Ogun example of deepening democracy without statutory delegates – The Sun Nigeria
By Jean Akpagbo
Nigeria could go in the direction of a reorganization of all that has been lost because of the imbalance created by the negligence and selfishness of a few individuals, which has become fiercely poisoned in the national democracy.
It could be a restructuring, albeit by default and recklessness of certain personalities who readily, unsuspectingly give in to whatever is put on paper.
The rudder of the country could have been torn from the hands of captains who sail without resorting to the compass.
These are thoughts that cross the minds of people watching situations unfold without a crystal ball.
Thursday, May 26, 2023 was an opportunity for the people of Ogun State to choose, in the democratic way of old, who should be their governor and manage their common heritage.
One of the state’s political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC), held its gubernatorial primary at MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, the state capital. The delegates, drawn from all 20 local government areas in the state, peacefully and lively converged on the stadium early so the exercise could proceed during the day for greater transparency and convenience for all participants who are expected to return to their base after exercise.
Accreditation of the delegates was done early and they were all set for the exercise to determine the fate of millions of people in the state by choosing from six personalities who have offered to serve the people as governor in 2023. They are Remi Bakare, Modele Bolatito Sharafa Yusuf, Gabriel Owoduni Opayemi, Olubiyi Oladipupo Otegbeye, Adekunle Abdulkadir Akinlade and Adedapo Olusegun Abiodun.
Shortly after noon, the national representatives of the party and the Governor’s Primary Committee, with Chief Wale Ohu as Chairman, Attorney CJ Chinwuba, Secretary, Hon. Theo Mukoro, Arch. Abdulmumeen Ahmed and Olubummi Aboge-Isaac, as members, were already there, placing 20 ballot boxes on tables under canopies labeled with the names of local government areas.
Before the start of the election, Chinwuba asked the candidates’ representatives to introduce themselves to delegates and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials present at the venue.
He also took all candidate representatives to inspect all ballot boxes before voting began.
Meticulously and with the greatest rigor, the secretary of the primary committee supervised the ballot by calling on the delegates, community by local community, to parade to vote and insert the ballot paper into transparent ballot boxes intended for each local community.
The ballots were sorted and counted at the end of the right to vote in front of all the representatives of the candidates. Result of each local government was announced.
Ohu, chairman of the election committee, announced the big result of the primary, declaring the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the winner of the election.
The total number of votes cast was 1,170 and he polled 1,168, while two votes were overruled.
No other candidate was able to register a vote.
The outcome was accepted by all the delegates before they embarked on the journey to their various local governments.
This is a clear representation of the people’s choice, regardless of the opinions of some individuals, who disagreed with the people’s desire.
APC State Chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi, and other top state politicians who have become seasoned statesmen, including Chief Segun Osoba, former Governor Gbenga Daniel and a many others have witnessed the ongoing development of democracy.
What makes the election unique is the harvest of people who made the lists of delegates. A number of them were elderly. A few had health issues but, against all odds, made it to the primary venue anyway. Some came on crutches, probably because of advanced age or health issues.
Investigations into this development revealed that those on the list were individuals identified in their communities as altruistic and committed to dignity, even in the face of tempting gain.
They have been described as rare personalities, regardless of their financial situation, who always pitch their tents with people in the open or in secret. They place little value on money. They have been described as the last bastion of selflessness, righteousness and democracy in their neighborhoods.
The delegates actually lived up to expectations, as evidenced by their conduct during the primary; they behaved respectfully. Even when it started to rain immediately after delegates finished voting, they all waited patiently for the downpour to subside, with representatives of the six candidates and members of the primary committee standing by the ballot boxes.
Abiodun, in his acceptance speech, praised the members of the CPA’s gubernatorial primary committee for conducting what he described as an uncompromising, transparent, free and fair primary.
He succinctly stated, “I don’t think a transparent process is any better than that.”
The Governor therefore promised to stick to the traditional philosophy of the people of the state, saying that this is who we are in Ogun State. Violence, banditry and brutality are foreign to us.
And I’m glad we’re slowly and surely changing that narrative.
He appreciated all those who supported him and his team, including APC National President, Senator Abdulahi Adamu.
Corroborating the primary governor’s assessment, two of the candidates who jointly challenge the composition of the primary governance committee and the list of delegates, the Hon. Adekunle Abdulkadir Akinlade and lawyer Biyi Otegbeye did not complain about the conduct of the exercise.
Political pundits have lent their voices to the new democratic process underway that has produced the governor and others who have strictly adhered to democratic principles while conducting their primaries.
It is the belief of these observers that if all political parties in all states of the federation could adopt the manner in which the APC gubernatorial primary was conducted in Ogun State, then citizens could rest assured that those who would transform the nation around socio-economically and politically would dominate from 2023.
They articulated their demands on the premise of quality delegates who would not trade the people for a puff of cash.
Although they expressed concern that Governors and all other office holders are not comfortable with the example of Ogun State, pointing out that Governor Abiodun got the ticket back to the following his performance in power.
They referenced some of the people-focused programs run by the governor. Observers made particular reference to the quality of such projects, including the road network, which they described as world-class.
These observers have individually claimed that the nation is currently experiencing a socio-economic and political quagmire due to delegates choosing candidates for their office based on the highest bidders.
They noted that past delegates, especially statutory delegates, served pay-per-view party tickets. For observers, statutory delegates see election season as the harvest time to rally around swindling unsuspecting political aspirants.
They value what aspirants can offer as an incentive to get their votes in the party primary to become the nominee for whatever position they aspire to.
This development, they noted, gave fraudsters leeway to infiltrate the political circle to legitimize their ill-gotten wealth and plunder the commons.
Experts have also warned that any political party that does not allow its members to choose who their delegates should be will end up producing money mongers who will surely elect Yahoo boys with money to throw away as candidates for that the party stands in the general elections.
They therefore tasked INEC to adopt the position of the APC Governor’s Primary Committee in Ogun State in the 2023 General Elections for transparency and the conduct of free, fair and acceptable elections.
• John Akpagbo wrote this from Ota, Ogun State