The process leading to September 19 governorship election in Edo state, offers important lessons for the rest of Nigeria and indeed, many other parts of the continent.
At stake here are two sets of tendencies: one concerns the values that guide society in the day today life of its people; the other deals with the set of values that underpin formal processes of governance, which reproduces the state and ensures smooth leadership succession.
In this regard, Nigeria has been deliberate in its choice of democratic values. Those who occupy the positions of authority in society and within institutions of the state are naturally looked upon as the custodians of these values. Invariably, they are moderators of the space of the application of values to ensure that they did not swing massively away from the pursuit of “common good” or “collective well-being” Edo nay Nigeria people have for long prided themselves as a people who exemplify values of character, honour and integrity. Any young person raised by an Edo nay Nigerian parent or grand- parent understand well that success depended not on quick accumulation of material wealth but on a “good name” built on hard work and character. It is not surprising that the issues of character, honour and integrity have become a major consideration in the campaigns.
With the Edo people set to elect a governor to oversee the affairs of the state in the next four years, Obaseki is right to expect that in any democratic order, an incumbent should be judged on the basis of his achievement in the preceding four years. His campaign has made this case, systematically and consistently. And many in Edo did not dispute that he has worked hard and changed the face of the state in the last four years even if this is work in progress in some respects. This has been duly acknowledged in several quarters among which, was the award of “Governor of the Year” in 2019.
Additionally, one would expect that the opposition party’s choice of governorship candidate ought to make the re-election of Obaseki an open and shut case.
In one of the cruelest manifestations of distortions of values I had highlighted above, it beggars belief that Osagie Nze-Iyamu is the only alternative APC have to Obaseki, regardless of his sordid past. The blind pursuit of selfish ends through destructive values that stand in stark opposition to the collective well-being is a growing threat to the well-being of ordinary Nigerians.
In the light of the foregoing, the question Edo people should ask themselves is: Who is in a better position to give them and their children a better future among the two leading contenders, Obaseki and Nze-Iyamu?
The Edo people must realized that “tomorrow is greater than today and yesterday” where the focus should not be “on personal interest” but the future of Edo people.
The audacity of the APC to throw up Osagie Nze-Iyamu as its governorship flag-bearer was probably more than enough to stomach by any fairly decent, morally upright and progress-inclined average individual whose modus vivendi is the public good.
Even if one should take out or set aside the strong leadership credential of Obaseki in the Edo governorship election matrix, the emergence of Nze-Iyamu in the current political landscape, courtesy of his godfather, Oshiomole should be seen as the greatest insult that can be bestowed upon a people in a just, equitable and democratic dispensation.
This is the context within which the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state should be seen- first and foremost. This opprobrium should not only be seen by Edo people as such but every right-thinking and discerning observers of political events in Edo state. It is a reprehensible but deliberate disrespect to the collective sensibility of Edo people in particular who, as small as they are, have contributed and continues to contribute probably more than their own fair share to the growth and development of this country in many facets of nation building, and by extension, a slight on the Edo people.
The decision of the APC to throw up a man, Nze-Iyamu, single-handedly handpicked by an aggrieved godfather who has called him names in the past shows the depth of moral depravity and crass political primitivity that the APC behemoth has sunk. Here is a man whose godfather and chief-campaigner has described as a corrupt man who have sundry allegations of corruption leveled against him, some of which are still in court.
It is hard to believe that President Buhari and his party thinks that Nze-Iyamu’s electoral value and his political indispensability in Edo state are very hard to ignore to the extent they are willing to foist him on the people with all these antecedents. Even, if one must accept this twisted logic, should the party not have found a way to co-opt the judiciary into clearing his name from the several criminal litigations he’s facing in order to meet minimum moral threshold of a civilized society?
The point, however, must be made that the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state is beyond Obaseki. It is not only about another attempt to subjugate Edo people, but also a desperate attempt by a single man to impose his will on them. But, the Edo people have vowed never to go back to Egypt. I strongly believe they are not prepared to move backward. They have poised to be on the move until they get to the promised-land.
Edo people are too wise to succumb to promises of a new beginning. It is common knowledge that our beloved country, Nigeria still remained a potentially great nation because of inept leadership and lack of continuity of programmes.
Developmental programmes are better sustained if allowed to strive and endure over time. The antics of the godfather, political hirelings, rudderless opposition, professional bootlickers, paid image makers, sycophants, crumb grazers, unconscionable trumpet blowers and intruders must be forestalled by the Edo electorate.
The point must not be lost on all of them that 2020 represents their watershed year, a year of radical turn-around, a year when they must take their destinies in their our own hands. This time around however, Edo people must not, shall not allow themselves to be hood-winked as they were in the past by notorious godfathers. Once bitten, twice shy. They must determine who rules over them and ensure no one godfather or any intruder can choose a leader for them.
As they turn their back on the old guards, visionless politicians, pseudo-progressives, Edo people must embrace fanatically our visionary, enlightened, selfless, compassionate political leaders symbolize by Atiku Abubakar, Uche Secondus, Godwin Obaseki, Nyesom Wike, Udom Emmanuel, Duoye Diri, Seyi Makinde, Aminu Tambuwal, Bala Mohammed, Ortom and many others too numerous to mention. There is nothing harder to bear than reverse of fortunes.
The only way for our country to achieve greatness is if we reward our leaders with gratitude and appreciation when called upon to pass judgement at the appropriate time. September 19 is the significant date in which Edo people can either cross the Rubicon or be stopped in their tracks in their journey towards their socio-economic and political emancipation. This election will be a legacy check for General Muhammadu Buhari.
Our candid advice to him is that nothing must be spared to create a secure environment for an open and believable poll. This is the only way Buhari can exonerate himself from the Satanic plot hatched by Oshiomole and his cohorts to subvert the wish of Edo people. This is the only way he can endear himself to Edo people nay Nigerians. It is up to Buhari to heed or throw our wise counsel to the trash can.
Any attempt to repeat the day light electoral robbery that happened in Osun, Kano and Kogi states may spell doom for our democracy and the country itself. It is up to General Buhari to decide the type of legacy he wants to leave behind. Leaders all over the world care much about what posterity had in store for them.
Many leaders keep an eye on posterity and for this reason; they strive to take actions that will become a legacy after they might have left office, or even after they have passed away. This is why today, such names as George Washington, John. F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and so many others too numerous to mention remain milestones in human memory.
Definitely, history will not forgive the likes of Obasanjo that plunge Nigeria into absolute darkness. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
Olayiwola, Convener, Nigeria Youth for Good Governance (NYFGG) write from Oshogbo, Osun state