By NASAMU JACOBSON
This week, the two major parties contesting the September 10 governorship election in Edo state will organise primaries for the selection of their gubernatorial flagbearers. The All Progressives Congress (APC) will lead the process on June 18 while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) follows on June 20. Just before delegates to the various party primaries for the selection of candidates for the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state commit all of us to making a wrong choice at the election it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to enlighten and educate them on the task before them. This is especially important because of the quality of people involved. It is common knowledge that the fight, intrigues and acrimony usually associated with ward party congresses for the constitution of ward executives is over the control of voting strenght at governorship primaries such as we are set to hold. By now, aspirants in all parties must be assessing their chances based on the number of wards in which they were able to install executives.
This point would better be appreciated if we remember, as we must do, the reason two gubernatorial aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Solomon Edebiri and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, left the All Progressives Congress (APC). Both failed to get their loyalists into the party executives at their wards and local government area levels. Knowing that these party officials would be involved in the nomination of the party flagbearer these aspirants did not need to be told that they had been effectively shut out of contention in the race for governor. What the case is in their new party, the PDP, must be left to conjecture but it is safe to say that the about eighteen aspirants now jostling for the governorship ticket in the APC saw the need to subordinate their individual or personal ambition to the peace, wellbeing and stability of the party whether or not they control any level of party administration.
In an attempt to gain a foothold at the local level, what calibre of people do we usually throw up for membership of ward, particularly, and local goverment executive committees? A careful examination would reveal a high percentage of persons who require to be schooled on the letters and spirit of the party constitution they are expected to operate . The only qualification required of them is loyalty, that nebulous term whose definition may well be ability to run erands for the party leader. Can we, therefore, rely on these individuals as delegates to party governorship primaries to make an informed choice? What choice option will they present to us at the end of the various party primaries to go to the election with if not properly guided?
Delegates to the various party primaries must not regard this all important exercise as pay day, an opportunity to line their pockets at the expense of our collective destiny. It behoves them to realise that it is a call to duty by their parties to participate as individuals in the task of giving to our state the governor of our dreams. They must, therefore, look beyond the money aspirants would entice them with and cast their ballot for those from whom they believe our state and its citizens would benefit most. They must acknowledge that this is a duty they owe to themselves and generations of Edo children. Therefore, they must shun pecuniary, religious, ethnic or other sentiments and give us candidates who have a capacity to govern with an all-consuming love for our state and the wellbeing of her people. They must avoid the pitfalls of ethnic dictates and primordial interests which will not add any value to good governance of our state. Delegates would do well to realise that the heights which our state has attained in terms of infrastructural development was achieved by dint of proper planning and dutiful implementation of the ideals of visionary leadership. They must sift those who seek power for selfish ends from those who seek to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Edo people.
Delegates must give us candidates with pedigree of visionary leadership and visible contribution to same, capacity to formulate and articulate pragmatic new approaches to revenue generation and mobilisation without going cap in hand to or waiting for Abuja to meet its statutory obligations to Edo people, ability to maintain and expand existing infrastructure including road, health, education, water and electricity. They must give us candidates with a demonstrated capacity to attract local and foreign interest for the rapid industrialisation of our state and, thereby, generate employment opportunities for our youth.
Delegates must be reminded that it is not necessarily the oldest or longest on the political playground that can attract the experience and expertise required to successfully navigate the complex arena of governance. In fact, our people say that if a person stays too long in the loo maggots and flies may well seek to molest him. This is the case of some aspirants. Delegates must, therefore, look in the direction of the newbreed who are seeking to bring their wealth of experience in the professions to the governance of our state. The idle talk of “he is new in politics” or “he is not known” must be discounted for what it is. The case of Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia and that of late Professor Ambrose Folorunso Alli is instructive. They were not politicians when they ruled in the Midwest and Bendel states to the admiration and applause of the people. Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole was not a politician when Edo people overwhelmingly voted him as governor in 2007. All Edo people agree (majority openly, some privately) that he has performed so well that they would have voted him again if the constitution permitted a third tenure.
Such a testimonial for Comrade Oshiomhole must qualify him to point (and our duty to follow) in the direction of any aspirant he believes has the love of state and capacity to provide good governance in Edo state. He must point us in the direction of the aspirant who will not only sustain the high level of development achieved by him but seek to improve and diversify the economic base of the state. Is this too much to ask of Comrade Oshiomhole and his delegates as they prepare to give us a candidate to succeed him im November 2016? In the language of the Comrade Governor, “it is an irreducible minimum”.
Nasamu Jacobson, a Political Affairs Analyst, resides in Benin City.