By TUNDE AKANBI
How are the mighty fallen and how has the mighty fallen? The Saturday 18th November, 2017 local government election in Kwara State is indeed a litmus test for the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The election could also be perceived as a yellow card signal. The election results, as announced by the electoral umpire, Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASIEC), indicated that the ruling party has to swiftly return to the drawing board if it intends to sustain its relevance in the political atmosphere of the state and wishes to continue to be in office beyond 2019. The twin race to victory must start now or never!
Despite basking in the euphoria of incumbency and the number of political appointees by the ruling government in the sixteen local government areas of the state as well as financial wherewithal, ostensibly, not well utilized and distributed, the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) believed to be in disarray on account of leadership tussle and lust to return to power, particularly the office of the Governor, still gave the ruling party a good fight.
Apparently, the leadership of APC and other stakeholders were shocked with the outcome of the election, especially in some wards where in the past elections, APC had a smooth ride. Definitely, the leadership of the party ought to immediately right the wrongs. Does it mean that if the PDP had gone into the November 18th local government election as a united body, the story would have been a different ball game?
Though, some APC chieftains still pulled their weight in their wards or constituencies, generally, the outcome of the election was not too impressive to the ruling party. The 2019 governorship election is around the corner and with the outcome of this election, it could be any party’s game as it seems the centre can no longer hold for the APC.
But again, it leaves one to ponder if the PDP in the state really has a formidable structure on ground to give the ruling party a good fight. This time around, not inside the rings or football pitch but at the election polling booths. Some PDP gladiators from within and outside the state who are indigenes and stakeholders have started assessing and weighing the APC as a lightweight party and no longer a heavy weight. Imagine that if the PDP can sincerely and faithfully come together, the party might spring surprises in the 2019 Governorship race. They are of the belief that Kwarans can now exercise their franchise without any influence from any individual or group of people.
One inalienable fact about the APC is that some of those appointed or fixed in positions of responsibilities are already loosing grip of their constituencies and no longer relevant. They have become spent forces and cannot even win elections in their bedrooms, not to talk of public domains. They are found of displaying political arrogance in the presence of their presumed supporters and members of the opposition parties. This local government election has tacitly exposed their weaknesses. Most of them are no longer marketable . They have turned to unsold products that required immediate overhauling, repackaging and baptism if need be.
Some political office holders see themselves as thin gods and immediately after elections, vanish into thin air and consequently turn strangers in their constituencies. Whenever they appear, they are always in a hurry on the excuse that they have a crucial meeting at the Great Hall with the Senate President or have an issue to trash out with Maigida, the state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, at the Government House, pretending to safeguard the interest of the poor masses but end up enriching their pockets.
They have forgotten that there is always another day. The revolution witnessed in the last local government election is an internal revolution and not really from the opposition. Some members of the APC even ventilated their grievances by voting for the opposition either because they have not been considered for any or another political appointments. Another factor that aggravated the tension during the election was the local government staff or teachers, who are owed backlog of salaries. This group of people openly protested through the ballot by casting their ballots for the opposition.
There is a Yoruba adage that says Iyan Ogun Odun a ma Joni lowo, relative meaning in English language is “What goes around , comes around or simply put as nemesis”. The electorate are always around the corner waiting for a pay back time. One of the pay back time has been displayed and more of such time are in the offing, except positive changes are effected.
However, painfully, the so called opposition leaders, our brothers and sisters, who are politicians in diaspora are always nowhere to be found in times like this. They leave the “Boys” to their political fate. No financial support, no moral motivation or words of encouragement. They have failed to realize that local government election is the root of any successful democracy.
For example, how many of the leaders of those in the opposition political parties were on ground during the just concluded local government election? They either stayed back in Abuja, Lagos or flying from one European country to another or to Dubai, China or other countries of the world, lavishing their stolen or ill-gotten wealth. Politicians must not underrate any election or any voter or engage in any endless enmity. May God again bless and forgive Baba Oloye of blessed memory.
Late Dr. Olusola Saraki was a politician to the core, who should be emulated by all and sundry. His type of politics is rare within the political chess game; no deceit, no blackmail and down to heart. He was loved by the rich, the poor, even the elite and surprisingly too, those in the opposition parties. Oloye’s political exigency and political dexterity needed to be forever emulated.
As it was the case in 2015 governorship election when a very unpopular and a non electoral valued candidate was fielded by the PDP, the same might still happen again in 2019. It’s like a curse on the leadership of the opposition parties with particular mention of the PDP. Anytime they are about having a political breakthrough, they will disagree and allow the mole planted among them to rear its ugly head.
