OPINION | All in the Memorandum of Misunderstanding, By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan

*Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan
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Adlai Stevenson was essentially right, “Even more important than winning the election is governing the Nation. That is the test of a political party – the acid final test. When the tumult and the shouting die; when the bands are gone and the lights are dimmed, there is the stark reality of responsibility”.

Government is about human needs, the satisfaction of which is the sole justification for government. First thing first – you have to win the election first and then proceed to govern the people.

That explains why preceding every election, some ample time is set aside for contestants and their political platforms to say what they would do for the people if they won the election. That’s the essence of all the electioneering campaigns that have become a way of life in Nigeria every four years.

In one campaign season, we have seen it all in Edo State, particularly in the past one month. We have seen some clean campaigns – focused and issues-based, directed at the electorates with a view to winning their votes. We have also seen campaigns of calumny – premised principally on threats of violence and intimidation of what they were going to do if they lost the election. The election would only be regarded as free and fair if they won.

Perhaps unknown to some candidates, the campaign period is a period of examination; and like in any examination, how you say a thing is as important as what you say, if not more so. There is, therefore, no running away from some major observations and pitfalls in the Edo governorship campaigns. After all, these remain the defining features of what the people are taking to the polls in the next 72 hours or so. For want of enough space, we are constrained to restrict ourselves to a few instances.

On one side, we saw a properly developed blueprint code-named SIMPLE AGENDA, the candidate’s charter with the People, a document that is properly interlaced with the manifesto of the APC. At every stop,he told the people, these are the things I will do. Hold me accountable to these promises. At each stop, the promises were professionally delivered. Indeed, this provides an innovation in modern campaign; and it is the way the world is going.

On the other side, we saw what in Political Science has come to be known as the Science of dabbling through – where everything was left to chance. Rather than develop an action plan, Governor Godwin Obaseki spent the entire time, wondering how Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamu was going to find the money to execute the plan he had made; and this was the major thing he took to the Channels Debate of September 13. Of course, he deserved what he got, “I don’t waste money the way you do”. There could be no greater opprobrium than this!

Obaseki’s handlers may have to go back to school to take a few courses on modern campaign strategies in the process of which they will be taught how not to campaign for the opponent.Throughout the campaign period, PDP campaigns were for the opponents – perhaps unwillingly. The truth is that if you stretch a point for too long, it becomes counter-productive. A good campaign strategist knows when to apply the brakes.

Up till now, the PDP is running an advert where Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole is saying many good things about his estranged Godson, Governor Godwin Obaseki. This could have been a clip from the 2016 campaigns when the centre was still holding but how many largely illiterate voters can discern that? To them, it is a new message.

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Right now, the moral message left by the PDP advert is that Oshiomhole is a man with a good heart. In spite of all the abuses that Obaseki is leaving on him, he still speaks good about Obaseki. That’s maturity and, therefore, we are going to vote for his candidate this time around.

As the saying goes, there is no free lunch, even in Freetown. The APC is not complaining about this free lunch provided by the PDP. Whoever appeals on a case he has won?

Instead of spending quality time, such as provided by the Debates, in telling the people what to expect if he comes back, Obaseki would rather squander the time on appreciating his “mammoth crowd” and in the end, he says, “We don’t purchase crowd”.

What a Freudian slip! And in any case, who asked you? We remember Richard Nixon (1913-1994) – the 37th President of the United States of America. In his Memoir Nixon warns sternly against yielding unsolicited information or answering questions that are not asked. People fall into trouble when they begin to yield unsolicited information or when they begin to answer questions that are not asked.

Edo people are not blind. You have reminded them that you don’t purchase crowd. That same reminder tells them that suddenly the ECTS buses you grounded for bearing COMRADE BUSES have suddenly come alive. These are the buses you have been using lately to recycle the rented but, unpurchased, crowd all over the place.

Question: the market women, workers, students and all the people you denied the use of the Comrade Buses are now asking why have they suddenly become good for your unpurchased crowd, even when they are still bearing Comrade Buses?

The people are annoyed and it is this bottled-up rage that they are taking to the poll on Saturday. For them, it is pay-back time. The evil that men do live with them.

Obaseki should reasonably have known that questions would arise on his gross abuse of the Memoranda of Understanding MoU. Admittedly, MoU is a potent tool in the hands of modern organizations but it is not meant for deceit and mischief. It is for serious business.

In a situation where you are signing hundreds of MoUs and you are not lifting a finger in performance on virtually all of them, the people’s hopes are dashed. The only meaning here is that you promised them development and gave them zero. That is where Memorandum of Understanding becomes Memorandum of Misunderstanding, MoM. We don’t need it!You can deceive some of the people some of the time but you cannot deceive all the people all the time.

Edo PDP and its candidate went on a jamboree or rather on a frolic. Time is up! They blew every opportunity available to them. In cases where they should have sought to make amends, they remained stoically silent. They were silent on the projects they killed, like the Benin Storm Water Project. They were silent on the schools and health institutions they killed. The APC and its candidate have started, without any ambiguity, that those facilities and projects will come alive as soon as they are elected.

The choice before the Edo people is clear:

Between light and darkness

Between love and hate

Between the lofty promises of SIMPLE agenda and a failed MoU regime

Falls the shadow.

Here’s wishing our esteemed readers and, indeed, the people of Edo State, a very happy and successful election. See you on the other side of success.



September 16, 2020

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