For this, I suppose everyone should be thankful that the Edo state governorship election rather than going down as another exhibition of political chicanery, thuggery and intolerance turned –to the delight of everyone –into a showpiece of how polls should be conducted. But does this demonstrate some kind of electoral maturity that electoral contest between the parties need not be seen as a zero sum game or a ‘’do or die’’ affair for some people who are hell bent on forcing themselves on the people? Is the Edo example a good augury for subsequent elections in Nigeria’s attempt to deepen democracy and its tenets? These are some of the questions that answers should be found as we struggle to take out violence from elections.
A peaceful election devoid of all the crookedness of election rigging means the outcome of the contest was the preference of the people and it underscores the supremacy of the people who voted for the person they prefer to take charge of Edo affairs for the next four years. The contest for the Edo State governor’s seat was actually a straight choice between Adams Oshiomhole, the Action Congress Party (ACN) candidate and Major General (rtd) Charles Airhiavbere, the PDP candidate as the other parties were mere appendages, just putting on appearances in the contest.
On several levels the contest was grossly a mismatch with Oshiomhole having the upper hand in all the indices. Major General Charles Airhiavbere cannot have attained such an exalted height in the military without some sterling effort. But as a politician in a sophisticated state like Edo it was guaranteed that he would always come a poor second to Adams Oshiomhole, a much more practiced person in the business of campaigns and other political vote winning pursuits. Oshiomhole’s Labour Union days meant that he brought to the campaign process a well horned experience of systematic and programmed approach to it all. He certainly was more attuned to the exacting demands of political campaigns, which he re –enacted again from one end of Edo State to the other, which his adroit handling of the media ensured was projected to the public space always. An advantage that was hugely helped by his persona; clad always in his signature dress of the grey short sleeve safari, the image of the workman on the go was always unmistakable, a notion underscored by his serious mien.
His Major General opponent, not so used to the niceties of campaigns –impromptu speech making laced with biting and acerbic innuendos and ridicule, hand pumping and back slapping as well as unscheduled merry- making with crowds, which were probably rented anyway, along campaign routes –all hallmark of Oshiomhole’s strategy, clearly meant General Airhiavbere was no match for the Labour Union leader turned governor.
Yet what may have put the daylight between Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his challenger and secured his re-election was his fabled performance in the four years he has been in charge, which when compared with the earlier eight year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) makes any attempt to unseat him a herculean task. Benin City, as any first time visitor would find out on arrival, under Oshiomhole’s watch has been turned into a huge construction site, for the creation of modern thoroughfares, drainages, street lights and any other facility a modern city should have. Schools and hospitals have not been left out –as they are all being fitted with new and modern equipment and facilities.
His visible achievement has endeared him not only to the Edo people who have now found a Samuel Ogbemudia type of dedication to duty in Adams Oshiomhole’s exploits in office; but also in the traditional authorities that wield so much influence and authority and not known to publicly endorse political candidates. In Adams Oshiomhole, apparently that rule was broken. The first indication was by Chief Samuel Ogbemudia himself who granted that though the governor and himself were not in the same party, but that would not stop him from recognizing his glaring achievement. After this declaration it was time for the traditional authorities to indicate their preference in the contest for the governorship, albeit surreptitiously. And they did 20 through an aphorism that says why must you change a winning team.
Judging from the outcome therefore it can be said that democracy is gradually being given a positive image, quite contrary to the time when impunity held sway as badly performed governors were awarded dubious victory through compromising the electoral process. A corollary to this point is that self punishing hard work such as the one put up by Adams Oshiomhole, pays. The governorship contest was an herculean battle to save face by all the big and influential Edo state PDP stalwarts who were drubbed four years ago by someone they considered an upstart. They were therefore hell bent to defeat him, at all cost, unfortunately however their party’s muddied and besmirched past of lack of performance dogged them and consigned the party to the dunghill of defeat. It was a fitting verdict handed down by the Edo people for a party that had taken them for a ride. They have decided to reward the party that took them seriously by applying itself to the betterment of their interest and welfare.
Fashola’s Traffic duty
The other day the Lagos State Governor, Bamidele Fashola accosted two military personnel on the BRT lane meant not for private use but for designated BRT busses. According to account, a colonel by name K.I Yusuf, on sighting Fashola who was approaching them jumped out of his car and dutifully saluted in military fashion. But that did not stop Fashola from giving him a piece of his mind, and pointing out to him that his attitude was unbecoming of a senior officer of one of the disciplined forces. The governor said the similar thing to Staff Sergeant A.J Adeomi.
The soldiers deserved the excoriation of the governor; being people in the military they should have been advised against taking routes meant for other vehicles other than the one they were travelling on. But why must a governor abandon his normal duty post considering his normally tight schedule before errant motorists are apprehended? Certainly, there must be laxity somewhere, so while it was just as well that the bloated egos of some uppity Khaki clad and brass button boys be deflated, the slumbering traffic officers or wardens should also be reprimanded for negligence of duty. If that is done, Fashola can now drive in the snail speed Lagos traffic to his office without bothering about traffic offenders.