In 2018, I wrote a piece on the then governorship candidates of the leading political parties in Osun State. In the article, entitled _‘Osun: Picturing into the future’_ (The Nation, September 18, 2018), I tried to showcase each candidate’s quality as well as what his candidature meant for the peace and progress of the _‘State of the Virtuous.’_ The election took place on September 22, 2018.
Evidently, a lot has happened within the last four years: one of the candidates eventually became the governor and he is almost completing his first term in office while another has gone to ‘acquire’ a university degree somewhere. Some have gone a-shopping for greener pastures elsewhere while others have simply returned to the mundane routine things of life – politics of the belly! In all, while some hold the notion that politics globally is a by-product of permanent interests, not permanent friends, to others, vying for governorship office in this part of the world is akin to a ceremonial ritual. Whichever option, life continues!
As another round of governorship election draws nearer, a section of Nigerians are already of the view that, since Governor Gboyega Oyetola has been at the helm of affairs in the state, his governance profile makes him a sellable candidate; that, mutatis mutandis, the _All Progressives Congress_ (APC) candidate has the experience of four years as the state governor; plus eight years as chief of staff under the immediate past government. To them, if anything, the next four years could only offer him an opportunity to improve on the extant enviable delivery records of the goods of democracy, because it won’t be his lot to start learning the ropes again.
Frankly, it is easier for somebody to propose that he’ll pay salary arrears, if elected as governor. It is however a different ballgame when he is confronted with, say, the state’s monthly _Internally Generated Revenue_ (IGR), placed, side-by-side, the overheads of one or two ministries. These are some of the things to be considered by the electorate before they mortgage their votes, because it will take another four harrowing years before it can be changed.
Also on the ballot is Ademola Adeleke of the _Peoples’ Democratic Party_ (PDP). Words on the street refer to him as a compulsive giver. But, to the larger majority, the administration of a state is beyond being a nice man. Having won his party’s re-nomination, the _‘Dancing Senator’_ was recently quoted as boasting that he would be going into the election to spend ‘not only naira but dollars, pounds and euro”; and that, “this time around”, it would be _“fire-for-fire.”_
Well, while the unwritten implications of Adeleke’s outburst are frighteningly nauseating, what remains unclear is what he is hoping to reap when he gives those hard currencies. More than that, Nigerians are interested in knowing what the candidate is investing in, sources of the funds and the rate of returns. They are also wondering who subsequently owns the state treasury; and with what will the state be run? In a word, Adeleke’s statement suggests that politics and elections in Osun State are run by money; that victories in elections are secured with big bucks; and that the prize goes to the highest bidder.
Next is Akin Ogunbiyi of the _Accord Party_ (AP). A businessman and an Insurance magnate, the 59-year-old Agricultural Economist-turned-politician has promised to _“ensure full industrialization”_ of the state, if elected as governor.
Again, it is not in doubt that the AP candidate will be going into the contest with a rich experience. He also has the international clout, which is an added advantage to governance matters any day. Nevertheless, the touching truth is that governance goes beyond fantasizing. For example, to industrialize a state like Osun, the people must buy into the vision, which feelers from the state reveal he hasn’t done much about. Will it not be suicidal if, at the expiration of, say, three months in office, there are no tangible things to show to the electorate as the industrialization of the state?
On good authority, the _Labour Party_ (LP) candidate, Yusuf Lasun is an acknowledged mobilizer who understands the essentials of street politics. Jokes apart, the Ilobu, Osun State-born politician and the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives is one of Nigeria’s nouveaux riches with the resources to actualize the dream of a governorship. Even so, the stain on his ambition is a function of the solidness of his influence. Needless therefore to repeat that Lasun is living in old glory! He is banking on his past popularity profile. Yes, he was asked to negotiate his way out in the 2018 Osun APC governorship primary election; but the former federal lawmaker insisted on going for the exercise. At the end of the day, it only revealed his popularity a dismal fourth or so on the ballot tray. Now that he is contesting again, he will need to work hard to swing any surprise.
Goke Omigbodun of the _Social Democratic Party_ (SDP) is an architect and a priest of the Anglican hue. In fairness to posterity, the former chairman of the _Osun State Property Development Corporation_ has a nice pedigree and appears a gentleman. He is brilliant and a church person. But, much as these qualities may help tame some of the known excesses of the average politician, managing a state as complex as Osun is not something that can be achieved from a wishful thinking. It goes beyond merely enriching one’s personal career profile.
Without being a prisoner to sentiments, Omigbodun is well-known in Osogbo, the state capital. But then, that there is not much about his legacy in the public domain is a statement of fact. Whether he will also perform in office or not is presently unknowable, empirically.
In the merits of the above, one can only wish the gladiators in the forthcoming election, slated for July 16, the best of luck. It is hoped that they would shy away from acts that are inimical to the creeds of democracy and good governance.
On the whole, the central rule of democracy is the voter turnout; neither the wads of cash nor wattages of lies with which covetous politicians are always tempted. Besides, leadership structure in civilized democracies is pre-planned: you cannot just go and pick an imbecile from the street and ask him to lead a country or state. Yes, such a ‘candidate’ may be popular and … have deep pockets. He may well extemporaneously speak and arouse the mass of the people easily. To the uninformed, those are sufficient qualities of leadership. However, they would have forgotten that diplomats would one day decide to pay courtesy visits to the national or state government. Regrettably therefore, it is the classlessness of the society in this part of the world that has damaged the reputation of leadership. It is the reason the system has found it difficult to breathe. The unrivalled artificiality and unmistakable lack of creative vitality among the handlers of Nigeria’s affairs are the reasons we are like children who squandered hope. The truth of the matter is that only God can save us from our pretentious ways!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant our flag-bearers the wisdom to uphold the ‘Omoluabi’ ethos for which Osun State is renowned!
By Abiodun Komolafe