The courtroom is presumed to be the battle ground for Lawyers with fierce advocacy skills to slog it out in a worthwhile professional debate to establish the guilt or innocence of their respective clients. The legal battle is not fought without the counsel possessing adequate knowledge of relevant case laws, facts, admissible evidence, precedents and other associated technicalities of adjudication. It is against this background that the forthcoming Gubernatorial elections in Ondo State proves an interesting one as it portends to be majorly an electoral duel between two distinguished lawyers who have attained the very apogee of the legal profession as Senior Advocates of Nigeria and equally illustrious sons of Ondo State.
Before the generality of Ondo electorates is the choice to make a Governor one of these two eminent Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) as veritable flagships of the two most popular political parties in the state and indeed in the country. If not for the unmathematical dimension to politics that presupposes an unpremeditated outcome, one would have safely submitted that the major political parties (APC andPDP) have deliberately decided through their primaries to make for the emergence of the two legal titans to pitch them against each other, considering their professional clout and other associated political credentials.
The two leading candidates fought vigorously to get the nomination of their respective parties at high costs beyond the expenditure of money. The PDP candidate had to fight the division in the party but secured victory through the support of the incumbent Governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko whilst the APC’s candidate also had his own fair share of intra-party crisis with the endorsement of Dr. Segun Abraham by the National Party leader of the APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a shocking twist that led to Akeredolu’s emergence at the primaries. Though Akeredolu pulled a shocker at the primaries but the major shocker that would break the camel’s back would be to defeat his professional associate, Eyitayo Jedege, fielded by the PDP at the November 26 polls to become the next landlord of the Alagbaka Government House. These choiceless support from strong political godfathers doesn’t come without its price as every political investor is deserving of his wages by recouping bountiful booties as proceeds of investment.
The primaries for the two major political parties are gone, the next quest would be the choice of a suitable running mate. It is certain that strategic senatorial districts calculation would play a critical role in the decision of a running mate by the candidates. The two candidates have emerged from two senatorial districts (Akeredolu from Owo, Ondo North Senatorial district and Jegede from Akure, Ondo Central Senatorial District) leaving only Ondo South senatorial district. It is therefore politically genius for the purpose of raking in the numbers at the polls to make Ondo South Senatorial district the choice senatorial district for both candidates to pick a running mate. The choice will not come easy for both parties as Ondo South senatorial district is adjudged to be the joker in previous Gubernatorial elections in Ondo State considering the fact that it has the consistent capacity to deliver block votes for their preferred candidate. The people of Ondo South are renown for putting their eggs in one basket which makes the senatorial district the icing on the cake of their choice candidate. I must warn that the people of the senatorial district must be careful of manipulative negotiations, political maneuvering, cross-carpeting of disgruntled political desperadoes, promises of unrealistic political appointments, compromises, selfish permutations, forced alignments and re-alignments, lies about developmental projects and a host of other baits for political advantage all in a bid to win the election.
The ultimate battle of this election isn’t just about the candidates and their godfathers but about the electorate and their perception about the suitability of the candidates. At a time when the people are in dire straits owing to the national economic recession, an economic downturn that has led to general cash drought, serious hunger, gloom, direct hardship, escalation of prices of commodities, non-payment of workers’ salaries, pensions and arrears, the state cannot afford to electan insensitive, irresponsive, ineffective, uncreative and an unproductive Governor. A Governor who is far removed from the people and who does not have the emotional empathy to feel the pulse of the downtrodden. At these peculiarly hard times, the people need a Governor who recognises the doom but works towards getting the boom. A Governor who will not just be a Minister for Disbursement of the meagre allocation trickling down from the centre which has become grossly insufficient, but an ingenious thinker and productive doer who can change the fortune of the state by purposeful wealth creation and deliberately harnessing the human capital and exploring the allowable vast resources of the state.
The people must make an informed decision through the intellectual debates of the candidates and X-ray their programs in concrete terms to discern the implementable policies whilst considering the variables. Each of the candidates’ manifesto must be dispassionately examined to extend beyond rhetoricsto exploring practical steps that would be employed in achieving them. We must realise that political participation is important to a successful democratic process. If anything, the people must realise that they owe themselves the responsibility of electing a trustworthy, effective, and accountable leader who is passionate about turning around the dwindling fortunes of the state and making it a better State that the indigenes can be proud of, for all and sundry.
Kunle Ajayi, @olakunleluther, an Ondo State-born Political Analyst, is a Mandela Washington Fellow.