…Our country cannot continually run by the dictates of the political godfathers
There has been practically no flawless voting exercise conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the country since the inception of this democracy. As this fact might hold to affirm that there is no perfect democracy in the world but there are only fair democratic governments, the INEC can be credited in certain instances for standing aloof with the tenets of the democratic principles which include fairness. And the nation’s electoral umpire has demonstrated that at the just concluded Edo State governorship election in which the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki won.
As it has always been in the previous elections in the country, the Edo election was characterised with the malfunction of card readers at early hours, which made Governor Obaseki to express disappointment at the preparation of the INEC. This is part of what Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC can fix in subsequent voting exercises.
Notwithstanding the recorded deficiencies of the INEC, the political triumph of Governor Obaseki is a reflection of the emerging voice of the masses that godfatherism had overstayed its welcome in the Nigeria’s politicking. The narrative is changing, gradually though, from the status quo that our country cannot continually run by the dictates of the political godfathers. This reality is what the ruling class and the ruled, irrespective of political affiliations should acknowledge.
The Nigerian nation and its democratic principles are achieved and entrenched with the efforts of nationalists and democrats, not godfathers. Their struggles are strengthened with the unanimous voice of the people who vehemently stood to withstand darts of tyranny and oppression. This counted as gains in building a democratic nation not only in Nigeria, but that is how it is in other democracies. If people are taken from democratic structures, then democracy should be declared null and void. Democracy become nothingness when people are not considered; this is what the godfathers do when they oppose an individual on a political society, a degrading attitude that Nigerian populace is beginning to reject.
While it cannot be ruled out that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) unequivocally always engage in electoral malpractices to either get to power or remain in it, the fact that the Edo people knew what they wanted and sacrificially paid the price sent a warning signal to all existing and incoming godfathers in Nigeria’s politics.
Read also: Obaseki VS Oshiomhole: A sad tale of how political godfatherism leaves an indelible stain on Nigeria’s democracy
Although, it is a congratulatory antecedent for the PDP in Edo and in the country at large, this should be seen as a collective victory for the masses and Nigeria. I can vividly say that the battle won by the PDP was not against the APC’s governorship candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, rather it was an outright rejection of the former Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole. The victory counts as an extravagant indication that the high-handedness and excesses of political godfathers can be curtailed when the people are united. The debate is not the first and it won’t be last.
In 2015, a similar occurrence was experienced when the former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi believed he could wield his political clout to deal with his former political associate, Nyesom Wike in the governorship election. Amaechi deployed all his political tactics to make sure that the APC flag bearer in the state, Dakuku Peterside would win but the people came to the fore. It was not the PDP they wanted, they wanted the man the PDP presented. That settled the scores. The PDP won and till today Governor Nyesom Wike is ruling Rivers State.
Still on the same experience at the central in 2015, it was obvious that the majority of the people in the country have had enough of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the country decided his administration to take a break, which the election was used to achieve. Both the PDP and the candidate it fielded in the presidential election were not appealing to the Nigerian electorate at that time, and this was what counted as an advantage for the APC.
I want to affirm again, that in the two scenarios illustrated, both parties devised several mechanisms to assuage their political difficulties. There were records of rigging, snatching of voting materials, harassment of the electorate, killings and all sorts of inhumane and senseless engagements demonstrated by the political gladiators to achieve their self-regarding interests. Be that as it may, the voice of the people was relevant in both equations.
The political course of the Nigerian state to experience a successful voyage would be charted by the voice of the people – this explicitly shows that the people own democracy, and not the selected few. Once again, it is time the Nigerian political godfathers mused on the state of the country vis-à-vis the voice of the people in choosing the leaders and doing the right thing. The message points to the fact that the popularity of selfish political kingmakers cannot and will not last except they consider the masses, and let their actions align with what they both desire and deserve as a people.
Nigerian people are waking up to the reality of sacking the godfathers, by using elections to determine who rule the affairs of the state. It is a laudable awakening because it is in this that Nigerian agenda can be ensured and protected. The voice of the masses has been inaudible for a long time, this is the time to make it heard, and the message to Nigerian youths and the entire people is to have confidence in this that their voice would not forever be muffled in the scheme of the country if only they do not lessen the chants for a better, safer and greater Nigeria.