10th July, 2012
By Peter Claver Opara
On July 14, the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole will stand before his Edo people to demand for re-election. In this quest, he has his stellar handiwork in his first four years’ term to speak for him. The idea for elected officers to go for an encore is predicated on performance. A performer stands the chance to go for a second term based on what he has achieved in his first term and if he had not achieved in his first term, he is thrown out in the quest for a second term. That is what democracy, in its undiluted and uncorrupted form, is meant to achieve and nothing more. In a functional democracy, far from the mad house we have in Nigeria, the key word is performance as it first, determines one’s choice for any position based on prior demonstration of competence. It is the sole determinant for a second term and nothing more. So performance is the key word in a functional democracy and if that is the determinant, then Adams Oshiomhole should have gone for a second term as Edo State governor unopposed.
But in Nigeria and its wild concept of democracy, election or entry into public office is not predicated on such high grounds. Rather, what one needs to access democratic office is a filial attachment to the apron string of a godfather, a serial fixer, a cabal or a shibboleth who would arrange his ascension to any political office of his choice through the vilest means of electoral gerrymandering and nothing more. When such fixed candidate gets into political office, there is no urge, need or push to perform since that does not matter and has no direct effect on his re-election. This is the tragedy Nigeria has faced with PDP these last thirteen awful years of queer, dysfunctional democracy that has been marked by non performance and a high level of corruption. That is the factor the Edo PDP, which was in power for ten years and left Edo a vastly despoiled and arid state that was cringing on its knees by July 2008, when Oshiomhole recovered his stolen mandate, is banking on in its present wild dream of re-taking Edo State from a governor that has left everybody wowing with his spectacular performance in just four years.
Fact is that were we to practice anything near a sane democracy, PDP would not have mobilised the face to think of contesting Edo State because of the shameful outing in Edo in ten horrible years; a sad experience that is being banished by the Oshiomhole administration. But PDP is not staking its present claim for a repeat on any history of performance. It is not touting its competence or commitment to good governance. It is not banking on the people who are showing so much repulsion to its annoying dream by the day but on its fixing power, its notorious capacity to nick power without commitment to responsibility, its miraculous predilection to spin electoral results from groundless indices, its self celebrated political sagacity to corner every available electoral office in the land by hook or crook and other well despised character traits that have, in the last thirteen years, smeared our electoral process and made it a conduit for obnoxious electoral results that have gone to worsen our national atrophy.
Like in every state it has unleashed its miraculous electoral power, the PDP, which should be celebrating its stellar feel on power for thirteen years is not doing that because there is no ennobling history of achievement to flaunt. It is not doing that because what it can boast of with its brush with Edo is a long chain of stories of decay and rot. It has left that forte for Adams and where it cares to contest, it has been one bland case of living in total denial. In this, the PDP finds itself in the awkward position of denying the obvious. It denies hard, immutable facts just to sour the sweet aroma of performance that has hit Edo since Adams came and which has led to a monumental recovery of a prostrate and down and out state. For the PDP and its shameless catechism of electoral dubiety, nothing is happening in Edo State and all those that have expressed great awe at the discernible landmarks Adams has brought to Edo State are simply hallucinating. It is strange and awkward but that is all the PDP needs to steal any state, backed with an intimidating arsenal of federal power, misused serially to enforce narrow and selfish partisan interests.
It is not as if PDP is banking on the people because the exodus that has hit it since its governorship candidate emerged has left it a battalion, led by a notorious commander but without troops. With each day and with fresh gale of schism hitting it, the PDP waxes greatly confident in its quest to re-take Edo State. With fresher picture of Oshiomhole’s grand performance sticking out, the PDP sounds surer of its capacity to wrest Edo from his hands. With its depleted campaign train pecked with more stones, more sachet water bags and more opprobrium by Edo people, deeply annoyed by its noxious posture in this election, the PDP raves up its boast that nothing stops it from reclaiming Edo. It is buoyed by a criminal electoral culture that rewards the most astute manipulator and leverages state resources to force down unpopular choices on the people. It is such nuances that the PDP hopes will reward its passion to take over Edo State since it has no enviable performance history and since it does not have the confidence of the Edo people to see through this wonky dream.
But, I am sure the members of PDP will meet more than a match in Adams Oshiomhole, a rusty, street wise player that knows how to plug the leakages through which PDP anchors its wild dream. So far, he has successfully arrested the main threat in the PDP plot when he led a mass stymie of the obnoxious attempt to swell the number of voters in Edo State through a phony voter registration exercise. So he knows the number of voters in Edo and where they are located and he has the capacity to track voting in all the wards and polling units in Edo State in the coming election. He has outwitted the attempts to snuff life out of him albeit he has lost one of his core strategists, indeed his Private Secretary, Oyerinde Olaitan, and some media men in the process. By now, those that have lost the contest with the people and have rather seen elimination and other forms of rough tactics as the surest ways to settle the fight would face the unpleasant reality of facing the nine-life Oshiomhole in a battle that is going to be settled on the bar of performance and not in the scheming rooms of distasteful godfathers and their lickspittles.
When he emerged as governor of Edo, I had written an article expressing my confidence that Adams would kick start the rescue of Edo from the dungeon the PDP left it in ten years of harrowing leadership where the ancient greed and interests of a fading godfather and his subalterns were elevated above the interests of the people of Edo State. Shortly after the publication of that article, I ran into a friend, who is a leading Igbo intellectual think thank at Concorde Hotel, Owerri. He was in company of another politician and both are ranking members of the PDP. My friend told me he read my article but predicted that Adams will shock us with his failure to raise the bars of governance in Edo. On this, his friend disagreed and I also disagreed but we didn’t prod the issue further since it would be proved with time. I am happy that Adams has made my friend eat his words with the way and manner he has broken all the negative jinxes PDP brought to bear on Edo State. His re-election is just natural reward for his decision to work for the people and consign the pristine interests of overbearing godfathers to the graveyard of history.
Edo people have expressed what they want and they have resoundingly endorsed the return of Oshiomhole like the reasonable people they are. Here, they should be ready to do battle with those who believe that electoral mandates are not meant to enhance performance and are not necessarily what the majority wants but rather what the godfathers and a conclave of free loaders want. Eternal vigilance in all polling and collating units is what is needed to ensure the latter, who take Edo people for fools that won’t mind being serially raped over and over again, are stopped on their track. There is no reason why the cabal will defeat the people of Edo on July 14 for that will mean the ultimate defeat of what remains of the original concept of democracy where performance is key.
•Oparah writes in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]