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Published On: Mon, Aug 11th, 2014

Disturbing issues in the Osun governorship election

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OSUN POLLSBy Abdullahi YunusaBy Abdullahi Yunusa

The much anticipated August 9 Osun governorship election was held last weekend across 30 Local Government Areas in the state, with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declaring the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress winner. The outcome of the poll showed that it was indeed a keenly contested exercise. The two major contenders, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the PDP and Rauf Aregbesola of the APC were both determined and ready to outdo each other in the polls. But like in every contest, a winner must certainly emerge.

With the election over and the winner still basking in the euphoria of victory, a critical analysis and assessment of some unhealthy factors that characterized the entire exercise won’t be a bad idea. The Osun election, like every other one had its pitfalls, strength, weakness, highs and lows as well as highlighted a number of lapses for possible action in subsequent elections. A deep reflection on the pre and post election activities will not only highlight grey areas in the entire process, but will guide us in future elections.

Huge military presence:  It appears we are gradually adopting the periodic massive deployment of armed soldiers to monitor elections as normal and acceptable. Truth be told, we are only deviating from the norm. Constitutionally, the Nigeria Police Force is the organ of government statutorily empowered to provide internal security while soldiers focus on our borders against external invasion. Though the military guys can be called on to offer necessary assistance whenever the need arises. Their assistance and presence become handy in an extremely volatile situation as currently created by the Boko Haram insurgent group. But it is completely an aberration to deploy over 70,000 military personnel to oversee a task that the police and other security agencies are capable of handling. The military, like I noted earlier, are only needed in situations termed extreme and unmanageable by the police. From all points of view, events leading to the just concluded Osun election didn’t justify the massive deployment of security, especially the military for the exercise.  For whatever reasons, we call on authorities to re-examine its resolve to engage military in the conduct of elections in the country. Deploying them to relate with civilians during elections is a wrong thing to do. The police, despite her obvious shortcomings and battered image is better placed to monitor elections than the khaki boys.

 Masked security men?  The most disturbing aspect of the just ended Osun guber election was the use of scary-looking and gun-wielding masked security guards by Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party during his campaign tours. Many still wonder where those guys were brought from. My initial argument that they were operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) couldn’t stand as none of them acted in manners that suggested they had formal or coordinated security training. They were moreorless like street thugs picked up to achieve a narrow objective of instigating fear in the people. This is one particular issue I expected other parties that fielded candidates in the election to have really harped on. It is very undemocratic, utterly uncivil and terrifyingly disturbing. Omisore’s masked guys brought back the sad memories of a band of thugs Governor Sullivan Chime directed to gun down protesting students of Kogi State University, Anyigba in 2007. If this ugly trend isn’t checked and nipped in the bud, I foresee a terrible situation in the nearest future.

We sincerely await better and genuine explanations from the system or managers of our security architecture on this dangerous trend introduced by Senator Omisore.

 Desperation for power:  Unfortunately, the only thing that is ever present in the heart of a Nigerian politician is just to win election at all cost and nothing more. They hate to be defeated, forgetting that, in every competition they must be a winner and a loser. I took out time to monitor the activities of the two major candidates in the just concluded Osun election, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress. Both men sounded so determined, convinced and poised to win the election. None of them ever thought of possible defeat. With a mindset as this, one is sure to expect a fiercely and keenly contested election.

 Our politicians should be reminded of the agelong fact that in any contest a winner must emerge. While the winner is urged to be magnanimous in victory and the loser on the other hand is told to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship. Omisore and Aregbesola took their quest to occupy the Bola Ige House too far. Nothing in life should be seen as a do or die affair, not even our quest for political power.

 Voter education/enlightenment:

Education is very important in freeing any heart from ignorance and bondage. People perish for lack of knowledge. INEC as the nation’s electoral empire is still required to step up or strengthen its voter education and enlightenment responsibility. The electorate requires long and sustained education on the benefits of coming out to vote during elections. This awareness creation must take into cognizance the peoples dialect, understanding and disposition to life. They should be engaged and communicated to in ways and manners that best suits them. It should be a continuous exercise and not just when elections are around the corner alone. This last minute crash programme of educating voters’ days to election isn’t good for our democracy.

 Unguarded utterances by political actors

 The just concluded Osun election, like previous elections in Nigeria, witnessed a barrage of negative statements across different political platforms. They didn’t only resort to name-calling alone, they conveniently took each others to the cleaners in manners less deserving of supposed honourable men of their pedigree. They were frankly crude, laughably pedestrian and shockingly uncivil in their utterances. Decorum was nowhere close to these elements. They employed gutter language and adjectives in throwing political punches at each other.

 As we approach the 2015 general election, there is this dire need for our politicians to play down on emotions by focusing more on germane and critical issues of development. The serial verbal and media war wasn’t about the people. It was majorly about personal interest. If our leader’s quest for political office is hinged on service to humanity, I see no reason why aspirants employ all crooks and tactics to ensure they win election. We must re-check ourselves. Realising the Nigeria of our collective dreams and aspirations should be the major issue of focus.  Not minding the initial intense apprehension and concern nursed by Nigerians, especially Osun people about the election, the exercise was a huge success. INEC went into the Osun election very prepared to correct past electoral mistakes. It is not yet uhuru. It should seek to improve on the Osun success story.

 Abdullahi Yunusa, wrote in from Imane, Kogi State

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