OPINION: Edo 2020 : Truly, power belongs to the people

By Inyali Peter

Politics is a dynamic and unpredictable game. Some times you win, other times, you loose. But as dynamic as it is, actions or inactions of key actors preceding some elections can make the process seemingly predictable.

Since Nigeria's return to democracy in 1999, the polity has been chequered. Elections which ushered in the current democratic dispensation was largely free, fair and credible. Both the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and then All People's Party (APP), the main parties at the time won considerable number of seats at all levels.

This was largely because the people were allowed to decide who gets what starting from the political party primaries up to the main elections. 

Although, the establishment had some level of influence on who the people settled for but the final decision was left in the hands of the people.

However, this beautiful trend gradually faded away as the PDP government at the center ensured that majority of the people who won elections under the APP platform defected to the party. This led to a conglomeration of almost all the key political actors in the country with different mountainous ambitions in one platform.

The party was now faced with the challenge of seeing to the harmonization of all the interests within to satisfy all the actors. The task however proved too herculean for the party to manage. As such, in the subsequent elections, the PDP establishment resorted to all sorts of impunity and shenanigans just to deliver who was on their good books. This development ensued imposition and primordial sentiments became the order of the day.

The atrocious regime continued almost unabated until some fringe political parties came together in 2013 to form another formidable national party; the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was built on principles of fair play, equality and strong internal democracy.

The party demonstrated its commitment to these principles when it organized one of the best party primaries across the country in 2014 to nominate candidates. Ostensibly, the process was largely fair and credible, majority of aspirants who were unable to make it in the primaries accepted the outcome and worked enthusiastically with the candidates to win elections in a tsunami fashion.

The success of the party in the 2015 polls was not unconnected to this. But, six years later, same cannot be said of the APC as similar issues that were said about the PDP regarding lack of internal democracy have become the new identity within the party.

The crisis that beclouded the party after the 2019 general election was mainly as a result of lack of internal democracy. The administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as national Chairman took imposition to another level. This cost APC so many elections like the Zamfara where the party was disqualified from fielding candidates by the Supreme Court even after winning the state and majority of state and national assembly seats.

In Rivers, the party was also denied from fielding candidates. In Imo, the party needed the shocking Supreme Court ruling to help it retain the state even though it came 4th in the election. In Bayelsa, the party's victory was gifted to the PDP because the party imposed a deputy governorship candidate who had questionable academic credentials.

Adams went away with all these but the final straw that broke the carmel's back was the unwholesome disqualification of Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki from contesting primaries under the party's platform simply because of his disagreement with Adams. Everyone knows that the claims of Obaseki not having certificate were lies.

Adams who enjoyed so much goodwill from the Edo people as Governor because of his fight against imposition and godfatherism now saw himself more than a godfather. To him, he was an emperor and a demigod that no one can get into power without him. This perhaps, was why he thought Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a man whom he called all kinds of unprintable names in 2016 have changed overnight simply because he said so.

As Governor, Adams had no regard for the former APC national Chairman, John Oyeyun but Oyegun didn't use his office to try to undermine Adams and the Edo people because of their political differences. But in Adams case, he saw himself as the only path to the Edo government house.

With the resounding victory of Governor Obaseki who dumped the APC and became the candidate of the PDP in the September 19th governorship polls, the Edo people have reiterated the fact that truly power belongs to the people and when the people stand to speak in one voice, no empire would be too strong to crush.

This election is one that has sent a strong message to the privileged people in position of power that the power they enjoy belong to the people and not them. And that people are beginning to realize this.

The recently held APC primaries across the eight states participating in the October 31st bye-election has shown that APC in some states are yet to learn that democracy is all about the people and not a privileged few.

In Cross River North for instance, the APC clearly showed that the people no longer count but a sole right of a select few when it decided to forward the name of someone who didn't win party's primary to INEC as candidate and denied the true winner, Prof. Zana Akpagu the ticket.

If the party is ready to enjoy power beyond the President Buhari's reign, then all the leaders must return to the drawing board to re-evaluate these developments as well as make deliberate efforts to return to what worked for them in 2015; internal democracy.

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