Edo guber election and democracy consolidation

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Oshiomhole and Airhiavbere

THIS weekend the Edo governorship election holds. It pits Adam Oshiomhole, the sitting governor, against the PDP’s Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, in what should be one of the most important political contests in Nigeria, in recent times.

For those able to deconstruct the portents of politics, it is clear, that the route to the 2015 elections are being opened in the gritty environment which surrounds the Edo governorship elections: murder; attempted murder and sundry crimes thrown in for good measure.

There is a lot at stake in Edo state this weekend. The army is deploying 3, 500 soldiers as part of a security ‘cordon sanitaire’, while the gladiators from all sides are determined to carry the day, ‘karfi da yaji’, as they say in Hausa!

This weekend could see the terminal demystification of some of the political heavyweights of Edo or the eternal reinforcement of their myth, as the case might be.

The four years of Oshiomhole governorship did significant damage to the political and material basis of the powers of patronage that entrenched some of the worst expressions of prebendalism in Nigerian politics. Edo is the political turf of dinosaurs like Tony Anenih, who bestride political life and have consequently given politics a name, far removed from service to the Nigerian people.

But it is in the nature of the political process they nurture, that they must do everything to regain the influence which has serviced their years of dominance and consequent underdevelopment of Nigeria. There is the added fillip, that the Edo contest is also an opening salvo of the 2015 election.

There is a determined effort to ‘capture’ Edo, because President Goodluck must be seen to be in complete control of the South-South.

Four years ago, I wrote in support of the Oshiomhole candidacy. This was rooted in his work as a leader of the Nigerian working people who led several battles against the neo-colonial Nigerian state and the depredations of neo-liberal capitalism.

Hisdecision to enter politics represented an avenue to win a space of responsive leadership for the Nigerian people, at least as much as the space of neo-colonial politics allowed.

And by all accounts, the four years under Adams have been far more productively engaging, in the best interest of the people of Edo, than the eight years under the PDP regime of Lucky Igbinedion. That was the height of politics as heist; Edo was stolen blind!

The enthusiastic endorsement of Adam Oshiomhole by broad sections of the population must also be placed against the determined efforts of the PDP to nick the state. It is that conflict which makes the Edo election this weekend so vital.

How the election plays out will give a broad indication of the progress on the route of democracy consolidation as well as the preparation of the political opposition to provide an alternative platform to the PDP in 2015.

The baseline is that the Nigerian nation is poorer under the PDP; but the political opposition is so fractious and has so far, been unable to rise to the historical responsibility of facilitating the defeat of the nation-ruining contraption called the PDP.

The ruling class project has become a danger to the survival of the country itself; unfortunately, not even the political opposition can escape culpability for a significant share of the problems dogging our country.

If the electoral process does not implicitly deepen confidence, that it can be used to remove bad government and reward those working in the interest of the people, then the legitimacy of the entire process will be lost. The alternative of violence, killings and de-legitimisation of Nigeria will spiral out of control.

Edo’s election this weekend concerns all of us. I am rooting for a second term for Adams Oshiomhole!

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