The Edo litmus test: From an uncommon perspective by Sani Abdulrazak

Elections come and go leaving behind trails of lessons, bitter or otherwise, with olla podridas of tongues and potpourri of voices analyzing it. From what went wrong, what worked, to where to pick up from in the next round of elections. Indeed from whichever side of the coin you may wish to see it, it is safe to say that with the outcome of Saturdays gubernatorial elections in Edo state, our democracy is fast evolving, of course a lot needs to be done but we must commend the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies, the Judiciary and good people of the country for this wonderful feat.

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Edo elections came with lots of expectations, so many talking points and swing decisions that will make one think the whole country would participate in the elections. It came and as unpredictably predicted, it defied political analysis with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party triumphing against the ruling All Progressives Congress. The outcome will now force the political big game players back to the drawing board, to brainstorm what might have been and the common factors that swung the election to their victory or defeat as the case may be.

A cavalcade of factors played out, so much so that the political rivalry of a faraway state used Edo as another battle ground for political supremacy. Godfatherism being the oxygen of our political cumulus as usual played a part in the elections; the political face-off between the two acclaimed godfathers of Edo politics and also between the incumbent Governor and his former boss made the polity a molten magma that people feared for the worse. And then the cross carpeting and re-alignment between and within the two major political parties and candidates was so seismic that it threw the voters into confusion.

It is also apt to aver that albeit these factors played a part, the election was shaped from a perspective hitherto uncommon in our political mise-en-scenes leading a rapid paradigm shift in our democratic system, which is the ripple effect of policies of the ruling party at the centre, the All Progressives Congress that gave birth to insecurity, poverty, unemployment, inflation, hike in prices of foodstuffs and only recently the increase in fuel and electricity tariff.

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Most electorates are done selling their votes for de minimis fringe benefits. They are more enlightened now as demonstrated in Edo on Saturday, which is a giant step forward in our democratic journey. The people want to be safe and secured, have access to basic amenities and equal opportunities, they want their children to have access to qualitative education. These hitherto uncommon factors are now becoming the fons et origo and with Edo election as a litmus test, may well decide the 2023 general elections.

Whether the ruling All Progressives Congress in 5 years has outperformed the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s 16 years in power is a debate for another day, but for the common man on the street who needs no one to explain government policies better than his present tenuous condition and complete absence of anything resembling a better well-being, this is as hard and difficult as his condition can get. To him, if the country is not worse, then it is probably not any better than 5 years ago.

Most major infrastructures like the second Niger bridge, refineries, industries like the Ajaokuta steel company and power projects like Mambilla power plant being major achievements of the All Progressives Congress led administration and whom would have eased the plight and better the lives of the masses are still at “We will”, “We are” or “We have approved” stage five years on. Albeit I strongly sympathize with the government and deeply commend them for doing so much in infrastructure with very little resources amidst dwindling oil prices and global economic meltdown, because it takes true patriotism, courage and resilience to embark on such mammoth infrastructural revolution at this critical point in our country. But until the masses start reaping these democratic dividends and their lives greatly improved, the infrastructural revolution remains a mirage.

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What is now obvious to the people is that we have surrendered some of our major roads and vast lush fertile farmlands to lurid miasma of banditry, armed robbery, freelance killings and kidnappings. Most farmlands today are inaccessible mostly due to insecurity, and recently floods contributing immensely to food shortages thereby threatening our infant agricultural revolution that have lifted thousands out of poverty. If the issue of insecurity is not addressed within the country, it might lead to nationwide food shortage which will have a devastating effect.

A lot needs to be done to drive down gargantuan unemployment levels in the country, the All Progressives Congress government has done much by engaging youths in agriculture and several social intervention programs like the N-Power scheme and much more, but more need to be to address this ticking time bomb. The government need to push more as it has been doing lately towards a private sector driven economy and resuscitation of our comatose industries especially the textile industries which will create millions of jobs for its impoverished citizens. Our major roads are under construction but at a very slow pace causing untold hardship and sometimes leading to loss of lives and properties. The Kano-Kaduna-Abuja expressway is an example and we hope the government will address that.

The masses voting in reaction to their present condition is a step in the right direction and signifies our democratic growth. Three years is a long time from now and I hope and pray that the united and more prosperous Nigeria the present administration have tirelessly worked for must have become reality by then and a raison d etre the masses vote for them in the upcoming 2023 general elections at all levels. The signs are now visible to the blind that only when the lives of the masses are secured, improved and catered for will the All Progressives Congress coast to victory. But right now the road is bumpy, rough and tough. I hope it serves as litmus test in upcoming elections.

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Sani Abdulrazak, is a Writer and can be reached via email at sazzak175@gmail.com

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