By Judith Ufford
When a wise man falls, he wants to know what brought him down. When he discovers why, he guides against a fall in future. Why for example did the All Progressives Congress, APC, loss the Osun West senatorial election which held last month.
Political pundits within and outside the state are still trying to understand and interpret the swing. Some political observers have attributed APC’s defeat in that election to a low voters turn out.
According to them, in 2015 for instance, 38% of the voting population opted not to vote while 61.6% got accredited and took part in the voting exercise. But the Osun west senatorial election presented a different scenario. Available data on the election reveals that 62.1% of the voting population opted not to vote while 37.9% took part in the exercise.
It was on the strength of this percentage that Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, defeated his APC opponent Mudashir Husain. In a recent interaction with the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who is still grappling with the loss of that election (though not a pleasant time for one who threw all into the campaign and got ‘burnt’ literally), he was philosophical when we got talking about the election.
Said he: “ Defeat is good sometimes. When you read for an exam, and you pass, you can brag about your success. You can even tell your listeners that you didn’t read and you still passed. But when you fail, how do you explain failure?”
It was a soul searching moment for this activist governor who strives on controversy and would unashamedly tell anyone who cares to listen that ‘I love controversy’. He was on the campaign trail for his candidate and by all intents and purpose, the administration under his watch has done well for the people of Osun.
So why did they turn their backs on him and the APC? According to state officials and even the governor, the state rates itself high in the provision of road infrastructure, education, employment and welfare scheme.
And they beat their chests to assert that no project was executed in the state without the people’s input. “When this administration came into office about six years ago, we passed questionaires across the state so that the people would tell us the projects they would want the administration to embark on.
I can tell you that there’s nothing we have done that does not have the approval of the people if the responses from the questionnaire is anything to go by.”
I reminded him about the hajiba controversy and the role the state government played. “ I have family members and relatives who are Christians. My sister’s kids who stay with me are Christians. They go to church and I don’t interfere. To tell you the truth, I love controversy and love my Islam’.
But if the truth be told, this passion for controversy has brought him nothing but trouble.
I also reminded him that not many residents share his passion for a particular road project- the ring road that has caused the state an arm and a foot. Again, his response was interesting. “The elite is the problem.
The people in the rural areas aren’t complaining. The state is been opened up. The people in the rural areas are happy because they can get their goods to the city faster and easier. The people complaining now are those who feel they should have access to the state’s purse instead of the monies spent on these projects.”
Now that’s really food for thought. My Bible tells me a labourer is worthy of his wages. Party faithful who have worked so hard to get party representatives into public office expect to be rewarded one way or the other and if that doesn’t happen, the consequences can be daring.
Mr. Governor said he was aware he would have to do more in the area of stomach infrastructure. Without telling, ex-governor Fayemi’s lose in Ekiti is a constance reminder on how not to neglect party members.
Added to this is the poor financial outlook of the state. With salaries and pensions not paid for several months, the party’s defeat was just an incident waiting to happen. In fact, salaries were paid a day before the election.
This of course sent wrong signals to the electorate particularly civil servants who believed the state government had the resources to effect payment before then and refused to do so early enough but decided to use the payment of salaries as a bait to get them to vote.
“But Osun is not the only state where civil servants and pensioners are owned salaries and pensions, he reminded. “In Osun state, 65% of the workforce are within GL 1-7; 25% workforce are within GL 8-12; 10% are within GL 13 and above. GL 1-7 have been paid up to June 2017 100% salary; GL 8-12 are being paid 75% salary. GL 13 and above are being paid 50% salary.”
This method of payment became a campaign issue during the senatorial election. According to a comment by a deputy director ( names with held) in the Marketing Department in the Osun state Broadcasting Corporation, OSBC, WhataApp group chat created by one Olusola Ajala named ‘U & I’, he said: “ vote for liberation, vote for Ademola Adeleke, Vote PDP. A vote for Ademola Adeleke is a vote for the beginning of liberation of our dear state from bondage of half salary”.
Another staff of OSBC Venture on level 12 responded to the same WhatsApp comment thus : “Governor, oloriburuku’. After this comment, he exited from the chat group but not before his comments had been screen. Although the OSBC management did not issue queries to both staff, they were summarily suspended.
OSBC management claimed it is a disciplinary action that does not involve either the state government or the governor as had been insinuated. The OSBC management is of the view that the suspended officers are senior civil servants and as such, they should understand the position of government.
A Yoruba adage says the insect that eats up the leaf is in the leaf. Why did APC lose the election? Mr.Governor and the party neither need to look far nor search wide. The answers are within.