By Josef Omorotionmwan
IT is instructive that towards the end, the campaigns became quite intriguing. We therefore have no problem in picking our personalities of the week. They are the Comrade Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole (ACN); the Member representing Etsako Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbass Braimah (PDP); and those courageous youths of Etsako Federal Constituency who decamped from the PDP to the ACN on the roadside, without waiting for all the niceties of a stadium declaration.
Oshiomhole and Braimah were apparently two opponents who met under circumstances, which less informed politicians would have regarded as a battlefield but rather than throw stones at each other, so to say, or, rather than begin to seek refuge behind the nearby kukuruku hills; they embraced each other in absolute brotherhood, realising that after all, blood is thicker than any election.
It was on Saturday, March 19, 2011, when Governor Oshiomhole was on routine inspection of the construction work on the Anegbette-Ekperi road in Etsako Central Local Government Area; when Abbass Braimah and his campaign team arrived at the point. The lawmaker quickly stopped and went direct to the Governor and they embraced each other, after which, Abbass headed back to his car to continue the campaign trip. Something happened. The lawmaker had lost his supporters. To his utter amazement, all his supporters abandoned him and ran to the Governor, chanting, “Na you we know o, na you we know; Oshiomhole na you we know….” All entreaties to get the youths back on track failed as they decided to stay with the Governor.
Clearly, government is about the people’s needs, the satisfaction of which is the sole justification for government. For Oshiomhole, people’s performance should speak for them; and we see this coming to fruition. For too long, the Anegbette-Ekperi road was in a very deplorable condition as a result of which the neighbouring communities have been virtually disconnected from the entire world with the attendant difficulties in getting their farm produce to any market. To these communities, what Oshiomhole is doing is a total liberation for which he has become a messiah; and there is no way that this will not translate to votes.
How ever good or bad that situation may seem today, it will still change some day. Your greatest enemy today could become your best friend tomorrow. That is the nature of Nigerian politics. But people who seek immediate gratification are not patient enough to observe that in the cress-crossings that go on every time, most of the good friends that the ACN is harvesting today were on the opposite side of the shooting range in April 2007. Similarly, some of the best friends of the AC at that time have since moved on to other comfort zones. So, why would anyone now kill somebody who could become his best friend tomorrow, if only he is alive? So, we must live and let live.
In these campaigns, Nigerians have been quite accommodating of opposition in many parts. We invite to the witness stand, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Comrade, we commend you for the fine reception you accorded to all the opposition parties that came to Edo State during the campaigns. As an instance, when the PDP campaign train arrived, not only did you personally go to receive our President at the Benin Airport, you also accompanied the team to the Oba’s palace. You made every facility at your disposal available to them.
What, then, can anyone say about the show of shame, which the CPC presidential campaign train met in Ibadan? A situation in which the venue that the party had paid for well ahead of time was deliberately blocked for almost one week under the guise that the President’s wife was to use the same venue for just one day is unacceptable. Worse still, up till now, the Presidency has remained stoically mute on this explosive issue.
The echoes from Akwa Ibom and some Northern States are discomforting. Details of these are for another day.
All casualties of war do not necessarily occur in the battlefield. Similarly, all campaign issues do not necessarily start from the campaign fields.
At the middle of the campaigns, we saw an overt attempt to overheat the polity. Suddenly, the National Assembly introduced a most obnoxious amendment to the Electoral Act, that the power of the courts to declare a winner in an electoral dispute has been removed. Clearly, this is an open invitation to catastrophe. And if we may ask, what is the need, then, for constituting the Election Tribunals when it is clear that the hands of the Judiciary have been completely tied even in the face of electoral frauds and the muzzling of the people’s votes?
People think we are in trouble but we think they are in deeper trouble. It is not always smart to be smart. In the very short run, they have pushed opposition politicians to the wall, to the extent that they are now asking their supporters to lynch anyone who might attempt to steal their votes. In which other part of the world do people benefit from their iniquities? Why would anyone who seeks to legalise electoral fraud not legalise lynching?
The question now is no longer whether our present stock of politicians will legalise murder, armed robbery, assassination, kidnapping and the rest; the question is when? But need we remind them that the consequences of their actions are also inescapable? Again, since all branches of government derive their powers from the same Constitution, which Judiciary that is worth its salt will allow itself to be muzzled into complete impotence? Here’s wishing Nigeria free and fair elections.