By John Akpagbo
NIGERIA might be heading to direction of revamping all that have been lost to lopsidedness created by carelessness and selfishness of a few individuals which festered ferociously in the annal of the nation’s democracy.
It might be restructuring, though by default and carelessness of some personalities who easily give way, though unsuspecting, to whatever is put on voluminous papers. The country’s rein might have been snatched from the grip of captains who sail without recourse to the compass.
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These are thoughts that run through the minds of people who observe situations as they unfold without crystal ball. Thursday, May 26, 2023 presented an opportunity for the people of Ogun State to choose, like in the olden days democratic manner, who should be their governor and manage their common patrimony. One of the political parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC, held its governorship primary at MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, the state capital.
The delegates drawn from the 20 local government areas of the state converged peacefully at the stadium early so that the exercise could hold under the sun for transparency and convenience of all participants who would have to return to their base after the exercise.
Accreditation of delegates was done early and they were all set for the exercise to determine the fate of millions of people of the state by choosing among six personalities who had applied to serve the people in the capacity of a governor in 2023.
They are Remi Bakare, Modele Bolatito Sharafa Yusuf, Gabriel Owoduni Opayemi, Olubiyi Oladipupo Otegbeye, Adekunle Abdulkadir Akinlade and Adedapo Olusegun Abiodun. Shortly after noon, the party’s national representatives and the Governorship Primary Committee with Chief Wale Ohu as the chairman, CJ Chinwuba, secretary; Theo Mukoro; Abdulmumeen Ahmed; and Olubummi Aboge-Isaac as members, were already on ground placing 20 ballot boxes on different tables under some canopies labelled with names of the local government areas.
Before the commencement of the election, the Secretary of the Election Committee, Chinwuba, asked representatives of each contestant to introduce themselves to the delegates and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, officials present at the venue.
He also took all representatives of the contestants round to inspect all the ballot boxes before the voting commenced. Meticulously and with utmost strictness, the Secretary of the primary committee, supervised the voting as he called out the delegates local government by local government to file out to cast their votes and slot the ballot paper in transparent boxes meant for each local government.
The ballot papers were sorted and counted after the end of voting right before all representatives of the contestants. Results of each local government was announced. Chief Ohu, the chairman of the election committee, announced the grand result of the primary, declaring the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, as the winner of the election.
The total number of votes cast was 1,170 and he polled 1,168, while two votes were voided. None among other contestants was able to record any vote. The result was accepted by all the delegates before they embarked on the journey to their different local governments. This is a clear representation of the people’s choice irrespective of opinions of some individuals which were at variance with the people’s desire.
The APC state Chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi and other great politicians from the state who have turned elder statesmen, including Chief Segun Osoba, former Governor Gbenga Daniel and a host of others witnessed the unfolding new development in democracy. What makes the election unique is the crop of people who made the delegates lists.
A number of them were aged people. Few with health challenges, against all odds, still made it to the venue of the primary. Some came on crutches probably because of old age or health matters. Investigations into this development revealed that the people who made the list were individuals identified in their communities as altruistic and place premium on dignity even in the face tempting lucre.
They were described as rare personalities, irrespective of their financial status, who always pitch their tents with the people either in the open or in the secret. They pay less attention to and place less value on money.
They were described as the last bastion of altruism, uprightness and democracy in their individual neighbourhood. The delegates actually lived up to expectations as their conducts during the primary reflected as they comported themselves in a respectful manner.
Even when it started raining immediately after the delegates finished casting their votes, they all waited patiently for the downpour to subside, though with representatives of all the six contestants and members of the primary committee standing by the ballot boxes.
Governor Abiodun in his acceptance speech commended members of the APC Governorship Primary for conducting what he described as racour-free, transparent, free and fair primary. He succinctly said: “I don’t think that a transparent process gets any better than this.”
The governor, therefore, promised to keep faith with the traditional ethos of the people of the state, saying: “This is who we are in Ogun State. Violence, banditry and thuggery are alien to us. And I am glad we are slowly and surely changing that narrative.”
He appreciated all who stood by him and his team among who was the National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdulahi Adamu. Corroborating the governor’s assessment of the primary, two among the contestants who jointly challenged the composition of the Governorship Primary Committee and the list of the delegates, Adekunle Abdulkadir Akinlade and Biyi Otegbeye, did not complain about the conduct of the exercise.
Political pundits have lent their voice into the unfolding new democratic process which produced the governor and others who adhered strictly to the tenets of democracy while conducting their primaries.
It is the belief of these observers that if all political parties across all the states of the federation could adopt the process the APC governorship primary was conducted in Ogun State, then the citizenry could be rest assured that those who would turn the nation around socio-economically and politically would hold sway from 2023. They hinged their claims on the premise of the quality of the delegates who would not trade off the people for a whiff of money.
Although they expressed fear that governors and all other incumbent officeholders might not be comfortable with the Ogun State example, empahasing that Governor Abiodun got the return ticket as a result of his performance in office. They referred to some of the people-oriented programmes executed by the governor.
The observers, particularly referred to the quality of such projects including the road network, which they described as world-class. These observers individually averred that the nation is currently experiencing socio-economic and political quagmire as a result of delegates who chose candidates for their on grounds of highest bidders.
They noted that delegates of the past, particularly statutory delegates, served parties’ tickets a la carte. To observers, statutory delegates see election season as harvest time to gather through fleecing of unsuspecting political aspirants. They place premium on how much aspirants can offer as means of inducement to get their votes in the party’s primary to emerge the candidate for whatever office they are aspiring to.
This development, they noted, had provided leeway for fraudsters to infiltrate the political circle to legitimise their ill-gotten wealth and plunder the common patrimony. Pundits also cautioned that any political party that does not allow its members to choose who should be their delegates would end up producing money-mongers who would surely elect Yahoo boys who have money to throw around as candidates for the party to present at the general elections.
They, therefore, charged INEC to adopt the stance of the APC Governorship Primary Committee in Ogun State during the 2023 general elections for transparency and conduct free, fair and acceptable elections.
Akpagbo, a civil servant, wrote from Ota, Ogun State.
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