Senator Babafemi Ojudu represents Ekiti Central Senatorial District in the Senate. In this interview, he reviews recent developments in his state and expresses optimism that Ekiti state will rise again. Excerpts:
What was responsible for your party’s loss in the just conducted general elections?
It is not particular to Ekiti State. As at the last count, about 76 Senators will not be returning. There is so much noise about how much we earn and there is a misconception about what our roles are.
So people do not understand. Constituents expect you to assist them in paying their children school fees and all of those things. And if you don’t do that, they are angry and they resort to calling you names.
Even those you have assisted once, come back again and you let them know you have others who are still waiting but they don’t want to know. The kinds of things they want you to do for them are often not your function. They want you to play the role of the executive and, of course because you are not the executive, you cannot do it, they hate you for it.
Unfortunately, we never made attempt to address these issues collectively as Senators. There is no way elected lawmakers could have solved the personal problems of everyone who voted for them without looting the economy.
That, for me, is largely responsible for the 76 Senators that are not returning to the Senate.
Do you think that the honour being accorded the outgoing President for conceding defeat at the election is justified considering the attempts made towards truncating the success of the electoral process?
We have to be magnanimous. It is difficult to vacate power and we know the consequences for not vacating power by people who have been defeated during elections in Africa.
For a man who has been so used to power to come out and concede defeat, it is worth commending. That is the reason for all the commendations you have seen. It is also a way of saving him from being disgraced. It is a means of helping assuage his feelings and psychologically assisting him in coming out of the trauma of losing an election. So, I don’t think there is anything bad in it. I want to say that it is even commendable.
Given the opposition by the PDP of the use of the Smart Card Reader for the election, how would you assess the process?
Well, the electoral perfection in Nigeria is a work in progress. I believe that there is still more to be done while commending the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the good job they have done. When I see some figures returned from parts of the country, I am worried that we are not yet where we should be.
Looking at it sincerely, if you are talking of true democracy, where you will find it is the Southwest. If you see the votes from Rivers and the votes from the Delta, they are indefensible.
And the card reader, which worked in the Southwest but disallowed from working in order parts, would have checkmated that.
What is the problem in Ekiti state as your party seems to be moving towards extinction given the outcome of recent elections?
Honestly I will be lying if I tell you that I can put my finger to what the problem is. I just realize that the only reason I can give is that there is too much poverty in the state. That perhaps has economically affected the reasoning of the people that they are losing their sense of what is good for them. They no longer want to subscribe to high ideals. All they want is money which is what has been reduced to stomach infrastructure. That is what has been used during the campaigns and that is what they go for.