Home Opinion The ‘Slowed Engine’ as an epidemic on our hands

The ‘Slowed Engine’ as an epidemic on our hands

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“His engine is slowed, but the heartbeat will be back”, was a quotable quote credited to Senator Adams Oshiomhole in a viral video when he presented the candidate of my party, Senator Monday Okpebholo, to the people of Egor recently in Benin City.

One of the most damaging legacies of our democratic experience may be that it persuaded people with absolutely no qualifications that they could and should run for public office — and that at least some of the time, Nigerians might be foolish enough to vote for them both at the party primary stage and in general elections.

After all, that was the clear takeaway from the primary elections of my party, where the likes of Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and Prince Clem Agba, among several others, were screened out from contesting the election and immediately skewed for the ‘slowed engine’ we now have on our hands. Isn’t it? That you don’t need to be smart, experienced, level-headed, or decent to win an election. You don’t need a rationale or a plan. You just need money, chutzpah, and not too much personality. Name recognition — positive or negative — doesn’t matter either.

Let’s contextualize the statement credited to the Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District. What does it mean to have a ‘slow engine’? Typically, it means that someone with a slowed engine is slow to react, think, or move. Someone who takes longer to process information, make decisions, or perform tasks compared to others. It can imply a lack of quickness or agility, either mentally or physically. Some people say it means to be mentally retard.

Some say he’s a lucky man, which is why he came out of nowhere and won my party’s ticket for the Senate election and subsequently, the governorship ticket. They even boasted that with his overflowing luck, he would clinch victory in the 21st September governorship election because iit’sall about luck and grace.

For me, it smacks of laziness and superstition for anyone to hope to win elections by luck. They even claim that he’s an easygoing man – a happy-go-lucky type! Is this not the description of Africa? And are we not true to type? Very superstitious people? Isn’t that why we are backward? While serious-minded countries are working hard, we are busy sleeping in churches, believing we can solve our problems and develop our state and country with luck instead of hard work.

I heard them saying the other candidate hasn’t voted in his life before in Edo state and that he recently acquired a brand new voter’s card during the recently concluded continuous voter registration (CVR). Then I asked them, how does that disqualify him from contesting the election or being voted for? The outgoing governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, was a candidate of my party when he contested elections in Edo state. He never had a party card nor a voter’s card, but my party fielded him. So, when hypocrites talk, they forget their own actions yesterday.

There’s one other hypocrite in my party who pretended to be contesting the election but never bought forms. He would later step down pretending the leaders said he should. And then, he started supporting the candidate of another leader. When this candidate was roundly trounced in the second leg of the primary, tele-guided by the powers that be in Abuja, my friend cried out loud and lamented that Abuja godfathers should come and deliver their candidate and that they should leave his godfather out of it. But today, he’s singing a different song for the man whose ‘engine is slow’. Let’s leave it coded; at the appropriate time, I will elucidate when they are reaping the whirlwind.

Now, they are battling to whip an unknown businessman who accidentally won a senatorial seat into line for the gubernatorial contest without success. They complain every day, but it’s too late to cry — although gnashing of teeth is allowed.

I call him a ‘dilettante’ candidate. The one who won the senatorial seat by luck, won the governorship ticket by luck and is hoping to win the gubernatorial elections by luck. He’s likely to also govern us and develop Edo state by luck. This unknown businessman who never held public office and was never willing to start at the beginning in local politics as a councillor. Why should he? After all, councillors are for little people. Not for those loyal to Abuja godfathers and who believe my party controls the umpire who will summarily declare him winner before noon. This thought alone really mystifies me in a democracy.

Even more mystifying is the fact that his godfathers are in the mud in their various states. They have no name or reputation except that they are notorious for the wrong reasons. And to worsen it all, my party’s candidate doesn’t appear to have a record of his own to run on apart from being a personal assistant to a former national leader of the PDP who is now deceased.

Now don’t get me wrong. Everyone has the right to run for office, including a 419er, yahoo boys, among others, without previously holding office — if only you see the willingness of voters to take fliers, caps, T-shirts, and other campaign souvenirs and jump into the fray.

Again, everyone has the right to run for office, but not every candidate has the right to be taken seriously just as my party’s candidate with a slowed engine. And here’s why all this matters — the amateurization of Nigerian politics.

If you tell him he’s an amateur in politics, they will tell you he’s rich, connected, and that even without being famous, he would win irrespective of his ‘slowed engine’ and lack of competence. Is this amateurization of our politics really a problem? A lot of voters don’t think it is, neither do they care.

Politics is a complex business, and while experience is no guarantee of competence, inexperience is hardly an asset. This is the epidemic we currently have on our hands. The candidate who lacks the ability to negotiate, cut complex deals, work across the aisle, jolt his party into action, and inspire citizens cannot make Edo rise again — and as such, government functions are all at risk if he waggles his way into office. If you don’t believe the Distinguished Senator that his ‘engine is slowed,’ just wait for it.

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