The All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman, Adams Oshiomole, actually gave a summary of what transpired on Thursday, September 27, in the Osun State rerun election. In a Freudian slip, the former comrade said, ‘I think for democracy to flourish only those who can accept the pain of rigging….sorry defeat, should participate in an election.”
That, folks, sums up the farce that the Independent National Electoral Commission served as election last week and it should be a warning for us as next year’s elections draw nearer. This newspaper in a REPORTER’S DIARY: ‘419 votes’, hours in the jungle and other tales of Osun poll said as much for a country that conducted her first election on September 20, 1923, nothing, sadly, has changed for the better. It shows that we have politicians without scruples and who are ready to do anything, absolutely anything to win. One may argue that there is nothing new in that, but the way and manner political ambitions are prosecuted in Nigeria should set alarm bells ringing if we are ever going to have a nation we can all be proud of.
After INEC declared the September 22 election inconclusive, not a few believed that the stage was set for what we witnessed five days after. A senior colleague whom I told that the rerun was 1983 all over disagreed, “It’s actually 1965, my friend; read your history again.” Since I was not born in 1965 the closest example for me was the 1983 elections in the then old Oyo State that was massively rigged in favour of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which the people protested in Oyo and Ondo States. I saw the protests and the arson with violence including perceived beneficiaries of the electoral heist being burnt alive, the experience left mental scars on me. The November1965 legislative election in the then western region was, however, more brutal as an estimated 2,000 people died in violence that erupted after the election. It also set the stage for the first coup d’état of January 15, 1966 and the eventual civil war that followed.
This historical excursion is necessary so that Nigerians will have an idea of what we are contending against whenever people’s wishes are not allowed to prevail through the ballot box. It is curious that election across 30 local governments waspeaceful but the one held in seven wards in four local governments turned violent. Some arguments in favour of what happened last week range from the ridiculous to foolish like how can Osun have a governor without school certificate or APC must do anything to win the election. The former forget that even the United States have got her own Trump and democracy surely has its discontents which we must all learn to contend with if we truly want to embrace it as a form of government. It is also instructive that the victory is somehow pyrrhic and the victor has somehow found it difficult to exult knowing full well how it came about.
An interesting dimension to the election is seen in the fact that APC had to come down from her high horse and negotiate with Iyiola Omisore, someone the party loves to demonise. That a serving minister had to jet down from the United Nations general assembly in New York and engage in horse-trading with four other governors and the party chairman shows how desperate the party was to clinch victory. Of course such is normal in politics, but the fact that someone the APC and its precursor parties – AD and ACN – love to pin the murder of Bola Ige, former attorney general and justice minister on and who was actually pushed out of the AD affirms again that there is nothing separating APC and PDP, they’re merely two sides of the same coin. Unconfirmed reports had it that Omisore collected his international passport seized since 2016 due to EFCC investigations and was also promised APC’s ticket to the senate in next year’s election. There goes the ambition of members who could have been planning to contest and also another fatal blow to this government’s anti-corruption war or whatever remains of it.
The other issue is that vote buying has come to stay and is perhaps now the greatest danger on our march to credible elections. The amount spent by all the parties that participated in the elections especially APC and PDP is too obscene and is a landmine in future elections. Voters were given between N10, 000 and N20, 000 each to vote for either APC or PDP in the September 22 election while those who voted in the rerun were treated like “delegates” the exact word of an APC leader while speaking with me. In our country’s peculiar brand of politics, such delegates can be wooed with foreign currency sometimes and aftermath of party convention, delegates have been known to return with humongous money that can last them months. We cannot continue this way, something just have to give way if we still desire democratic governance.
ADEGBOYEGA ARULOGUN 1934 TO 2018
It was my friend, Dayo Aiyetan, who introduced me to Baba Adegboyega Arulogun who died early morning of Thursday, September 27. Baba later became the chair of the International Centre for Investigative Reports (ICIR) where I had the privilege of knowing me more in the last four to five years. Witty and steeped in the wisdom of a true Yoruba elder, he had ways of passing profound truths across without drama or fanfare. At our many interactions, board meetings and trainings, he will always ensure that all of us are comfortable before we proceed with his interests accommodated last. I could not forget how he called me one night after we left Abuja for our places of abode asking me to pass the phone to my wife and thanking her for allowing me to attend the board meeting even when I just returned from an overseas trip.
Modest to a fault, I always enjoy teasing him whenever he says, “I’m a filmmaker and not just a journalist.” Like most Yoruba families, he had people of other faiths in his extended family, his wife is actually a Christian, and he was so tolerant of other people’s faith, a virtue fast disappearing in our country these days. I enjoy sitting close to him at our meetings, as he will surely pass the pastries or refreshments he did not want to me and like people of his age, reminiscences were his forte. He was a good man and his breed is rare in our shores, we will all miss him.