Taking a cursory look at the last local government election in the state, one will observe that some card carrying members of the APC voted in protest for the opposition and some even abstained completely from the eye opening exercise, which some of them described as a revolution. Some of them have definitely bitten the fingers that fed them. The election was really a shocker or best put a tsunami as it threw shock waves around the sky. Some of the leaders of the APC described the outcome of the polls as astonishing, more so with a factionalized opposition like the PDP that put up a spirited fight with a ruling party.
The idea of imposing candidates on the electorate no longer work, except such leader or leaders want to meet his or her political waterloo. Again, how are the mighty fallen?
For the first time in the political history of Ilorin Emirate, three women were fielded at a stretch in an election. That of Ilorin West , Asa and Ilorin South local government areas. This happened in the just concluded election, all in the name of the Saraki dynasty.
Candidates to be chosen in the next gubernatorial election by either the ruling party or the opposition must be acceptable to all and sundry as votes now count. For instance, if party A decides to pick a candidate for the governorship election in 2019 and party B picks another candidate from the same senatorial district, political party may not necessarily count but rather, the candidate. This is because the electorate are becoming wiser daily and the era of impunity is no longer an issue when it comes to elections. The choice of candidates is now the beginning of wisdom as it is very key in any election.
If it eventually works out that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will henceforth conduct all elections across the country including that of local government , then a clearer level of playing ground would be created, where no electorate will be oppressed.
All said and done, the local government election has come and gone in Kwara State, the electorate are still intact. Soldier goes, Soldier comes, barrack remains. However, one development that saddens the mind now in Kwara State is the dominance of youths involved in thuggery and all sorts of criminality.
There is hardly a home today in Ilorin , the state capital or even all homes across the state that does not house or breed various categories of not only bad boys but also bad girls. They are so much loose to the extent that they have taken laws into their hands as if no government or security operatives is in the state. They have turned political office holders or innocent people to their boxing pouches as these categories of bad boys and girls disgrace them openly.
Ilorin, the Kwara state capital and the entire state, known as the state of peace and harmony has now turned to something else with cases of cultism, thuggery and ballot snatching dens. All these are alien to our environment but now real and the order of the day. No doubt, this is the handiwork of the political gladiators. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. The current unemployment rate is frightening and alarming, thereby breeding all kinds of characters. It is a time bomb upon which we quietly recline.
During the last Saturday’s local government election, most political office holders had to take cover but yet some of them were molested, manhandled and given the beaten of their lives. In Lafiagi, Edu Local government, a former Governor and serving Senator, Alhaji Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi, got his own share of molestation that ended up in the death of three youths and the burning of his (Shaaba’s) residence.
Though, the tragic incident in Lafiagi happened at the eve of the local government election, it was believed to have been politically motivated. Some of the Lafiagi youths are already charged due to what could be described as political neglect and insensitivity on the part of their leaders.
The time for the real CHANGE has come. Reality has dawned on our political gladiators, who have no alternative than to change for good and not for deceit. No doubt, the election is a wake up call for 2019 governorship election if not too late for the APC, considering the short time left for the main election.
For the ruling party to win 2019 governorship election, the party must embark on an endless race and has to favour not only their party members, but the larger society, the electorate, as well as those in the opposition. To crown it all, there must be genuine search for an acceptable , marketable, responsible and humble candidate without a dented background for the governorship position .
An APC chieftain, Alhaji Raheem Adedoyin, a journalist of repute, and former Commissioner in Kwara state was quoted as saying that ” There is no doubt that there is public dissatisfaction, especially over the local government salary lacuna. He stated further that not many people are persuaded that local government salary is not the responsibility of the state government, even when the state government is not owing state workers any salary arrears and advised that there has to be a solution to local government salary debacle.
Even the traditional institutions and the monarchs considered fathers of all, have been rubbished due to their partisanship. Traditional rulers, who ordinarily, should be custodians of tradition and custom are now involving deeply in partisan politics and went to the extent of hand-picking anointed candidates, forgetting that they are fathers to all .
The angry and resolute electorate did not even respect some of these affected monarchs, who are already partisan and defeated them at the polling booths in front of their palaces. They were so helpless and were defeated before their very eyes. Some of them have to cover their faces in shame after the almighty KWASIEC released the results of the election. It will now take the special grace of God, through prayers and lots of persuasions to return the love of the subjects to the minds of these Royal Fathers.
With the 2019 governorship election around the corner, security operatives and genuine stakeholders in Kwara State have a great role to play so that the state will not be turned to a war zone, thereby creating unnecessary unrest. In as much as the electorate are becoming more socially and politically aware and conscious, there is the need for Kwarans to handle the issue on ground with utmost decorum as the journey of a thousand mile, begins with just a step.
Tunde Akanbi wrote this piece from Ilorin via email@example.com
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