While the 2018 Osun governorship poll subjects the Nigeria’s fledging democracy to another critical test, its inherent lessons are abound as preparations for nomination of candidates gather momentum in the ranks of competing political parties. The lessons are indeed useful to states with transiting governors as well as opposition parties that are democratically disposed to grab power relying on popular and acceptable candidates.
It is no longer a news that the exiting governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbeshola, through his performance, offered a good example of how a leader and custodian of people’s mandate can assume notoriety and attain to failure in governance and overall leadership. Known for his ill-temperedness, stubbornness and administrative highhandedness, Aregbeshola administered and pocketed State of Osun as his personal estate. He doesn’t pretend as his loyalty is solely channeled to Ahmed Bola, the Jagaban of Lagos, whom he believes till date made him a governor.
Unperturbed by the plights of the suppose owners of the mandate he exercises, Aregbeshola never paid salaries promptly nor embarked on people-oriented projects. It took an unjustified but corrupt act of Buhari/APC led federal government as he recently and illegally received about N16b from the national treasury under the guise of ‘bailout’ to offset months of unpaid salaries and emoluments owed Osun workers in a show of desperation to win the governorship election.
In apparent manifestation of greed and colonial mentality, Aregbeshola without resort to caution willed the 2018 APC Governorship ticket to Tinubu as he insisted on his cousin, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetoro, who doubles as his Chief of Staff. Good reasonings and entreaties to prevail right decisions fell on deaf ears. In Aregbeshola political calculation, the State of Osun belongs to him and Jagaba; the collective interest of the party leaders and the electorate who had wished an end to Tinubu’s colonial era in Osun never counted.
On the part of Osun PDP, the lesson showcased is equally clear and inspiring. The party never pretended on its desire to wrestle power from Aregbeshola and his godfather. Majority of the party leaders and delegates deliberately rooted for Sen. Ademola Adeleke in the keenly contested primary election. The choice of Adeleke, going by his popularity and acceptability, whittled down distractions orchestrated by political opponents ahead of the election. Every attempt made to ridicule and subject him to public opprobrium as witnessed during the certificate saga recorded a minimal effect as proven by his victory in the first ballot.
Sen. Adeleke’s victory was obviously made possible by a combination of good factors including his pedigree. He has neither political baggages nor populated political enemies. Instead, Adeleke rode on the collective goodwill of his family and personal ethos to change the tide. As a well grounded opposition party in the State of Osun, the PDP yearned for the Adelekes to politically dislodge Tinubu, Aregbeshola and APC in the state.
In view of the above, it is obvious that the lessons delivered to the political space through the Osun Governorship election are two-sided. Firstly, the exiting governors desperately seeking to enthrone their cronies, relatives and son-in-laws like the governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, they have the last chance to make a rethink and informed decision. Aregboshola, Tinubu and APC leaders are sweating profusely to deliver Oyetoro in the re-run, who obviously lack sufficient popularity and acceptability to contend with Sen. Adeleke. In the midst of an alleged connivance with INEC and other electoral malpractices, the dancing senator is still leading with majority votes.
The second lesson will definitely Imo PDP if the party is contesting the 2019 governorship election to win. The party leaders and delegates already have Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu and Prof. Jude Njoku as major aspirants to elect their governorship candidate.
Upon recalling how Ihedioha as the Imo PDP governorship candidate lost in 2015 contest despite obvious advantages he manifested as the Acting Speaker of Federal House of Representatives and his party, the PDP, also in control of federal powers, one wonders the magic he intends to make in 2019 if given the governorship ticket again. Though Ihedioha parades the requisite credentials and legislative experience that may aid him to a success if voted as governor, his obscured approach to partisanship and low-rated popularity in Imo has remained his political albatross. This seemingly widens the vacuum between his governorship project and some major stakeholders in the PDP.
Secondly, it is also alleged that Ihedioha meddled in the budgeting, contracting and monetary kick-backs that stalled some failed and abandoned road projects in Imo State and South East using his position as Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representative. Accusing fingers especially from Okorocha’s camp have been pointed at him severally which tends to suggest or probably enlist his disdain to the progress of Imo people. It is a general belief though in some quarters that Ihedioha attracted a heap of baggages and may be invited to answer questions by relevant anti-graft agencies if he emerges the PDP governorship ticket for 2019 contest. That will no doubt form destructive instruments of destabilization, distractions and blackmail against Ihedioha as the 2019 PDP Governorship candidate in Imo.
Thirdly, it does appear that the Aboh-Mbaise born politician has retrogressively made more enemies than friends in Imo political arena since he started pursuing his gubernatorial aspiration. A random survey suggests that many influential political heavyweights have deserted Ihedioha largely as a result of his non-inclusive approach to politics and tricks. While some party leaders habour the perception that if given the gubernatorial powers, Ihedioha, will be extremely difficult to tame, others see him as a bigot with the tendencies of cornering major developmental projects to his Mbaise clan against other sections in the state. Those propelling this notion has always made strong reference to his days as Deputy Speaker when he allegedly diverted virtually all meaning projects to Mbaise clan using the instrumentality of the position meant for the entire South East.
On the part of Prof. Jude Njoku, it is a known fact that while trying to achieve more as the Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), the erudite scholar incurred the wrath of then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He was accused of corrupt practices alongside with then minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji as well as then President of Senate, Chief Adolphos Wabara. He left FUTO dishonorably and with scare of injuries. That incident has hunted Professor Njoku politically anytime he aspires for elective position. But, suffice to say that Prof. Njoku showcases good leadership qualities and charisma of a true leader.
In the case of Sen. Samuel Anyanwu, the quintessential lawmaker has everything good to his advantage. Rising with candor to the national political grid as an elected council chairman, state assembly lawmaker and presently a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Owerri Zone (Imo East), Sen. Anyanwu popularly called Samdaddy is relatively young, promising, intelligent, smart, colorful and the only socially-inclined aspirant in Imo PDP. As a matter of fact, Samdaddy has no skeletons in his cupboard.
Another advantage attributable to Samdaddy’s is his towering profile and popularity that clearly cut across the 27 local government areas of Imo State. This is as his gubernatorial aspiration garners multiple endorsements by party leaders and stakeholders who in turn deposit so much confidence and trust in him. There is no gainsaying that Samdaddy is loved and cherished by majority of Imo PDP leaders whose support totally inspires his confidence.
It is therefore apt to posit that Sen. Samuel Anyanwu is synonymous to Sen. Ademola Adeleke of the State of Osun. The two senators share certain qualities in common in terms of acceptability, popularity, political-purity and goodwill. With clear signals that some political parties in Imo State like the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), already enmeshed in crisis, may adopt other party’s governorship candidate, the PDP delegates should know that it is only the charismatic Samdaddy that manifests the popularity and acceptability capable of attracting such adoption and votes across party lines for Imo PDP.