LOSING an election especially for an incumbent who the law permits to seek a second term is no fun. You can spin it by saying that in a contest, one person will win while the other will lose. In reality, the expectation and the wish and the hope of the contestants is that the other person will, and should, lose. But wishes are not horses, otherwise beggars will have a free ride.
So, two days ago Adegboyega Oyetola who is said to be a nephew or cousin of the ‘national leader’ of the ruling All Progressives Congress [APC] political party and its presidential candidate in the February 2023 election, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would have woken up, if he actually indulged in the luxury of sleeping the night before, to the reality that he was on his way out of the Governor’s Mansion in Osogbo.
An off-season governorship election was conducted in Osun state the day before, Saturday July 16th. A few hours after polls closed, indications had started emerging that the incumbent APC governor was in trouble. Late into the night on the election day a WhatsApp voicemail message had gone out and gone viral about the inevitable outcome of the election. The message was frantic, the messenger was in panic and his expectation was forlorn. The identity of the messenger was uncertain but what was certain was that he was of the ruling APC.
In one platform on WhatsApp the wailing messenger was said to be the chairman of the APC in Osun state while on another platform, the person was identified as one of the close aides of Governor Oyetola. But the message delivered breathlessly in a mixture of Yoruba language and English language was clear,
certain, emphatic and frantic. The male voice lamented hours after the close of voting that the results from Osogbo, the state capital’s polling units, represented clear and present danger to the governor being reelected. He said the way things were turning out, it was only prayers that could turn the tide. He said their supporters prayers should be for the election to be declared inconclusive as in 2018.
His worst fears came to pass even before midnight on Saturday as it was clear that the incumbent had lost. Only those who lived in denial refused to face the reality that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] had won in the first ballot. God apparently did not hearken to the APC prayer for the election to be declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC]. Early on Sunday morning INEC formally declared Senator Ademola Adeleke of the opposition PDP who polled 403,371 or 50.14 percent as the winner and governor- elect. Gov. Oyetola polled 375,027 votes or 46.62percent.
Last Saturday’s election was a rematch between Oyetola and Adeleke. Four years ago, Adeleke had won the contest that was declared inconclusive by INEC. When the supplementary election was conducted, the INEC awarded victory to Oyetola with a margin of less than 500 votes. The 2018 election was bitterly contested and the ultimate award of victory to the APC disputed. Indeed, down the years, some leading lights in the ruling party admittedly publicly that their win was tainted.
Saturday’s result of the rematch which the PDP won with a margin of close to 30,000 votes may be a vindication that the APC stole victory from a clear defeat in 2018.
What is more important, however, is that the weekend’s governorship election has thrown up a couple of critical issues. It is possible that the indigenes and residents of Osun state may have been unimpressed with the performance of Governor Oyetola in nearly four years but his campaign surrogates in the days preceding the vote may have done him a huge disservice. For Alhaji Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate in the 2023 election, the only significant thing he said while his stomped for Oyetola was that one of the political parties would labour in vain. He could not campaign for his party’s candidate on the strength of his achievements in office. Of course, there was a backlash.
Then the governor of Kano state, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje who also campaigned for the now outgoing governor compounded the matter. Ganduje’s campaign revolved around calling on Muslims in Osun state to vote for Oyetola because of he is a Muslim. Nothing else mattered. Obviously Ganduje spoke out of embarrassing ignorance. And his candidate paid dearly for it. How the Kano state governor failed to recognise that many Yoruba families are made up of adherents of the Christian and Islamic faith was baffling. In other words, he expected Muslims in Adeleke’s family to leave their own and vote for Oyetola. What a dumb thinking. Apart from his divisive campaign rhetoric in Osun state, Ganduje has shown himself as a dangerous politician who should be closely watched given his obvious and unabashed religious bigotry. The same man was the person who said weeks ago that he was in the forefront of persuading Alhaji Tinubu to pair with another Muslim, Alhaji Kashim Shettima in his presidential quest next year. Ganduje comes with a baggage given that he was enmeshed in contracts for dollars bribe not too long ago. A video of him allegedly stuffing bribe dollars inside his flowing gown locally called agbada made the rounds.
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Another significant fallout from the Osun election is that votes now count especially with the introduction by INEC of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System [BVAS]. Our elections are becoming increasingly fraud proof. The expectation is that it will impact on voters turnout and faith in the outcomes of elections. Increased voters turnout will accord more legitimacy to government. Furthermore, the election seem to suggest that voters are now more inclined to vote for individuals and not political parties, a move that could bode well for Nigeria’s electoral democracy which has no provision yet for independent candidates. And finally, the benefits of the 2022 Electoral Act are beginning to manifest. The national assembly and the President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari deserve commendation in this regard. But there is still a long way to go.
Our politics promotes winner-takes-all so the result of the Osun state governorship election will leave ashes in the mouth of Oyetola the morning after. It could remain so for many days and months to come. It will take him time to
come to terms with his loss. His backers were reputed to be heavy hitters and invincible in electoral contests. So how could this have happened? Even quick rehabilitation through a lucrative political appointment in Abuja will not make up for the loss of the Governor’s Mansion. Governors in Nigeria, including even the puppets among them, are lords of the manor. Everything including the states’ treasuries revolve around them. If you want to know, visit any state when the governor is out of station. As far as the public sector is concerned it would be akin to visiting a cemetery in the dead of the night. That is the awesome power and contrived aura that Oyetola will be divested of in a couple of months if he did not return to office through the tribunal and/or courts. Not even hustling in the presidential campaign of his uncle Alhaji Tinubu will compensate for this loss.
AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha…
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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