By Chukwuemeka Okechukwu
It could be asserted that happenings in the public sphere in Nigeria is greatly determined by the events of politics in the country. The fate and spate of economic development of the country is hugely tied around her politics. This explains the necessity of detailed analysis of political events in Nigeria as they happen since they are precursors to what the proximate future may hold for her citizens. This informs the need to evaluate a few details from the 2020 gubernatorial election held in Edo State on Saturday 19th September 2020.
There are good reasons to believe that the people of Edo State and indeed every concerned Nigerian, anticipated the Edo gubernatorial polls with a host of expectations. The reasons for this is not far-fetched; first because of the glaring interests of many political figureheads within and outside the state (one could term them godfathers). There was no need for guess work because these political giants voiced and acted out their expectations from the polls through different media. Again, the antecedents of Kogi and Imo States also got Nigerians on their toes in utter wonder of what would become the new political record in the country. It was an expectation of what one could tag an admixture of hope and scepticism; of hope that something of the unusual will come from the polls; and of scepticism that the masses would be robbed off once more by the political class. The eventual announcement of the results of the elections on Sunday 20th September seemed to be in the favour of the optimists who prayed for something other than the usual.
Many Nigerians have registered their satisfaction with the manner in which the Edo election was conducted and the result that eventually announced Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the winner at the polls. Some have argued that this births the end of godfatherism in the Nigerian political scene since the result disappointed the endorsement of Osagie Ize-Iyamu by the former governor of the State, Adams Oshiomhole and the APC lord, Bola Tinubu. This position appears to be true but many have failed to understand that this does not really spell freedom from political godfatherism. It should be remarked that one of the problems Nigeria faces in recent times is the problem of gross deceit from Nigerian politicians and leaders. Nigeria has been under the siege of the cabals that have hijacked governance at difference levels in the country. The truth about what has happened in Edo State is that one camp of godfathers lost (APC godfathers), and yet another camp savoured the victory (PDP godfathers). A toss from APC godfathers into the territory of PDP godfathers only presents godfatherism as a political ill that has eaten deep into the fabrics that designate Nigeria as a country. The incident and co-incidence at the Edo polls should not be overrated and celebrated. For Nigerians to really free their political space from godfatherism, it must be a concerted and conscious effort; not reducible to matters of coincidence or to any singular event.
Again, a host of Nigerians have lauded the efforts of the government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for what some may term a free and credible election in Edo State. It is not news that the social media was replete with video clips and pictures that bespoke of vote-buying and other forms of electoral malpractice. Granted that violence was not pronounced at the polls, however, in the real sense of it, “to what extent does the election in Edo State meet with international standards?” Many are quick to identify with the seeming success story of the conduct of Edo election and as such, playing blind to the fact that Nigeria needs detailed electoral reform which includes making INEC truly independent, not just in letters, but in praxis. Elections are far from being fair and credible in Nigeria.
The result announced of Edo election returned Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the governor of Edo State. This is no probe targeted at his person or to any political party, but a sincere query directed to the political system in Nigeria. What good proofs can one provide to show that Mr. Obaseki is actually re-elected on the merits of his performance in his first tenure, and not merely on the grounds of a politician who is basking in the euphoria of the acclaimed ‘power of incumbency?’ It is unfortunate that Nigeria has this ill tradition of recycling old leaders. These old names resurface either as candidates for different political positions, or as godfathers endorsing and sponsoring their political godsons. At the election in Edo, names like Adams Oshiomhole, Bola Tinubu, NyesomWike and even Obaseki were prominent. It is a pity that these names are no younger than twenty (20) years in the political scene of Nigeria. What happened in Edo State would have been real good news if a different winner emerged besides the candidates of PDP and APC. until winners emerge on the count of what they can offer to Nigeria and not on the merit of their political parties or the godfathers who endorse them, politics in Nigeria remains delusory.
Summarily, there are yet no good reasons to glory at what became of the gubernatorial election in Edo State. First is that Nigeria is yet to get it right in conducting elections. Again, Nigeria has come to a stage where everything becomes possible; subject to the whims and caprices of those in power. The tales of Kogi and Imo States gubernatorial elections should be fresh in the minds of Nigerians. This is a reminder that the pronouncement by INEC is not final since the judiciary still remains a powerful tool in the hands of the corrupt leaders that Nigerians have ended up recycling in their numbers. It is not yet time for Nigerians to rest on their oars since the greedy and power drunk Nigerian politicians are truly capable of ANYTHING. Nigerians beware, the worst may be by the corner.
Chukwuemeka Okeychukwu wrote from Enugu. You can reach him by sending him a mail through (email@example.com)