The just concluded elections in Osun state cannot be the standard to expect in 2019. By many observers’ accounts, it was a travesty. Everybody who had high hopes for a re-assuring INEC performance is complaining. It’s as though the APC simply placed their man as the next governor of the state, the implication being that Gboyega Oyetola is set to continue whatever it is Rauf Aregbesola’s legacy is in the ‘State of Osun’.
But let’s not, for a moment, dwell on that because the courts might show why the elections were a farce sooner or later. The re-run elections of Thursday reportedly failed to hold in a number of polling units and in the places where votes were cast, irregularities appeared rampant. Let’s try to find some aspects of the process that will serve as teachable moments for future elections. What particular feature of the Osun elections stood out as an example of how electoral processes can be nudged towards transparency?
There are maybe three possible features you can cite but I’m thinking about Davido who volunteered his influence to push his uncle, Senator Ademola Adeleke, as far as possible towards becoming the Osogbo Government House’s next principal resident.
Now, Senator Adeleke’s dancing capacity is no qualification for governorship, but if the PDP brought him as its candidate, it must mean, theoretically, that some people of Osun wanted him. His lead in the first round of voting attests to a perception that he should in fact be governor. But no other individual served to create appeal for Adeleke’s candidature like Davido.
The music star, set to own 2018 as he did 2017, has been in the news for mostly good reasons as it relates to his primary business of creating music people talk about. Beginning his National Youth Service year at the time when Kemi Adeosun’s days as Finance Minister was starting to become numbered was hugely popular, resonating with young people. You would not classify him as one of those currently “doing NYSC” having left the orientation camp after registration. But he is “tying up loose ends” and has had regard to the law that, like Ms Adeosun, Minister of Communication Adebayo Shittu did not. The effect is that when Davido decided to step onto the campaign trail donning green agbadas bearing imprints of umbrellas and his uncle’s face, many people forgot how ridiculous they usually are and began to appreciate them.
Davido’s involvement in the elections would have been noteworthy enough if he stuck with merely making appearances during the campaigns and subsequently posting a picture of himself voting. But he did not; on the election days, he became a reporter, fact-checker and analyst, tweeting to bring attention to events from polling units across the state, albeit as it affected PDP. Campaigning, voting, and voicing, he becomes an example of what the exercise of the office of the citizen should be.
But music was not on the ballot in Osun state and it will take more than theatrics to solve the state’s debt baggage that could become a crisis. For what it is worth, Adeleke was the only one of the major candidates of this election to not attend the debates organized by Channels TV, hence, his falling short in the polls is a consequence of the Osun people not knowing his plans for them. The future of the state under a dispensation of continuity from Aregbesola cannot be projected to be any brighter but the APC has secured one more state, in addition to Ekiti, as we approach next February’s general elections.
As to what they can do to get what they want from the coming polls, Nigerians need not go in blind. Osun was a close contest because people wanted to have a say in who becomes their leader regardless of what has been agreed in Abuja. Each person will cast one vote, but turning up to cast it and subsequently following up on it, especially where there are strong signals of impunity, will matter.