As Omisore Evades Debate, What Next For Him? By Ayo Akinola
In all known contests, debate is probably the best interaction to adjudge a candidate since there is not any other better known scientific method. The best democracy in the world, the United States of America, USA, is widely known to make use of debates as means to present candidates and their manifestoes to the electorates. This simple, entertaining and educative gathering does not have better alternative in the credible democratic electoral process.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) is a UN-partnered organisation, partially funded by the U.S. House of Representatives, that conducts international political programs, sometimes called democratization programs with special emphasis on promoting good governance. This organization invited all candidates for the August 9, 2014, governorship election in Osun State to a public debate billed to hold on the State Radio. This was seen as a window of opportunity for the citizens to assess all the candidates most especially the leading ones like Governor Aregbesola and Senator Iyiola Omisore. It would have afforded voters a good opportunity to make informed choice on Election Day. This would not in any way have been a bad idea judging from the fact that both candidates have been engaging in attacks and counter-attacks. There have been accusations and counter-accusations. For example, the PDP candidate had alleged that the administration awarded contracts to godfathers, relations and party leaders, especially persons from outside the state without executing the projects.
“Let us go to the so-called ‘Opon Imo’. This is an N8.4 billion scam handled by his biological son. Now, they are withdrawing them from the pupils. The device is valueless and it is just for profit-making and nothing else.
“In opon imo, we have 17 subjects and 87 per cent errors precisely. I went through it and I analyzed it. For instance, in opon imo, there is no single graph in mathematics, no single illustrative table and no single diagram. You can’t teach mathematics without graphs, without histograms, without tables and without diagrams,” Omisore alleged.
The above and others are very weighty allegations which a face-to-face encounter would have resolved and which would have afforded the citizens the opportunity of knowing the truth, first hand. These are not the types of allegations which a media aid would be competent to respond to. It needs clarity from the governor himself and vice-versa.
True to his words that he would not appear in a public debate with the incumbent Governor Aregbesola, Senator Omisore refused to turn up. How then do we assess a candidate if such refuses a public debate which would have afforded Osun indigenes an opportunity to know him and his party’s manifesto?
The debate would have normally afforded citizens to know their candidates better and make informed choice. Omisore would have thrown light on his stewardship as a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, how many bills he sponsored to favour his state and so on; he would have led us on a journey of the stewardship of the PDP when the Party held forte in Osun between 2003 and 2010. How the tribunal refused them the opportunity to complete their legion of projects in Osun; he would have find it interesting reminding us of how many roads, hospitals, fly-overs etc they provided us. But Omisore bungled it.
With his reported refusal to attend the debate on ground of insecurity for his person, it becomes clear that Omisore has something to hide, nothing concrete to offer and is deliberately refusing the people an opportunity to know the kind of person he is.
The position of the governor of a state in Nigeria is a highly exalted post such that the occupier ought to be above board in reasoning and in verbal comportment.
If a potential occupier of the post is afraid of the citizens, claiming that he may be attacked at the venue, then it throws out a question at us: how acceptable he is? Is it not a question of a man running away from his shadows? Or is he on a thought journey that the day of reckoning for the murderous criminality of his past is at hand? Is he insinuating that the governor would throw caution to the wind and physically attack him? These are questions begging to be answered.
Well, we should not be too surprised. We know where the senator is coming from. The PDP is known as a party of ‘Janduku’-trouble makers. There’s hardly any public outing of the PDP, anywhere in Nigeria, which will not end in blood-shedding. If that is what he thinks the ruling APC in Osun is about, he is clearly mistaken. The Omoluabi mantra of the administration has not lost on the governor, for him or any of his followers to engage in disgraceful acts.
Sometimes in November 2010, when Ogbeni was being sworn in in Osogbo Technical College field, I drove to the venue from my Lagos base to witness history. As impromptu and as the event was, with tumultuous crowd to witness, there was not a single record of violence or molestation. This was in clear contrast of what obtains in any gathering of the PDP. It does not matter how sparse the population, such gathering would almost always ended in chaos.
This was captured mildly by an elderly woman who was soliloquizing by my side as we walked away at the end of the swearing-in ceremony of Aregbesola. She captured it succinctly in Yoruba language when she said, “awon Omoluabi lo gbajoba yio, ti o ba se awon tibi ni, won ati maa sara won lada”, which literarily translate to “these are virtuous people that have now taken over governance. If it were the other ones, they would have engaged themselves with dangerous weapons”. With this elderly woman’s comment, one is not surprised where Omisore is coming from, for him to have insinuated violence at the proposed debate venue.
We appeal to the distinguished ex-senator to at least respect the wishes of the people of Osun by attending any subsequent debates he might be invited for. He is a leading candidate. The Nigeria Election Debate Group led by the veteran journalist, Chief Taiwo Alimi may soon extend the same invitation to candidates.
Omisore must come out to debate with Aregbesola. We want him to come and insist on his accusations so that Osun people will know who among the two of them, is the friend and who is the enemy of the people; so that he will show himself as a reliable and credible future governor; so that he will have all the opportunities to discredit the incumbent and possibly disgrace him out of power with his power of oratory. We need him. We promise his safety to and from the venue. But if he refuses to honour his people, then it shows how contemptuous of his them he is.
Omisore, please come. We are expecting you!
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