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Edo 2024: Same old politics, same old tricks

The upcoming Edo State governorship election is a pointer to all the ills that bedevil Nigerian democracy. They are apparent right from the method by…

The upcoming Edo State governorship election is a pointer to all the ills that bedevil Nigerian democracy. They are apparent right from the method by which candidates emerge. During the process, agreements made during nocturnal meetings in private houses, become far more important than party regulations, widespread support or even competence. Only if these unethical nocturnal agreements are broken will the gullible public ever know they were made in the first place!  

The opaque process is characterised by scheming and intrigues, especially when due process, transparency and inclusiveness are cast aside for an allegedly “consensus” candidate to emerge. The adoption process is majorly about influence and “settlement”, and an aspirant’s length of allegiance to party, and track record in governance are of little consideration.  

Initially, aspirants were too numerous to mention. Many of them genuinely meant well and had the capacity to deliver, but their ambitions were terminated by the extraordinarily exorbitant price placed upon nomination forms. The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pegged the cost of being nominated at a staggering N50 million and N35 million respectively. It’s pertinent to ask what sort of people, other than “professional” politicians who have reaped the dividends of previous political office, can afford such a non-refundable amount. For the so-called “business technocrat” aspirants it’s pertinent to ask them, whether it’s a good business practice to invest money in a venture in which there are no profitable financial returns, or if their massive spending is simply altruistic.  

The humongous sums circulating in political circles have again encouraged political jobbers who routinely become aspirants, only to routinely step down after being “settled”! Despite their denials, quite frankly it makes no sense for anybody to spend money advertising an ambition only to step down without financial benefit. If such were to be the case even the aspirant’s family members would recommend psychiatric evaluation and treatment therapy!  

The sad truth is that in Edo, as in Nigeria as a whole,  many of today’s political actors whether they be “professional” politicians or “technocrat” political opportunists, are unethical, fraudulent and narcissistic con men. They hide their selfishness, corruption, deceitfulness, criminality, nefariousness, insincerity, cruelty, deviousness, deceptiveness, and rapacity behind a façade in which their mouths are full of scriptures and platitudes, while their hearts are not pure.  

In the upcoming Edo election, outgoing Governor Obaseki has made it clear that he wants to impose his successor. After pretending to be opposed to godfathers when it suited him, he now wants to become one himself! His imposition of a relatively unknown politically inexperienced aspirant as his successor reminds one of an old Turkish proverb that when a clown moves into a palace he doesn’t become a king, rather the palace becomes a circus!

As much as Governor Obaseki feels he has been a success, the truth is that after seven years of his governance, Edo still faces a multitude of problems, including but not limited to high unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, poor healthcare facilities, poor security, substandard educational facilities, corruption, inadequate electricity supply, a poorly maintained road network, environmental degradations and poor environmental sanitation.

Despite all this, the “technocrat” Obaseki is enamoured with the fact that his “ease of doing business” reforms and other economic policies have “grown the Edo state economy”. His major failure as a governor is his obsession with figures written on pieces of paper rather than actions which directly improve people’s lives.  

Edo citizens are tired of his chest-beating over improved Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and increased Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) neither of which has positively impacted their lives. There is no doubt that Edo State, indeed the nation as a whole, requires an enduring generally accepted strategy for development, but being a governor is not supposed to be about long-term planning. It is supposed to be about what is achievable within the given time frame. It’s about prioritising and solving the fundamental needs of citizens in a manner that will have a lasting impact on their well-being. It’s about improving citizens’ quality of life, creating jobs, helping the sick the weak and the vulnerable, and increasing economic opportunities. It’s not about bragging over creating an unquantifiable “enabling environment”. It’s pertinent to note that other than his preferred aspirant, no one else is saying they will continue in Obaseki’s footsteps. All others are promising that they are coming to “rescue” the state from poor governance. Obaseki’s claims that his administration raised the standard of education in Edo are false. The truth is the opposite, and all aspirants point this out while pledging to reverse the situation.  

As for gender politics, quite admirably three women are aspiring for nomination. Their problem is that in truth the majority of women who have held top political offices in Nigeria have not distinguished themselves, and the chances of Edo State producing the first elected female governor are slim, to say the least. Ethnicity and zoning will play a role in the election because Edo Central believes it is its “turn” to produce the governor. However, none of the parties has adopted zoning and wiser heads remind them that it was supposedly the “turn” of the South-East to produce the President in 2023. There is no certainty over which senatorial district will produce the incoming governor, the only certainty is that with all the decamping and re-camping the same old politicians are up to their same old tricks!   

 

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