By Afolabi Aribigbola
There has been a resurgence of political activities across the length and breadth of the Ondo State in recent weeks. This time it is over who will take over governance and occupy the exalted office of the Governor of the Sunshine State after the incumbent in 2025. The campaign by supporters of aspiring individuals has gathered sufficient momentum to warrant or qualify for our attention and positions on the desirable way of accomplishing this very important exercise.
Of course, a segment of the society including this columnist would want to believe and suggest that it is pretty too early to begin a race in which the incumbent still has almost two years of his hard earned but deserved mandate. To this school of thought, it will constitute unnecessary distraction to the important and essential functions of governance of the state. Besides, using whole two years to campaign for a four year tenure is excessive and therefore should be discouraged to give room for concentration in addressing the multifarious problems confronting the Nigerian society.
Suffice to say that dissipating energy for upward of two years on choosing a leader that will spend four years in office is not acceptable and that at best six months should be sufficient to identify and select those with track records of service imbued with the capacity to govern a complex society like ours. Having indicated the ills associated with early commencement of political campaign to present candidates for the 2024 gubernatorial election in Ondo State, the reality on ground is that the race has started though in most cases surreptitiously. Indeed,what should inform the choice of next Governor of the state and how do the people accomplish this essential exercise to avoid a situation in which one that will scatter the gains that have accrued to the state in recent times is elected.
I state this with all sincerity because the state has experienced creative and purposeful leaders and have also experienced poor leadership among others. As a pointer to the fact that the race has commenced in earnest as several social platforms have been created to identify, scrutinize, recommend and suggest names of individuals that are qualified and should be given the opportunity to serve the state as the Governor of the Sunshine State.
The truth is that over the years other considerations beside merit and competence have been major determinant in supporting and sponsoring candidates seeking to occupy elective positions in most parts of Nigeria and Ondo State alike. Some have attributed this to leadership failure and their inability to institute good methods of picking leaders over the years. To them this has allowed money bags and wealthy individual whose riches are from questionable sources including “yahoo yahoo boys” to take over the affairs of the country.
Also, the situation has degenerated further by the disposition of professional politicians that see the period of electioneering as season in which they are to reapor harvest their investment in politics over the past years. Often they support only prospective politicians that can pay their bills neglecting the more important issues of ability, integrity, competence and capacity to deliver good governance. By so doing they have been scaring and discouraging prospective good candidates by introducing repugnant things that include request for large sums of money and materials to be able to enjoy their support. The cumulative effect of their activities was that many good individuals with excellent ideas and concern for societal development and good governance had jettison their ambitions due to the utterances and actions of the so called ‘veteran politicians’.
Consequently, many individuals have been forced to abdicate their intention thereby allowing professional politicians to take over the whole affairs of determining who can contest and occupy the government house. This widespread tendency by locals to discourage and mount roadblocks to prevent competent and well groomed people to participate in elections in the country is already rearing its ugly heads towards the 2024 Governorship elections in Ondo State.
Although, this is the general trend in Nigeria, as one of the most educated and progressive people in the country, should we continue to permit political harlots and jobbers to continue to control and determine who get elected into important positions of state? I don’t think this negative narratives should be allowed to subsist and deceivers and manipulators of the polity should not be allowed to dictate the direction of the system in the state and country in general. These are some of the nuances associate with politics that have been a source of concern to me since I noticed political movements to support some aspiring candidates to the office of Governor of Ondo State in 2025.
As indicated earlier, the retrogressive tendency portrayed above is not peculiar to Ondo State alone, however, it is a dangerous cankerworm that is forcing Nigerians to choose incompetent, weak and corrupt people who should not be near important offices in the country. The scenario presented above should not just become a source of worry and concern to people in the country, genuine efforts should be instituted to reverse the obnoxious trend and create conducive environment for democracy to flourish as obtainable in successful democracies.
The key issue requiring attention, consideration and resolution is that do the Nigerian society continue to allow people without sufficient knowledge, ability, courage progressive ideas and tendency to continue to lead the state nay Nigeria? Ondo State unlike in some states has been lucky for not electing illiterate or semi illiterate or people of questionable characters as witnessed in some states in the past.
The state needs to uphold this tradition and go for those that can show empathy to the plight of ordinary citizens of the state, not those that will dole out money with the intention of recouping their expenses when they get elected into office. In essence, the state require as Governor accomplished individual that would want to make a difference in governance and impact to the society, not those whose overriding consideration is to enjoy the peck of office with little or nothing to contribute to the development of the state.
Therefore, those routing and canvassing for support for candidates must be mindful of what their preferred candidates have to offer not what they as individuals can benefit. Society develops by making policy and plans that will better the lot of the people not what individuals with narrow primordial inclination or group interest will reap.
There is the need for people to assess and determination and the suitability or otherwise of prospective candidates on germane issues of integrity, past records of service and ability to deliver and unite the state. Unfortunately most propositions have been hinged on mundane primordial and sentimental attractions or consideration.
Ondo State needs a Governor that will create wealth for the state. One that will see the entire state as his constituency and promote equity in the distribution of development resources and opportunities. These are the issues that should drive the current efforts of electing the next Governor of our Sunshine State. We should not allow people with narrow interests to cajole the citizens to support poorly equipped and incompetent candidate that will not add value to the development efforts of the state as the next Governor.
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