By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
THERE are no lessons to learn from the 19 September 2020 governorship election in Edo State. We deceive ourselves if we claim there are.
In the hastened jump to reap democratic credentials from an election that simply exhibited the coy side of Nigeria, Edo is being burnished as a template for future elections. Is it not how we deceive ourselves? Are people not knowingly celebrating the deceit?
They have drawn President Muhammadu Buhari into it. Edo exemplifies his affinity to the growth of Nigeria’s democratic. They would not forget to add it as one of Buhari’s achievements. Other key actors – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Nyesom Wike, Adams Oshiomhole – have different tales of their roles in the latest version of doing the same thing slightly different.
What are the lessons we learnt? Are there lessons to learn?
Edo 2020 was one of the most rancorous, most violent elections we have had. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, looked away. It never thought of pulling anyone in over hate speeches that fuelled the violence. Where were the security agencies? What could we have learnt from that?
Maybe the resilience of the people. Many of them were not too willing to lay down their lives for politicians again. They have seen worse. They adjusted.
Did the contentious processes that produced the key candidates, Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of All Progressives Congress, APC, align with provisions of the Electoral Act, and the Constitutions of the parties? The debates are still on. The smaller parties were not different in violating their own primaries if ever they held.
Was the militarisation of the process with more than 30,000 policemen and other security agents in Edo State while we cannot afford a fraction of the number in troubled parts of Nigeria, part of the lessons?
Did the security agents stop snatching of ballot boxes or loss of lives? The waste on security in Edo, as in other elections, should be probed, not praised. Resources are no longer available for these wastes.
How much did the candidates spend? Was INEC keeping track as the law intended? How was the money raised? Can the funding of the campaigns have been in line with the Electoral Act when individuals were boasting of billowing billions of Naira to the campaigns?
Are there doubts that elections are the fastest growing sector of the economy? Are elections not the affair where costs are not spared? Did we need Edo to know that?
Would the lessons have been in the acquiescence of those who knew what counted and what should not count? Can we say we know what happened in Edo?
APC’s festinated congratulations of Obaseki is almost unprecedented in the manner of its delivery. Do our political parties ever take out media spaces to advertise their opponents’ success? APC did over Obaseki’s victory.
Have you noticed that people across the parties are advising against litigations? They want the results accepted. They are all advocates of Edo as the exemplar. It is the wrong model.
There is an eerie silence if we want answers. Speculations are dominating the public space. Among the speculations are that there were deals that would see Obaseki back in APC after November’s swearing in.
If that happens it would really be a sad part of the path of our democratic journeys.
Not a few seeing the political denudement of Tinubu, APC chieftain and a prominent 2023 presidential contender, in APC’s loss of Edo. Another individual they are glad has been taught a lesson is the undiscerning former APC national Chairman Oshiomhole who manages to draw his contentment from thinking issues are all about him.
They are neither the losers nor the lessons in Edo. They are each programmed to benefit from the system. Unhearing and uncaring, they are averse to suggestions that they make mistakes.
Edo will not slow their paces in their duplicitous interpretations of Nigeria. They do not see the poverty, hunger, anger, insecurity or the rudderless journey of 60-year-old Nigeria. Their choices are known.
Ondo State will remind us about where we are for those who tend to forget. The shenanigans that are leading to the Ondo governorship are at least embarrassing. Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was a President of the Nigeria Bar Association. His romance with the law these days is mostly momentary.
His opponents are doing their best to ensure he does not outdo them. However, Ondo goes, the unclarities of the electoral process persist. Amendments of the electoral law have proven poor substitutes for personal convictions on adherence to laws.
Attempts to populate public attention with the success of Edo is another in a series of stupefying enterprises at delaying Nigeria’s search for answers to its telling challenges. They will not succeed even if it is for the benefit of Edo people who did their bit to ensure they rejected promptings to kill themselves for people for whom lives do not count. We can learn that, but it is of no interest to those who lead.
Edo is another of the befuddlements that beset Nigeria.