Edo 2012: That Charade Of A Political Campaign
Last week Saturday, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, kicked-off the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign for the July 14 governorship election, in company of its national Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; a former Board of Trustees chairman of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih; Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia; the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; the Minister of Defence, Bello Haliru; the Chief of Staff to the President and former deputy governor of the state, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, and PDP state chairman, Chief Dan Osi Orbih, among others.
Most worrisome in what seemed more of a campaign charade and travesty, the supposed campaign was devoid of the necessary issues that could jolt the ordinary voter to cast his or her vote in their favour. Secondly, one needs to analyse conditions under which their candidate’s reputation, Rtd. Major General Charles Airhiavbere, may affect voters’ beliefs over the visible achievements of the sitting governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Thirdly, the character that the PDP chieftains paraded on the podium that day would ordinarily, in a civilised society, plummet votes in a free and fair election.
I had watched endlessly, in expectation to hear new areas and frontiers the PDP national leaders and their candidate would want to impact on the socio-economic situation of the state, if voted into office, but I was disappointed. Throughout the length and breadth of that sham called campaign, they failed to articulate what policy (ies) they would implement, if peradventure, Edo people were blind-folded to vote a party that is not known in history’s performance index.
I thought it was a period for the PDP to provide complete information in which their party’s ideologies, if any, would be encapsulated but, they failed woefully. Speaker after speaker disappointed the hired crowd and a spoonfull of followers who prefer to remain in the PDP because, to them, the fewer the merrier and the more the money they get to share. The hired crowd, including those from Kogi, Delta, Ondo, Kaduna, Bayelsa, among others, freely discussed with one another at the Dr. Sam Ogbemudia Stadium over the thoughtlessness of the PDP on the voyage they had embarked upon, while expressing confidence that it was impossible for the PDP to clinch victory in a free and fair polls.
Neither their leaders nor their candidate, Airhiavbere, told Edo people, what they intend to achieve in form of vision and mission.
Generally, politicians seeking office make promises. This is presumably done in the belief that such promises will alter voters’ beliefs about the policies the politician will implement if elected and about the capabilities of the politician. The flip side of the coin is that these promises may later come back to haunt an office holder seeking re-election, so candidates must temper their promises in anticipation of future elections and this is Oshiomhole’s stronghold and selling point. He has simply delivered on his campaign promises but the PDP has not been able to show that it can present an alternative.
For the avoidance of doubt, these were the issues that dominated the PDP charade called campaign; they chanted, “go, Oshiomhole, go”! They also expressed resolve to unseat Oshiomhole whom they accused of lacking the ability to steer the ship of the state for meaningful development and the provision of the dividends of democracy to the people of the state.
Unfortunately, the ordinary man on the streets of Edo knows better.
The PDP said that there was the need for it to return Edo to the comity of states in the South-South geopolitical zone being controlled by the PDP at the national level. This is also not a campaign issue. Again, they added, that the state had remained a missing link in the South-South zone and could no longer continue to maintain such an unholy status but would join others in the July 14 governorship election in the state. Hear the Vice President, “the election would be free, fair and peaceful.” Good talk but, what are your campaign issues and why do you deserve the votes of the people? These are the questions begging for answers and not the comity of states in the south-south region.
Though, I have my fear; when you see a party urging the people not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to foment trouble and bring chaos during the election, one should immediately suspect a game is being played somewhere. I smell a rat.
For Chief Anenih, who commended the duo of Dr. Ogbemudia and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who were present at the event, he said, “their presence had completed the circle in the quest for the unity among the PDP faithful. The evidence of the mammoth crowd showed clearly that PDP is on the ground in Edo State and does not run its activities on the pages of newspapers”.
Continuing, he pleaded for the commitment of the party’s leaders and members towards the actualisation of the July 14 mission which, according to him, is inevitable because “you know my mind, you know my focus and you know my causes.”
Another speaker, Chief of Staff to the President and former deputy governor of the state, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe urged the people of the state not to be frightened by the alarm that some elements were raising arms and recruiting thugs for the election. He said, “What I have seen here today is a great assembly of party faithful who will carry the party flag to Osadebay Avenue. I have the confidence that victory is ours.”
He warned that “any attempt by anybody to snatch ballot boxes during the polls will not be tolerated. You must be determined to march one way, cast your votes for the PDP to be sure that the party will rule the state again. The party has come with a clear message of a collective resolve for victory; you have my support.” Can somebody please advise the PDP leaders to dwell on electoral promises and previous scorecard to earn the votes of the people?
If I was a judge between the PDP and Oshiomhole’s ACN, I will not waste time or hesitate to rule in favour of the latter.
Imagine all the tax-payers’ money spent on that ethnic campaign and jamboree; South-South and Bini agenda being championed by some turn-coat politicians in Oghomwan Mandate Group!
For me, campaign promises provide a mechanism for voters to select among multiple equilibria, in a repeated game, much like a focal point. In this sense, the PDP has failed to make credible promises capable of solving problems that arise naturally in the context of multi-party state like Nigeria. However, Oshiomhole has triumphed over PDP in this aspect. They are ignorant of the fact that campaign promises affect voters’ expectations about what policies will be chosen by an elected official, and they provide a benchmark for voters to link policy decisions with future re-election.
The PDP forgot that in the absence of such public announcement, it is easy for voters to suspect a scam and why Airhiavbere shouldn’t earn a vote from sensible and right-thinking electorates. The same PDP had dashed our hopes since 1999 till November 2008, when Oshiomhole came into the saddle. I am happy they failed to make any promise because they would, in their characteristic manner, dash our expectations.
Trust Oshiomhole. He would never miss it. He is quick to showcase his numerous achievements while reeling out future expectations. Oshiomhole made promises about the policy he would implement in 2007 electioneering campaigns and he has delivered on them, unlike the PDP candidate whose campaign message was devoid of promises and party scorecard. No doubt, each voter would vote for the candidate who maximizes the voter’s expectation, which depends on the policy that he believes will be implemented after the election, and that is where the Oshio-meter comes in: tracking the numerous promises that Governor Oshiomhole has delivered; the giant strides.
Alhaji Dada Akpeji is a political scientist, public commentator and analyst. He writes from Benin City.Share