Popularity Without Viable Platform? By Leye IGBABO

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

There are so many factors that lead to electoral victory, one of which is popularity. In 1992, I wanted to contest for the councilorship seat in my ward under the then SDP, but the elders of those days mocked me out of the race. They were in charge of the platform, SDP. And so when the zero party arrangement came later around 1995, I rode on my popularity with my people to clinch the seat. Which means you certainly got to be popular with the mandate givers.

We all know a former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko. He started very early with the elderlies. In the process, he attempted to be a local govt chairman without much success. He was to be later nominated as Health Commissioner under Bamidele Olunilua-led administration around 1992. After the abortion of the Third Republic, he frantically tried to be a senator to no avail, under one of the deceitfully packaged political parties of the then Gen Sanni Abacha military regime. But again Providence smiled on him and he had the privilege to serve again as Health Commissioner this time around, under Chief Adebayo Adefarati-led AD government in 1999.

In the build up to the 2003 general election, Dr Olusegun Mimiko had found convenient reasons to ruffle feathers with Chief Adebayo Adefarati in the 2002/03 AD primary election. And this he did with all vigour before he eventually jumped to PDP where he significantly helped Dr Olusegun Agagu secure electoral victory in that 2003 gubernatorial election. Under this arrangement, he was made SSG in Dr. Olusegun Agagu-led administration and later Hon Minister under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration. So by the time he was up in arms with Dr Agagu in the political field, he had garnered sufficient popularity needed to cause major stir in the 2007 general election.

As much as he was kept under political surveillance, at some point, he bolted out of the PDP and then chose to slug it out with his boss Dr Agagu in a keenly contested election of 2007 general election under the platform of a relatively unknown Labour Party,. This invariably led to subsequent “toppling” of Dr Agagu’s government in 2009 after a strategically fought legal battle.

Sincerely, popularity worked those times. It worked because our democracy had not found its footings very well as at then. There were no such well-established platforms. So, only those who were popular with the people had the floor.
Today, democracy has evolved, spanning two and a half decades. Parties have emerged and popularity is giving way to platforms. The implication of this development is that no matter how popular you are, if you don’t have viable platform to prosecute your ambition, you may not likely get the desired results.

Do you notice that the same popular and performing Dr Olusegun Mimiko tried severally to repeat the same feat even after he had been a two-term governor, but failed flatly?

In 2019, barely two years after he left office as a governor, and notwithstanding his tremendous achievements in office, he contested for the Ondo Central Senatorial seat and was roundly thrashed by his own “puppet”!
In 2020, he frantically attempted to raise a third force in ZLP where he paired the then sitting deputy governor HE Agboola Alfred Ajayi as ZLP candidate with a thoroughly bred and amiable personality, Engineer Gboye Adegbenro as the deputy governorship candidate.

What was the result?
*”Ofutufete, annswer ti o ni koun”*

The poser then will be:
Is Dr Olusegun Mimiko waning in popularity?

No, not really.

So what happens?

It is because popularity has given way to viable platforms due to decades of democracy. These days, people look at how viable the platforms are, more than the contestants. You still remembered that former Governor Rotimi Akeredolu floated AA even as a sitting governor, and shipwrecked all his sponsored candidates because the platform was not viable enough?

Infact, these days, one does not need to be as popular as that so long as one sees a viable platform to prosecute the ambition. It is the platform that will do the major work for him or her. That is why you see a relatively political rookie like Hon. Lucky Ayedatiwa shinning over deeply rooted political warlords in the mould of Chief Alexander Olusola Oke! He has the platform at an advantage over others.

Oh! Do you think that those who were wilfully cheated in APC are happy with it or they are not popular enough to contemplate moving to other parties to pursue their ambitions? It is because they know that it is only through viable platform that their desires can be met. The reason they swallowed their pride and stoically bore the embarrassments caused by APC thaumaturgy, with equanimity.

