The governorship election that was held in Osun State on Saturday, July 16, 2022 has produced some very disturbing results that have several lessons for Nigeria.
1. The election was not won on the basis of programmes, policies or ideologies. The two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party both imported musicians to sing and dance for the people as if entertainment is the engine of good governance. They had no concrete plans for the people of Osun beyond the usual soap box rhetoric.
2. If we can guarantee the independence and autonomy of INEC, to conduct elections in an atmosphere of freedom, liberty and fairness, the will of the people will become established in the leadership recruitment process.
3. The deployment of technology in aid of free and fair elections is crucial to the success of the electoral process, especially in the accreditation of voters, the voting proper and the transmission and collation of election results. The same day that the people of Osun elected their governor, lawyers all over Nigeria also elected members of the Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association. The election was being monitored as voting progressed and winners were announced immediately after the election. There is no need to give room for election riggers and manipulators to corrupt our electoral system.
4. If elections can be free and fair in Nigeria and become the outcome of the genuine will of the people, politicians and leaders will strive to do better. There will be accountability, respect for voters and performance will become the order of the day. These are some of the factors that drive development in other climes.
5. The reign of godfathers in the Nigerian political space can and should be terminated and then Nigeria will witness some progress. No leader that has emerged through the ballot process will ever take the people for granted if there is a credible process of change. Should the governor-elect fail to perform after he assumes office, it should not be difficult for the people of Osun to reject him as they have done to the incumbent governor, four years from now. That should be the hallmark of democracy.
6. The role of civil society, activists, Non-governmental organisations and security agencies is crucial for free and fair elections. We can all team up to hold INEC accountable if there is the will to do so.
7. When people are determined they can never be defeated. Once we have made up our minds as a people to protect and defend our votes, the process of manipulation will be difficult to perfect.
I congratulate the good people of Osun for their tenacity and peaceful conduct. I commend INEC, the election monitors, the security agencies and indeed all those that made the Osun election possible.
The only way that the governor-elect can merit any commendation is for him to go back to the drawing board and fashion out programmes that will deliver development for the people of Osun. The period of dancing ended yesterday; we want to see results.
NB: Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Activist, and Minister of God.