Osun Governorship Election – a postmortem

Editorial Board

On 16th July 2022, the people of Osun State thronged to various polling booths to elect a new Chief Executive for their State.

The conduct and outcome of the elections offer significant lessons for the nation. It indeed provided a measuring instrument to gauge the political mood and appetence of the electorate for drastic socio-political change in the country.

The election is perceived by some as the microcosm of the macro dynamism of the Nigerian political space, where henceforth it is competence, record of service and other tangible variables that will decide who wins.

The victory of the opposition party is an indicator of the complex nature of the electorate, greater awareness of the average Nigerian voter and perhaps even of the changing dynamics of national election management. The removal from office of an incumbent from the ruling national party was a major upset.

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The roles played by national institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies during the elections as well as the role of local media outlets and of course, independent election monitors and the civil society were adjudged as applaudable by the various courts of public opinion in the country.

The deployment of technology, which was a serious issue of contention during the 2019 national elections, was also commended as it ensured a marked improvement in voter accreditation, collation of the results of the elections as well as general acceptability of the outcome of the election.

Other significant lessons learnt from the Osun elections, include, the fact that the use of technology in the process has mitigated some human factors that in the past created bottlenecks in our elections process. Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology worked efficiently in accrediting voters.

The electronic transfer of results helped INEC to upload the election results in real-time. Nigerians were happy that the malfunctioning rate of the technology was insignificant and hardly impeded the process. If it works in Osun, we expect that it should work in 2023 during the national elections so that the issue of electronic transmission of votes will not rear its head again.

INEC kindly note please. The second lesson is that rigging is becoming unpopular and may gradually belong to history in Nigerian elections. We hope that this will make leaders produced through this process accountable to the electorate. This marks the beginning of true democracy in Nigeria – the supremacy and power of the people through balloting.

However, the progress made in tackling rigging may be undermined by the politics of financial inducement. Thirdly, the poor performance of the incumbent governor is a clear indication that it is not business as usual. It was reported that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola failed to pay gratuities and pensions and sometimes even monthly salaries.

The Osun people paid him in kind. Finally, the reach and impact of social media, as a tool for mass mobilisation, was very glaring during the Osun elections. Financial inducement, which has become the affliction of Nigerian politics, was also present in Osun during the elections but not on the same scale as witnessed earlier in Ekiti State.

But this is a practice that must be completely eradicated as we move on. To ensure the progressive growth of democracy in the country, we must do something to eliminate marketing of votes. Voters should vote based on their convictions and understanding of the qualities of the leaders they want.

Government, political parties and the Civil Society must embark on an aggressive sensitisation campaign to educate the voters on the dangers of selling their mandate to money bags. It must be pointed to them that the implication could go beyond the moneybag’s years in office and may affect even the unborn generations; it could even lead to democratic regression in the short term.

We wish to commend the efforts of the government, the national election management mechanism, the security agents and the civil society for ensuring the conduct of a rancour-free elections in Osun State.

We will also not miss the opportunity to remind His Excellency-in-waiting, Senator Ademola Adeleke, the dancing Senator that we have seen him dance and his steps are admirable, but now it is time to for him to sing, perhaps with his nephew, so that the good people of Osun State, including the unpaid pensioners, should also dance to the melody of performance in joyfulness and exultation.

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