The last days leading to the gubernatorial elections in Nigeria’s sunshine state were very crucial. Despite the joint call for postponement made by some 20 parties three days before the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) took its decision and stood by it. At the end of it all, the elections in Ondo state came through as one of the most peaceful in recent times. Here are the three things we learnt about the over all development of our democracy through the eyes of Ondo state:
INEC is STILL capable of conducting a “conclusive” elections
INEC showed us this time that the electoral body is not all about “inclusiveness”. They showed us they have the capacity and capability to hold something close to a free and fair election if given the necessary support. In Ondo state, we saw a massive upgrade from the Edo elections. An upgrade that we thought we may never have after the 2015 elections. Though there were reported cases of malfunctioning card readers, INEC had better logistics in place. Personnel reportedly resumed early and by 3 pm elections were being rounded off in most polling booths. Despite the imperfection, INEC deserves a vote of confidence for a job well done. They have proven that they can hold their ground in the face of intimidation. We can trust INEC to do a good job in Rivers state if the people of Rivers allow for it.
Godfatherism is overrated
‘Godfatherism’ was a key debate in the days leading up to the election. The internal problem of the opposition has as much to do with godfatherism as the much factionalised ruling party. While some party members aligned with the Oyegun/Buhari faction, some decided to stick with the defaced Jagaban himself, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Jagaban whose stronghold in the Southwest is waning off turned his back to the candidacy of Rotimi Akeredolu after his anointed candidate, Dr Segun Abraham was defeated in the controversial APC primaries. Thus the race was more between the Oyegun faction versus the Jagaban faction. While Akeredolu had the blessing of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, Oke who crossed to Alliance for Democracy (AD) from the All Progressive Congress (APC) reportedly had the blessing of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
For the Ahmed Markafi-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it was all about having someone nominated by Olusegun Mimiko become the next governor. However not even the forces of the power of incumbency nor the influence of Tinubu could take any of their candidates to the revered position. What we saw was a choice of the people, a decision to reject any delegation of candidates from the powers that be.
While Godfatherism itself has been a mitigating factor to the development of our democracy, the people have again shown that they have the power to choose who they will. If this foundation is properly built upon collectively, with people rejecting nomination and imposition of candidates from powers that be, Godfatherism could become a thing of the past in our democracy. One thing you all must not forget, Rotimi Akeredolu won this election without the support of Tinubu, Governor Ambode, and Ajimobi. And Eyitayo Jegede lost despite the support of Governor Mimiko!
Democracy is about the people; Politics is local!
The lesson passed on from the ‘Trump-shock’ is that politics is a local affair, not an internet affair. While it cannot be entirely said that social media ratings are usually anti-reality, it does not truly reflect the actual state of things. While everyone and anyone could tweet and participate in online polls, not everyone could vote and not everyone will vote.
In the days that led up to the Ondo elections, the Tinubu-backed candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) was the one in the lead on social media. Pictures from his campaign flooded twitter and everyone was led to believe the election was his to lose. Twitter experts quoted local sources to back their informed opinion of Oke’s chances of winning. The unverified experts further ruled out Akeredolu’s chances of winning after the re-entry of Jegede into the race barely 6 hours before the election. Also it was reported that the “Akure agenda” being returned, Akeredolu would have issues winning votes outside his own home town. One such user said “Oke had locked down Ilaje”. But yet again, just as the Trump election, politics has been proven to be ”local”.
While online polls and internet followership could be taken as an indication of what to come as in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, it doesn’t follow that whatever is obtained off social media would determine the outcome of the election. Democracy is about the people, many of which in Nigeria have no access to electricity let alone television. Therefore good performances in debates may not get aspirants as many votes as getting down to the grassroots to explain their politics. Power belongs to the people, and they will give it to who impresses them most. It may not look so good on the outside, but if you tap deeper, you may find the key as power resides with those at the roots.
Source: Ventures Africa