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This is the season of revenge and of the rage of spoilers. It was so in the July 14 Ekiti State governorship election. It has even more poignantly been so in the just-concluded Osun governorship election and its controversial rerun. A couple of weeks after the Ekiti election, one of the dramatis personae called me and said “I hope you have seen the turn of events” What turn of events, I asked, as I tried to figure out who was on the other side. “The election; of course: Have you not seen the outcome?” By this time I had picked out his voice and I greeted him in the usual way I used to before he turned coat. “They said we did not have electoral value; they thought they could ride us anyhow. I am sure you have seen the outcome” I told him what he and his other co-travellers did was unconscionable but he retorted that what they did was sublime politics. “In politics you must prove your relevance. You have to assert yourself when people are trying to put you down and rubbish you. If you don’t, you will lose relevance and die politically” I complained that this was selfish interest. Where is the place for the public interest, I asked. Why are “we, the people” used as pawns in this game of wits, manipulations, and shenanigans, I added. “The fault is on both sides. The people must realise that those who pretend to be their messiahs are not exactly what they pretend to be.” Now, what did they gain by defecting to an opposition party they had called unprintable names just to torpedo their own party – a party they had toiled day and night to build? “It is unfortunate”, he said before adding, “It is totally not our fault. I am sure you, too, can see the fault of the other group, even if you will not openly admit it” When I asked why he and his group of defectors did not consider the public interest before taking the damning decision they took, he retorted that the other side should equally have given considerable thought to the consequences of their action. “They said we had no electoral value. They said we cannot win election. But you can now see that whereas the leper cannot milk the cow, he can pour away the milk” Spoilers, I screamed! “That is politics for you. When you have been put down, you have to find a way, any way, to assert yourself. When they did not think twice before hurting you, you must find a way, any way, to fight back” Even if you have to join the enemy and make your tent with those whom a while ago you had derided and called unprintable names? “It is very unfortunate but that is the nature of politics here” I disagreed and said there could have been a better way of resolving issues. He countered; saying when long-standing friends decide to turn you in the cold, self-preservation becomes the next option. “We have been friends for decades but suddenly they realised they could not trust us” But will their new-found emergency friends trust them better? “It does not matter; if those I have been friends with for decades did not trust me, what does it matter if my new political friends do similarly?” He went on to say that it hurts more to be disappointed by old acquaintances that you dined, wined, and shared secrets with than for new friends made on the spur of necessity. “Let my new political allies disappoint me. Didn’t my long-standing political family disappoint me? They say our new friends don’t keep agreements; that may be true but how about they, themselves: Have they kept agreements?” I told him I couldn’t stomach the treachery, deceit, and selfishness involved and he retorted “It is because you are a pastor and not a politician. They said they don’t trust us; now God has delivered them into the hands of their worst enemy. I think that is better. I hope they can trust him better than they trusted us”
The truth of it is that, whereas politicians glibly say they act after consultation with their people and that the decisions they take are in the interest of their people, they usually act alone and in furtherance of what they consider to be in their own personal interest. The people are harassed, cajoled or induced to tag alone thereafter. Defections alone might not have been enough to win the Ekiti election for APC if there were no rigging; the new face of rigging these days, however, is to use such defections as justification for the outlandish results that will be announced subsequently. It would then appear as if it was the movement of political big-wigs from one party to the other that swayed people’s votes in favour of a party or candidate everyone was sure could never have come anywhere within the threshold of winning.
