Like much of anything in life, political office in Nigeria is turn by turn. In 2018, Gboyega Oyetola narrowly beat Ademola Adeleke to become the governor of Osun State. But he’ll have to pack his bags and leave the Government House in November  after losing the 2022 Osun State governorship election to none other than Adeleke.
There was a lot riding on the July 16th election, and now that it’s over, we’ve learnt a few things.
Sometimes, all you need is dance moves
When Adeleke entered the political scene in 2017, he was known for nothing more than his dance moves. He coasted to victory and won a senatorial election to fill a vacancy left by his late brother, Isiaka Adeleke. That’s how the “Dancing Senator” was born.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Celine Dion song or a Zlatan Ibile banger, the “Dancing Senator” has all the moves
When Adeleke contested in the Osun governorship election a year later, his dance moves were once again his selling point for an election he lost in a controversial fashion. His second run for the governorship seat he’s now won wasn’t propped by any innovative ideas or grand campaign promises. It was, once again, “That’s the guy with the dance moves!” It’s all anyone remembers of his candidacy.
No one can say for sure that Adeleke will be a good or bad governor, but we know end-of-the-year parties won’t be the same at the Government House for the next four years.
Vote-buying is still a problem
There’s hunger in the land, and Nigerian politicians definitely know how to exploit a problem they’ve created. This is why vote-buying has become as much of a dominant feature of Nigerian politics as a PVC.
Vote-buying reared its ugly head in Osun with many incidents flagged across the state. The Justice, Development and Peace Makers Centre (JDPMC), an election observer group, reported that vote-buying happened in 75 out of the 76 polling units it covered.
Political parties are clearly willing to win by hook or crook. So, it’s up to electoral and security agencies to design strategies to neutralise the culture of bribing voters as much as possible. Security operatives arrested some of the vote-buyers in Osun, which is good, but follow-up prosecution is usually rare.
Voter-turnout headache isn’t going away
Low voter turnout in Nigerian elections has become one of the most burning issues over the past two decades. The turnout rate for the presidential elections has been dropping since 2003 and gets even worse for governorship and legislative elections. Voters are simply not turning up at the polls to elect anyone.
The trend continued in the Osun governorship election as only 42.37% of registered voters showed up to exercise their civic rights. The turnout is lower than the 45.74% recorded in the state’s governorship election in 2018 and 53.14% in 2014.
Even lower turnout rates were recorded in the past four Nigerian governorship elections in Ondo State (32.84%), Edo State (24.53%), Anambra State (10.27%) and Ekiti State (36.74%).
INEC is doing well
It’s not often that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gets covered in glory after an election. But the agency’s work on the Osun election has been praised as a decent outing.
There weren’t as many voting machine failures and the collation process wasn’t as controversial as Nigerians are used to. Even the announcement of the winner happened as swiftly as possible when compared to other elections.
Some of the credit for INEC’s smooth conduct of the election went the way of the new Electoral Act signed in February 2022. The legislation has brought some refreshing efficiency and transparency to the process, making many Nigerians excited for 2023. Even Buhari couldn’t resist the urge to take credit for the smooth process once the election was over.
Young people hold all the cards
With a share of 39.7% of the total number of registered voters in Osun, young people aged 18 to 34 years formed the biggest voting bloc of the election. It’s proof that young people can decide the future of the country. They just need to go out to vote.
Stomach infrastructure is here to stay
Is it a Nigerian election if “stomach infrastructure” doesn’t make a sad appearance? We’ve come to expect candidates to bait voters with food items packaged with their proud faces. The Osun election was no exception.
It’s basically pre-vote-buying.
There’s still a lot of work for the Third Force
The Osun election inevitably carried the burden of being considered a test-run for how the 2023 general elections may turn out. And one of the biggest components of this burden is an examination of how an outside force can challenge the dominance of APC and PDP.
Of the 804,450 valid votes cast, the APC and PDP candidates scored 778,398 (96.8%) votes while 13 other candidates combined ended up with 26,052 (3.2%) votes.
If the Osun election is supposed to mean anything, it’s that parties outside of the more established APC and PDP need to do a lot of hard work if they hope to pull off an upset in 2023.
This is unrelated, but let’s also remember to honour our heroes past and not do things like this: