OPINION: Osun’s Day Of Election, Not War

Aregbesola-and-Omisore“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters” —– Abraham Lincoln

Is it true that voters must have faith in the electoral process for our democracy to succeed? If this is correct, then could it be rightly said that voters in this country genuinely have faith in the ongoing Professor Attahiru Jega-tutored electoral process? Then, how far has this impacted on the country’s democracy? This column is not oblivious of the fact that politicians and the people are all part of the electoral process; otherwise, there would be no process at all.

Political leaders do emerge from the political class and it is from the people that we get the electorate that vote during periodic elections. But because the political leadership most times reneges on its promises to the people, the electoral process has always been a fierce contest between forces contending for political power.

Naturally, the Election Day is always a judgment day in countries where votes count. It is a day for deciding whether those in power actually impact lives positively, changed destinies and made people’s dreams and expectations come true. The inception of a political tenure is the seed-sowing time, while the harvest period is the day of election. So, it is better to sow at the right time to have a bountiful harvest on the day of political judgment in the court of the electorate.

In Osun State, tomorrow is that Day of Judgment. There is going to be a real test of electioneering and democratic values as voters in the state go to the polls. The task before the electorate of that state is to elect a leader that would steer the ship of the state for another four years. The incumbent, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, is seeking a fresh mandate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Senator Iyiola Omisore is flying the flag of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while Alhaji Fatai Akingbade is contesting under the banner of Labour Party. The irony is that all former governors of the state, including Isiaka Adeleke, Bisi Akande and Olagunsoye Oyinlola are in the APC plotting against the emergence of Omisore, the seeming major contender against incumbent, as governor. This gives a worrisome impression about the personality of the PDP candidate.

Omisore has deployed many stunts just to convey a deceitful populist perception of himself. They include his widely publicised photographs of where he was buying corns on the road and riding motor cycle, commonly called Okada. Those images have merely portrayed his deceitfully theatrical side which has no basis in sane governance.

Yours sincerely believes that Osun people must be careful in making a choice tomorrow. Euripides, Orestes might have had someone like Omisore in mind when he said: “When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” For instance, Omisore, whether rightly or wrongly, has without knowing, built a notorious image for himself in the political history of that state.

Many believe that if he ever gets to power, which is very unlikely, Osun will turn into Hobbesian state of brute and force devoid of ideas and reason.

Whatever reservations yours sincerely might have for the defection of people like Oyinlola to APC, he, at least, made a profound statement that corroborated the above public perception of Omisore during Aregbesola’s Osogbo Federal Constituency Campaign Mega Rally earlier in the week. Oyinlola could not have known Omisore less – having been  in the same PDP with him over a reasonable long period of time – not to have known the implication of reviving the death of late Bola Ige at that rally, where he said: “Omisore is selfish and self-centred. I did not know who and how Bola Ige was killed. What I know is that Omisore was accused of killing Chief Bola Ige. When Omisore wanted to nominate a person to fill my seat as PDP National Secretary, he chose Professor Wale Oladipo. He also nominated Jelili Adesiyan, my former Commissioner for Education, for ministerial position. Adesiyan, Oladipo and Omisore were imprisoned for their alleged complicity in Bola Ige’s death.’’

He reportedly continued further: ‘Omisore also picked Gani Olaoluwa, who was also detained on Bola Ige’s death, as PDP chairman in the state. My question is: Is it until we are all turned to criminals or imprisoned before we can get political office? The person they are proposing to pick as senatorial candidate in Osun Central, Kunle Alao, known as Lele, was also a co-detainee with Omisore, Oladipo and Adesiyan on Bola Ige’s death.’ Omisore has not given any published satisfactory response to the Oyinlola effusions against him. The Osun voters might be interested in having his convincing response before tomorrow’s election.

In contrast to Omisore, Aregbesola, notwithstanding his touted inadequacies, is genuinely popular of all the candidates and on comparative basis, has done his best for the state in almost four years that he was in the saddle. Apart from contesting under a formidable opposition platform, Aregbesola, as if hearkening to the true meaning of his name, is a steadfast party man. His compelling intellectual oratory, simplicity, commitment to service, sense of humour and ability to blend with the high and mighty in the society, add up to give him a remarkable edge. His policies including Opon Imo, O’Meals scheme and his employment-generation ability, especially for the youth, are admirably inspiring. The incumbent is indeed popular and loved by the Osun people.

It is this Aregbesola’s genuine affinity with his people that calls for caution from the ruling PDP not to be hell-bent on having that way at all costs tomorrow. President Goodluck Jonathan’s public statement that tomorrow’s election will be highly policed and militarised is misplaced. Ekiti election was militarised and despite the fact that this was not why Governor Kayode Fayemi was voted out does not make it right. In yours sincerely’s view, militarization is act of assembling and putting into readiness for war or other emergency, the soldiers and entire military of a country. This is no war in Osun tomorrow; it is an election.

And in case President Jonathan and his Minister of Defence had forgotten the provisions of the constitution (as amended), it is better to restate it here for their kind and keen attention: Section 215(3) of the 1999 Constitution vested in the Police the exclusive power to maintain and secure public safety and public order in the country. On the other hand, the President has the power as enshrined in the constitution in section 217(2) of the Constitution to deploy the armed forces for the “suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law order.”

Again, where is insurrection in any part of Osun as the state prepares for tomorrow’s election? Does the deployment of military and hooded security men not amount to usurpation of police powers with regards to maintenance of law and order? Now, my message to Osun people:

Democracy requires eternal vigilance. They must do everything to protect their votes jealously, lest they have a costly error to pay for!