Fast forward to Osun state: Why did the two leading parties swoop on Iyiola Omisore, the SDP candidate, wooing him to this side or the other in the rerun? Why did they not simply go to the rerun and allow the electorate decide? APC won the contest to have Omisore on its side and that, we have now been told, decided the election in favour of APC. It might not have been so in the real sense but that is the appearance and excuse that is needed. This is the new face of rigging. Omisore’s statement declaring support for APC for the rerun was pegged on the public interest and his “love and passion” for the long-suffering Osun people Except on social media, we did not hear from Omisore the many mouth-watering largesse he and his core supporters were offered by APC leaders. Beyond those offers, it was sure Omisore was also on revenge mission on many fronts. On the PDP front, a party he had toiled day and night to build, spending huge resources in the process and whose flag bearer he was in 2014, Omisore had felt betrayed that he was edged out of reckoning in 2018; forcing him to relocate to the SDP. PDP leaders who should have sided with him abandoned him; the excuse given by many was that zoning precluded him from being the people’s choice, since he came from the same senatorial district as the outgoing governor. The swan-song was that it was the turn of the West to produce the governor but now a candidate for the North senatorial district has been declared winner by INEC. Similarly in Ekiti, where zoning favoured the South senatorial district, a candidate from the North also was declared by INEC. In supporting APC and not PDP, Omisore killed two birds with one stone. He paid back PDP leaders in their own coin; he also gave the lie to the zoning formula, which was the very reason he was edged out of the PDP governorship ticket in the first place. Omisore also took his revenge on the PDP flag bearer itself, Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke, whom Omisore campaigned for and helped to win the senatorial bye-election on the accord, I heard, that Adeleke would support Omisore for the governorship. Politicians hardly keep agreements; more often than not, promises and pledges are trifles in their reckoning. Now, what can we make of the statement purportedly by the Adeleke family, in which they swore never to have anything to do with Omisore on account of his alleged pushing out of their late brother, Isiaka Adeleke , from PDP and forcing him into the APC? Despite that the fate of their own blood and flesh, Nurudeen, hung in the balance, they chose revenge over a display of political sagacity. They spoiled for a fight with Omisore when they could have stooped to conquer. Except they approach the courts and triumph there, the rest, as they say, is history.
Finally, let us consider the approach of PDP vis-a-vis that of APC to recent elections in the country. I have no doubt in my mind that the Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, and now Osun elections were rigged for APC. INEC and the security forces colluded with APC to blatantly rig those elections. That said, PDP has actually not behaved like a party interested in winning any of those elections. Its preparation had been half-hearted and its body-language left much to be desired. It displayed no hunger for success and lacked the stomach for a fight. Whereas the APC always took the fight to PDP using all arsenals at its disposal, the PDP was lacklustre and reticent. Someone said it is because PDP came from the background of a party that relied solely on “Federal might” to win elections in the past whereas APC was formed, tested and tried in the crucible of struggle. AC/ACN/APC members are more committed to their party than PDP members. Starting with Edo, APC left no stones unturned; their big-wigs threw themselves into the fray while the PDP looked askance and was withdrawn. It was like PDP expected forces from outer space to intercede on their behalf; fight their battles and win their wars for them. They behaved similarly in Ondo and Ekiti. Witness the barrage of APC leaders that stormed Omisore to get his nod for APC! APC chairman, half a dozen governors, Lai Mohammed and many others. On the PDP side only Olusola Saraki and Atiku Abubakar made faint-hearted efforts. Where was the PDP chairman and where were the party’s governors? I think guilty conscience did not allow them visit Omisore. Possibly, too, they knew it was a lost cause; more so after the unhelpful press statement purportedly emanating from the Adeleke family. But PDP should watch it if they actually mean to make a stand in 2019. They have made too many unforced errors, as they say, and have dropped too many points, home and away, in the run down to the 2019 General Election. They will discover to their chagrin that all of these will count against them in 2019. It has emboldened the APC and its supporters while loss after loss has weakened PDP and demoralised its supporters. The judiciary as the last hope of the common man is there, though, but what if it chooses to be part of the problem by legalising APC’s electoral heist?
LAST WORD: APC behaves like NPN of the Shehu Shagari era. The impunity and audacity of the NPN era became so unbearable that the military had to intervene. Is it not ironic, then, that the same Muhammadu Buhari who stepped in as military dictator then today sits atop an insensitive administration riding roughshod over the rights and liberties of the people? Is Mr. Integrity aware that a N2.5billion scandal reportedly involving the woman or someone close to the woman who “belongs to the other room” is being swept under the carpet?
I have read your column as usual. You are spot on in your comments on the Tinubu-Ambode saga. “Otito oro k’oro” You have said your own and I know you have ruffled someone’s feather. I hope you have read the open ‘Letter of Appeal’ written to Asiwaju Tinubu by Dele Momodu. If not, please do so. Many thanks for publishing my rejoinder: Ajimobi versus Ayefele. Some of my friends are in support of my comments and professional argument. They considered it a balanced write-up. Stay blessed. Yacoob A. Abiodun.