by Alexander O. Onukwue
Politics, the world famous dirty game, is compulsory, and it is up to the clean guys to get it right.
That was the essential message of the discourse organized by the Enough Is Enough Nigeria coalition in Lagos on Saturday 8th July 2017, which happened to be the moveable feast day of the Annual Lagos Floods, for 2017. Conceived as a medium that would gather citizens to become acquainted with the political process in Nigeria, a panel of “different” contestants, who did not win the elections for which they contested, led the conversations from the sofa.
Ayisha Osori ran for a place in the House of Representatives to represent the FCT under the PDP, in 2015, Akinyinka Akinnola, in 2016, contested for the gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, while Bobo Omotayo contested the PDP’s ticket to represent Ijebu-Ode in the Ogun State House of Assembly, in 2011.
An organic and enlightening session – moderated by Feyi Fawehinmi – delivered fruits from experience and lessons for aspiring contestants.
1 Love Does Not Win Elections
Perhaps the bluntest panelist, Ayisha Osori’s shot at making sense of and inputting sense into the political environment in FCT did not produce the expected results. Of four red lines she had as her non-negotiable principles before going into the elections, she did come close to breaking one; it was not the usual pay for play, but a different kind appeal to higher powers. Apparently, as she revealed, gaining the affection of the First Lady is a reality for women in Politics. On a broader scale, that compared little to the absence of value amongst delegates who were mostly there to get as much from the contestant as they could. She conveyed the sense that, while there were indeed honest members of the community who wanted to engage a contestant on the values to be delivered, most officially designated representatives of the local people haven’t got time for fraternization. ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’ is the outcome of Ms Oshori’s experience from her brief exploration of the political terrain, documented in a 257-page book.
2. The Three Wise Men of Election Campaign
Being a ‘101’, it was important that the audience took away bullet points on fundamental issues, and as far as elections are concerned, even the most well intentioned contestant would need to depend on certain individuals to be successful. From his experience in running for the Akure Government House, Akinyinka Akinnola defined the three persons every campaign must have: a trustworthy person who is good with handling the collection and dispensing of funds, someone familiar with the political environment (and supposedly with networks of people) and, to the cheer of the audience, the red-eyed devil whose job it is to ensure a gentleman or lady contestant is not taken for granted.
3. My Brother, The Jazz is Real
Were you ever told that there was some level of the dark arts involved in the politics? Definitely, yes. But to hear a former Governorship aspirant describe it in graphic details as one of the main challenges he faced was – reassuring. Because anyone who would want to go into the den, would now be sure that not all who say “Lord, Lord” etc.
4. But the Violence is overrated
This discourse was impressive for the fact that while the panelists were articulate and smart, they did not always agree on every issue like a pre-rehearsed set of pundits. They differed on varying points of substance as it relates to the political process, but were unanimous that the fear of violence should not be a deterrent for the aspiring contestant. There are cases of violence, but, like in Bobo Omotayo’s case, it happens few and far between.
5. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The discourse was aptly tagged #NigeriaPost2019 on the basis that the focus of persons who wish to correct the ills of the present situation are already late. Double Akin was still optimistic that one could still make an influence at this time, though that is difficult to see as it’s less than the required three years membership in the top parties required to be eligible for a nomination form. That said, interested persons would need to get to work and join the process, and refuse to succumb to the pain of loss after a first trial. Begin from registering at ward levels, attending meetings and paying dues.
For the deep revelations she had made in her book, Ayisha Oshori was not optimistic of her chances of acceptance in any existing political party at the moment, but we may expect to see Akinyinka Akinnola on the streets for another shot at the Ondo House. As for Bobo Omotayo, the absence of a ring on the finger will not stop him from continuing his engagement in elevating the dialogue, from Lagos to Ijebu-Ode. He will probably be re-reading his book, Honourable, to revise his re-modeling strategy for another crack at the polls.
As part of EiE’s RSVP campaign, this was a 101, so it will be in order to expect another soon.