Or how does one explain a scenario where monies were collected from aspirants under false pretence that primary elections would be organized to pick a candidate, only to be rudely and crudely shortchanged after dissipation of energy, time and hard-earned resources? No primary election took place in APC! That is “419”. Obtaining money under false pretence!

This ugly scenario did not occur in PDP. Monies were collected from aspirants with the assurance of organizing transparent primary election and it was held as promised. The primary election was not only conducted, it was transparently, credibly and fairly conducted. No magomago, no wuruwuru, no jibiti of any form. No, not one.

Perhaps I need to mention here that the ultimate winner of the primary election, HE Agboola Alfred Ajayi was never given any consideration or chance of winning. In my own human permutation as I went on with the events, the leading aspirant meant for the day, was Chief Olusola Nehemiah Ebiseni, popularly known as ONE. He himself was conscious of it and that perhaps accounts for why he was a little bit discomfited by the outcome of the exercise. And yes anyone can be irritated under such circumstance but life must continue afterwards.

But few weeks to the D-Day, my human permutation changed. Hon Victor Kolade Akinjo created serious panic. Some notable leaders had regrouped and queued behind him. He was billed to take the shine off the initially envisaged man of the day because of the caliber of leaders that gave him an unusual push. Few days later, Otunba Bamidele Akingboye also caused a stir as it was rumoured that he was coming with humongous logistics and the delicate delegates were impulsively gravitating towards his shed until the rumour was dispelled.

I know that the county’s political firmament had become so cloudy and foggy such that it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify a “consistently obedient son” which MoJ was trying to capitalize on. Sincerely, Prince John Ola Mafo has been with the party through thick and thin but lamentably, politics has gone past that wishful thinking. Undeterred, MoJ was calmly pursuing his ambition believing that one day, nearer than envisaged, the system may likely become rewarding on that consistently obedient note. And I do also strongly hope so.

I am an ardent believer in divine intervention where protocols are usually suspended for the manifestation of divine happenings. And except the God he serves, intervened, I didn’t see clearly how a Bosun Arebuwa who, as at the time of entering the ring, hardly knew the party’s organogram, could have sailed through. I verily believe he had his reasons for that bold and courageous attempt. And now that he had been baptized, the next push may actually bring about the fulfillment of the prophesy.

As soon as the whistle on declaration of interest was blown, and in the early days of the activities preceding the red-letter day, the OYA mantra as designed by that ebullient, audacious and intrepid young man, Engr Adeolu Akinwumi, was spreading like a harmattan fire piercing through the bones and marrows of the younger stratum which makes the bulk of the mandate givers. If the youths were to eventually put their acts together in support of one their own, the story might be different today.

But in all of this punditry, there was no permutation that actually placed and pinned the eventual winner HE Agboola Alfred Ajayi in any vantage position until the “bubble burst” He wasn’t that visible but he eventually stole the show, he got the trophy! I am still looking for a caption up till this moment, to describe what actually happened that very day.

But one thing that immediately re-echoed in my mind was that infallible word of John the Baptist, which says no one can receive anything unless it is given him from heaven. I believe HE Agboola Alfred Ajayi was favored from above.

I know that grace is called unmerited favour. And for whatever reason, which I verily believe it is for the good of the party, the heavens had placed the trophy on the lap of HE Agboola Alfred Ajayi, and therefore the best thing to do is for all of us to submit to the will of Almighty God with the fervent hope that it will again be another man’s turn in this nearest future.

This position, in my candid view, will be more honorable than embarking on a wild goose chase while relying on any popularity that has since given way to platforms.

In A Nutshell, Popularity Without Viable Platform Amounts To Wild Goose Chase.

A word is enough for the wise.

Leye IGBABO, the Director of Media, People’s Democratic Party Ondo state writes from Ifedore Local govt

*NB. I encourage us to read with patriotic mind as this piece is not intended to slight anyone.*

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