OPINION: EDO NO BE LAGOS: CRUCIFYING GODFATHERISM AND THE GODFATHERS

I have become incurably addicted to relish failure of godfathers in the political arena for a reason: the concept refuses settlement in my thinking faculty. I don’t believe in the supremacy of power brokers. I believe the people constitute the sovereign—sovereignty should be located in them. They should have their say in electing their representatives. This is democracy. Democracy is a cluster of concentric political concepts which has in its core the concept of egalitarianism. In that sense, every electorate is constitutionally entitled to a vote; only one vote. So, ‘political godfatherism’, a euphemism for ‘political idolism’ is antithetical to democracy.

Some have posited that there are benevolent godfathers whose major interests, among others, are to ensure that the right people are placed in the right positions. They decide the right choice for the masses who are overwhelmingly illiterate and politically unenlightened. We beg to differ with this explanation which is a half truth on the premise that there are other ways to achieve similar objectives without godfathering the people. A major function of political parties is political education and socialization. Democracy espouses a political culture that does not pave the way for an individual or group of individuals to lord it over other people who were considerably born free to choose and to decide.

It is within this context that the Edo State Saturday governorship election of 19th September, 2020 shall be analyzed. Nigerians witnessed the crucifixion of confederation of godfathers with Tinubu as the prime loser. I will turn to this later. Obaseki won the election; it is not yet Uhuru. He should start consulting his legal team. It is uncharacteristic of Nigeria’s elections to be concluded at the collating centre by INEC. The election could just be the first leg in the process. It is possible that the victory will be challenged at the tribunal (second leg), the Court of Appeal (third leg), and finally, the Supreme Court which is the last leg.

The possibility of election results being challenged is predicated on the irregularities in the election. There have been accusations and counter accusations, during and after the election. Even the governor-elect at a point during the election said he had no confidence in INEC. I, just like you, know that he must have found the lost confidence by now. INEC becomes the most unbiased umpire to Nigerian politicians when they win election. And again the most biased umpire when they lose. It is in the genetic makeup of our politicians not to accept defeat (but celebrate success) at the poll.

This is the norm in Nigeria’s political milieu where elections are perceived to be a do or die affair. Conducting a hitch free election is one of the major challenges which INEC is yet to surmount. Its surmountability seems to be an impossibility (at least at the moment) due to the present Nigerians’ political culture which abhors decorum.

Though my inner instinct tells me Saturday’s election may not be challenged in court. This is not because there are no hitches here and there; but because what many feared to be a flashpoint of political arson, bloodletting, ballot snatching and many more come to pass as a relatively peaceful election. What is more, the instant President’s congratulatory message to the Governor-elect hints that election results declared by INEC are accepted in the opposition camp in good faith. The President’s message is commendably presidential, fatherly, timely, and significantly praiseworthy.

What thrilled me in the Edo political show of strength is the defeat of the godfathers; the seeming burial of the concept of godfatherism under the debris. What we don’t know is if it was irretrievably buried or otherwise. Time will tell. We shall come to know the reality towards the end of Obaseki’s tenure. Would he allow the people to determine their next governor, hence democratizing the process; or thread the path of ignominy as did his predecessor? It should be noted that Nigerian politicians are prone to forget history too soon while history could not help but repeat itself. Every keen onlooker of the Nigeria’s political history will agree that history, from time to time, rears its ugly head. But let’s remain patient with time to tell what plays out.

Adams Oshiomole has definitely lost a huge political capital in Edo. He declared the death of political godfatherism as a governor when he trampled over the remarkable footprints of Tony Anenih in Edo only to become a resurrected godfather. Obaseki who now considers him a political ghost re-killed him for illegally raising his head to oversee Edo Politics. Oshiomole is not alone, the Bourdillon election Bullion Vanner who poses to be the Edo political god grandfather from whom Oshiomole takes instruction must have learnt the humble lesson (though in the hard way). He must have learnt that his political capital—influence and leverage—does not have the geographical spread he thought it has. His tentacles, though widely spread within and outside Lagos refuse to spread beyond the Southwest. Even his influence in the latter, in recent time, has been debated.

He did a broadcast which was repeatedly aired on TVC, days prior to the election. In the airing, Mr Tinubu, the notorious Bullion Vanner, de-marketed Obaseki with all known calumnies and denigrating remarks. Many thought that that single broadcast will impinge upon the integrity of Obaseki and his chance of winning the election. He hurled him, through the broadcast, to the dustbin and debris of history. But alas! The dustbin and debris rejected Obaseki. It is not because Obaseki has recorded any achievements in Edo to his credit, but because godfatherism is destined to be a dead concept (at least in Edo). The consequence was anti-clockwise. It rather awakened in the Edolites the spirit of nationalism. They replied through their votes that ‘Edo No Be Lagos’. Their hat, whether they doff it, or put it on, is a thinking hat. They are Homo sapiens; not Homo erectus. Thus, they told the Lagos Bourdillon Bullion Vanner Landlord.

Though the Edo’s Tinubu’s misadventure is a major setback, he has been disgraced earlier in Kogi and Ondo State respectively. He seems to the proverbial lost dog who refused to listen to the hunter’s whistle. He has big self-esteem which has ballooned to a megalomaniac proportion. It is this megalomaniacally induced posture that cost him this much. I just hope he will stop nursing the ambition of being a president in Nigeria come 2023. Though it is his constitutional right to contest, wishing him good luck will be a waste of saliva. So, I will not waste mine.

Tinubu, who should have maintained a low profile vis-a-vis Edo State election to manage his integrity, got it shredded. He must be nursing his self inflicted blister. The ultimate lesson in the Edo saga is; if your party and godfathers reject you, decamp to another party. It is argued by that former Lagos Governor, Ambode, should have acted likely, but that is history. The Edo people have really shown the Bullion Vanner that ‘Edo No Be Lagos’ and ‘Obaseki No Be Ambode’. Now that Obaseki has become the cynosure of all eyes, the new bride in Edo State politics, should we expect him to be positively different as a PDP governor? Our prediction is that he won’t be any different. Our prayer is: may he be different and guided by the Almighty to prove us wrong.

*** The writer, Abdulkadir Salaudeen is at salahuddeenabdulkadir@gmail.com and @salahuddeenAbd