Osun and the gospel of parliamentary democracy
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, local government elections will hold in the State of Osun on January 27, 2018. At least, 332 councillorship slots will be up for grabs in an election scheduled to be the first of its kind in the life of the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration. Not only that, it will be the first in the history of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic that parliamentary practice will be given a shot at the local government level.
While some professional doubters may wish to liken Osun to an administrative jungle where laws are brazenly breached and, constitutionalism, flagrantly abused, Section 22 of the Local Government (Administration) Law Cap 72A, Vol. 4, Laws of Osun State 2002 as amended states as follows: “There shall be for each Local Government a Chairman and a Vice Chairman who shall be elected by the councillors of the Local Government Council from among themselves. The Chairman and Vice Chairman shall only be elected among the councillors of the political party that has majority seat in the Local Government Council.” So, why parliamentary system in Osun?
By the way, what does Aregbesola stand to gain by daring to walk with clear conviction where even angels dare to tread and what roles does has the “inchoate” problem associated with local government creation in Nigeria (ref: Supreme Court’s judgement in AG Lagos v AG Federation (2004) 20 NSCQLR 99A) got to play in all of these?
Without doubt, the creation of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), Area Councils and Administrative Offices in Osun was a political masterstroke by this government and Aregbesola deserves commendation for giving Osun a sense of direction and purpose. Lest we forget, ‘Ogbeni’, as he is fondly called, was a prominent member of the Bola Tinubu-led team that midwifed the LCDA system in Lagos State. That he is again finding a new path to rehabilitate our democracy in line with the views and position of the people clearly attests to his valued intelligence, unquestionable optimism and endless hope for a better Nigeria. One can only pray other leaders would tap into the sheer force of his personality and the power of his ideas.
Again, why the introduction of parliamentary system in Osun and where do we go for succor, in case our cherished system becomes captivated by the culture of corruption and inefficient management system usually associated with our Nigerianness?
By design, parliamentary democracy is meant to encourage quicker legislative action, primarily because the executive branch is a product of the support of the legislative branch which in turn “includes members of the legislature.” In an environment like ours where ethnic, racial, even religious and ideological animosity has been elevated into statecraft, parliamentary practice serves as an effective instrument for direct political participation and even distribution of power. Also, the likelihood of a drastic drop in the rush for; and friction at the centre under parliamentary practice is high. And, apart from its ability to carry along with it a spectacular increase in political activities across the state, Aregbesola’s innovative revolution is most likely to generate robust discussions on the way forward for a democratic Nigeria.
Quite clearly, it is because we have failed to test our laws that dysfunctional political system has become commonplace scandal in Nigeria. Contrary to projections, parliamentary system runs the risk of becoming a mere fig leaf by which Nigerians seek good governance and socio-economic liberation unless the fine issues of its cumulative impact are clearly defined. In any case, this is where the involvement of critical stakeholders likes the youth, traditional institutions and civil society groups in exploring all the opportunities that an election of this nature and timing presents comes in. Church and state must also collaborate in the overall interest of the electorate’s exploring the strengths and inspirations that the exercise will be throwing open. Essentially, political parties must read the signs right by going into the contest with their best, votes-worthy candidates.
Walter Bagehot famously describes ability to do “what the people say you cannot do” as “the greatest pleasure in life.” Like a field of driven snow, Osun governorship election is less than a year away! Agreed! No two elections are the same. However, the tragedy of victory is that success at the January 2018 poll may not necessarily translate into victory on September 22, 2018 unless some purposeful political reengineering is done where necessary. On the other hand, the fact that All Progressives Congress (APC) got it wrong on July 8, 2017 does not mean that all hope is lost for the party. All the more reason the Aregbesola-led administration must pray towards turning the counsel of the Ahithophels to naught! Truth be told: Nigerians are hungry and their quality of life has become so unimpressive that, should the opportunity present itself again, one is not in doubt of Buhari’s recalibrating the illusion of ‘belonging to nobody’ and “everybody.” Sad therefore that Osun is being treated as a case in isolation!
At a time like this, clarifying extant confusions troubling Nigeria’s Israel may tend to suffer from conceptual impressions. Petty quarrels among brothers also have the capacity to snowball into politically-motivated eruptions of cataclysmic proportions if not accorded the honour of fragility it deserves. To this end, necessary steps must be taken to urgently address all ideological disputations that may want to pitch APC members in the tents of Us versus Us. Most importantly, the salary dislocation which has so far proved to be no respecter of party, racial or gender affiliations must be courageously confronted in a way that will ultimately leave all parties convinced that the country’s present pass truly has an expiry date.
Let me by way of conclusion state that, on a good day, an election of this shape and size should afford members of the ruling party a rare opportunity of closing ranks for the purpose of retaining the state for the party in 2018. The hope is that events as they happened in Edo State on September 28, 2016 and Ondo State on November 26, 2016 would provide lessons sufficient enough for the ruling party to deactivate opposition’s fantasy that it is the party of choice in Osun.
May the Strength of Israel grant our leaders the wisdom to lead us aright!
Komolafe wrote from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.