April Fools (I): Road To Perdition

by Osita Okoroafor

‘From shackles to a senatorial garb’ or better still ‘from Agodi prisons to Apo Village and even beyond’ could be apt titles for a biography on Chief Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy Governor of Osun State, Nigeria, who is currently on trial for the murder of Chief Bola Ige. Last Saturday during the recently concluded National Assembly polls Omisore overwhelmingly emerged the senator-elect for Osun East Senatorial District. It has become apparent despite the barefaced lies and double-speeches from the Olabode Georges and Vincent Ogbulafors of this world that Omisore has always been the turbo-thrust of PDP scheming in the Southwest. Will it be safe to surmise then that the late Chief Bola Ige was a permanent roadblock to a PDP inroad to the Southwest that needed uprooting? Now that this obstacle has been surmounted is Omisore being rewarded for his role? Is it moot then to say that the biggest beneficiaries from Ige’s death seem to be the PDP?

That PDP effortlessly overran AD in the Southwest seems to have dazed political pundits and stargazers. But why should it? The writings have always been on the wall. Remember that much denied PDP-AD Political Pact? It was the “voice of Afenifere but the hands of AD that exhausted all oratorical skills in its repertoire explaining Obasanjo as the most credible of all the presidential aspirants, hence its adoption of the PDP flag bearer. We were told in turn by Obasanjo that the basis of the pact was to curtail electoral violence in the Southwest- to turn the ‘wild wild west to a wise wise west’ (whatever that means).

Could this also be the reason why Senator Abraham Adesanya the leader of Afenifere could not deliver the AD from the paunches of the PDP in his very own backyard at Ijebu-Igbo? Why was Lagos spared the clutches of PDP? Can this miracle be factored on the premise that Governor Tinubu of Lagos state is the only one of the six governors in the Southwest to oppose Afenifere’s vast influence in AD or did Tinubu out-rig (word borrowed from the inimitable dictionary of Nigerian politics) PDP? If all dynamics of PDP’s better-improved fortunes in the Southwest are conjectured correctly, then, why is AD/Afenifere crying wolf by labeling the elections ‘a monumental fraud’? Why have they not joined the clamour for cancellation of the polls made by 12 out of the 16 parties, which partook in the elections (never mind the spurious nature of that call), given that AD was the only party humiliated in its stronghold?

It is indeed heartwarming when elders speak. Hear Oyo state Governor Lam Adesina: “I warn them against Saturday. Let them dare it on Saturday. They will see that they cannot rig in Oyo State.” This statement credited to the elderly governor by the Punch Newspapers in its publication of Tuesday, April 15, 2003 was meant to serve as a warning to marauding PDP, who he claimed rigged massively in Oyo state to ensure its victory at the recently concluded polls. In deference to his Excellency I make bold to state that: if PDP indeed rigged last Saturday’s National Assembly elections in Oyo state, not even Sango’s wrath will stop them from doing it again come Saturday April 19, 2003, unless…

If abiding by the PDP-AD pact (oral or written) means that every AD state governor is guaranteed a return to the state house, then Chief Adeshina should not stab his night sleep (he needs it after all), if not, it would be interesting watching the man effect his threat. Ditto all AD governors except maybe Tinubu. The point is that the moral grandstanding and showboating by AD/Afenifere is in my estimation lackustre and quite unconvincing. I put them to the strictest proof on how Obasnjo’s credibility has since leapfrogged from that of a pariah in 1999 to a messiah in 2003. Are we being made to understand that the pact is with Obasanjo not with PDP?

I have laboured to reconcile the ideologies of a progressive (left of the center) AD with that of a largely conservative PDP, but having failed I look to the AD leadership for a clear delineation of where PDP ends and AD begins in this curious arrangement. Did the leaders of Afenifere educate their followers on the need to back Obasanjo for the presidency, but shun his PDP for the state and legislative elections? Is such segregation feasible? Now that they are threatening mass protest votes against Obasanjo, should his government fail to address their allegation of mass rigging of polls (only in the Southwest) during last weekend elections, I would like to know how this threat would be carried out. This is ridiculous.

Whichever answers assuage these myriad questions; it is trite that the Southwest has stolen the show from the gun-totting touts in the Southeast. The events emanating from this region are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, which would unravel in a grand conspiracy theory come Saturday. If Saturday comes and the truth is told, then we might have answers to the questions plaguing the conduct of the recently concluded polls in the Southwest.

While the president indulges himself with congratulatory chest thumping on account of the conduct of ‘free and fair’ National Assembly elections, I am unbowed as a doomsday prophet. It is interesting that political strategizing and theorizing has been elevated to lofty standards in our polity. To the hand that has redrawn our political map, I say well done. Voting last Saturday revealed a return to the casting of ballot along ethnic lines. Balloting during the National Assembly elections revolved on the bi-polar fulcrum of the North and South political blocs: ANPP’s impressive victory in the core north was most probably due to the Buhari factor, likewise PDP’s remarkable inroad into the heart of the southwest has its root in its Yoruba presidential candidate. The other regions, particularly the Southeast and the South-South as usual, played to perfection their ignoble roles in the power equation game as pawns used to shift the balance of power to the propitious side on the power bar.

In deference to the president’s assertion, commendations from EU, AU and NDI (National Democratic Institute) and other foreign and local observers do not necessarily certify the elections as free and fair. There were several glitches, which I observed but will not dwell on here. However the Southeast and some parts of the South-South reportedly showcased its usual melodrama of sizzling political violence and half-baked plots of INEC officials colluding with the state government to ‘out-rig’ opposing parties.

As complaints of irregularities and cheating become rife, it is pertinent to state that since no one loses elections in Nigeria; rather ‘he/she must have been cheated out’ (my apologies to Alhaji Na’Abba) I need no bother with who won the rigging war. Nevertheless one curious feature that begs for an explanation is the election of Chief Iyiola Omisore into the senate. While seised of the rights of an accused person facing trial and being also aware that the constitution is silent on the right of such a person to vote or be voted for in an election, I might not be out of line to contest Omisore’s eligibility to stand for an election under whatever platform, since there are attendant moral issues, which impugn such a political gambit.

It could be wise to state that Omisore’s complicity in the murder of Chief Ige has chipped substantially at the clay of his character, and such damage can only be redeemed with an acquittal by a court of competent jurisdiction. Omisore is presently before such a court and is yet to be acquitted, yet PDP has deemed him clean enough to be soaked in the pure linen of legislating. This is unethical. PDP prides itself as a puritanical party chucking out “garbage” like Daniel Kanu on account of base antecedents, but would do an automatic volte face whenever such back stepping suits their whims. PDP as ‘the largest political machinery in Africa’ is wont to throw some of its bulk about, but when this shoulder shoving extends to the judiciary, then it portends some real dangers for our collective polity.

PDP may have wittingly preempted the judgment of the court, since it deemed Omisore worthy to walk the hallowed chambers of the Senate despite a possible walk to the gallows, if he is found guilty. What then if Omisore is found guilty?

I crave Chief Audu Ogbe’s pontification on his party’s sanctification of a murder suspect, who is yet to be acquitted with heightened anticipation. When Nigerians start talking (if Nigerians ever get talking), what reasons would he proffer for the election of a man who never campaigned for a day nor even voted for himself, a man with no manifesto, who is enmeshed in a battle to save his neck from the hangman’s noose. Would he tell us that the people of Osun-East could not find a worthy voice to speak for them in a country where honourable men are endangered specie?

If Saturday comes, perhaps we would know who has been fooling whom, but till then we are still walking the road to perdition.

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