Obaseki’s victory: Lessons for Nigerian leaders!
As the Edo state governorship election results started trickling in last Sunday 20th September, the social media was on fire with all kinds of messages and images. Of the many that I received, three occupied my mind throughout Sunday night as I had a deep reflection about Nigeria and Nigerian leaders. The first one read “Breaking: APC Ize Iyamu leads with wide margin in Kano and Lagos State……While the second one read “Edo no be Lagos”, the third one had a relaxed PMB picture with the inscription “Everybody carry your cross, I am for nobody”.
In my 17th July column titled “Edo 2020: Obaseki Should be Supported’’, I implored Adams Oshiomhole to remember the wider interest of Edo people and Obaseki’s focus for a better Edo state and support his second term bid. Using both National Bureau of Statistics reports and other empirical evidences, I pointed out that as Obaseki can be described as one of the islands of governance rectitude in our Nigerian sea of governance turpitude, it will be inappropriate not to support him.
I pleaded to Oshiomhole that to err is human and to forgive is divine and that Obaseki failures are his failures and Obaseki’s success also his success. Reminding him that he is 68years, I reiterated that he should focus on building a good legacy rather than unnecessary ego driven power tussles. Very concerned and envisaging what the likely election outcome will be, I even went spiritual reminding him that while Galatians 6:9, counsels us “not to become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Philippians 2:3 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves”. I prayed that God will grant him the humility to listen and appreciate wise counsel.
Most regrettably, all my pleas like many others who also pleaded were received with deaf ears. It even seemed that the more the pleas, the more infuriated Adams Oshiomhole became with an irreversible determination to remove Obaseki from power. He was disqualified to contest, humiliated and technically chased out of APC with no genuine reason. With possible divine intervention and strategic negotiation, he was received and overwhelmingly supported to contest the governorship election under PDP. On Saturday 19th September, Edo people practiced true democracy and firmly decided that the governance of Edo state is for Edo people and should be decided by Edo people. As prayed, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) respecting and upholding the will of the people declared Godwin Obaseki the winner on Sunday 20th September with a total vote count of 307,955 against his closest rival, Oshiomhole’s benefactor, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who scored 223,619. With a wide margin of 84,336, Edo people clearly demonstrated that democracy is a government of the people by the people and for the people of Edo state.
Possibly reading the body language of the President, it seemed that INEC and all the security agencies acted in line with their objective mandate for a free and fair election.
The election result serves many purposes not only for Edo people but for wider Nigeria and particularly our leaders. First is that governance is a serious business and support for candidates should not be based on ego or selfish interest of power brokers and heavy politicians. It should be mainly based on the candidate’s assessed capability and commitment to truly serve the people with inclusive and sustainable good governance. In a sober reflection of all that transpired, I implore Adams Oshiohmole to answer this very simple question- were all the fights justified, necessary and for what purpose. At 68 and given all the blessings that God has bestowed on him, should the current approach be the best way to end an enviable struggle and achievements. I don’t think so.
As it is for Oshiomole, it should be for other politicians who are mainly guided by their political and personal interests in their political permutations and engagements. Just as Edo people were exemplifying democracy on Saturday Sept 19th, 2020, the opposite was the case in Enugu state. In a solidarity visit with his political group (Ebeano) to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani stated as follows: “I was governor from 1999 to 2007. When it was time to hand over, I named the zone that will produce my successor and from that zone named my successor in Sullivan Chime, who of course, is a member of the Ebeano political family.
After eight years that Chime served, he also named his successor to come from Enugu north. That was in 2015 and that is why we have the present governor, who is the leader of the Ebeano as governor. So, after eight years, it is within your right to name the zone that will succeed you. Whether it is Udi, Nsukka or Enugu East and whoever you name will become the governor.” Will Enugu people learn and behave like Edo people? Time will tell!
The second big lesson from the election is that INEC and security agencies can conduct a relatively free and fair election if they so decide. While the Edo election cannot be described as perfect, it is certainly better than previous elections such as Kogi and Ekiti states. What is therefore required is the sustained commitment from good leadership which is the last and main lesson.
Just as PMB said in 2015 and one of the social media images depicted him as saying that he is for nobody and for everybody, so it is supposed to be. With such posture, Nigeria can work as everybody and institution will perform its responsibilities in line with agreed terms and conditions and not based on sentiments or affiliations with powers that be. This really showed in the Edo election.
Possibly reading the body language of the President, it seemed that INEC and all the security agencies acted in line with their objective mandate for a free and fair election. We pray that PMB will continue with such body language and approach in all aspects of our governance especially in assembling an inclusive, unifying and competent team.
Dr. Ngwu, is an Economist/Associate Professor of Strategy, Risk Management & Corporate Governance, Lagos Business School and a Member, Expert Network, World Economic Forum. E-mail- firstname.lastname@example.org,