I wish all my teaming readers a prosperous New Year 2016, a year of total recovery for the believers. At different church services to usher in the new year, true men of God predicted that it’s going to be a year of plenty and a year of fulfilment for our dear country Nigeria. For those who are patient and who persevere, they will reap the rewards because the beginning (early in the year) will be tough, so say the anointed men of God.
Beyond that, for those of us in Edo State, it’s a year of political decision, the year when we shall collectively decide our fate as a people, a year to decide to remain in the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey or to decide otherwise to go back to Egypt, a land of sorrow and tears, a land of slavery, I mean the dark years, the years of the locusts, the years when the People’s Democratic Party, PDP held the hapless people of Edo State in servitude for close to a decade. This is why I regrettably call it a decade of decadence. The people of the state have to make that decision this year and only those with the permanent voters card, PVC have the right and privilege to take that decision out of the 3.5 million population. What a great opportunity it is to decide our fate!
Yes, election must be held this year to decide who occupies the government house effective from November 11, 2016 when the eight year, two term tenure of the incumbent tenant, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole expires. By midnight of Friday, November 11, 2016, Oshiomhole ceases to be the governor of Edo State, he vacates the seat for a brand new governor to lead us for at least, the next four years.
Aside the two major gladiators, the All Progressive Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, there are other mushroom registered political parties that are likely to field candidates for the election. However, the main focus here are the ruling party and the main opposition, the PDP. Permit me to say here as a matter of personal opinion, as someone who has been deeply involved in the Edo politics for close to one and a half decades, frankly, it’s very likely going to be an uphill task for the PDP to occupy the government house again, at least not now. This is simply because of the damage the party wrecked on the state in its decade of decadence and the pains it inflicted on the people of the state are still very fresh. It takes time for it to heal. On the other hand, the ruling party has done so much in the last eight years to wipe out those tears in the eyes of the people by putting in place solid dividends of democracy for this generation and posterity. In terms of infrastructure and human capital developments, Edo remains work in progress.
However, the APC should not gloat over this because our state is in a world of its own politically. Yes, Edo is a very unique state. If certain things happened in other states, they may not necessarily work here. So, the APC and it’s leadership must not take the people for granted. It should be able to manage its sucesses and build on it rather than fritter them away. Only a foolish man would build an edifice admired by all and use his hand to pull it down. Only a man under spell would do that. The electorate have choices, good ones at that, to lead them because Edo is richly blessed with human resource and its acknowledged the world over. A lot of water has passed under the political bridge between 2007 and now. The people and the state are now more sophisticated and matured politically. So, the APC retention or otherwise of the government house depends on how well it manages its forth coming primary election. I would liken the primary election of the party to a tsetse fly perched delicately on the scrotum of the party. if we must kill the tsetse fly, it has to be with the utmost care so as not to hurt the scrotum! Posterity will not forgive leaders of the APC if by their carelessness Edo is taken back to Egypt.
Going by the amended Electoral Law as passed by the National Assembly, the political parties fielding candidates for the governorship election are expected to hold their primaries between March and April to pick those who will fly their flags for the main election which must hold between the months of July and August this year. The law does not say that the flagbearer must emerge through election as it could be by consensus if the party, the aspirants and the delegates so agree. But whatever mode adopted for the emergence of the party’s candidate, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC must be carried along.
The success or otherwise of a political party at the general election depends on how well it manages it’s primary election. A party that is desirous of wining an election must provide a level playing field for all the aspirants. Whoever emergence in a transparent, free and fair election, devoid of manipulations, becomes the candidate of all. If a candidate so emerged, the party leadership automatically earns the respect of everybody including the losers. But where the process is manipulated, it generats bad blood amongst the aspirants on one hand and amongst the aspirants and the party leadership on the other hand. It’s also capable of dividing the party down the line.
Unfortunately, politicians are the greatest optimist I have ever seen. They believe whatever they do or say is for the good of the party and the people and they never believe they can loose any election. Even in the face of imminent defeat and failure, they still tell their followers that victory is in sight. That is Nigerian politician for you.
However, the ruling APC has an array of eminent contestants aspiring to succeed Oshiomhole come November 12, 2016. These aspirants must be provided a level playing field so as to guard against any form of bad blood that could give room for protest votes in the main election. Protest vote is deadly and dangerous, capable of drowning a party. The case of Dapo Sarumi of the Social Democratic Party, SDP and Otedola of the National Republican Convention, NRC in the Lagos State governorship election of the Third Republic is instructive. Otedola is now of blessed memory. Out of the two parties put in place by the then military president, Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, the SDP was the more popular nationwide, especially in the South West. But against all odds, the SDP lost the state to the NRC simply because Sarumi was forced down the throats of the people at the party’s primary election as against the popular choice, Prof Agbalajobi. The people waited patiently for the main election and protested heavily with their voters card. That’s the power of the common man. That ought to serve as a high lesson for the politicians. But unfortunately, our politicians don’t learn from even their last mistakes. I pray the Edo APC does not fall into same pitfall by listening to voices of reason.
The writer, Musa, a journalist is based in Benin