Adeleke and INEC‘s new dance step
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds then they will just have to sit on their blisters” – Abraham Lincoln
Sir: It would be recalled that after a highly engaging electoral battle, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke was declared the winner, having polled 403,371 votes to defeat incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 375,027 votes.
Remarkably, Adeleke’s 403,371 votes surpassed the combined 401,083 votes polled by the other 14 candidates in the election. And he won in 17 out of the 30 council areas while the governor won in 13 councils. But that was not the only factor that stood the election out for cheers by seasoned and ardent followers of Nigeria’s effervescent polity. That the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s voter education programme inspired a large turnout of voters was praise-worthy. That it also overcame the past hurdles of late delivery of sensitive electoral materials, ballot-box snatching, violence by gun-wielding paid thugs were commendable improvements.
Though there were some reports of the slow response of the electronic transmission machine in a few places and the nauseating vote-buying issue threw up its ugly head, the peaceful nature of conduct of the election stood it in good stead.
With regards to Adeleke’s victory this has been traced to the factors of the unresolved leadership crisis in the APC as well as the mismanagement of the crisis that trailed the APC primary election and issues with selection of traditional rulers. Others included the peoples’ obvious disappointment with the ruling party’s poor performance and the outgoing governor’s inability to pay 30 months’ salary and pension arrears that accumulated during the Rauf Aregbesola administration.
Adeleke had nursed the ambition of becoming Osun State governor since 2017 when he contested for the Osun West senatorial bye-election which was informed by the death of his elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke, a former governor of the state. Unfortunately, he could not get the nod of the APC stalwarts to get the governorship ticket to complete his brother’s tenure. That explains why he cross carpeted over to the PDP where he became the candidate and incidentally won the Senatorial election.
Not done, he later threw in his hat for the governorship contest but lost with less than 400 votes in 2018 under steamy and controversial circumstances. That was one election yours truly monitored as the Senior Research Fellow of the Dr. Joe Odumakin-led Women Arise for Change Initiative NGO and was shocked when it was declared inconclusive!
Good enough, that Adeleke tried again in 2022 and has eventually emerged the victor. That reminds one of Benjamin Disraeli’s timeless admonition that: ‘‘The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” Adeleke would not have won had he sat on the fence bemoaning his fate, or that of his family. No! He stood up against all odds; weathered the storm of insults and innuendoes and even thought it timely to improve on his academic qualification. “Never quit,” remains the motivating message here.
It is imperative on Adeleke also to glean from the fact that one victory leads to a new set of challenges. Since INEC’s new dance step is that of delivering the wishes of the people, now is the time to deliver the dividends of democracy to those who have been denied of it.
Ayo Oyoze Baje.