Edo: A Time To Think
Edo State governorship election has come and gone. While the winners have started counting their blessings, one is not in doubt that the losers, too, would by now, have started licking their wounds, and putting together conjectures, explaining the pros and cons of their defeat. Anyway, how far the latter group can go at crying over spilled milk remains to be seen. But then, the exercise has again demonstrated the futility of human schemes as well as the impermanence and amoebic nature of power. Most importantly, it has shown that, elections, like life, are multi-interests-driven games, with economic, political and socio-cultural considerations to contend with. You win some, you lose some! If you are lucky to be counted among the former, so be it. Otherwise, you move on, with the hope of fighting another day.
That said, a time like this affords politicians across board to think, especially, about their vision for Nigeria and the motive behind their mission. If we may ask: was September 19, 2020 actually a protest vote against Bola Tinubu, as some people would want Nigerians believe; or a vehicular expression of the political rustication of Adams Oshiomhole, vis-à-vis some good lessons of boomerang in politics? Was it a vote against godfatherism, bearing in mind that Oshiomole rode to power, retiring other notable godfathers like Tony Anenih and pronounced godfatherism dead in Edo politics? Could the outcome of the election have been a vote of confidence or a referendum by Edo people on the performance of Governor Godwin Obaseki – that the people were satisfied that he did well in his first term? Is it also a national call: that the much-anticipated 2023, for which some party stalwarts are already angling to even outrig one another, is almost here? Should the ruling party continue in itsokay current ‘wobble and fumble’ form, how far can excuses or internal wrangling go at tempering the people’s anger and frustrations? Besides, since it is a dangerous thing to be politically overconfident, hasn’t it also shown that Nigerians are getting wiser with each passing day?
Without being economical with the truth, September 19, 2020 was a protest vote against desperation on the part of the political institutions in Nigeria. Very recently in our political history, Oshiomhole was bragging and saying things as if Edo State belonged to one man. In fact, it would have been a disaster, had Osagie Ize-Iyamu, whose debates were too much of personal attacks on the incumbent and whose SIMPLE Agenda appeared very unrealistic in today’s economic environment, triumphed in that election. Why did I say so? Apart from the fact that a victorious Ize-Iyamu would probably still turn against his godfather in the foreseeable future, the negative implications of a win for the All Progressives Congress (APC) would have surpassed expectations; for, among other things, the strongman would have become so powerful that he would have moved from the realm of ‘top party chieftain’ to that of ‘the Father of Edo politics.’ But, quite unsurprisingly, the former governor has forgotten that politicalparties science is not physical science. Since the former deals with human beings, you don’t take anything for granted. Above and beyond, that some people would influence an election to make the electorate vote in a ‘particular’ direction is not in doubt; it is to which direction that remains unknowable, and could not be predetermined.
Let’s take a trip to Ondo State, where the governorship election is slated for early next month. Beyond the fact that Edo might have sent shivers down the spines of the gladiators in Ondo State, chances are that the electorate will now be embolden, more than before, to confront the power of incumbency. Besides, irrespective of other dynamics and peculiarities (including Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s rumoured connection to a certain cabal), it is a statement of fact that, currently, the national government has next-to-nothing to sell with which it can woo the electorate to its side. Indeed, that’s what happened in Edo State; and that’s what ruined the whole thing for Oshiomhole and his party. If APC (as a political institution, and not an individual), were to be in political control in Edo, and the APC-led administration were seen as an effective government that had made significant and positive impact on people’s lives, Obaseki would have been buried, politically, with his decampment to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
At the national level, Edo has offered us a valuable anchor with which to assess and understand the score-card and the ultimate benefit that could accrue to the people through the Muhammadu Buhari-led government. Obviously, the president has no excuse for not delivering on his promises. After all, he saw the situations on ground before vying for that office. Right on, an aspiring leader comes prepared, and brings to the table probable solutions to identified problems of the society, not someone waiting for problems to disappear by themselves by praying to the gods. Sadly, our president is merely chasing, not dictating, the narratives and circumstances of situations. With almost all the sectors going comatose, the Nigerian state is gradually grounding to a halt. Currency: useless; insecurity: alarming; unemployment rate: overwhelming; inflation: double digits; education sector: wobbling.
While this administration may be credited with one or two areas of achievements, such as rebuilding of infrastructure, railways and roads, needless to repeat that the president appears to be too slow and those achievements are just a drop in the ocean. Nigeria needs to run at a higher velocity at this supersonic jet age and technologically fast-pacing world. For this government, it has been difficult to initiate development or counter-measures because our leaders are only thinking about what has happened, not what is likely going to happen or determine the roadmap of development. And that’s the major crack. Amid all these, Nigeria continues on a ‘he-who-goes-a-borrowing-goes-a-sorrowing’ spree, thereby superciliously leading us back to pre-Olusegun Obasanjo’s era. Had the former president not sought and secured debt relief for Nigeria, what would have become of Nigeria’s fate by now? With N28.63 trillion debts currently hanging on its neck, where is the country headed? Without doubt, these are some of the issues Oshiomhole’s generous trouncing in Edo State has again brought to the fore. So, until those who we think are proud are humble enough to understand that they are not as knowledgeable as they would want people to think they were, Nigeria is not going anywhere.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected]; 07087941459 - SMS only)