Edo 2024: Politics, politicians and democracy By KASSIM AFEGBUA

Prince Kassim Afegbua,


In the days following the extensive meeting of the Leadership of Edo APC with all the 2024 gubernatorial aspirants, held in the Senate Wing of the National Assembly, very many conjectures have become the narratives out there; confirming that politicians love their game of subterfuge! It is not unusual in politics for people to push news items from the perspective that suits their bulbous egos; but, politicians must never forget that democracy presents the people with multiple choices, and as such, even when processes don’t suit the aspiration of one, but the other, the outcome should be embraced. A committee headed by the highly cerebral, brilliant, articulate and fecund Professor, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, and other solid minds of sound scholarship, including Patrick Obahiagbon, Samson Osagie, Chris Ebare, Prof. Marcel Okhaku, and Idiake cannot and should not be described as a frivolous committee by any standard. Though the outcome of the committee’s pruning exercise was not in my favour, it is not enough for me to vitiate the outcome. After all, we all agreed to having the exercise. To prune a high number of aspirants from twenty nine to ten,  then to six, and then four, the committee very likely would have stepped on sore toes. I, Kassim Afegbua praise the members, and cannot invalidate the outcome of their work. Coming out to contest for Governor was a well thought out decision because of my character, content, competence and capacity, and all the many Cs that define my persona, and I was positive that I would be favoured; but also, I was well aware that there were others who most probably felt the same.


The committee has done well, and I hope that as I advised during the meeting that rather than allow several people to go and slug it out during the primaries, having committed financial and other resources, the committee should pick a single aspirant who would be the only aspirant to buy the nomination form; thereby saving other aspirants their money. This money saved can be employed to keep the APC goal up at the state level. This is without prejudice to the position of the party at the headquarters as regards its need to shore up its revenue base. Coming into this race with twenty seven years of active politics below my belt, and having risen to the position of Acting National Chairman of the National Democratic Party in 2006, I was fully ready to withstand the rigours of campaign and sell myself to my Edo people; but as they say, man proposes, God disposes. Party primaries process and the concept of internal democracy follow a set pattern at any particular time. They are essentially built around consensus; and there is practically nothing an aspirant can do to alter the applecart. Those who benefited from similar processes in the past should understand that the rhythms of politics do not follow a particular pattern at all times. They change with the tide. As honourable men and women, as aspirants who subscribed to the committee, we were all aware that by day’s end, only one aspirant would emerge; meaning that all others will give way for and support the preferred candidate. That process is now on and we should all be ready to accept and face the reality, and show that we truly understand the normative order of democratic practice, and stand firm with our party. I have read in some circles, viewpoints that were a far cry from what obtained at the meeting. This is rather unfortunate.


Those who know me, know the nature of my political engagements. I am not one that would easily be swayed by any argument. In taking any position, I must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt. Politicians must learn to appreciate circumstances surrounding electoral contest  especially when lobbying, horse-trading, and trade offs are permissible to win over some contestants. Now that our party knows who it wants to fly our flag, the leadership of the Edo APC under Distinguished Senator Adams Oshiomhole, should now seek audience with Mr. President, to request a meeting of us all – the aspirants with him; for a robust interaction to set the roadmap for Edo 2024 to enable us all plan together on how we can further support Mr President’s administration, by working to deliver Edo State to the APC again this year. To continue to agonize over the committee’s outcome is a waste of precious time. We should come together quickly to ensure that the APC wins the election; to recover Edo state from the grip of the economic predators and buccaneers who have crippled the state beyond reproach That is the real issue. I commend the members of the committee for their time, energy, patience, diligence and thoroughness in carrying out this task. I am sure It wasn’t an easy one. May God help our itinerant politicians to understand that in every contest for power, there is a winner and there are losers. Let us move on.


Indeed politics and politicians are two sets of paradigms that are hardly assailable. The more you try to understand them, the more confusing they are. It is difficult to deconstruct the mind from a man’s facial expressions; politicians these days are hardly predictable; many are fickle. They can smile with you in the morning, stab you in the afternoon and prepare for your funeral at night. But when there are assurances that a person supports their aspiration, they show their best self to them; if they fail to pull through, they instantly become their enemy. It usually just depends. This is why the idea of godfather and godson is becoming a worrisome relationship. Now very often, a godson decides to show his true colour right after he has clinched the goal. That is how some politicians have earned the description of being untrustworthy. Their personalities are seen as fleeting; and it is for this reason also that credible processes are often contested by those who already have a mindset to discredit the process. The Edo 2024 APC pruning exercise has already been paraded as a fait accompli; no one remembers that all the aspirants subscribed to the formation of the committee and process. The understanding was that only one individual will emerge as the candidate. So if this time the odds are against you, you have to live with the reality. Political contest no doubt is often saddled with emotions and sentiments; reason why all manner of issues are canvassed to win over the argument. We must all be ready though to stand by the outcomes, without threatening to pull down the roof.


In 2020, one of the aspirants, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu defected from the PDP to the APC. No sooner had he join when he was foisted on the people, via the activities of a similar committee, to emerge as the flagbearer of the APC. He was  chosen over and above aspirants who had laboured to place the APC on a sound footing in Edo State. There was no record that Heaven fell at that time. Those older members of the APC rallied round him to ensure his victory at the polls. Unfortunately, the internal sabotage within the party denied the party the victory. If this time his name did not emerge after the pruning exercise, the honourable thing to do, should be to accept the outcome; instead of trying to disrupt the party’s  processes simply because they don’t favour his interest. Anyhow, only one candidate is statutorily entitled to emerge as the candidate. Meaning that the twenty eight others would have to bury their ambitions and work towards the success of the party and the candidate at the elections. Bad losers must exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship each time they are unable to push their aspiration through. If it is not your turn today, it could be your turn tomorrow; and, in every political contest there will only be one winner. This is why a deeper understanding of the issues and realities are apposite. Politics to some politicians, is a do or die affair. To them, there is no tomorrow. If their wishes are not met, then the whole process is faulty; but life is not structured that way. Democracy is a game of simple majority. When the odds do not converge on your wishes, just support the one who won.


Edo 2024 is a must win for the APC to create the inroads in the South-South part of the country. The PDP in Edo is already fractured with  different camps, now is the best time for the APC to set sail. To achieve this, a lot of people must bury their ambition and look forward to a robust engagement that would yield the state to its fold. Those who are presently shouting blue murder have been beneficiaries of the party concensus before now. At that time, the party was fair to them; though their expectations are not met now, it is not enough reason to pull down the roof. Politicians must learn to be sober and sombre. They must learn to tolerate scenarios and keep the political pendulum on track. The demographics of Edo’s political arithmetic is skewed against the Edo Central and North, so whatever reality that must be charted, has to be negotiated as a deliberate output of collective bargaining. Democracy is all about numbers and simple majority. It is usual in life to change tactics to get results. As hurtful as political losses are, it is helpless beating a dead horse. Let all aspirants rally round whoever the party leadership decides to choose, and ensure the success of the party at the polls. If today’s rhythm does not soothe your ears, tomorrow’s cadence will please your sensibilities. Let us move on.


The OPINION / COLUMN is authored by independent contributors to the National Accord Newspaper. While contributors adhere to our editorial guidelines, they are not employed by the National Accord Newspaper. The perspectives and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the National Accord Newspaper or its staff.

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