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Edo 2024 : Era of Artificial Intelligence As Campaign Begins Ahead of Poll in September

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By Austin Isikhuemen

Edo gubernatorial election is scheduled for September 2024. The umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), blew the whistle to mark the take-off of formal campaigning by the political parties and their candidates on 24th April 2024. Very soon we will begin to see the candidates on soapboxes throwing light on their manifestoes and explaining their strategies to better the lot of Edo people. There are exciting times ahead. Some will throw opacity as is their way in politics.

It is only the undiscerning that will not know that informal campaigns have long started at townhalls, palace engagements, visits to community leaders, campuses, bars and staff clubs, talk shows and social media platforms, social events like burials, coronations and birthday gigs as well as party secretariats across the state. These have been devoid of party slogans and noisy truck-mounted loudspeakers that make it impossible for folks to avoid what is being said and who is in the village square. But the message was so clear at this stage and the questions-and-answers part so enlightening that the grains are already being sieved from the chaff.

Let us have a look at what has happened so far. It is said that it is with the first grain of corn that you tell the mouth that food is on the way. That is an Esan proverb. The English also say the morning tells the day. In order words, the initial step is indicative of the final outcome. Social media platforms and orthodox media including Television, Newspapers, Radio Stations are all being used by the candidates and their surrogates and opponents to market themselves and their candidates and his ideas or de-market their opponents. This methodology was used to devastating effect in the 2020 elections. This will even be more so in this era of artificial intelligence and ubiquity of broadband in which Edo leads most states of the Federation.

One of the characteristics that will make this Edo off-season Gubernatorial Elections very interesting for the voters and onlookers is the independent mindedness of most voters. A state with high proportion of well-educated voters that do not need an interpreter to understand what is being said without the risk of interpreter slant that is inevitably introduced when used. The pidgin English, widely spoken and understood by majority of our people, is going to take centre stage and any candidate, who cannot speak it well should better enrol for night lessons.

I say this because making mistakes even in pidgin English would be taken by our people as a massive sign of unseriousness. Even capacity and capability deficit. Mark my words! So, better go and prepare even if you have to use AI which is highly used in learning these days. By AI, I do not mean Asue Ighodalo. I mean artificial intelligence. It is a mere coincidence that the acronym matches not only that of one candidate, it also matches my own as Austin Isikhuemen is also another type of AI though not yet of the gubernatorial hue!

So, how far did the pre-campaign period go? How did the candidates fare? Have there been faux pas where any of the candidates put their foot in the mouth, in a manner of speaking? Which candidate has been up and about, visibly, and which has been mostly crawling around in the dark? Which candidate has shone like a thousand stars as his own man? Which has shown up as a dull, uninspiring and follow-follow puppet of behind-the-scene string pullers? Which of the candidates has been honouring all and any invitations and answering every question thrown at him by any medium? Which candidate, in your own view, has been unafraid to face any audience?

All the candidates in this race have pedigrees and track record. But can we also dispassionately judge which of the candidates has the required pedigree and track record to lead Edo State to a prosperous future where everyone, and not the godfathers alone, will benefit and enjoy the dividends of democracy and good governance? Which of these candidates can hold a meeting one-on-one with a Japanese or an American investor, understand what they are saying and not sell Edo State short out of ignorance or greed? Tell me!

Which of the candidates comes from a background of word-class good governance and management excellence rather than backdoor loot-sharing and opaque disbursement of largesse? Which of the frontrunners is likely to have receipts for all his transactions and be unafraid of leaving an audit trail or indeed, deliberately leaves traceable documented evidences of what took place and how?

There are so many questions still. Which of the candidates has demonstrated youthfulness and made the youth the centre-stage of his quest for leadership? I will not tell you, ask the youth. Real youth. Not the 60-year-olds parading themselves as youth leaders! How familiar are the candidates with the things that the youth are passionate about? Football, sports generally, learning, technology including AI. Contemporary dress sense too. Did you see the engaging sessions at some of the venues where the youths asked probing questions and were inspired with glowing words about what they can achieve based on their knowledge of principles and not who they know? Have you listened well to the ideas the candidates are sharing on women, people with disability, the elderly? It is the way a government treats the most vulnerable in its society that determines how good the government is.

Recently, President Tinubu delegated Governor Obaseki to represent him and Nigeria at a global forum The 60th International Art Exhibition (Biennale Arte 2024) organised by La Biennale di Venezia in Italy. Which of the candidates in this race can be delegated such responsibilities without giving the President and Nigerians high blood pressure and a sense of underwhelming outcome? Olu, Manday or Asue? Think on that!
What did the President see that made him send an opposition governor? That is the man they say the Federal might would be massed against in September? What do I know?

During this pre-campaign period, one or two certificates hit the social media. This is not new in Edo politics. It was centre-stage in 2020. There was an unprecedented appearance of an official of a foremost university coming out to attest to the authenticity of an alumnus of whom they are very proud! That had not happened before and has not happened again since. So, every candidate had better prepare for this sort of politico-academic manoeuvre. Saying “e no mean”, pidgin for “it doesn’t matter”, may not work in this time of technology and knowledge engineering! Analogue has given way to digital. We are tired of living in the past.

As we head into the political campaigns proper, and later, elections in September, let Edo people and voters shine their eyes. Edos have actually left the era of mere political parties to candidates who can perform. Capacity, competence, capability, modernity and youthfulness derived from the heart and not chronology! Carrying a bag for a potentate has its benefits but it also comes with its own baggage! It cannot in itself be a sufficient condition for effective leadership and performance excellence as extant evidence has shown.

Some may not consider this next point as important. But I do. This is because the quality of a First Lady can determine the outlook and performance of a male governor. Did everyone not see what Mitchel did for the Obama Presidency? Or the impact of Dr. Jill Biden (who still teaches today) on the flavour of Biden’s White House? So, Edo people must see and evaluate the spouses of the front runners to see which of them can add value to governance and not just be an Aso-Ebi organizer at State events.

Track record that can be above par, that can come out tops even at global scrutiny, that’s what Edo needs at this time to continue the match to stardom among the thirty-six states. The same way the Midwest, and later, Bendel State, were among the regions and later, states of this Federal Republic. If my use of AI brought Asue Ighodalo to your mind, it is a mere coincidence.

Edited by Goodluck B Ikiebe.

Global News Network Correspondent
Global News Network Correspondenthttps://globalnewsnetwork.com.ng
GNN is a News blog based in Nigeria to educate, inform and Analyse issues of interest like Politics, Health, Solid Minerals, Energy and Power, Transportation, Defence and Security, Sports and Entertainment to our teeming audience. Stories are generated by seasoned veteran Editors and Journalists. We Say It As It Is.

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