Symbolism with Simbo Olorunfemi
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The story of what transpired in Ekiti State over the last weekend is yet to be told. There is a plethora of jabs at the elephant on the ground from all angles. But the elephant is what it is – you can never have an all-round view from the limited perspective it offers you. We are swimming in an ocean of opinions on the election. From the newspaper stand to the social media, there is plenty to say. Everywhere you turn, someone has something to say. From the profound to the banal, each has a word. That might not be unconnected with the hoopla generated before the election itself. So much has been said, yet not much has been said. The time to say it as it is has not come. History is being written in a hurry, with many erecting skyscrapers out of fallacies. For what it is worth, a peripheral interrogation might help in throwing in a bit of light.
Ekiti might have a lot in common with other states, but her politics stand out on account of some intervening variables. The factors that are at play in the electoral contest there are, in many respects, peculiar. It will be presumptuous to seek to run away with the fancy tale of the rejection of one party, a particular leader or tendency, singularly based on this result. The Ekiti election was strictly a contest between two personalities that do not exist in reality.
One was a personality fabricated by a combination of strategic communication error and deliberate distortion of facts. In the absence of an effective communication plan to sell the real man, the proponents of stomach infrastructure sold him as a man disconnected from his own people. It was too late before the real man decided to show up. Every effort made to present the real face behind the mask, as the elections drew near, fell flat. The calabash was still frothing with yesterday’s palm wine, when he made his call. The greater the push, the more it reinforced the caricature sold to the unsuspecting public. Yet, when you unmask the masquerade, it is difficult to find someone more connected in philosophy and developmental agenda to the grassroots. A friend was sold to the unsuspecting as an enemy.
The other personality was a painstakingly – built masquerade, who, conscious of his baggage and weaknesses, did his best to play only to his strengths. With guile and subterfuge, a masquerade was sold as a man of the people. The masquerade knew the dance steps. He was familiar with the turf and the nuances of the spectators. Why engage in a debate when a simple dance in the market seemed to resonate more with the people. The shenanigans from Abuja only reinforced the spectacle created by the anointed one and his foot soldiers.
Taken by the drum beats and dance steps of the masquerade, the spectators began to sing along. They turned their backs on the familiar tune of values and integrity. They took the masquerade from the other world as one of their own. Even when they could find little in common with this strange being from the other world, they were too carried away to ask questions. The beats from the drums were so loud that the voices that sought to remind them of the dirge that was forced upon them yesterday were drowned. They were lost; they did not remember the first coming of the masquerade. They lost their way, insisting on following the masquerade into the grove. The dance is over; the bride has taken her place. The world is asking – what future does one have with a wife wowed by one’s dancing prowess? What happens at the end of this festival and the masquerade is unmasked again? Won’t she be lost soon to another spectacle?
But it is the poor, they now blame. The poor might have their own inadequacies, but they only bought what was sold to them. Majority of those bought over are not necessarily poor. The poor do not ordinarily gravitate towards rice. In Ekiti, yam takes the pride of place. The distribution was not limited to those found on the queue; it went beyond there, to places where the poor are not found. The poor do not really count in this matter. The teachers and civil servants are not poor.
Those at the forefront of the campaign against the neglect of stomach infrastructure are not poor. They are members of the ruling class who felt short-changed by the emphasis on development and the good of all over the gratification of a few. Some people invested time, energy and resources in fabricating the lies and sold the poor a dummy. Now they are speaking out – telling the poor the man they voted out is a perfect gentleman. He did well, they now say, but was only disconnected from the grassroots – whatever that means. The same men of yesterday are at it again. We know it is all about their self-interest. Let them leave the poor out of it. The poor are not to blame.