By Motunrayo Adijat Adeleye-Oladapo
It is no longer news that the people of Osun state have spoken in a loud voice by returning for another term of four years, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola as their governor. If we go by the fall out of the Ekiti gubernatorial election which in my opinion became an eye-opener to many Governors, especially those of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the accusations and counter accusations from the contending political parties especially the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC), you will agree with me that the just concluded Osun State Gubernatorial election will remain one of the most tension soaked elections we had in Nigeria in recent time.
I have been following the trend of elections in Nigeria long before I ventured into active party politics. So, at the risk of sounding immodest, I can say that the result did not come to some of us who are known for objectivity as a surprise. Before you begin to query the authority upon which I made this statement, let me call our attention to some of the factors that culminated into the result.
First and foremost, one thing that has caught my fancy in the two most recent elections in Nigeria, that is the Ekiti and Osun State Elections, is the fact that Nigerians now align more with personalities more than political parties. The implication of this is that victory at the poll is now about sixty percent about the individual, his/her track record and relationship with the people while the party will play the rest of the percentage role. This explains why some school of thought has it that we are now ripe for independent candidacy. I pray this will be included in the constitution as a matter of importance.
The reason for this change in trend cannot be farfetched. I make bold to say that in Nigeria of today, political ideology has become a thing of the past. We can no longer differentiate between a Progressive and a Conservative party because politicians cross carpet freely from one to the other or can you tell me the difference between the APC and PDP? Equally, most aspirants no longer have what we know as manifesto and they avoid as much as possible, political debate. In the days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and a host of others, at the mention of NCNC, AG, UPN, and of course NPN, you don’t need anybody to tell you what the parties represent. Again, in the United States, we know what the republicans and the democrats stand for.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is a grassroots politician. Unlike Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti who was said to have isolated himself from the masses, Ogbeni is close to the grassroots. He speak their language. The title “ogbeni” which he adopted on assumption of office, in my opinion, is to signify his belief in his people.
Another factor in favour of Aregbesola is that in the whole of APC South West, aside Lagos, Osun is the only state where there is no division in the ruling All Progressive Congress, another testimony to his leadership prowess unlike Oyo State where its Senators have since defected and Ogun State where its National Assembly members are on their way out of the party. Ogbeni’s victory is an indication that when there is unity, mountains can be moved but on the other hand, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Beside all of these, his performance in the last three and a half years contributed to his victory. So again, I state categorically that Aregbesola’s victory has a whole lot to do with his person and little with the party.
The greatest role to the success of Aregbesola was carried out by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and I think he should be magnanimous enough to thank them for fielding Senator Iyiola Omisore as their candidate. It is important to state that the number of votes in favour of PDP indicates that Aregbesola may not have been this lucky if the PDP has fielded a more “man of the people” candidate. My findings proved that the majority of Osun voters settled for Aregbesola not because they didn’t have anything serious against him but because they didn’t see a better option in Omisore.
As we approach the next general election, it is my belief that political party leaders in Nigeria will learn from the Osun experience and make merit their watchword by fielding candidates that are most acceptable to the people. I see the focus being more on individuals and less of the party. If this is not complied with, they may have resources, disburse it accordingly yet, more surprises will spring up. A stitch in time, they say saves nine.
Motunrayo Adijat Adeleye-Oladapo is a two term member of the Ogun state House of Assembly.