Winning an election is not usually a matter of commonsense, in the Nigerian context. It is usually about how much money a candidate has amassed, or how much a godfather is prepared to deploy on behalf of a political godson. At such times there is usually a certain vortex of circumstances that propel objects, things and situations and make them spin right out of control. If things are spinning out of control and are moving away from the centre of things, then we must be careful to try to examine any of such centrifugal forces, understand and harness them before we take an irrevocable stand for this or that way. The fractions governing an election in civilized environments unlike ours are usually proper in that you have to have a numerator standing astride a denominator. That’s supposed to be the calculus and the way the pendulum should swing. But hey, ours can be an aberration, a situation where the denominator calls the shots and establishes a pseudo fulcrum upon which the hinges of governance would stand.
But at other times, winning an election can be purely a matter of perception. The archetype of this sublime truism was General Muhammadu Buhari now President Muhammadu Buhari. All who voted him in believed that he was the long-waited for messiah, to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. The General was perceived to be poor and penniless, but his Spartan resolve together with the support of few strange bed-fellows saw him take the highest office in the land at the expense of an incumbent. I wonder if those same set of people who voted him as president then in 2015 would be ready and willing to do so now: ten months after taking power, our economy is still in the doldrums, power supply is as epileptic as ever, and speculations making the rounds is that Mr. President is the most selective pursuer of corruption ever.
Therefore, with the tenure of the Comrade Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole of Edo State coming to an end in November, 2016, several aspirants are lined up to take the mantle – there is Pastor Amos Areleogbe of the Labour Party, LP, Godwin Obaseki, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Peter Esele, Prof Ebegue Amadasun, Prof, Osariemwen Osunbor, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, Blessing Agbomhere, Pius Odubu, Kenneth Imasuagbon all of APC, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Chief Solomon Edebiri, Mathew Idoiyekemwen and Senator Uzamere Ehigie of the PDP. Now, trust me Edo State is very important, and that perhaps is the reason you get this merry crowd seeking to take over from where Osho Baba will leave off. Before its balkanization from Bendel to Edo/Delta, it was the one state which held the enviable title of a mini-Nigeria – to the North, East, West and South. Like the states in the South-South, Edo is an oil and gas producing state, has about 4million people with a GDP of $10.7billion. Edo has an out-going governor who doggedly pursued a people, infrastructure and production, PIP, Agenda. If you ask any voter from Benin/Edo, they will tell you the Comrade Governor has ‘tried’ – that is, he did reasonably well in areas of transport, roads and security, judging from the record of his predecessor Chief Lucky Igbinedion. Other voters, and indeed, the rival party the PDP are not as enamoured of the Osho Baba years in many areas especially Commerce, Agriculture, Power and Housing. A report card of the Adams Oshiomhole government insists that Edo has a Strategic Plan spanning 2010 – 2012, focusing on Short Term Policy Priorities, 2013-2016 for Medium Term policy issues and 2017-2020, wherein his Long Term Policy priorities would be realizable.
Adjudicating from this, voters, stakeholders, aspirants, Civil Society groups as well as Nigeria should be ready for a shock in who will eventually become governor of Edo State after Osho Baba. I know this for a fact because like the events which have played out at the centre, Edo people has become more circumspect and more discerning than they were yesterday. Edo voters are already asking these questions: who is this fellow? Where does he come from? Is he not seeking to become a public servant because he wants to use the office to enrich himself? Can this person be trusted with public funds? Is this candidate past his prime? What are this person’s views concerning the issues which affect youth – employment, sports especially, education and their future?
There are several clues to knowing who this person will be – PDP or APC – most voters don’t really care. The first clue, and what the candidates should begin to do, and think of is what is playing out in the US elections with the two aspirants on the Democratic Party – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Against the general run of expectations, Senator Bernie Sanders has given Hillary Clinton the chase and scare of her political life in the race for the White House. How? Bernie will be 74 in September. He was a dark horse among the elite political families in the US, but today has a cult following among a certain category of American voters – the young. Bernie Sanders knows them; they know him and know that they constitute over 70% of the voting population in the United States. He talks about issues that they are concerned about, and he does this with a passion. On education, hear Senator Sanders: As President, I will make tuition free at public colleges and universities, lower student loan interest rates for current and future borrowers, ensure all children have access to a quality education by fighting to ensure equal access to educational resources, and make childcare and pre-K universal and affordable. I know just the programme concerning young people that chaps seeking to take over from Osho Baba should embark on.
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku,
ANEEJ, Benin City.