Osun 2022: Between money politics and good governance
On May 29, 2022
Gradually but steadily, the stage is being set for the Osun governorship election. As July 16, 2022, the date fixed for the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is drawing nearer, it is no longer news that political activities are on the increase and the atmosphere is being charged. The gladiators are already spoiling for war and the coveted trophy in sight is the Osun governorship seat, currently occupied by Gboyega Oyetola.
Only recently, Ademola Adeleke, the factional candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), bragged before a rather stunned audience that he was “loaded with enough money” and would be going into the election to spend “not only naira but dollars, pounds and Euro” and that, “this time around”, it would be “fire-for-fire.” And, in what looked like a swift response, Governor Oyetola of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said that he had no frivolous money to purchase private jets for traditional rulers or hard currencies to fritter. Rather, he would be bringing to the table his competence and imbued capacity to transform the state through good governance. Hear him: “as you all know, a state like Osun is too sophisticated for kindergarten politicians to govern. It is too costly to allow such people to experiment with Osun.”
To start with, Adeleke’s boastful gesture and attitudes remind one of a Yoruba saying: ‘oro t’owo ba se ti, ile lo maa gbe’ (money answereth all things). Till date, this aphorism sits squarely within the thoughts and social content of the Yoruba society. Perhaps, due to our level of development and the gnawing impact of poverty, it is unfortunately true and inviolable! The race may change it tomorrow; but, until that happens, this is the way it is! That’s why it will be foolhardy for anybody to ignore the role or impact of money in politics.
That said, the level of development in Nigeria – and Osun State in particular – must be brought to the fore to draw useful inferences from what Adeleke said concerning the state of his preparedness for the forthcoming election. Without being unnecessarily immodest, the significant import of the pronouncement can only find succour in the inner workings of the PDP gubernatorial hopeful: ‘voters’ consent in Osun has been commoditised’; ‘votes are for sale in Osun’; and ‘merchandise goes to the highest bidder’. Apparently, Adeleke did not understand the socioeconomic-cum-political implications of his utterances. Of course, this is troubling!
That Nigeria has Americanized her politics by lacing it with money has created an erroneous impression that the influence of money is absolute. The interesting thing about this erroneous assertion that it is not true! For instance, the American society still puts high premium on justice and accountability. However, here in Nigeria, the native prebendal politics only ensures ‘poverty for the masses, riches for a few.’ Hence the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor, which is already tilting our society towards the precinct of an inevitable collapse. Yes, a man who has not eaten in the last two days is bound to despise his birth-right for ‘some bread and lentil stew.’ Such a soul would probably cower at the supplication of Ademola’s ‘dollars, pounds and Euro.’ But then, the society will end up being worse for it. Huge influx of money without tangible production of goods and services will likely trigger a running inflation and impact the domestic economy negatively.
In fairness to posterity, Adeleke is one of the reasons Nigeria is lagging behind in development and innovative thinking. How do I mean? A country that wants to grow will neither breed governors whose priority is in buying private jets for traditional rulers nor contemplate a money-driven election that will end up being ‘fire-for-fire.’ Had the PDP governorship candidate worked for the money which he has been squandering upandan, history has shown that he most certainly would have behaved differently. The more reason he needs to be thoroughly rebuked for attempting to import a very toxic phenomenon into Osun politics.
By the way, let it be known that Adeleke started trekking this despicable political path some five years ago, during the immediate past administration in Osun. Remember his Year 2017 senatorial pursuit, following his elder brother’s demise! Remember the illogical premise that Osun West Senatorial bye-election ticket should be surrendered to Ademola, simply because Isiaka Adeleke, the man who held the office before his demise, was Ademola’s elder brother? Of course, consensus failed, and election was called as expected in a democracy. At the end of the day, a gullible electorate succumbed to the sweet melody of loaves of bread and wads of naira notes and PDP won in 9 out of the 10 Local Governments in the Senatorial District. Ejigbo Local Government, which reluctantly went to the ruling party, was won marginally.
Reports even had it that while Adeleke’s tenure lasted in the Upper Chamber, the ‘Dancing Senator’ neither attempted a good deed for his Senatorial District nor quenched the fire of a wrong move. He was just there! Tragically, the electorate couldn’t ask questions about his scorecard while he was in the Senate. Again, this is where the society is also culpable! If Adeleke didn’t do well at the Red Chamber, why then must he be considered for election as Osun State’s First Citizen? Unfortunately, it is because nobody has been asking that question that Ademola is now trying to insult our collective intelligence. The question, then, is: is this how our people will want to waste four years on pecuniary conveniences for which forty years won’t be able to revive?
Is the PDP governorship hopeful a sellable candidate? Well, all over the world, electability is a function of unimpeachable character profile and socially-prescribed benchmarks as they relate to an individual’s social class roles and expectations in the society. Yes, at the level of ‘Area Boys’, they can be found as willing tools. That is understandable! But it is a statement of fact that ‘Area Boys’ have no credible future. Besides, he who aspires to become Osun governor must be able to read a Budget. So, it will be unwise for the contestant to think that he can railroad a whole society into his compromised camp.
On a last note, it is a statement of fact that money has its own serious impact on the society. That’s a truth no one can run away from. To deny the fact that it has a serious impact in politics and our social existence is to be clever by half. However, even, if Adeleke parts with, say, £1000 for each voter, such a voter will surely finish spending it. Chances are that the money will go back to England because Nigerians will buy products that are not manufactured here. By the time we do that, it is simple Economics that we are already returning the money to its source. Impliedly, we are not only spending the money we didn’t work for but also indirectly sending the money to another country. In any case, that is the Nigerian society for us!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun State!
*Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (firstname.lastname@example.org; 07087941459)