The wise men who quietly watched the happenings during the Edo State election should have their books full of lessons learned and unlearned. For once again, they have a sneak peek into the future of democracy in Nigeria. A future where its citizens truly hold the ruling power and their voices are heard. With various foretelling of violence, rigging, bloodshed and election misconduct, the Edo State election was a rather peaceful one though only about 25.2% registered voters came out to vote. A thin line above making the election void. Also, it could be attributed to the recent pandemic COVID ’19 as though some of the guidelines were followed like use of face masks, there was little or no social distancing.
Held on the 19th of September, 2020, the governorship election became a battle between two great parties: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC). Though other parties were present, it was as if they were not existing as their votes when collated together were not up to 10,000. It was also heard that one of the gubernatorial aspirants did not bother to leave her residential house in Lagos. With results announced, the incumbent governor, Obaseki Godwin who switched party from APC to PDP emerged as the victor with 307,955 votes over Pastor Osagie’s 223,619 votes who crossed from PDP to APC. Governor Godwin is the second to win election on two different political platforms in four years. Here are few lessons learned from Edo State election:
- Nigerians votepersons not parties.
It was quite a shock that two electoral parties exchanged governorship aspirants. APC which was the present ruling party discarded the incumbent governor and picked up his opponent Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu for reasons best known to them. Seeing this transfer, PDP decided to pick up the rejected stone, maximize their advantage which was the sentiments of the citizens and so the stone that the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone. The Citizens of Edo State wanted their governor back not a particular party.
- Godfatherismhas come to an end.
The final hit that nailed Pastor Osagie’s defeat was the influence of godfathers. The former governor Adams Oshiomole who in 2016 spoke strongly against godfatherism immediately changed his speech in 2020. He condemned the very aspirant he praised in 2016 and praised the very aspirant he condemned in 2016. With every fiber of overconfidence, he told the people of Edo State the benefits of a godfather and foretold that Pastor Osagie will win. Also, Asiwaju Bola Tinubi, the godfather in APC, made an appearance all the way from Lagos. The Citizens of Edo State decided to go by their choice and not by the confusion Oshiomole wanted to set in hence the chant “Edo no be Lagos” and “Obaseki no be Ambode“. Of course, you can fool all the people some of the time, you can fool some people all of the time but you cannot fool all the people all of the time. Edo State citizens wanted no external influence and they had their way.
- Foreign travels and foreign assets are more valuable.
The press release by the United States and United Kingdom few days to the election might have curtailed the plans by political personalities to rig the election. The two world powers declared restriction of visa and assets cessation of Nigerian electoral offenders. The U.S had already imposed restrictions on the visas of politicians who were found guilty of electoral offences in the 2019 elections of Kogi and Bayelsa States. Politicians did not want to be stuck in Nigeria and would still love to travel on sick leave. Also, the assets built in foreign lands cannot waste simply because of an election in Nigeria. A lot of them took their hands off the election process and watched from their homes.
- PDP might win the 2023 presidential election.
It could be because PDP has allowed Nigerians to see what the opposition party has to offer for about 8 years which might be nothing. It could also be Nigerians are fed up with the party itself and want another party. The free and fair election in Edo State showed the mind of the people: they are tired of APC. They might still want the incumbent governor but they want to be the deciding factor and not some godfathers from Lagos. One should not be surprised, if given a free and fair election come 2023, the People’s Democratic Party might take over.
To say the horse race between the two parties is over is to conclude too early. While other parties are present, no doubt, PDP and APC would again be at loggerheads to win Ondo State governorship election set to hold on the 10th of October, 2020. Wise men would once again open their books and pick up their pens. Seeing the seamless victory won, Ondo State citizens may follow the lead of their neighbors. It would be a very wise decision if the godfathers would refrain from showing their faces in Ondo State and politicians would avoid rigging of elections. Nigerians have their voices once again.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com