#Aribigbola's Lines

On the political campaign in Ondo State

BY Afolabi Aribigbola

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The entire milieu of our dear Sunshine State, Ondo State is presently dominated by campaigns by prospective candidates seeking to occupy the office of Governor of the State come February, 2025 when the tenure of the present governor will expire and a new Governor sworn in his place. Of course, the rituals of campaign towards the election of a new Governor every four years, according to the Nigerian constitution like the previous years have gathered sufficient momentum that may permit one to take a critical look and make comments on the mode and patterns of the campaign.

Unfortunately, the campaign from my perspective seem to have been devoid of cogent issues of societal development, rather and often some candidates and their supporters have hinged their ingredients of campaigns on pedestal sentimental issues that included being anointed candidates of the former Governor, while some others have wholly concentrated on the fact that they have been in the race for a while, some claimed to know the way and yet some argue or seek to impress that they know those in Abuja. Others are relying on their huge purse and other mundane primordial sentiments that does not make for sustainable development of society or that cannot propel societal emancipation that are critical in present day Nigeria. 

Essentially and to one’s utter dismay most of the candidates have not been able to come out with pragmatic programmes and actionable plans towards developing the state that would permit them make a difference in the governance affairs of the state and the welfare of the people as the practice in developed climes and democracies around the world. It should be emphasized that past administrations in the state have done their best and the last one distinguished themselves in addressing the cankerworm of insecurity and the invasion of our dear state and other south western states by the ravaging Fulani invasionists and killer herders as well as other irridentist groups whose joy and overwhelming interest is wreaking havoc on other people especially the vulnerable and soft targets. The current gladiators are expected to indicate and elaborate on areas where past administrations have not done well or make the necessary impact to which they intend to correct, improve upon and make the necessary impacts to better the lots of the people of the state.

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So far, they appear not to be concerned about critical ingredients of development in education, health and other social infrastructure in which the lives of the people can be improved. They have not come forward to tell the masses what the problems are  and how they seek to address the multivarious challenges facing the state like other states in Nigeria. We want to hear them raise issues on  infrastructure, agric among others and specify how they are going to tackle the existing problems. For instance, many farmers have abandoned their farms due to a number of reasons, how are they going to ensure that they return and produce food to tackle food shortage in the country.

The increasing number of out-of-school children in the state and other issues how are they going to solve them. What of electricity and potable water supply? Unfortunately, as indicated earlier, these issues are not given prominence in their campaign efforts thus far. Equally saddening is the realization that the residents of the state they seek to govern and their supporters have not been asking questions or take the contestants up on their programmes for the state as well as on their past adventure or misadventure in office. Indeed, virtually all the prominent gubernatorial aspirants have occupied one position or the other in the past. What have been their contributions to good governance or performance in the offices they have occupied that is motivating them to seek for higher position with higher responsibilities. Of course, all these issues are more critical, fundamental and relevant in a choice of a governor rather that primordial sectional sentiments associated with butter and bread politics or stomach infrastructure that have been accorded more premium by Nigerian politicians and their cohorts in the present political dispensation. Suffice to say that more germane issue that should be the central focus of political discuss and debate have been relegated for far less irrelevant issues. Instead of interrogating development issue and proffering feasible and realistic solutions to them, the politicians have brought to the fore issue that will not add to the development of Nigerian society.

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Issue of education, health, infrastructure, services, poverty, insecurity food shortage that should have been the focus of debates and campaign are being largely neglected by the politicians. The state has trended this retrogressive path for too long, it is time the candidates come up with plans and proposals to take the states from obscurity to limelight in the comity of progressive and prosperous states in national development. Some might argue that it is pretty too early for them to unfold their plans and programmes that can wait till after they become candidates for the actual election. If that should be the case what are the issues, they are hinging their request for support at the moment now that they are going into primary elections of their parties. The truth of the matter is that from day one they should be able to tell their followers why they are seeking to lead them and justify that they are the best candidate for the very important and tasking position of the Governor of the state.

Of course, loyalty to leaders that were important in the 1960s until the 1980s should no longer be a major campaign issue but what the person is made up and what he can do to add value to governance. How is he going to handle sensitive but germane issues of development of the state fairly and equitably well between and among the various interest, groups and societies in the state, not person that is seeking to amass wealth to himself and family or one that will divert facilities and appointments to his town or community out of primordial interest as has been the case in the past. At this critical point in time, the state deserves an urban individual imbued with the right qualities, attitudes and capacity to improve on the dwindling fortune and records of the state.

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Therefore, those aspiring to become the governor of the state in 2025 must be those that are prepared to tackle problems and not one that will become complacent, who will pass the buck. They should come out clear and show understanding of the challenges facing the state and state unequivocally and unambiguously how they intend to surmount the several problems facing the state and Nigeria. Enough of concentrating on sentimental, unimportant mundane issues that do not add to the development of the state. The contestants need to focus and refocus their campaign activities on issues that will bring the needed development to the Sunshine state. Politics of promise without cogent clear cut strategies to resolve the lingering crises in the major sector of the state economy should not be allowed to persist in the state. There is the need for people to show more interest in the affairs of the state.

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