There is no doubt that the campaigns for the 2019 general elections may go down in the history of electioneering in Nigeria since the commencement of the current Republic in 1999 as the most expensive and most cumbersome ever.
First is the quantum of political parties in this year’s general elections and the sheer number of candidates involved. Those who had earlier criticized the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have become better informed.
Fears were entertained before the elections on how voters were going to cope with the size of ballot papers, especially in relation to the office of the President where no fewer than 73 candidates flew their party flags.
Another issue was that of the content and quality of campaign by candidates, among who resorted to the tactics of ‘if you miss the ball don’t miss the leg’ as their campaign strategy as they left substantive issues unattended to and chose to chase the shadow.
The quality of the campaign was not helped by a citizenry which has not grown to the stage where politicians cannot just tell them anything without getting their hands burnt in the process. The electorate encouraged politicians to tell them only what pleased the candidates. As such rather than talking to the intellect of the electorate it was their emotion that was the main focus.
The presidential and national assembly elections have come and gone, what lays ahead is the gubernatorial and state assembly elections, which hold in 29 and 36 states of the country respectively on Saturday, March 9, 2019. It is the election that will define whether the electorates have come of age, as demonstrated in the February 23, 2019 elections or they will continue to be fed with lies, half truths and manipulations employed by some candidates.
In Oyo State, the battle line is drawn between Chief Adebayo Adelabu, the candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC) and Engr. Seyi Makinde of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after some other candidates have aligned with the two leading candidates.
While Chief Adelabu enjoyed the support of former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala who stepped down from Action Democratic Party (ADP) Engr. Makinde courted the backing of Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, gubernatorial candidate of Action Democratic Congress (ADC) and Barr. Sarafadeen Abiodun Alli of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
On paper, the coming together of PDP, ADC and ZLP appears formidable but in reality it may not amount to much of an electoral fortune for Engr. Makinde. To start with both ADC and ZLP are two sides of the same coin as the candidates from both party are appendages of their principal, former Governor Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, who first imposed Senator Lanlehin on ADC before jumping boat to plant Barr. Alli in ZLP. Either way Senator Ladoja is the ultimate beneficiary of Engr. Makinde’s seeming inheritance.
Outside their merger value, none of the two parties made any impact during the national assembly elections, as both did not have a share of the 14 seats of federal representatives and the three senatorial seats. So, the alliance is only bogus outwardly while it is shallow inside.
The bulk of the members of ADC and ZLP, who essentially were from the APC have since returned to their former tent. Chief among them are Senator Adesoji Akanbi, Dr. Fola Akinosun and Hon. Rotimi Ajanaku. Equally, 24 out of the 26 former local government chairmen who left the party for the PDP and ADC have also returned to the fold of APC. The list is endless.
Again, the two parties in the alliance with the PDP are more like a general without a platoon, as both candidates struggled for space with the APC and PDP in the national assembly elections of which APC was triumphant, winning nine out of the 14 federal representatives and two senatorial seats, leaving just four representatives and one senate seat for the PDP and one rep for ADP.
The only party that has weight out of all the parties that have gone into alliance is the ADP. The party, under which Otunba Alao-Akala flew the gubernatorial flag won one seat out of the two available in the Ogbomoso zone. It is also the only party in the alliance with an identifiable territory as far as the locality of the gladiators in the alliance is concerned. This is what gives APC/ADP combination an edge over the PDP/ADC/ZLP combination.
One other factor that may tilt the scale in favour of Chief Adelabu of the APC is the pattern of election result, especially going by the 2015 gubernatorial election results in the state. Senator Abiola Ajimobi of the APC came first followed by Otunba Alao-Akala of the then Labour Party while Senator Ladoja of the then Accord came third. Senator Teslim Folarin of PDP came fourth with Engr. Makinde of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) came a distant fifth.
Out of all the five candidates of the time three are in APC (Ajimobi, Alao-Akala and Folarin who came first, second and fourth respectively in the said election) leaving the remaining two (Ladoja and Makinde who came third and fifth respectively) in the PDP camp. Going by elementary mathematics, the odds favour APC winning the election, although some may want to argue that politics is not mathematics.
However, when taken against the backdrop of the tremendous support and level of acceptability of the APC candidate among the electorate the mathematical permutation may come into play.
The icing on the cake that may make Chief Adelabu to carry the day is the way and manner that he prosecuted his campaigns. Coming from the background of being a scion of the legendary Adelabu Adegoke Penkelemesi, whose name keeps resonating 61 years after his demise places him far ahead of his main challenger.
While Chief Adelabu prides himself with his parental antecedent Engr. Makinde will tell whoever that cared to listen that he has no inheritance whatsoever (ko jogun iya, ko jogun baba). The implication of this is that he was the one who financed all his education and life endeavour with no one contributing to his oft-mouthed achievement, in whatever form.
However, there is a contradiction in his claim of having no one being responsible for his wealth as he himself gave a hint during a public debate that he may have been a major beneficiary of the late General Sani Abacha who was responsible for the incarceration of the winner of Nigeria’s first freest and fairest election, Late Chief MKO Abiola.
A lot of money allegedly stolen by Abacha through several cronies are still being repatriated. Some are of the view that it may be near impossible to know the exact amount pilfered by the late maximum ruler and his known and ‘unknown’ accomplices.
So, while Chief Adelabu was taking the lead in how to drive Oyo State to the next level his counterpart from the PDP only waited to pick on whatever he says or left unsaid to the extent that Engr. Makinde left the propagation of his own manifesto unattended to. To some political watchers, this was not an error but a calculated ploy to shift attention from his deficiency.
There was a particular public debate organized by a radio station where each of the candidates was asked to present himself/herself to the public and all that Engr. Making could say was how he has been a philanthropist. To analysts, if philanthropism was a pre-condition to holding public office then the late Aare Musulumi of Yoruba land, Abdul-Azeez Arisekola Alao should have been a permanent governor of Oyo State until his death.
This claim to philanthropy has raised the question of where to draw the line between voluntary and discrete giving (as prescribed by Islam and Christianity) and a showy offering as propagated by Engr. Makinde.
When the election is finally won and lost and a dispassionate stock is taken of the activities of both the candidates of the APC and the PDP, it will be crystal that Chief Adelabu represents the hope for the kind of electioneering that is devoid of bitterness. He prosecuted his campaign in a business-like manner and raised the bar for future contests. This is what I think will make the electorate prefer him to Engr. Seyi Makinde.
Bayo Busari, Ph.D is the spokesperson for Friends of Bayo Adelabu Campaign Organization (FOBACO)