1. Public Opinion,
2. Organisational/Structural Ability, and,
Among the three, Public Opinion is about the most important closely followed by Organisation with Finance maintaining its usual third position. In the just-concluded elections in Ogun State, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) posted a huge loss across board in what did not surprise some notable political analysts. Public Opinion was heavily against the party, which also has a very poor organizational/structural base.
The major asset of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Aremo Olusegun Osoba, was also the party’s biggest albatross. Osoba was painted as a greedy old man bent on plundering the resources of Ogun State by supporters and strategists of the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to this perfidious Gospel by agents of insidious propaganda, Osoba wanted the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to be sharing whatever revenue the state has with him. Amosun, on the other hand, argued otherwise, insisting that whatever comes in should be used to develop the state – according to those who painted Osoba black.
Meanwhile, not one of the spin doctors remembered it was an insistence on internal democracy within the newly formed APC that led Osoba and other key leaders of the defunct Action Congress (AC) out, forcing them to seek refuge under the SDP. Amosun single handedly decided on the APC structure throughout Ogun State, leading to his handpicking of candidates for every elective position on the platform of the party. Till date, reference to this fact has been buried under the avalanche of spin about Osoba’s greed concerning Ogun State’s funds.
But whether by accident or design, Osoba did not only refuse to defend himself using every available media of mass communication at his disposal, the veteran journalist and old political war horse adopted a strange slogan for SDP in Ogun State – Ka jo se, ka jo je (indirectly confirming what Amosun’s spin doctors were dishing out about him). It was as if an Eedi was at work to keep the old man away from checking the advances made against him by the APC. Thus, right from inception, SDP in Ogun State was on the wrong side of Public Opinion. To make matters worse, until after the first election, there was no cohesive propaganda efforts against the incumbent administration by a party claiming to be after Amosun’s seat. To a number of people, it was as if the SDP was taking a walk in the park by its carefree attitude towards an all-important election.
The campaign of the SDP was something else. If Seyi Makinde went all out to show he has popular support in Oyo State through massive mobilization of supporters at every campaign outing, Ogun State SDP’s was different. SDP campaign across the state displayed scanty population of people, ‘proving’ to naysayers that the old men were just wasting their time as they had no serious supporter in any part of the state. Instead of pumping funds into mobilization, SDP leaders were busy arranging electricity transformers, boreholes and grading of rural roads in an era when “many is King.” Communities that benefited from such efforts did not return the favour electorally. Instead, they voted for the ruling APC, which appeared to have more supporters than it needed. The other beneficiary was the opposition PDP, which was all out with massive crowd anywhere the party campaigned. Even the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), which many did not believe could pull any weight had more votes in some polling units than the SDP apparently due to the party’s style of campaign – maximum mobilization of supporters.
In terms of structure, the SDP appeared to have lost Ogun State ACN’s First Eleven to the APC. The structure of the SDP across the state is nothing to write home about. Interestingly, there was no effort made to sideline this weak structure by setting up a parallel campaign outfit that would have made better efforts towards winning the elections. The leadership knew many in its structure were not only weak, but grossly incompetent. Yet, they were the ones saddled with election responsibilities. Why this was allowed still remains a mystery to many. But it was like that from Day One, when membership drive for SDP began.
Ordinarily, a quality political leader should not lose his polling unit or Ward for that matter. But special circumstances might arise giving room to such negative developments. But a party official or leader without quality following in his/her area is not an issue that the SDP leadership should have treated with levity. Funds and other logistics meant for the election went into such black holes, making a nuisance of the enormous contributions of the National Assembly members who were the major backbones of the SDP towards the elections.
I know there are still issues with Education, Unemployment, Rural Development, Potable Water, Healthcare Services in Ogun State. The ball remains in the court of our Leader. Whatever role is assigned, we shall play to the best of our ability.