By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
Now that the much anticipated Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections are few hours away; it is expected that the political parties and their candidates will be putting finishing touches to crown all their efforts in the build-up to this day.
Unlike that of the presidential which cut across all the states of the federation and FCT; the scope is limited within individual states. It is more compacted and narrower; and, would be much more interesting because each state is faced with its peculiarities. Though, the exercise is expected to follow the same forms and patterns as laid down by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the undercurrent politics and expectations differ from state to state. This review will tend to look closely at some peculiarities that are presently in place across states.
The first category is applicable to states where the incumbent governors are seeking re-election to do a second term. The second category is applicable to those where the governors are rounding up their second term and have positioned their preferred and anointed candidates to succeed them. The third category is applicable to those that are under the `absolute control of god-fathers`. The fourth category is applicable to states where there is show of electoral strength between the out-going governors and the parties` structures and leadership. The fifth and final category is applicable to states where there are deliberate efforts to change the tradition. Looking closely at all the mentioned categories, one would not be far from the truth to say that they all revolve around vested interests. It is based on this realization that I want to use this medium to draw the attention of the electorates to some crucial factors that should be considered in taking appropriate decisions.
For those states where the incumbent governors are seeking re-elections for second term; the most crucial factors that should be put into consideration are `performance` and `integrity`. How has the person performed in the past four years? Has he been able to put infrastructural developments in place? What has he been able to do in terms of provision of basic health care and educational facilities? How far has he been able to spread the dividends of democracy to all sectors and sections of the state without partisan biases? What has been the frequency of payment of workers` salaries under his administration? Is he an independent minded individual or not? Most importantly; is he tolerant to other ethnic groups and religion or is he an extremist? The genuine answers to these questions will be very key to determining whether he deserves another term or not; because, it is all about what he has been able to do in the last four years and what he is capable of doing to deserve being entrusted with another four years.
On the issue of governors that are rounding up their second term and are desperate to hand over powers to their anointed and preferred candidates; the electorates should consider the above listed factors about the `outgoing governors` while also considering the following factors about their anointed candidates; In what capacities have they served before? What kind of personalities are they? Can they be trusted with positions of authority? Do they have the capacities and competencies to operate independently or not? Are they better than the other candidates in the contest or not? Sincere answers to these questions will also determine if the `outgoing governors` have truly put the genuine interest of the state and the people into consideration or they just want to use those persons to `cover their misdeeds` and to act as conduit pipes to continue the siphoning of state funds.
For states where candidates were sponsored and foisted on their parties by `political god-fathers or god mothers or whatever`; the most expedient thing to do is to reject such candidates in all ramifications except the states are exclusively owned by the `person(s) in question`. Since there is no privately owned state(s) in the country; it is therefore an absurdity to the principle of majority rule under democracy. Such `political master-slavery relationship` can only be found in our clime where party politics are run on the basis of `the minority rich dictating the affairs always`. In saner climes, memberships of political parties are founded on the principle of equality and non discriminatory basis. Thus, in situations where `the god-father` decides everything about the affairs of the party; the people should know that they are under `political bondage`. If you do not free yourselves now; be rest assured that you will eventually hand over the `slavery` to your upcoming generations to continue for only God knows when.
As for those in states where there are friction between the out-going governors and their parties` structures and leadership; the best thing to do is to choose the `most qualified candidates amongst all the contestants` using the earlier mentioned criteria. You do not need to probe further before realizing that they are fighting for `vested personal interest`.
Finally for states where none of the above is applicable; but, where there are deliberate efforts to change the status quo; it simply means that they are faced with challenges that are presently beyond the control of the leadership at the individual state`s level. Whatever the reasons are; be it herdsmen/farmers crises; insurgencies; religious or tribal intolerance; and, increasing crime rates etc; your best bet will be to vote for the candidates that are capable of protecting your interests using relevant criteria amongst those mentioned above.
Apropos to the aforementioned, you will agree with me that this review is `unique` and miles away from the `other ones` in circulation. Therefore, I will enjoin the electorates in all the states to close their eyes to the issue of political party`s affiliations and considerations. Whether you like to hear it or not; the fact remains that the name of a political party is inconsequential and cannot add any `physical or developmental value` to the progress of any state; it is the competencies, patriotic zeal, commitments and independency of the individuals elected into positions of authority that will bring developments to your state. Parties will come and go; but the states will remain. So, do not be deceived by the antics of politicians and the slogans of their parties; most of them are only interested in moving the resources of the state to their personal coffers. As a result, their stock-in-trade is to put everything in place to ensure that the people are permanently impoverished and continously dependent on them. They have succeeded in manipulating the lives of the `gullible electorates` over the years; but, this is the right time to break the yokes and free yourselves from their diabolical `remote control`.
Haven decided on your choice of candidates; go to your respective polling booths to cast your votes without fear or favour. As Nigerians, you are as free as air under the provisions of the country`s constitution and other extant laws to perform your civic duties wherever you are registered. Be rest assured that our patriotic security agencies will be on ground to carry on their professional responsibilities of protecting the lives and properties of all and sundry. All you need to do is to ensure that you eschew violence and malpractices.
Raymond, a Public Policy Analyst/Commentator writes from Suru-Lere, Lagos.