The Ekiti Election: How APC Messed Up on Social Media and Got Punished for it!

The Ekiti Election has come and gone. To some, it was a risky game that paid off. To many more it was absolutely stunning, unbelievable outcome which completely defied logic. Had the security presence not been widely circulated and acknowledged, many would have read a riot act in terms of the fairness of the election. But that to be as it would appear the result was accepted by everyone.

I have been observing the build-up to the election with a keen interest now for some time. The APC online campaign has been quite interesting. I won't comment on what physically went down campaign-wise on the state grounds, though pictures were publicly available on the web and social media (So I may not have missed much, but I will leave it be). The APC 'Kodurosoke' campaign seemed to have stood out. Or so it seemed. I didn't quite come across anything quite outstanding from the PDP, perhaps because they were scared of the reality of their poor perception with target. They aren't exactly on the 'A' list of good parties in Nigeria.

But the case is not so with APC. Very elitist in every approach, went straight to Social media. I am imagining a few of the apologists sold some dodgy proposal to the Governor proposing to leverage the number of Facebook followers, converting them for ultimate campaign success. Absolutely (un)aware that the overall success actually does requires so much more than that. Either they don't know what terrain they claim to be experts in or they just took the consuming public for the usual suckers.
Then I would say Gov. Fayemi's 'Kodurosoke' campaign appeared to have taken off fairly ok from the creative perspective. The visual was great - good colour combination with synergised materials displaying the Governor's photo with apparent intent on harping his photogenic quality as a USP. What I find lacking, as a friend correctly pointed out is the connection with the 'real' electorates - the grassroot - Those who would normally go out to vote. Very minimal communication existed regarding what to expect (in real terms) should the Governor be returned for the next for years.

To make matters worse, the campaign was ill-focused. Rather than leveraging and banging the administration's infrastructural achievement, telling the people that a basic economic development base has been set as seen in ease of transportation and communication, and that the next phase will be focusing on empowering the people (a basic precinct which it has been widely reported to have failed), the campaign went targeting the opponent just because they believe his credibility, soiled years ago should provide the required panacea for them to win votes. And so desperately, they kept 'excavating' that old wound. What the 'Kodurosoke' exponents failed to realise is that this strategy may backfire. And it did! They became so embroiled in that campaign that they left their domain unflanked, unprotected and vulnerable.

As with social media, when you continue to send the same message over and over again, it soon becomes boring and counter-productive. And with no proper campaign monitoring machinery put in place, there is no way of knowing when things go wrong, let alone proactively responding. Fundamental Marketing failure of the Highest Order! Even when evidences came banging of dwindling image perception, they largely left the real issue unattended and carried on as if nothing is going on.

Going by my observation, it would appear that majority of the electorates in Ekiti up to two months before election actually belonged in the 'sitting-on-the-fence' category, not being able to decide whether to go with a 'Resident Evil' or bring back a 'Rejected One'. Rather than the APC consolidating their supporter base and looking to win the undecided group of 'customers', by telling them what 'Kodurosoke' literally translates to in terms of economic improvement and emancipation from poverty which was later proved (by opposition group) to have engulfed the state - even if they had performed poorly in that respect up to now - But No. They set sail and perpetuated the 'trenching' campaign, reminding those who did know and telling those who did what ugly incidences that characterised Mr. Fayose's previous administration and how he was deposed. What should be their main focus - Winning election - began to suffer, a proverbial tale of footie players watching the men and not the ball.

The time to evaluate campaign presented itself when Mr. Fayose went ahead and began 'Sharing RICE' to people in the state (characteristic of his politricks), perhaps many people would not have heard of it. Maybe it would have been dismissed as mere rumour and people would have gone on with their business of keeping faith with the APC. And since this is something the retinue of Campaign DGs/ Organisers employed by the state's APC chapter have failed to look into, I would have thought they would have looked away and respond with a presentation of rational benefits to the electorates. But No! Where there was no harm at all, they then literally manufactured a booby trap (the most creative thing they seemed to have done ever!) and dived straight into it of their own free-will by not only taking the picture, but sharing on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms in the hope that the whole idea 'Rice sharing' would be resented by 'people'. This no doubt, is where they got public opinion going completely south against them. Irredeemably so, it was simply put, a political suicide.

The mistake had been made before the consequence was realised. All manner of conversation that ensued showed a pocket of people who were sitting on the fence taking a stand. Those who were with APC vowing to change their potential voting pattern against Gov. Fayemi. One advised that he would vote against the APC if they didn't stop their negative campaign, suggesting his intention of originally going with APC.

Before long, an impression had been indelibly created with the Rice saga, unwittingly boosted by APC campaign group: There are Hectares of Poverty in Ekiti land. It may have been created by the current government and Mr Fayose was responding to it. Many respondents who actually appeared to be apolotical reached their conclusions without realising the weight of them. But to say "This means there is still serious poverty in Ekiti land" was, to APC apologists, suggestive of the unwittiness of the mammoth crowd (electorates) who had gathered to 'eat' a fair share of their 'National cake, that was being dished out by the 'Enemy of the State' (and at the moment, they don't care about having it, successive governments have been plundering the State's resources anyway, so if someone is giving back freely, why not take it?)'

The 'Rice' move was dismissed as utter nonsense, and arrant insult to the sensibility of the generality of the Ekiti people (who to APC were 'perceived' to have reasonably gone beyond being sold to anything at all other than logic - Another mistake). And when push came to shove, in a violent social media style, some APC supporters even began to rain curses on the people (THE ELECTORATES) seen in the picture. How tacky can it get!

The task for APC should have been to ignore the PDP and turn their latest 'RICE Campaign on its head by responding effectively via other means far removed from the Rice Rubbish, I mean the Think Tank must have been too busy with what to gain once Gov. Fayemi returns to think up real-time, creative and effective response marketing. Or they simply know nothing about it!
Make no mistakes. The PDP clan knows no better. Mr. Fayose and his crew were just playing their local, 'unelitist' game. But they were connecting to the grassroot and turning their hitherto bad image to good through that connect. The same way they played the first time around. Meanwhile, the so-called elitist APC group should have known better, especially since Mr. Fayose's game is no longer new. But they were too busy writing/speaking grammar on Facebook. They misjudged just about everything, resulting in an EPIC failure. You don't mess about on Social media just because it is free. You get punished for it. Massively too! That's what happened to APC in Ekiti. Now we are back to where we were.

You could ask how this happened in Ekiti, a 'Land of Honour'?. How did the state end up yet with Mr. Fayose in a land boasting ofAyoola Adeyanju a sea of Professors? The answer is in the verdict of the just concluded election. The people cannot simply be bothered anymore. The people's value paradigm has shifted. And it is the metaphorical platform upon which political aspirants now campaign. Those who know are taking advantage of it. It involves a long term plan. Election that will be won in four years' time is won from now. For it is prepped from now. You don't jump in without concrete plans relying on the might of a godfather and expect to win.

What happens from this point remains to be seen. I expect some drama here and there. Mr. Fayose himself is a quintessence of controversy. That combined with the antecedents of the unpopular government at the centre may unequivocally meet somewhere and produce some, well, (maybe) embarrassing mixture. It is my hope that the same people who voted for Mr. Fayose now will be able to stand by him at that time.

Finally, apart from bad associations, it is clear that the APC lost the state to PDP due to unclear objectives, if any at all. No insights to work with, other than premonitions and assumptions that they will always be followed by the people as a part incumbent control. Hopefully, when the next opportunity presents itself, they will have learnt a lesson or two.

Ayoola Adeyanju contributed this piece from Manchester, UK. Leave your comment in the box below.