Ayisha Osori's detailed, up, close and personal account of her experience while running for the PDP Primary Elections in 2015 as documented in Love Does Not Win Elections is a must read not only for intending politicians but also for everyone seeking to understand the internal workings of the Nigerian electoral process. Little wonder I dubbed the book "Elections in Nigeria for Dummies". Besides its bare-it-all nature, the book's charm is in Ayisha's frank and sarcastic narration of the events that led to her loss of the AMAC/Bwari PDP Primaries ticket in 2015 general elections.
I came across the book for the first time in February 2019 at a book reading organized by TrustAfrica in Dakar. The robust discussions the book generated around politics in Africa and in Nigeria in particular made it a must read for me. As a Nigerian, I found the anecdotes used accurate, didactic and hilarious.
Ayisha Osori , Author “Love Does Not Win Elections”
A Nigerian lawyer, author, international development consultant, journalist and politician known for her work on good governance, gender equality and women’s economic and political participation, Ayisha is currently the Executive Director of OSIWA. Many flattering adjectives can be used to describe her but for continually speaking out against flagrant societal ills, I would describe her as bold and frank. Two adjectives that can also be used to qualify her book.
As she chronicles her experience, Ayisha details many of the issues that affect politics and its outcomes in Nigeria, I have highlighted some of those issues in the following paragraphs
Issues Around the Book
The Representation Tragedy - Through the pages of Ayisha's book, she explains how Nigeria's political machine is set up to ensure that the least qualified represents and lead the more competent majority. If you have been wondering how and why secondary school drop-outs are chosen over Harvard graduates at the polls in Nigeria, grab a copy of Ayisha's book!
Indigene Politics: It is rare to see politicians contest and win elections in states where they are not indigenes. An indigene of Kwara state, Ayisa was contesting to represent a constituency in Abuja and even though she had been resident in Abuja since 1996 and is more aware of the social issues that need adressing in Abuja than in Kwara, her non-indigene status worked against her at the Primaries.
-Heavy Weight of Influence Peddling: Influence peddling* was key to almost every meeting that she needed to have with the powers that be. Needless to mention that some of the influence peddlers failed to deliver on their promises even after collecting brown envelopes and big bags of rice. In her bid to meet and secure the support of Dame Patience Jonathan who was the First Lady in 2015, she was requested by a certain Chief Sanni to "bring like twenty thousand Naira" besides her voluntary gifts of fabrics and cartons of juice. Eventually, Ayisa never met Dame Jonathan.
Politicization and the Weaponization of Poverty : It would seem that Nigerian politicians deliberately fail to deliver on their campaign promises because poverty has become a kind of weapon used to keep the Nigerian masses in check and make them content with the handouts that they get every election. Poor performers retain political power thanks to the quality of representation of party delegates who will rather receive money-stuffed brown envelopes and party branded bags of rice every four years.
Women in Nigerian Politics: Love Does Not Win Elections underscores how politics as practiced in Nigeria minimizes women and hinders maximal female participation. On more than one occasion, she had to attend emergency late/mid night meetings in spite of having children. During one of the meetings she had with Ward representatives, one of the men present took the liberty to ask her if she had her husband's permission to contest. While this question might look innocent to some, I wonder how many men are publicly asked if they have their wives permission before contesting elections.
So, you know nothing about elections in Nigeria? Don't worry, Love Does Not Win Elections has got you covered! Order on Amazon: http://bit.ly/ldnwe
You can also follow Ayisa on Twitter: http://bit.ly/naijavt
*Influence peddling is the illegal practice of using one's influence in government or connections with persons in authority to obtain favours or preferential treatment for another in return for payment.