By Afolabi Aribigbola
I n this season of political maneuvering designed for people and individuals to canvass for support for one political office to the other from the State Houses of Assembly to National Assembly, Governorshipand to the highest office of the land, the office of the Executive President of Nigeria.
Indeed, expectations are high as to the qualifications and capacity of who becomes the President of the country on May 29, 2023. This is essentially because of the wide influence and powers bequeathed on who occupy the exalted position of the office of President of Nigeria.
The truth is that the President of Nigeria has enormous powers and influence resulting from humongous resources concentrated at the centre and the culture of worshipping whoever occupy the office and well as lack of moderation or civility and indiscretion by some occupant of the office in the past in the country.
That is a subject for another time anyway. Of course, like several discerning Nigerians, I have ruminated and considered severally the suitability or otherwise of the individuals that have been traversing the length and breadth of the country seeking for endorsement and support to be adopted as candidates of the major political parties in the forthcoming general elections in the country. In doing this, I have wholly devoted my evaluation to their contributions and impacts to Ondo state.
Ondo State is where I reside and where, as a Nigerian can feel the impacts of the so called ‘dividends of democracy’ if there is any going by the current debilitating economic situations in the country.
Since many of the politicians have offered themselves to serve in the highest office of the land and have visited Ondo state to request for endorsement and support of the Ondo state people in their quest to win the 2023 presidential elections and become the President of the most populous black nation in the world next year.
In retrospection, I have tried to peruse through development in recent years to find out what gave some of the candidates the courage to visit Ondo State to solicit for her peoples’ support. It should be pointed out that some of the notable aspirants have occupied very important political positions in the past that have not benefited the state and many others . Also, they have not justified the occupations of those offices by quality performance. Then do theyhave any basis including morals to come around this time to seek for the support of the people? And to do what?
Of course, I am not an irridentist or a sectional bigot. That been the case what has the state benefited from the activities of some of these individuals in the recent past to justify seeking for support from the state. In any case, I am not referring to all the candidates, after all not all of them have had the priviledge to serve at federal level where they can impact all parts of the country. We are discussing those that have functioned at the federal level with opportunities to benefit the entire population of Nigeria. In real sense, some of them have concentrated development projects in their home states to the total exclusion of other states including Ondo. This partly accounted for the low presence of the federal government in the state. Even appointment made by them have been restricted to their cities or home states. They lack broad and national outlook and therefore I seem not to be warm towards this kind of candidates. Therefore politicians from the state should be weary about the planks of this kind of politicians. Some others have served as the Governors of their respective states without anything to show for their stewardship. The reality is that if these set of people don’t have a sense of mission and verifiable records of performance, they should not have the audacity to come to seek for support for higher positions. The politicians should be bold and courageous enough to reject them. Unfortunately, the politicians that have been receiving them have not been asking or raising issues with them to determine whether they deserve the support of the people. Against the practices in better climes, all they have been doing is to dress them in borrowed and unmerited toga to convince the people to support their candidates. The ultimate goal is to obtain relevance so as to be able to be considered for political appointments. An extension of bread-and-butter politics or what have been pejoratively called stomach infrastructure. Unfortunately, societies or nations don’t develop in this manner, therefore there is the need to act beyond narrow parochial interest of supporting candidates to benefit self to making collective interest more sacrosanct in supporting candidates. This is the path to tread, and this is what is obtainable in progressive and more prosperous societies.
In endorsing or supporting any candidate is the issue of their performance and contributions to even development of all sections of the country. This makes it incumbent to review and examine the past activities of the gladiator seeking to become the President of the country. I am worried and depressed when I looked back at the performance of some of these individuals with reference to my state, Ondo state of course. A few of these individuals have occupied positions at the federal level and Ondo state and a few other states have been neglected in allocation and distribution of resources. For instance, the railway constructed in recent times did omitOndo State. There are no federal roads been constructed in Ondo state. The list can continue.
Indeed, what is paramount now is not what the individuals seeking peoples’ support are promising to achieve. This has been the ‘song’ over the years and often nothing has been done. We should begin to rate them on what they have accomplished in your previous positions and what creative abilities they possess. Anybody can make a promise and not everybody can deliver on their promises to transform the society. What impact or difference have they have? Enough of promises that have not add up to development in the past. For instance, the current President promised to build one refinery per annum among others, this has become a ruse. The consideration now should be to examine the antecedents of candidates in the office they occupy at present. Have they performed or not? And more important to me, is that have they been fair and just in the distribution of appointments and resources of development to all sections or parts of the country. This is because they have been offered the rare opportunities to proof themselves to all Nigerians. For those who have only serve their home state, we could begin to determine whether they have been fair to all sections and people in those states. Unfortunately, these political gladiators have been visiting the state like others. Politicians have not been asking questions on why they seek for support from the state.
Until politicians become concerned on not focusing on immediate personal gains to calling the short by calling for collective benefits, we are not likely to grow and develop as a nation. People are more interested in becoming delegates to collect money from candidates. We need as a group of people to begin to ask the candidates what specific things they have done for Ondo State and how they will creatively take the country out of the present doldrum and create wealth for the country.