By Yaya Ademola
The bastion of democracy is its inbuilt mechanism for periodic change of leadership by the people. At the centre of it is the conduct of free, fair and credible election as a gauge to determine the majority wish. The people, who are the sovereign, therefore, periodically surrender their mandates of sovereignty to a very few people to govern them to “secure their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In the process of this leadership change, the choice of the majority, right or wrong, is the material driving force. Assuming and conceding the majority make the wrong choice in their wisdom, their choice must prevail till they make better choice over time. And that’s the beauty of democracy.
The interlude between the outgoing government and the incoming one is known as the transition; it is a period to organise a smooth change from one government to another since governance is continuum and abhors vacuum that can only be filled by chaos; it is to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power from outgoing government to a newly elected. This period is of great import as delivery of democracy is incomplete without it vis-a-vis campaigns and canvassing the people for votes by political parties, election and the announcement of the choice of the majority and the final step, installation of the choice of the majority. Smooth transition must, therefore, be jealously guarded whether the outgoing and the incoming governments are of the same or different political parties. Hence, any one or a group of people who makes such transition traumatic is nothing but an enemy of democracy and by extension, an enemy of the people.
In this very Osun, it is not the first time the progressives lost to the conservatives, fair and square or unfairly via manipulation. Chief Bisi Akande, the third Republic Osun Governor from 1999-2003, did the most dignifying thing by addressing a valedictory session of the House of Assembly and ensured a rancour free transition, leaving the state in peace and the people to learn their lesson. In 2014, the incumbent Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi of APC lost to Ayodele Fayose of PDP, fairly or unfairly, but ensured a smooth transition. In 2018, the same (former) Governor Kayode Fayemi came back for a return match and defeated incumbent PDP candidate. Governor Fayose, as Fayemi did unto him in 2014, ensured smooth transition to the second term of Fayemi government in 2018. In 2015 presidential election, the incumbent Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP lost to Muhammadu Buhari of APC. Despite Godsday Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta, demonstration of desperation to scuttle electoral process at the venue of counting and declaration of the winner by Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), President Goodluck Jonathan congratulated Buhari, President-elect, and ensured a smooth transition. Government is continuum and a smooth transition from outgoing to incoming government should not be a big deal to any politician especially the one who claims to be democrat and progressive.
A smooth transition of power in Osun after the defeat of the outgoing Governor Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola would have allowed Transition Committees, with members from the outgoing and incoming governments review all the state assets and liabilities and do an overview of 2023 budget proposals transmitted to the House of Assembly by the out-going government but to be implemented by the incoming government. It would have made unnecessary any suspicion, inquisition and waste of precious time of the incoming government to hitting the ground running as state of things in governance would not be alien to it. By making a smooth transition impossible, the outgoing government hurts the majority of the people and renders them a disservice.
Assuming without conceding that there is a mandate to be reclaimed by the outgoing administration, how does one thereby hurt the people one claims to dearly love to serve by handicapping their incoming government with the intent to injecting a lacuna for swift service delivery? Since there are lawful avenues – Tribunal, Court of Appeal and eventually, the Supreme Court – to seek redress in electoral matters, which is already being exploited, heating up the polity with vapid and anti-democratic sloganeering like, “Aanigbelemo” is the least expected of any politician with dignity and true sense of responsibility to public service. Such slogan with disposition of sit-tightism and orchestration of traumatised transition is symptomatic of autocracy, which is anti-people.
Anyway, a transition unnecessarily made difficult will elapse next week as Osun people witness the inauguration of a new government. What the real progressives require as they become the new opposition is to rebuild from the scratch, embrace and inject into their system principles rooted in egalitarianism, omoluabi virtues, dignity, selfless devotion to public service and work their way back into power at the soonest opportunity.