By Femi Afegbua
The calm that has returned to Edo State after the July 14 election has been so palpable that one can easily feel it. One can easily touch it.
One can easily inhale it, one can easily perceive it; from that dizzying height of political tension to a subliminal quietude of political defeat and loud exhilaration of political victory. It is what the wordsmith, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon described as the “oshiofixation of Mr. Fix it”.
The music has since changed both in terms of lyrical contents and the rhythmic candour. While there are wild jubilations at the Action Congress of Nigeria,s camp, there is solitary quietness at the PDP end which is unwittingly supplanted by the embarrassing results of the election of Saturday, July 14. What you have in any election is a winner and a loser but the tedium of this victory on the part of the diminutive but stubbornly structured comrade oshiomhole, is one that presents a thought for food.
Easily seen as a very outspoken political player, Oshiomhole,s energy is one that has placed him at a particular pedestal above his other contestants for the plum job in Edo State.
Not a lot of people would appreciate the enormity of what transpired in the Edo election. I had stated that even though elections presented a platform for contestation of ideas, which will help the voters to make an informed choice, that of Edo, speaking metaphorically, was a contest between Chief Tony Anenih and Adams Oshiomhole.
It was a contest of new ideas in the liturgy of political undertakings and old ideas for perpetuation of power. I had stated unequivocally in my piece of Thisday June 11, 2012 that the Edo election was Chief Anenih,s final political adventure that would signal the end of long years of political domination both at the state level and the National.
That prediction has now become a statement of fact. At the State level, the purblind effect of the defeat carries a malignant impact that will forever haunt the Uromi Chief. At the Federal level, Chief Anenih will not easily display any moral courage to take on anyone who is aversed to his political ideas because he would easily be reminded of his embarrassing outing at the Edo election. That is not a good way to end a political career that has spanned decades upon decades. Like one of the ecstatic jubilants said, “the godfather has been laid to political rest”
The rhythms of politics
Politics has a way of humbling individuals and the mantra of one man, one vote has its own way of exposing the weakness of political players who were hitherto overrated. The Edo election has proven so many permutations wrong and re-scripted the canard of political prediction.
There were a number of questionable opinion polls which gave the nod to the opposition PDP as favourite to winning the election. There were scenarios that were repeatedly played out in the State to give an impression that the Comrade Governor would not make it at the election. Divisive politics anchored on ethnicity and the mentality of “this is our own” flourished in the labyrinth of political situation rooms.
The campaign was intense as it was fierce. It was a battle of wits against wits, propaganda against propaganda, with a clear intention to woo the electorates.
The Comrade Governor had so many things that worked in his favour. One, is his superlative performance in office. The election presented an opportunity for him to showcase those achievements to the electorates. Second, was his power of oratory which is unarguably his major strength when confronted with catch 99 situations.
Three, was his unquenchable energy, working from the dawn of day to the setting of the sun, till late night all in a bid to put the godfathers in check. Four, was the political mileage that he gained as a result of the support he got from Oba of Benin and many other traditional rulers. It was such royal support that neutralized the ethnic card which the PDP trumped up at the last minutes of the campaign.
PDP deserves commendation
The PDP Chieftains even though they all lost their wards, must be commended for putting up a good fight and raising the stakes of the election. Rather than being a mere walk-over exercise, the PDP kept Comrade Oshiomhole on his toes, forcing him to embark on spirited campaigns across the State.
The product of that elaborate campaign has been tellingly benumbing. When the humiliation of political party chieftains losing their wards finally dawn on them, the pains will carry a double sting. First, it is a “shut up” directive when real politicians are talking. Second, it presents the Chieftains as inconsequential in their domains when real politicking is put on the front burner.
If they had lost the election but won their wards or Local Governments, the pride would still have been manageable and perhaps their relevance would still have been intact. Now that the reverse is the case, for them it is simply nun dimitris to politics, but I am told that
politicians don’t give up easily. Like cats with nine lives, they know how to stay the cause. The implication of losing a political unit is like being rejected by members of your family; the polling unit is the smallest unit of electoral contest. Well such is the elixir of power. It hurts. It heals.
I heard from the grapevine that the PDP candidate intends to try his luck at the tribunal. I think speaking more seriously, there is no need to take the State on another round-tripping exercise of legal contestation that would put precious economic time under careless wastage.
But if that is what he desires to manage the hopeless situation, and at least give his supporters a safe landing, that would be understandable. The luxury of going to the tribunal to complain about an election that is seen to be free and fair would be too over-bearing on the State. General Charles Airhiavbere can safe his money and start planning for another day. It is the honourable thing to do, because the margin of defeat is too oceanic.
Kudos to Edo Voters
I think Edo Voters deserve special mention here. They displayed very uncommon courage and resilience before, during and after the election.
The wild jubilation that followed the announcement also suggests that the right candidate won the election. The beauty of any democratic engagement is to see that people who are the repository of power, being given the opportunity to perform their function.
This is where I also commend the leadership and members of the Independent National Electoral Commission for being able to rise up to the occasion and ensuring that the right things were done. We must also commend the security agencies for their show of professional expertise. The military personnel discharged their responsibility with dispatch and encouraged the voters to have confidence in the system. From the Edo election, Nigeria is gradually moving on the pathway to greater electoral engagements that would ensure free, fair and credible elections.
The opposition Parties will have opportunity to fight another day in 2016 when Comrade Oshiomhole will be completing his statutory two terms of office. The major opposition Party should also start putting its acts together as a way of sustaining their presence in the State.
The PDP Chieftains should learn how to talk less because the orgy of defeat could be very painful and humbling. I would have loved to sit near Chief Dan Orbih, Matthew Orhogide, Chief Anenih and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion to see their countenance when the results were announced.
The PDP was unusually quiet when the results were announced and I was wondering what could have happened to warrant such tongue-tied situation against the backdrop that here were individuals who were very outspoken before the elections. I am told that almost all the PDP chieftains have relocated to London and America to cool off. They deserve it. Oshiomhole,s horse whip could be very didactic. As diminutive as Oshiomhole could be, his punches are not as frail as they appear to be. The Edo election has just proven that.
Comrade Oshiomhole is magnanimous in victory. At least he has extended his hands of fellowship to other candidates in the rebuilding process. He has said that the victory is not for him as an individual, but for every Edo person home and abroad. That is the way to go. Democracy is a process to achieving greatness and glory. Governance is the implementation of campaign promises.
Creating synergy and carrying every component into the leadership process will only help to simplify the process and make the gains of democracy more manifest in the lives of the people. This is why those in opposition should give the Governor every bit of support he deserves to make Edo realise her full potentials. And in the final analysis, we all would join the chorus of those who made it happen. Congratulations to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the entire Edo people.