Refreshing Breezes Blowing From The Election Tribunals

We thought that all hell was going to break loose again when the election tribunal in Anambra state upturned the purported ‘victory’ of one of Olusegun Obasanjo’s godsons, Andy Uba in favour of the incumbent, Peter Obi. Notice that word again. It is borne out of the apprehension that, if the younger brother of the man whose election ‘victory’ was annulled, could unleash the kind of mayhem he did on his insolent godson, Chris Ngige, what would his elder brother, Andy, who was Obasanjo’s favourite of the two Ubas not do? This was mindful of the fact that the government of Olusegun Obasanjo, which handled the case like a partial father and under whose watch the season of anarchy lasted, had ceased to be. Apart from that too, the elder Uba had taken the precaution to lock up his rather hot-headed younger brother, ostensibly to check his many perceived and unperceived acts of political tantrums. Therefore, it had occurred to a great many Nigerian that if the elder Uba could go that extra length to lock his younger brother up until he was duly ‘elected’, then there was nothing he wouldn’t do to reclaim the office that the judiciary eventually wrested from him. But surprise, surprise, and much to everyone’s relief, Andy Uba walked away quietly with his tail between his legs with a whimper. Many have attributed his quietly walking away to the fact that the man has urbane antecedents. They say he is a gentleman. They say that his gentlemanly response is a product of the kind of schools he attended.

But is that completely right? Recall sirs what everyone knew to be the hand-of-Esau-voice-of-Jacob, jibiti methods that Obasanjo employed in handling the Anambra stalemate. You recall too that justice was eventually served, albeit slowly, in favour of the APGA man, Peter Obi, and an Ngige of the PDP had to vacate the office he colluded with his principals to occupy. Recall again that when the elections in April were concluded, that Peter Obi went to the courts and got judgment that his tenure had not come full circle before Andy Uba assumed office. Recall for the last time sirs, that that judgment would have been made light work of if the former bull in the china shop of the judiciary was still there. Seemingly, there was no way an Andy Uba, a PDP candidate and protégé of the former president could have vacated that seat. At best, what would have happened would have been that that judgment in favour of Peter Obi would have been read upside down with a monocle by the PDP, and all sorts of delay tactics put in place to continue with the illegality that was the hallmark of the Anambra debacle.

That was what was going to happen if the political nonmathematical decision-taking processes had not shifted in favour of the man suspected to be Obasanjo’s major-domo. When he came in, he did leave everyone in a lot of doubt as to whether or not he was going to serve the interests of his fatherland or that of his godfather. The methods leading to his election were all fraught with the gra-gra tactics of his mentor. His former colleagues, Igbinedion and Ibori, when they knew he was touted to be president spent a lot of cash and the goodwill generated from their ill begotten wealth to shore up his profile. Therefore, when he got in and he said he was going to make the rule of law the fulcrum of his administration, many who thought he was trying to legitimize the illegitimacy that ushered him in, hardly gave him room to try and settle down.

Perhaps so. But it was that assertion of his, bordering on his determination to respect the rule of a law that his predecessor never respected, that is giving some modicum of respect to the business of governance in Nigeria today. It was that assertion of his, perhaps so with his determination (if he really so is determined) that has introduced some form of fresh breeze in our polluted political polity. It is an inexorable wind of change, after it swept off Andy Uba, blew up North like a cyclone, threatening to sweep off the Kebbi governor, and now Governor Idris of Kogi State. But the most fundamental of them all so far, was the judgment by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, deposing Celestine Omehia as governor of Rivers State, and introducing Rotimi Amechi as the man duly elected, even though he was allegedly not sponsored by his party, the PDP. It only just goes to show that almost 90 per cent of the governors, who served two terms, only did the biddings of the men who sponsored them. It just goes to show too that there are certain evidences of history that we should not take for granted as a nation. The evidence of history in the Anambra case is what played out in the Rivers case. What makes the Rivers case fundamental is that that state and its political disposition has far-reaching implications for everyone – the people of Rivers State, our economy and how it effects and influences the shilly-shally, higgledy-piggledy pricing of oil on the global market.

But now, it is not the fundamentals of the Supreme Court judgment in deposing the Rivers State impostor, Celestine Omehia, that Nigerians should be concerned. Justice was served and has been seen by all to have been served. However, Nigerians should be wary of the significance of that judgment vis-à-vis its relationship with the burden and evidence of history. With due respect to the breeze of the respect for the rule of law blowing tenaciously across the land, what implications are there for the major debutantes, Atiku Abubakar, Muhammadu Buhari and Musa Yar’Adua in the April presidential elections? The questions we must all attempt to answer now before we get there is this: what will be the evidence of these landmark decisions on the fate of the president if a tribunal decides that his election as president was flawed? Will he step down in obedient to the rule of the law he has promised to uphold? Will it come to the point where we will have either Atiku Abubakar or a Muhammadu Buhari eventually becoming president? What will be the implications for Nigeria and our long ago quest for sustainable human development and fiscal accountability in the business of our government? Notice and recall once more that Nigeria used to be a place where institutions of state became subservient to the man in power as soon as he becomes the man in power. Take the loose instance of the Nigerian police force that automatically becomes the personal security outfit of the chief executives of the state. But with the Anambra, Kebbi, Kogi and Lagos election petition judgments, no more now, it seems, what with the refreshing gale of wind blowing across the land.

But the questions as to what will eventually happen if a ruling from the Supreme Court decides that President Yar’Adua was not properly elected is insignificant at this point. This is because the man would have no choice in the matter but to step aside for the next man. What is significant however, is that Nigeria is passing through a phase that neither the president nor the people who may take over from him have any power over.

Written by
MajiriOghene Bob Etemiku
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