The echoes of June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by the late business mogul, Chief M. K. O Abiola resonates a few weeks ago in State of Osun when the All Progressives Congress (APC) opted for “Option A-4” model to elect the party’s standard bearer. It was seamless, hitch-free and less laborious. It’s the triumph of mechanical democracy over easily manipulated open-secret-ballot system that gives room for vote buying, ballot stuffing, and on-your-face impunity that has retarded the age of our politics.
Osun chapter of the APC has always offered itself as a veritable place to re-set the nomination process button. The same system was used in picking incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the party’s candidate during his re-election in 2014. What began in 2014, therefore after June 12, 1993 should be continued, if the Nigerian democratic evolution must thrive and be acceptable, globally.
The Option A-4 model should be the standard prescription for 2019 general election and beyond since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is in the dark as to whether e-voting has a place in our electoral development or not. (INEC) should be educated that the method is more participatory and gives all registered members of political parties the opportunity to participate in the process their candidate for election. (INEC) should make it mandatory through sponsored legislation as the best avenue for the party to assess its strength going into a general lection as much as putting an end to votes buying. To that extent the Osun APC governorship election should be a model for political parties primaries nationwide and across party lines to serve as a counter to votes theft and votes buying such as witnessed in Edo, Ondo and Ekiti recently where delegates were manipulated by party leaders, political bosses and moneybags unto the bargain.
Edo was particularly notorious where aspirants openly expended millions of naira on each delegate to buy his/her conscience as if they were buying second hand stuff in Ariaria market! Ekiti and Ondo APC delegates primaries selection processes were the worst. Violence did not only attend the selection processes, bloody clashes with free flow of blood could only be compared to the invading Boko Haram attack scenes in the north west.
For once — the APC leadership — in spite of its double standard and goal-post shifting-strategies — applying different methods for similar elections across the country has shown that Nigeria electoral man made afflictions are redeemable. In my estimation as an observer where I monitored the election, the victory actually goes to the never dying spirit of the party members who trooped out very early in the morning at short notice and conducted themselves in the most orderly and peaceful manner never seen in recent times. The Osun direct primary election speaks more of the people’s sophistication, dynamism of the political leadership in the state and Ogbeni’s commitment to nation building.
Besides that, the Osun Governorship congress opens up political vistas in so many ways. Earlier, tension had risen over the unwritten zoning formula that Osun West should produce the next governorship candidate of the party. The people of Osun west, regardless of the fact that two aspirants from the zone boycotted the election, the third runner up to the APC eventual candidate, Mr. Najeem Salaam in Ejigbo local government pulled a total votes of 10,568 while Mr. Gboyega Oyetola the actual winner of the final totalling scored 8 votes in the local government! In the long run Mr. Oyetola pulled a total votes of 127,017 to defeat Mr. Yusuf Lasun, the Deputy Speaker of Federal House of Representatives who scored 21,975 votes.
Whichever way you look at the dynamics of the Nigerian democratic/electoral process or governing structures, there is basic lack of synergy between political parties’ sloganeering and actual governance process. Almost always political parties in third world countries like ours is a private companies that are cast in the images of political godfathers who flaunt stolen wealth like demigods.
The outgoing governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola alluded to that much: “The quality of any nation’s democracy is incumbent on the development of its political party across board. A nation that fails to studiously cultivate her political parties ideology, endeared same into the hearts of the electoral for the good of all can not satisfy the yarnings of the populace”. In other words, political parties are the incubators or bedrock upon which good governance springs.
The forum of Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) to Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, has said the direct primary election endorsed by the National Working Committee of the party is the best option to choose the candidate of the APC ahead of the September 22 governorship election.
Addressing a press conference in Osogbo, after the primary, the chairman of the forum, Alhaji Bashir Lawal, said the process brought about inclusiveness and curb money politics which made it impossible for any aspirants to bribe every card carrying members across the 31 local government of the state. He added that the process had given every card-carrying member of the party the opportunity to participate in the process, saying that the direct primary election was constitutional and has becone acceptable by all, starting from Osun.
“As we all know, direct primary helps in throwing up a credible, suitable and popular choice. For a fact, indirect primary election negates the democratic credentials upon which a progressive party like ours thrives,” he said.
It’s unfortunate and painful political parties in Africa have abdicated functions as the platforms that bring people together to achieve control of the government, develop policies favorable to their interests or the groups that support them, and organize and persuade voters to elect their candidates to office in the interest of the entire citizens.
Sadly, there have been profound paradox about the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) since the rebirth of democratic engagement in 1999. It’s worst for the PDP. The party, which earned the respect and admiration of most Nigerians, in the period between 1999-2007 due to its politics and policies has since fumbled. The APC has become more apocalyptic than even the PDP before it.
In the final analysis, political parties are crucial to the sustenance of democracy and good governance. The extent to which political parties aggravate freely, articulate, represent and organized determine the level of accountability in governance process, including access to and use of power to deliver electoral promises to the electoral. I sincerely hope the Fourth Republic and the nation’s political leadership will earnestly reinvent themselves.
Erasmus, A Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos
Follow me on Twitter @ikhide_erasmus1