• Extols Ajimobi’s virtues, condoles with Akindele, Akinpelu families
A chieftain of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), in Oyo State, Oyedele Hakeem Alao, has identified lack of political will and commitment as the main problem militating against the development of Nigerian political system, including electoral reforms and good governance.
Also, the AD candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State, who said his party didn’t win because some leaders of AD sold out and worked with another party in the state, contended that the problem of Nigeria’s democracy was not with the electoral reforms, acts and laws alone but their implementation.
The AD chieftain said this while featuring on a radio programme in Ibadan, discussing the electoral reforms and the political system in Nigeria.
He said: “In fact, a lot of people asked me whether I really wanted to contest the 2019 governorship election or only eyeing an appointment as a commissioner, but I told them “no.” I said “no” because I wanted to make a difference. I’ve seen what’s going on in the last eight years and our people have not really enjoyed dividends of democracy.”
Hakeem Alao said that the leaders of his deregistered party, including one whom he said had gone to work with the Oyo State government, were not interested in fielding a credible candidate but only interested in reaching an agreement with other parties and offer their candidates for sale, describing them as political merchants and prostitutes.
Discussing electoral reforms and political system in Nigeria, Hakeem Alao identified lack of political will and commitment as the main problem militating against the Nigerian political system, including electoral reforms and good governance, maintaining that the problem was not with the electoral reforms, acts and laws themselves but implementation.
He also pointed to lack of clear political ideology as another big issue with the Nigerian political system.
The former governorship candidate of AD, commenting on the electoral reforms, including those of Justice Muhammed Uwais (rtd) of 2018 and Ken Nnamani of 2019, stated that the issue was not with reforms, contending that, “We’ve had so many electoral reforms and from 1999 till date, so much has been spent on the electoral reforms and our political process.
“I’ll conclude that nothing much is actually wrong with our electoral reforms, the drawback is the lack of genuine political will and commitment to enforce the electoral laws to have credible polls that will give Nigerians across board good governance.”
He noted that there have been some improvements in the country’s political process, like voting system, the use of card readers introduced by Professor Attahiru Jega, the former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, “yet there have always been irregularities and issues as violence and rigging here and there, even in the 2019 elections.
“INEC would tell you they had issues transporting election materials from one point to another, you would see people selling and buying votes for N3,000, N5,000, delay of announcement of election results, among others.
“That’s why the Kofi Anan post-2019 election roundtable in Abuja withh the European Union (EU) described the 2019 elections as falling short of the international standard in the real democratic context, although there were some positive sides like the Not-Too-Young-To-Rule bill which offered a lot of young people the opportunity to contest the 2019 elections,” Hakeem Alao said.
Trying to look at what electoral reform is all about and what usually precipitates it, Hakeem Alao stated that, “Electoral reform is an integral part of democratic development and in that term it is undertaken to improve the electoral processes by promoting the general interests and rights of the citizenry.
He said it also put into operation the key principles of democracy as “inclusiveness, impartiality, transparency, accuracy and integrity, and these electoral processes include timely delivery of election materials, registration of political parties, vote counting method, reduction in gender imbalance, and so on.”
Hakeem Alao also maintained that people would always clamour for electoral reforms in as much as there are irregularities and issues with the country’s electoral and political processes.
He spoke further that lack of internal party democracy and political ideologies were the big issues threatening the country’s political process, recounting his experience in his defunct political party, AD, while contesting as the party’s governorship candidate in the 2019 elections.
“The excos of political parties, at both the federal and state level, usually autocratic. They would want to do things the way they want it.
“How AD was run as a party really affected our efforts in the 2019 elections. In fact, there were so much internal problems with the party; the national body was factionalised and there was also a court case, and above all, the South West excos were suddenly dissolved and our party leaders in the state eventually sold out.
“There were parallel congresses in political parties; some political parties didn’t do primaries, they handpicked party excos. The current PDP exco in the state (Oyo) which brought in the present government in the state is a clear instance.
“Our political parties don’t allow internal party democracy; no party ideology, people just move into where they can get a ticket and feed and that’s why in the 2019 elections, they were moving from APC to ADC, PDP to ZLP and ADC to PDP. This is because what majority of them know is politics, maybe they don’t have alternatives and are not known with any profession unlike our late governor Senator Abiola Ajimobi who brought deep experience into governance.
Asked about his governorship ambition and the platform to contest on, Hakeem Alao said he was going to contest the 2023 governorship election, God’s willing, stressing that “the people of Oyo State have seen what is going on now and I believe, they know who to put in office in the next election.
“We will announce sooner or later the platform on which to contest,” Hakeem Alao said, adding that “a lot of parties have been deregistered, including AD, and have all gone for life.”
Also, the AD chieftain, at the programme extolled the virtues of the last former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, whom he called an illustrious son of the state.
He described Ajimobi as a politician with an impeccable character and someone who knew his onions, an achiever and a leader both in the private and public political space.
On his death, Hakeem Alao expressed his condolence to Governor Seyi Makinde, the Olubadan of Ibadanlan, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji and Mrs Florence Ajimobi.
He also condoled with the families of the late Ibadan business mogul, Chief Bode Akindele, and the late Nollywood actor from Oyo State, Mr Gbolagde Akinpelu Ogun Majek, the Babaloja of Ibadanland, Chief Dauda Adisa Ladapo, and generally, to the people of Oyo State.
• By Lai Mahmood