Ondo guber:Tending towards an anticlimax
Active, Passive Parties Sediments
Much has already been lost in Ondo State regarding the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral system. When Professor Attahiru Jega brought some innovations to curb electoral malfeasance, he seemed to know that Nigerian politicians are resourceful in improvising short cuts, given their enormous capacity for political mischief making.
That the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo is shrouding in doubt and disbelief flows from the shenanigans of politicians. The architecture of electoral confusion has already been raised by wily politicians that want to programme the election to suit their whims and designs.
Without doubt, the godfathers have shown that the game in Ondo is theirs and less of the voters or their interests. The dust raised by the attempts to select governorship candidates through a democratic process of primary election in the federal ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has refused to settle, merely because the godfathers are at war.
Apart from the obvious inflection of 2019 considerations in the various schemes for ascendancy in the Ondo gubernatorial poll, recent events reveal a calculated effort being made to return the electoral process to its pre-2011 level.
Beginning from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through the Judiciary down to the major political parties, the potent dangers to Nigeria’s juvenile democracy are beginning to manifest in various forms.
Like APC, Like PDP
SHORN of its defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last year’s general election, the APC has not shown that it is different in orientation and organisation from the PDP. The lack of internal democracy and strong party cohesion built on credible ideology/manifesto played out during the Ondo governorship primary. Allegation of delegate swapping and padding led to the heat that has scorched the party to no end.
On its part, the PDP, despite its effusive attempts at re-engineering proved true-type by going into factions and fielding two candidates for one election. If the PDP expected to reap from the friction that trailed APC’s primary, its ambivalent positions have muddled up the election environment in Ondo State.
The confused state of things within the two leading parties led to the collapse of hope that Nigeria’s democracy or electoral system was getting better. Now, the general refrain among voters, party faithful across party lines, Ondo people and Nigerians, is what happens next? Would the election still hold? If so, what concrete assurances are there, that its outcome would provide the ultimate resolution to the charged atmosphere in the state?
Off Ballot Bargaining
WITH the confusion in the system, it is clear that the few voters that may still be willing to vote when and if the election eventually holds would not be the ones to decide the outcome of the exercise.
And as if to prove that the confusion may have been programmed by the politicians, already there are reports of realignments to trash the right of voters to choose the governor of Ondo State. By now, outgoing Governor Olusegun Mimiko must be divided in introspection wondering if his decision to dump the Labour for PDP was strategic enough to safeguard his political future.
Having been pushed to a corner, it seems that those who orchaestrated the renewed agitations between the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction and that of Senator Ahmed Makarfi for the soul of PDP may have succeeded in ensuring that the only viable option for the Iroko is a belated support for the APC flag bearer, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
But in the light of the perception that Akeredolu is a creation of political investors from outside Southwest, could the APC option defeat the veritable challenge posed by Olusola Oke, who found safe berth in the Alliance of Democracy (AD), shortly after the chaos in APC?
The background to Oke’s choice of AD, which as a party had ruled that state before, was said to be the product of painstaking consideration and deliberations by credible Yoruba elders and politicians. If that is the case, and judging from Mimiko’s return to the presidential election, it is doubtful if the outgoing governor could generate massive momentum to swing the votes in favour of whomever he sides in so such a time.
But, if the recent salesman antic demonstrated by Governor Rochas Okorocha is anything to go by, Mimiko may have unwittingly played into the hands of those who do not want him to remain relevant in Ondo and Southwest politics after his exit from office.
Conversely, the outgoing governor may have been assured of a possible favourable action spot in the APC in the guise that he would be coming in to take the place of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who has been cast in the light of opposition to the presidency and some vested northern interests.
On the flipside, what could become of Mimiko’s political image if he sacrifices Eyitayo Jegede at the eleventh hour instead of fighting through to the end? Already some observers had started chronicling the governor’s itinerant politics on different platforms, with many wondering whether his peregrinations would not lead to an untimely retirement from active politics.
Yet, boxed in a tight corner, as he and his supporters appear to be presently, would it not amount to political suicide to remain aloof and adamant against the obvious projection of political might to disarm him? By siding either of the disparate camps of Oke and Akeredolu, will the outgoing governor put himself into imminent enmity with the other? In such a gamble, the governor would be ready to face political persecution from day one of his exit, including probes and character assassination in the media, assuming the side he supported does not win.
Unless Jegede returns with victory from his journey to the Supreme Court or the election is postponed, it is becoming obvious as the November 26 election date draws near that Mimiko would be faced with the tough situation of choosing between siding the federal or crouching to Bourdillon in zonal solidarity with the Tinubu camp, which to all intents and purposes appear to be propping Oke and the AD resuscitation experiment.
Not minding the troubled circumstances of Mimiko and his group, the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff camp, is sounding triumphant. The acting national publicity secretary of the group, Hon. Bernard Mikko, reacted to the indefinite adjournment to Jegede’s and Makarfi faction’s appeal. He noted that as the legal and political solutions are being engineered for the resolution of the PDP leadership crisis, the NWC under Senator Ali Modu Sheriff succinctly appeals to all PDP faithful in Ondo and Nigeria to close ranks and work for the success of the party in the November 26 governorship.
The faction explained that victory for PDP is imperative, contending that the most significant objective of any serious political party is to win elections and form government. On his Jegede assured his supporters that it was not the end of the road yet, pointing out that he was optimistic to retrieve his mandate at the Supreme Court. The governorship hopeful revealed that the overall intention of the appellants was to stop a review of Justice Abang’s contrived judgment through vexatious and time wasting tactics.
All Clear For Oke
PREPARED not to leave anything to chance against the lofty prospects of possible poll victory for its candidate, the AD held its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja for the single agenda of securing the waiver granted to Oke to contest election on its platform. AD national chairman, Chief Joseph Avazi, disclosed in a statement that the party’s NEC has rectified the waiver granted to Oke, adding that the decision was arrived at after careful and extensive deliberations during the NEC meeting.
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