Water flowed uphill last week. The stereotype of a Nigerian as an irredeemably corrupt leech whose raison d’être is dishonest gain was shattered to smithereens by a cherubic-faced young man. Citizen Jimoh Olawole did the unthinkable: he publicly repudiated his acclaimed victory at the re-run of the Offa Local Government Area polls in Kwara State where he ran for a councillorship seat on the platform of the ruling PDP. “I cannot take what does not belong to me”, said Olawole; “the candidate of APC in the ward, Hon. Adefioye Kayode, won the election.”
I can’t remember any election in contemporary Nigeria where the acclaimed victor opted to follow the dictates of his conscience rather than follow the rigging bandwagon. There is hope for Nigeria after all. It is believed in some circles that a politician’s conscience is so ashamed to be associated with its owner that it always walks on the other side of the road. But the young man from Offa has put a lie to all that. The young man said, “As a son of Offa, I can’t sacrifice my conscience for any electoral victory”.
There are still good people among Nigerian politicians even if finding them is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Predictably, the PDP in Kwara State has disowned Olawole and labeled him a decampee to the rival APC. The public is however not fooled. In the wildfire of comments the issue generated on the internet, it seemed that what worried many commentators was not just the rigging but the brazenness of it all. For example, one Kunle wrote: “This election was rigged without finesse. The total votes declared by Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWAISEC) for both PDP and APC are more than the possible votes. There are 86 polling booths with a maximum of 500 registered voters each.This translates to 43,000. KWASIEC declared a total of over 55,000 votes cast. If we assume a100% turn-out, which is unlikely, there will still be over 12,000 ghosts that voted.”
Ghost voters? Why would PDP make that kind of mistake again after the furor that had attended the 2003 presidential election where General Obasanjo scored more votes than the total population of registered voters in Ogun State? Somebody needs the services of a mathematician here. But that is if we are talking about real elections and not the capturing of states and local governments. As we inch towards 2015, the electorate will have to pay
more attention to those politicians who always boast of capturing their states. In the arithmetic of capturing , a party could score 15 votes in a population of 10. Or can’t you remember how the chairmanship of the Governors’ Forum was captured ?
God bless Citizen Jimoh Olawale. He has blazed a trail worth replicating. His message is clear: if water has to run uphill for our corrupt system to be fixed, then water will run uphill.
In the midst of all that scandal, the ruling party seems to be rending the fabric of its umbrella even further. The redoubtable Chief Tony Anenih had to warn both sides of the PDP conflict to behave responsibly, but it was clear that his statement was directed at the warring chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur. While Anenih is offering the olive branch to the breakaway
faction, Tukur is reading the Riot Act. To compound an already embarrassing situation, PDP resorted to self-help by sealing off the premises of the New PDP. Talk of using the power of incumbency at the federal level to oppress dissenting citizens. It is strategically moronic. If Chairman Tukur was an army general, I wouldn’t want to go to war under his command.
The ultimate tortoise in all this is the inimitable General Obasanjo himself who is at once the problem and the solution – if you bother to look beneath the surface. (Remember the Tortoise in the old African fables?) Having been given the cold shoulder by the Jonathan administration for quite a while, this is his chance to play the ultimate godfather, the
unifier, the statesman; and given his jumbo-sized ego, he is not one to let such an opportunity pass him by.
But the opposition APC, PDM and even the ‘New PDP (which at the moment is neither rodent nor bird) should not celebrate just yet. While the implosion of the PDO might appear to be good news for the opposition, they also harbor traces of the same malaise bedeviling the PDP. Each party has its own version of Tukur and Anenih and OBJ. It is how they manage conflicting egos and market their manifesto that will determine how far they will go.
There is a possibility that PDM might team up with APC. Even the ‘New PDP’ might join the opposition, especially as the old PDP seems so determined to play out its zero-some game. All this, mind you, is about the next elections in 2015.
Strategically speaking, PDP could re-enact the feat of Louis Comte who, in 1814, was acclaimed as the first magician to pull a rabbit out of a hat. The political equivalent of that is to ditch Chairman Tukur and field a new presidential candidate acceptable to the generality of its members in 2015. That way, it can win back the dissenters and patch up its leaking umbrella in time for the elections. Or it could continue with its present scorched earth policy of attempting to run dissenting voices out of town and pay the price.
For the APC, whether other groups team up with it or not, it must come to the realization that, as General Muhammadu Buhari said in his recent article, the next presidential election is about Nigeria, not about Tinubu or Buhari. The whole world is watching to see if the party can rise above narrow selfish interests and field a do-er with little or no political baggage and thereby provide Nigerians with a clear choice between their candidate and President Jonathan.
“The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
– John Steinbeck