By Abdullah Abdulganiy
The much-awaited Edo State gubernatorial election has come and gone. All speculations as to who wins or loses the electoral contest have, therefore, been laid to a tentative rest yesterday as incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emerged victorious, thereby getting the green light to paddle the canoe of the cosmopolitan South-southern state for a second term. He defeated his closest rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with a margin of 84,336.
The Edo election is very much significant because it was not only a cynosure of all eyes, but also came with a bagful of lessons, takeaways and reflections for both the political actors as well as the masses. Yours sincerely may not exhaust all the lessons imbued in this watershed and epochal event. Nonetheless, efforts would be made to touch important areas.
First, multifarious factors led to the victory of Obaseki in the just concluded election. Indeed, a single approach cannot explain the reason for his success at the poll. My undergraduate thesis on ‘Voting Behavior’ revealed that vote choice is a complex, unpredictable phenomenon. Essentially, electors may make a similar vote choice but with divergent reasons. Summarily, those who voted Obaseki did so on different accounts, just as his success was a product of several social forces. So, to say this is a sole factor that led to his emergence as some persons have been putting it is myopic and not cast in concrete.
However, the election, for one, sent strong signals to those who parade themselves as godfathers in the political system of the country. It is an addition to ample existing examples that man is not God and should, indeed, stop playing God. More importantly, our democracy is gradually graduating to a stage where the so called godfathers would be cast into the dustbin of history as many of them are getting their feathers ruffled. We saw it in Kwara. We saw it in Sokoto. We saw it in Rivers. We saw it in Kano. And now Edo. Those who refused to give people a level playing ground because of their self interest got bloody noses.
It is also a lesson that not all battles should necessarily be fought. Former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomole could have deployed more tactful approaches to resolve the differences he had with Obaseki than the ‘rofo-rofo’ fight to finish. He is the biggest loser. He lost his office, lost influence, lost respect, lost trust and also lost moral authority. He was four years ago, praising Obaseki to high heavens whilst attacking Ize-Iyamu as the thief. Today, he’s made a 360 degree u-turn. What does that tell people about his character? Stable? Trustworthy? Not exactly so! Well, the former Labour leader must have read Machiavelli who argued that there is no morality in politics, and that interest is what matters as the end would justify the ‘fucking’ means.
Let me quickly call at Kwara State. There are some elements within the ruling APC who have taken it as a job to pull down Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, not for poor performance but because they have not been getting, by their own admission, monthly ‘subvention’ or political patronage. The ‘Enugbe geng’. More pathetic is that some young chaps, who should think better, too are prosecuting hate wars for their bosses who lost out in the primaries. Weaving lies upon lies. And spreading half-truths and concocted narratives. It’s a losing battle, if not lost! Some even hide under positive causes to launch their mischief for the undiscerning not to suspect. Edo says the masses are the ultimate deciders, not some oligarchs who are still nursing the pain of their sorrowful defeat or those who think of themselves as the landlords of Kwara State or the few vociferous, bitter nitpickers on Whatsapp, Facebook and maybe Nairaland and OperaNews.
I also view the Edo election as a plus to President Muhammadu Buhari and of course, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, and other electoral officials. Despite opinions formed beforehand impugning their integrity and accountability, they have been able to boost public confidence and rise above board. It is deserving of commendations and accolades. I charge them to continue on this path so that the will of the people can always prevail, which ultimately strengthens our democracy.
From the above angle, I also find it rather wild and amusing that the opposition PDP is not crying foul that democracy is in danger as is her trademark when election outcomes do not favor her. Were the result to be on the contrary, all hell would have been let loose on the President. He would have been hurled with series of abusive words and called unpleasant names. Praise thy Lord that democracy is safe this time around. My word for the PDP is to always play responsible opposition, rather than the mischievous and jejune one it had been playing in the last five years.
The masses should also understand that their votes count. They should always come out to exercise their franchise during elections. It’s their constitutionally recognized right. It is, of course, the passport to good leadership. The people should therefore not be dettered by negative comments and dispiriting remarks. They should come out, vote and guard their votes jealously. Together, we can!
Before signing out, I think I also have a word for the winner, Godwin Obaseki. He’s a product of the masses’ support even when powerful political forces have moved against him. He should not let them down for the next four years. He should consolidate on his previous achievements and embark on projects that would enhance human capital development and social development.
On a final note, I must express my happiness that despite predictions of a gloomy, bloody election, the process went on relatively peacefully and violence-free. Only few cases of violence were reported. It is to the credit of the security officials that participated in the election, peace stakeholders and the people who failed to be employed as political thugs to disrupt the process. I want to see Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Comrade Oshiomole congratulating the winner as statesmen. If they, however, are not content with the process, they should resort to the established judicial path, and not violence. It’s not a do-or-die affair. Indeed, life continues!