From Tony Osauzo, Benin
IT is a truism that politics is a function of the environment in which it is practised. But the socio-economic, political and cultural indices and the environmental variables obviously shape and determine the political barometer from country to country and state to state.
No doubt, as Edo people prepare to go to the polls once again, to decide who takes over the driver’s seat at Dennis Osadebey avenue, these indices and variables will come to play.
One thing nobody can deny is that the level of political consciousness and participation among Edo people is very high that the would-be aspirants and political leaders should be prepared to do a lot of soul-searching to win the peoples’ trust.
Although the country’s electoral Act does not allow for independent candidate, current political trend shows that individual’s integrity and pedigree have won for some people their current positions across the country.
In all of those circumstances, it simply meant that the will of the people prevailed in spite of party manipulation and intrigues.
We have seen where these aggrieved individuals left their first political party of choice to join another political party with the peoples’ massive blessings and support to emerge winner in an election.
That is simply democracy in action. Not just a game of numbers but also of the peoples’ trust, belief and confidence in that individual.
As the tenure of Governor Adams Oshiomhole-led All Progressives Congress (APC) gradually winds down, and with electioneering process being put in motion, it suffices to look at some of these indices and variables dispassionately.
The Media in a recent roundtable under the auspices of the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justic in Benin, x-rayed Oshiomhole’s seven-year tenure and commended him for his infrastructural developmental drive especially in the areas of road construction and educational growth.
The all-Journalists panelists, however, identified some areas where the governor failed to bring succour to the people especially in human capacity building, which they say is sine qua non to development. The areas include non
provision of social amenities such as water and primary health facilities, sports which they perceived as an instrument of unification among others.
The media therefore, resolved that in choosing the next governor, political parties should not only do away with mediocrity and avoid the age-long anachronistic practice of imposition of candidate, but must ensure that the best candidate emerges through a transparent and fair people-approved process.
Similarly, views and opinion polls say that members of the electorate should avoid ethnic, tribal consideration and political affiliation sentiments in making their choices.
With these available pieces of information at the people’s disposal, vis-a-vis the current political wrangling in the camps of the two dominant parties in the state, the APC and the PDP, it even becomes imperative that the people’s will must be considered in whatever decision they hope to take.
The APC is currently being bogged down with the allegation by members of the party in Edo Central senatorial district of betrayal of trust by the party leadership, especially Governor Oshiomhole. The APC members are accusing Oshiomhole of reneging on earlier decision reached in 2012 that the party will zone the 2016 governorship seat to the district.
On the other hand, with his perceived open blessings of
Dr. Godwin Obaseki, the chairman of his economic team from Edo South senatorial district, APC members in Edo South are angry of his seeming truncation of their aspirations with his open endorsement of Obaseki. They are suspicious that the party’s primaries may be a mere formality, as they may not be allowed to nominate a candidate of their choice in a free and fair manner.
Some of the prominent aspirants jostling for the APC ticket are Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu, former TUC President, comrade Peter Isele, Barr. Ken Imasuagbon, former Minister of State for Works, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Dr Pedro Obaseki, retired Gen. Charles Airiavbere and Godwin Obaseki.
There seems to be a cold war among members of the PDP on the other hand with warnings from national members of the party to the state party leadership to ensure a fair, free and credible primaries if the party hopes to make an impact in the September governorship election.
At a peace meeting that preceded the party’s state congress in March in a hotel on Sapele road, some party supporters loyal to a particular aspirant, physically assaulted senator Roland Owie and some party elders for daring to voice their support for an aspirant, Chief Iyobosa Edebiri, who many see as “a decent politician” believed to enjoy wide support even among opposition parties.
The national leaders, who were appalled by such acts immediately urged the Chief Dan Orbih-led state committee to ensure it gave all aspirants level playing ground prior and during the forthcoming
The internal wrangling has seen two-time Senator Uzamere resign his membership of the party, accusing some unnamed party leaders in the state of allegedly hijacking the party by their threat of coercion and support for the same aspirant.
Aside, Edebiri, who contested against Oshiomhole in 2012 under the platform of the defunct ANPP, some of the serious contenders for the PDP ticket are Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the former South-south
Vice-Chairman of the defunct ACN, and Secretary to the Edo State Government during the administration of Governor Lucky Igbinedion, former House majority leader and NDDC commissioner, Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, and coordinator of the PDP governors’ forum, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu.
This subtle but serious scheming may become malignantly infectious to the political environment if not properly handled.
That is why those concerned must take very seriously the recent advice of a prominent traditional ruler from Edo South that politicians, especially aspirants, should be mindful of their utterances during these electioneering campaigns to avoid any unpleasant verbal altercations that might unnecessarily heat the polity.