APC, PDP prepare for Osun poll

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Jun 24th, 2014

The outcome of the governorship election in Ekiti State  shocked many Nigerians. It has brought home the threat by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to retake the Southwest. Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI and Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN examine the implications of the power shift in Ekiti on Southwest politics and 2015 projections.

The shocking defeat of Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi in the governorship election may have sent warning signals to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the threat by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stage a comeback in the Southwest may not be an empty one after all. Indeed, basking in the euphoria of victory, the governor-elect, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and other PDP stalwarts have promised to reclaim other Southwest states controlled by the APC. They say what happened in Ekiti would be repeated in Osun, where Senator Iyiola Omisore, who shares similar characteristics with Fayose, is flying the party’s flag in the forthcoming election in the state.

But, the consensus of political observers is that the situation in Osun is quite different from that of Ekiti. For instance, a trade unionist and publicity secretary of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) in Ogun State, Mr. Kayode Adebayo said the major difference is that the APC candidate in Osun, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, who is seeking re-election, is a grassroots politician, who has initiated policies that are impacting positively on the people. “Aregbesola’s welfarist approach to governance has been appreciated by the people of Osun. So, there is no likelihood that what happened in Ekiti last weekend would repeat itself in Osun,” he told The Nation on Monday.

Aside from Adebayo, an array of other respondents, including the National Publicity Secretary of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Mr. Kunle Famoriyo; a finance and investment consultant, Mr. Akintunde Maberu; a civil society activist and convener of Nigerian Voters’ Assembly, Comrade Moshood Erubami; a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Dr. Tunji Ogunyemi; and APC chieftain Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora were very categorical that the Osun election would be a different ballgame.

Mamora,  dismissed the idea of a PDP comeback in Osun, saying it is not possible because each state has its own peculiarities. Like Fayemi, his Osun State counterpart has also worked. But, unlike the Ekiti governor, Aregbesola is a grassroots politician. Even at that, Mamora said the APC is on top of the situation. “We have our operational strategies in place for Osun to ensure PDP does not snatch the state from us. We will retain Osun and other states in the Southwest. We will definitely learn from the Ekiti experience.”

All the respondents are in agreement that the progress made in the state, particularly in the area of infrastructural development and in education and youth empowerment are remarkable. Famoriyo described Rauf Aregbesola as a highly-focused politician who has been working for the benefit of the people. His words: “He has introduced people-oriented policies aimed at improving the economy of the state. He has made sure that the educational base of the state is solid, by making sure that there are standard schools for the children to attend. The idea is for children of the poor to also attend standard schools like those of the rich men in the society. It is a populist project. He made sure that the children are given a good meal at school, to put them in the right frame of mind to concentrate on their studies. Osun is number one in the world today in the area of education.”

Maberu said it is remarkable that Governor Aregbesola is trying to inculcate some of the virtues of the human being associated with the Yoruba culture, which is encapsulated in the Omoluabi concept. He added that the people have seen the benefits of the reforms the governor is introducing, particularly the reclassification of schools and his youth empowerment programme. “It has created jobs for a lot of people. Don’t forget that the state is landlocked, but through the reforms it has been able to generate more income for the state, by increasing its internally-generated revenue,” the finance and investment consultant noted. He added that Osun is a state that has multiple cities — just like Delta – and that Governor Aregbesola went ahead to develop all the cities at the same time. So, there is no part of the state you visit that you would not see the presence of the government.

In terms of performance and service delivery, majority of the respondents are in agreement that Governor Fayemi, performance in the last four years is excellent. What actually went wrong in Ekiti? The former Senate Minority Leader is cocksure that what happened in Ekiti has nothing to do with the governor’s performance. His words: “Governor Fayemi has done very well in terms of performance and service delivery. From my interaction with the people, the consensus was that he did well. It is quite unfortunate that performance has not been the basis for his re-election. It is a kind of strange behaviour of the people in terms of election. We will keep that on board to ensure we don’t have that kind of situation again”.

Similarly, the university lecturer said: “What happened in Ekiti had shattered correlation between performance and electoral reward. It is assumed that politicians who performed while in office should be rewarded with re-election. In Ekiti, it has been proved otherwise which is very illogical. It happened for the first time in the history of southwest. The Ekiti experience has shown that performance does not correlate with electoral victory.

“Fayemi performed, why should be lose the election. He should be rewarded with re-election. The argument that he borrowed money to develop the state is not an excuse to vote him out. He didn’t pocket the loan. May be he lost because he didn’t share the money with the individuals”.

In his opinion, Adebayo said what played out in Ekiti last Saturday was a protest vote against the APC. He said “there is a limit to the role people who are not indigenes of a state can play in the politics of a state, if such persons do not want to incur the wrath of the people.” He advised APC to imbibe internal democracy, adding that the brazen manner the governor was imposed on the people of Ekiti might have a hand in the way the electorates voted. “I’m not saying the party leadership cannot influence the emergence of a candidate. But they should not do it so brazenly in the manner Fayemi was imposed on the people of Ekiti,” he added.

Speaking in the same vein, the lecturer, Dr. Ogunyemi, advised Aregbesola not to rest on his oars. He also advised Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to steer clear of Osun State for now. “In fact, I will advice that he should not come to Osun to campaign for the gubernatorial poll. People believe his presence may likely create tension in the state.

Adebayo also said people should not gloss over the fact that  Fayemi was too distant from the people of Ekiti in his body language and policies. “How can he ask civil servants to conduct exams for teachers at all levels in the state? Reform is not an abstract; if you want to reform education in Ekiti, you must set out the parameters clearly and there is no way you can do it without involving teachers themselves through their union. The governor failed to carry ASUSS along and this did not go down well with stakeholders in the sector,” he said.

Comrade Erubami blamed the APC for taking the electorate for granted, by not properly mobolising them to ensure that they carry out their civic responsibility by voting. He added that Governor Aregbesola should learn from what happened in Ekiti. He said a situation whereby over 300,000 voters were disenfranchised because they could not present permanent voters’ cards on the day of election was a grievous mistake. He wondered how political parties were indifferent to the voters’ apathy towards collection of voting cards. He said in election a single vote is very important in deciding a winner. “I don’t know why the political parties could ignore 300,000 votes. It is unfortunate the party leaders failed to mobilise the electorate towards collecting the cards,” he noted.

The civil society activist advised  Aregbesola to ensure that all eligible voters collect their voters’ cards before the election. It is the responsibility of the politicians that want peoples vote to assist them particularly people in the rural areas that may find it difficult to move to the collection centre, he said. Erubami added that politicians must live in the heart of the people. “There is difference between politics of principle and politics of winning votes. They should create atmosphere of accessibility. They should run participatory government; that is to say, people should be part of government,” he said.

Some of the respondents advised the APC to do a critical analysis of what went wrong in Ekiti to avoid a similar mistake in Osun. Mamora agreed that the possibility that Ekiti electorates were swayed by material inducements to vote for the PDP cannot be ruled out. The APC chieftain therefore bought the idea of doing “a critical study of what really transpired to ensure that the same thing does not happen in Osun.”

Human rights activist George Afolabi noted that the PDP victory in Ekiti cannot possibly be ascribed to the personality of Fayose or his previous performance as governor, but to the federal might behind him. He advised the APC to throw its weight behind Aregbesola to ensure electoral victory. “The PDP has declared Ekiti and Osun governorship elections as a war. All APC governors should rally support for Aregbesola for the party to retain Osun.

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