By ISAAC ASABOR
It is significant for all the 14 gubernatorial aspirants registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to participate in the gubernatorial election, come September 19, 2020, to always bear in mind that what Edolites; both at home and in diaspora are looking for in the upcoming election is not to vote for a governor who can insult, scandalize, malign and abuse others the most as been experienced on each passing day in Edo state today, particularly on social media platforms.
Rather, what Edolites are looking for in the upcoming election is a governor who can win material benefits; a governor who can help them live better and in peace; a governor who can help them see their lives go forward and guarantee the future of their children, and a governor who will be capable of governing the State in such a way that they can realize all that are needed to make life good for them. Against the foregoing backdrop, Edolites know that they have to vote wisely and only for the candidate who is known for his honesty, ability, dedication and concern for the welfare of all.
What Edolites are seeking is genuine democracy in which the leader would be seen as a servant of the electorate and not their master and bully. If this is so, it is difficult to see how malice, slander, calumny, lies about one’s political opponent can help one win an election. Politics should be honest and responsible.
The kind of politics and governance Edolites deserve; both now and in the next political dispensation is the one that will pave the way for an effective way of serving others and working for the integral development of the state and the entire 18 local government areas. The aspirants and their supporters should at all times, particularly in this period of electioneering, have it at the back of their minds that it will be very sad when elections are marred with unfairness, lies, slander and malice.
Election campaigns should not be a competition for slander but a competition to serve. Maligning political opponents is not service. Respect for the dignity of one’s political opponents requires that campaigns are conducted with honesty and dignity and not with lies and malice. Elections should never be a matter of character assassination, fraud or coercion since that would break the sacred character of democracy.
This electioneering campaign to me should be anchored on issues to enable Edolites make correct political choices. This writer is expressing this view because this upcoming election will serve as an opportunity for all Edolites; irrespective of ethnic, political and religious affiliations to vote for honest, courageous, hardworking and selfless governor. It is also an opportune time to review our past in order to prepare for better political choices for the future.
The electorate cannot do this well if all that they are fed with by the politicians are lies, slander, malice and calumny about each other. Issue-based campaigns are therefore absolutely necessary in a democratic process. Good elections require intelligent and responsible participation of all.
And to perform this task well, voters need to get themselves informed of the manifestos from the various political parties. These manifestos are supposed to have the programme of action that the parties propose to follow in order to serve the good of all people. A sound manifesto should articulate achievable programmes that will enhance the development of our dear State and our own well-being.
Hence, we should be able to decide to vote for the party that has a programme we see as the best for us as a State. We don’t think our people would vote for a party whose only discernible manifesto are insults, lies, slander and malice against political opponents.
As Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress, in the upcoming election, has for the umpteenth times correctly observed, an issue-based campaign is what Edo and Edolites need.
What Edolites want to see is a gubernatorial candidate who is committed to the manifesto of his political party as well as to his personal vision for the State. The governor Edolites need in the next political dispensation should therefore be evaluated on his capacity to implement both his party’s manifesto and his personal vision. Personally, the essence of saying this in this context is that anyone that would be voted for as governor comes September 19, should be a visionary leader.
It is said that no leader should resort to blowing uncertain trumpet, and that those who stand for nothing fall for anything. Therefore, the next governor in Edo State must stand for something. It is expedient to say in this context that insulting, maligning, scandalizing and slandering political opponents is not standing for something. It is only people who stand for nothing that avoid issue-based campaigns and opt for slander and malice.
As Henry Kissinger once observed, leaders must invoke alchemy of great vision. And this vision should be reflected in their manifesto and in what they say. The best vision is insight. A leader is said to be one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. For the sake of clarity, it is expedient for readers of this piece to go through the SIMPLE Agenda of Ize-Iyamu which no doubt exemplifies the foregoing view.
Insults and slander of political opponents is not a sign of one knowing the way, going the way and showing the way. It is actually a sign that one does not know the way society wants to go. You can’t lead anyone farther than you have gone yourself.
If the furthest you have gone in articulating a vision is insults, slander, lies, calumny, there is no way you can lead others in a better direction. Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. And surely, lies, slander and malice are not the way to get there.
In this upcoming election, it is expedient to say that it should be based on issues; the incumbent governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who now offers himself for re-election, having decamped from the APC to PDP, should be evaluated by the electorates against the record of what he has or have not achieved in the last 3 years plus some months. Did they fulfill their promises? Did they offer quality service to the people and not only to those who voted them into power? Were they available to listen to the concerns of all the people?
It is good Obaseki’s supporters continue to scream “4 + 4 Togba” among other slogans, but the question to ask is, has he selflessly responded to the need of Edolites, particularly within the context of the electoral promises he made in 2016? What has been the quality of his judgment on many problems and challenges facing the State since then? In similar vein, in an issue-based campaign, those who have not yet held office will be carefully evaluated in terms of their competence and their reputation for honesty and selfless dedication to the common good.
In an issue-based campaign, candidates will try to focus much on issues of competence, courage to speak out the truth, concern for social justice, desire to work for the common good instead of self-enrichment, disposition to use power for service, especially service of the poor and underprivileged, openness to dialogue, good moral standing, transparency and accountability to the electorate. If I am permitted to express this view from religious perspective, Christians will look for candidates who follow the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and who emptied himself for the good of everyone.
Clearly, election campaigns must be carried out in a peaceful and honest way, devoid of any slander of one’s political opponents. All candidates and their supporters must be guided by the truth, integrity and justice which are anchored on God’s Commandments.
It is necessary, once again, to remind all the aspirants and their supporters ahead of the September 19 election that the politics they are involved in should be for the good of all Edolites and Edo State, and not for the political survival of any individual or political party. They should never forget the noble goals of political activity, that is, the promotion of the common good and the service of all Edolites.
This being the case, their election campaigns should concentrate on how they intend to improve the life of Edolites and the economy of the State rather than on insulting, slandering, scandalizing, maligning and dehumanizing their political opponents. Good leadership will be achieved, not by campaign of calumny but by the integrity of our individual politicians and by their willingness to work together and be inspired by a larger vision.