiti people were having prayers for peaceful, fair and just election.
So, that is an indication of what the people themselves want and it is important that their wish is respected. If the election is fair, then it will certainly be peaceful. It is when you introduce underhand methods that people will complain and get agitated.
They are not going to get agitated once they can see for themselves that there is a genuine effort in place to ensure that the election is free and fair.
What do you think of the deployment of security officials?
Some see it as a declaration of war on Ekiti people.
It depends on what their intentions are. This large deployment really is an aberration in democracy. We believe that what is at stake is a peaceful event. So one can then ask what the intentions are for deploying such a number of security agents here. Are those who deployed them here anxious that there could be violence? If it is done just to give people the assurance, it could still be tolerated. But really, it has been overdone. Even with the best of intention, one can see that it has been overdone. And this is why people are suspecting that the effort is to intimidate voters so that they don’t come out to vote.
But it is important to say that this country belongs to all of us. If the intention for deploying such high number of security personnel is not genuine, then it will backfire. It is necessary to underscore that. Even though it has been overdone, if the intention is genuine, people will detect that and will cooperate. But if the intention is seen to intimidate or create an unhealthy environment, or to get directly involved in election process, which has happened in the past in cases where security personnel carried ballot boxes or cancel election, it will fail woefully.
The history of this country, especially in 1964 and 1983, should be sufficient lessons.
Personally, what are you looking forward to during the election?
Well, I want to give all the benefit of doubt that the security agents and INEC will stick to their constitutional roles and allow the Ekiti people decide who wins.
But already, there have been lots of aberrations. Some governors who are related to the APC candidate were stopped from coming into Ado-Ekiti to participate in the rally but some ministers who are related to the PDP were allowed to come in.
You stopped governors either by stopping their aircrafts from landing, or from taking off at source, or those who have landed from getting to destination, then one would be worried.
However, the people of Ekiti State are citizens of Nigeria. They will take their decision. Please, respect their decision.