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Olayinka Braimoh: Underestimated Yet Remains The Undisputed Last Man Standing

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By: Musa Olumayowa Yakubu

 

In Okunland, there is a saying that goes, “Oni o’idà ímédáni, èmomòtìyò,” which can be translated as, “Don’t rejoice yet, the loser is glaringly becoming the winner.” Similarly, a Yoruba proverb states, “Ìbèrè kín sonísé, àfeni báforítì dópin,” meaning starting is not as important as finishing, or a starter of a task shouldn’t be praised but the finisher. These adages truly reflect my stance, and you will only comprehend it if you read to the end.

Commencement

As the build-up to the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Kogi state began, Otunba Olayinka Braimoh publicly declared his intention to contest the seat in 2022, with prominently and conspicuously displayed billboards at the across the state. To the best of my knowledge, he was the first to publicly declare his intention, and since then, he has relentlessly fought for this.

Financial Allocation/Expenditure

The same can be said for his campaign budget. I highly doubt that any of the other candidates, including that of the ruling party, spent up to 70% of Braimoh’s budget. While it was evident that they were saving for vote-buying, Braimoh spared no expense. From financial support (gifts) to his supporters to media and all other campaign-related areas, he allocated funds that no other candidate could match. Even as I write this, he continues to spend in court to challenge the election process, which was unfairly and unintelligently rigged by the ruling party. However, he is a politician who abhors vote-buying. He believes that an individual’s political mandate should be freely exercised and not influenced by corrupt politicians. Consequently, he did not allocate funds for such purposes. This was the main reason why some traditional politicians, who were eagerly anticipating what is known as “pushing funds” on election day, were somewhat disappointed when the Action Alliance candidate did not release funds for vote-buying during the election.

Campaign

In all humility, none of the other contestants could match the campaign outreach of Otunba Olayinka Braimoh. His grassroots mobilization was exceptionally remarkable. He successfully reached out to nearly all the 239 political wards in the state. His campaign strategy was so impressive that even his opponents acknowledged that he had the best programme for the state. This was made possible through more than 150 town hall meetings. I had the opportunity to witness an event where a candidate from Kogi West, fully aware of Otunba Olayinka Braimoh’s exceptional campaign outreach, openly expressed to him that governorship campaigns should not extend beyond the local government area headquarters, claiming that going to the ward level would be a waste of time, energy, and resources. This statement was clearly an attempt to discourage Otunba Olayinka from proceeding with his groundbreaking campaign in the state.

Programme/Agenda

His agenda for the state was unparalleled, leaving no other candidate willing to engage in a public debate with him. His mission to eradicate poverty from the state through an agenda he called STAT (Solid minerals, Tourism, Agriculture, and Trade) was not only outstanding but also realistic. No other candidate could come up with an agenda that even came close to Braimoh.

Baseless Rumours

Prior to the party primaries, the prominent political figures in the state did not view Otunba Olayinka Braimoh as a serious contender. Many saw him as someone seeking political attention for future endeavors. However, once he became the flag bearer of the Action Alliance, he surprised the skeptics with his significant spending and unparalleled campaign style, primarily conducted through strategic town hall meetings.

 

As soon as they realized that his campaign was becoming unmatched, they began reaching out to him, seeking collaborations. Almost all the candidates approached him, but he tactfully declined their offers, advising them to continue with their respective campaigns and return a few weeks before the election to jointly decide whom to support based on campaign outreach. He took this decision knowing fully well that no other candidate can come close to his grassroot’s mobilisation

Regional Politics

In the realm of regional politics, candidates from all corners of the state began engaging in divisive tactics. Within Kogi West, one candidate boldly accused the Kogi West Elders Forum (KWEF) of accepting substantial bribes from another candidate in exchange for their support. Meanwhile, this same candidate faced the same accusations regarding the Okun Development Association’s (ODA) endorsement, with only a few members of the group cunningly endorsing his candidacy for Okun land. Braimoh on the other part, firmly stated that his campaign was not driven by tribal interests, but rather by his commitment to eradicate poverty in the state through his STAT Agenda. He emphasized that he represented the largest constituency of the impoverished and marginalized within the state.

Post Election

Today, it is evident that out of the three candidates from Kogi West, only Olayinka Braimoh remains in the race. The other two candidates failed to contest the election results, which were widely perceived as being manipulated by the ruling party, APC. The first candidate, a sitting member of the House of Representatives, did not challenge the outcome as he was merely following the script of the ruling party and never truly intended to run. This was evident in his speech and his relationship with the incumbent after the election. The second candidate, a well-known political player, also chose not to challenge the results due to the substantial funds he was able to cunningly mop up from his party and, surprisingly, a backdoor settlement from the ruling party in the state. These resources were sufficient to keep him away from the current political landscape of the state. That’s the primary reason he has long remained silent about political happening in the state which is very much unlike him (Uncle don cash out)

Conclusion

Despite being initially underestimated due to his status as a first-time candidate and his party, the Action Alliance, which was newly introduced to the state, Otunba Olayinka Braimoh has persevered. He continues to challenge the election process in court (Tribunal), and based on the progress thus far, it is not impossible for the election to be deemed invalid having realised that the result declared was allocated and not a true reflection of voters collective decision. A fresh election may be ostensibly conducted thereafter.

 

Therefore, without any iota of doubt, Otunba Olayinka Braimoh stands as the last man standing and may ultimately have the final laugh.

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