In the last presidential election that took place in Ghana a neighbouring country, there was a man, who was counted among the members of Economic community of West African States, (ECOWAS) election monitoring team headed by the former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (retired), from Osun State, Elder Aluko Julius Ajasegun.
Ajasegun, 52, is an educational consultant, who had gone beyond the shores of Nigeria in search of educational pursuit, a seal that has paid off, as the educationist turned business man, was selected among the diplomats, to observe the elections in Ghana.
In his profile, Ajasegun was an aluminus of the city of London Polytechnic, now Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom, where he bagged Masters of Art (MA) Conflict Management, Post Graduate Degree, (PGD) Career Guidance and Counseling, Higher National Diploma (HND) Management in Finance respectively.
Returning from Ghana, Ajasegun was engaged by Osun Defender’s senior reporter, Goke Butika, who sought to know the comparison and contrast between Nigeria and Ghana and the diplomat bared it all.
Osdf: How come you were selected by the ECOWAS election observer?
Ajasegun: Let us thank God for everything. I could not really figure it out how the dream came true. I just posted my credentials to them and sought to be part of the election observers, and I was so happy to be selected. There, at the ECWAS secretariat in Abuja, I met a lot of people including Dr. Ibn Chambas, the ECWAS boss and I think that gave me a lot of pleasure.
Osdf: How was it in Ghana?
Ajesegun: Let it be known that I traveled a lot, I can’t see a difference between two developing countries if there is one. Sentiment apart, there is a government in Ghana, because all their systems are functioning to fuller capacity; to the extent that an average investor would rather stay in Ghana than staying in Nigeria. Talk of electricity, talk of water, good roads and organized security apparatus, Ghana is on a right track.
Osdf: Please, expatiate on the functional government you specially ascribed to Ghana.
Ajasegun: Well, I don’t want my argument to look like criticism of Nigerian government, because I don’t want to over step my bounds. But, I would be doing this country a disservice if I decide to keep mum on the functional government in Ghana, as against the fallered one we are having in Nigeria.
You can see the orderliness in Ghana, where vehicles would be waiting for the pedestrians, who may want to cross any of the roads, where there is no fly-over bridges.
The police there are not bully, the electoral body is independent and the electioneering showed how civilized the people in the former Gold Coast are now. So, as a witness to the last year’s April 14, 2007 elections in Nigeria and an observer in the last presidential election in Ghana, the difference between the two nations is clear and it is obvious that there is a functional setting in Ghana.
Osdf: So, what is the fundamental difference between our electoral body in Nigeria and Ghana?
Ajasegun: Independence. As ECOWAS observers, we met with the Chairman of the Ghana electoral body and interacted. I could recall he insisted that he would not use his office to work for the interest of the establishment, but for the Ghanaians, who would speak with their votes. And yours truly, he worked for his people independently; but in Nigeria, otherwise is the case. Before, the last years controversial elections, the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Maurice Iwu was busy exchanging unpleasant remarks with some presidential candidates, excluding some candidate instead of conducting free, fair and credible elections.
Osdf: How would you describe the attitude of an average Ghanaians towards the last election?
Ajasegun: Very enthusiastic. I saw the real enthusiasms of an average Ghanaian as touching the polls. By 8.00am of the poll’s day, citizens were on queue, orderly, waiting for the electoral officials to attend to them. And of 50 centres we visited, there was no single case of ballot snatching. The election was near perfect.
Osdf: But, people here is Nigeria were enthusiastic during the last year’s election and so we could draw comparison them.
Ajasegun: Yeah! (ex-hale) you’re right. Nigerians were enthusiastic, yarning to exercise their franchise, but unfortunately their votes did not count, and several pronouncements, which saw many political office holders out of their exalted positions. So, even if we were enthusiastic, it was of no effection compare, to what was obtainable in Ghana.
Osdf: You described Ghana as developed country, when the bookmaker insisted that Ghana in West Africa is developing nation, could you please expatiate?
Ajasegun: I spent a long period in United Kingdom (UK) and the orderliness in that country could be known to everybody out there. So, what I saw was similar to what is obtainable in Ghana.
Osdf: Was there the use of state power in favour of the ruling party’s candidate?
Ajasegun: I do not think John Kuffour fancied that abuse of office, disposing the state’s machinery to service an individual on the platform of the ruling party. Unlike our own case in Nigeria, where a Presidential candidate was campaigning through presidential jet.
Osdf: what can we learn from the Ghana’s?
Ajasegun: A lot. We have a lot of things to learn from the Ghana electoral experience. We need an independent electoral body. We need the civilization of our politicians; we need experienced technocrats to handle our system of governance. The only way to achieve it is for us to have free, fair and credible elections in all cadres.
– Goke Butika