Edo 2024: The Gamblers, The Spoilers and The Contenders.
With the way politics define the everyday life of Nigerians, citizens are therefore increasing their level of involvement. On the business side, entrepreneurs and the regular everyday hustlers in the street now see politics as the easiest way to make legally illegal money and amass wealth in the shortest possible time. This sad reality has also increased the involvement and the level of desperation politicians exhibit to grab power at all costs.
With the next governorship election in Edo state just around the corner, all these indices are already playing out, as the number of aspirants has been on a steady rise since the constitutional window for campaigns was opened.
To put this article in context in line with the title, I would like to define the reality of what qualifies a candidate to run for the governor of a state.
Firstly, financial power. We cannot shy away from the exorbitant cost of running elections in Nigeria. The legal spending alone is still quite expensive, let alone including the unofficial or illegal spending that follows.
Secondly is the popularity and acceptability of the aspirant. Or simply put, the political and social network of the aspirant.
Lastly, the political history of the aspirant, whether good or bad, the political history of the aspirant has a role to play.
With the premise stated above, let us now divide the aspirants who have declared their interest to run for the forthcoming Governorship election in the state under three sections, the Gamblers, Spoilers, and Contenders.
The Gamblers are those who declare interests with the hope that they will be called for negotiations. They usually don’t have the financial power to run the elections even if the party gifts them the ticket, and neither do they have the political or social network to mobilise supporters and voters across the state.
What is their game plan? They want to use the ‘noise’ to buy their stake in the political landscape at that level in the state. This is the lowest odd. Some have higher stakes, they are hoping to be called for negotiation, thereby getting an appointment in return for the gamble. With the appointment, they will now work their way up the political ladder. The gamblers are also profitable to the party as they put in so much effort to at least create traction to get them noticed as a force to reckon with, even if it is only in the media or a local government, they must position themselves to look bigger than they are.
The Spoilers are parasites who thrive in crisis within the political power blocs. They are often sponsored by contenders or interest blocs to play the spoiler roles. For instance, with the agitation to keep to the unwritten tradition of power rotation among the three senatorial districts in the state, spoilers are raised to contest in certain zones to send a wrong message that the zone is either divided or disunited. In some cases, spoilers are sponsored within the same local government, ward or even unit of a potential contender to make it difficult for the contender to have the full support of his constituency.
Spoilers are often open to the highest bidder and are loyal to no one but themselves. Neither the party nor the ignorant supporters get any benefits from spoilers.
Contenders are those who tick the three reality boxes of an ideal governorship candidate. They have the financial power, the socio-political network and influence, and are equally popular and acceptable to a large chunk of potential voters. They are those who control obvious political, senatorial, or religious voting blocs. Their strengths are not a mirage but are known to their opponents.
Haven said that, every political observer or analyst worth its onions would be able to easily put the myriads of aspirants into one of these three groups.
I have taken time to put this up to aid the younger generation who are confused about where to pitch their tent to be able to take a cue from this and access the candidates on the metrics stated therein. This will to a great extent guard them from being victims of users.
Socio-Political Observer writes from Benin City.