THE current scenarios on the political terrain of Edo State are deserving of penetrating and unflinching attention. Indeed, this article could well have been titled ‘’ Edo PDP in the theatre of Appeal Court’’, or the ‘’ locus classicus of obstruction Vs progress in Nigeria polity’’. Consequent on the resounding verdict of the Election Tribunal on Friday, April 14th, the defeated governorship candidate of the fractured Edo State PDP (Ize-Iyamu) has been ‘threatening’’ that he would appeal the judgment. Ize-Iyamu reportedly told supporters in his campaign office after the tribunal’s verdict that he might actually go all the way to the Supreme Court, if he so desires.
Some distinguished citizens and leaders of state have since then appealed to Ize-Iyamu to humbly accept the verdict of the tribunal. It is my unmistakable prediction that Ize-Iyamu will go on appeal, and he should if he so desires to exercise his constitutional rights under the nation’s electoral laws. However, such a decision has absolutely nothing to do with any meritorious cause or public service mission. The outcome of the candidate’s journey on the appellate terrain is a foregone conclusion: Edo people will be subjected to another round of bagatelle and masquerading acrobatics staged as serious legal disputation. The rapidly dissipating base of the PDP will hold on the dope of hope being pumped by the candidate-they will be deflated and disappointed at the end because there was no foundation of justice in the quest from the onset.
If one were to offer a counsel, the candidate should not have even gone to the election tribunal initially-but once Ize-Iyamu began such a journey on a precariously and seemingly vain glorious slippery slope, it is now unnecessary, and perhaps impossible to stop the litigant from cascading into an inevitable abyss of his own making. Why should a party that was fully aware that it woefully lost an election proceed to the tribunal to squander the collective time of Edo people and to make mockery of itself as a political party? So miserable was the case presented by PDP’s team that the tribunal judges were collectively and pointedly repugnant of the vexatious nature of Ize-Iyamu’s petition. Perhaps, the leadership of Edo PDP could draw from the words of wisdom of their colleague across River Osse who lost an election in Ondo State. Eyitayo Jegede , a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in his own right and the PDP governorship candidate in the recent election had a more humble, a healthy and selfless acceptance of reality. Jegede did not attempt to use his knowledge of law to create a corrosive and heated atmosphere in Ondo State, he resisted the temptation to blame external parties for the failure of the PDP in the contest and also adopted an endearing philosophical and public-oriented frame in the circumstance. With a statesmanlike and patriotic demeanor, Jegede was quoted as saying’’ …I offered myself to serve, not because of self seeking desire but because of the goal to serve’’.’’ If the goal is to serve and to work, why should I go to the extreme to foist myself on the people’’, so the Ondo PDP candidate declared. Jegede’s voice carries the profile of honour and dignity-he reflects the character of a leader who knows when ‘enough should be enough’ in the collective interest and advancement of the society.
For Edo PDP governorship candidate and its leadership, the story and stance is shamefully and abominably different. If the PDP and Ize-Iyamu were to go on appeal, the action would in real term be the third leg in their battle and race against Democracy. First, the party attempted to scuttle and negate the legitimately expressed wishes of Edo people by mass disseminating absolutely false results on September 28th, 2016 on the date of election-the diabolical intention was to inflame anarchy and civil disorder in a most risky gamble from which the PDP thought that the party could benefit.
Having failed with the desperate attempt at manipulating and fictionalising the results, PDP rushed to the election tribunal. The three judges unequivocally and unanimously dismissed PDP and Ize-Iyamu’s petition. In a remarkable instance regarding allegations of non-compliance with electoral laws, the tribunal said that the ‘’ petitioner and the PDP called witnesses but have no evidence to back their claims’’. The tribunal also described the petitioners complaints of over voting as ‘’…hot air with no value in the argument’’. All through the ruling, nearly all the supposed major grounds of Ize-Iyamu’s petition was punctured for deficit of credible evidence and solid basis in law.
The PDP and its candidate may proceed to the Appeal court if they so wish as the mass majority of Edo people have already constituted their own jury of history. The citizenry is travelling in a different direction. They are closely watching what is now obviously a self aggrandizing and precarious game of perpetual obstruction by one party. On the other side, around their neighbourhoods, Edo people are witnesses to the genuine efforts of a governor that is actively engaged in the rehabilitation of nearly 100 kilometers of inner city roads to ease commute for the citizenry. The youths of Edo State are enthused with credible hope as they are being registered for the take off stage of various projects for thousands of respectful jobs. Plans are reportedly being perfected to get Benin Technical College running again as a location for nurturing internationally certified skilled manpower in various fields. A fabrication village for maturation and modernisation of technical skills is being contemplated by Obaseki’s administration. There is progressive momentum in the arena of boosting the states’ profile as a national leader in green revolution and agribusiness.
It seems that the only response by the opposition to all of these positive initiatives is more obstruction and diversionary drama of endless electoral litigation. Edo people will never forget and may not forgive those who have apparently resolved to squander and sacrifice the valuable time and opportunities of the many for the narrow interest of the few.
It does not matter how long the litigious script of the PDP extends, the star of Edo people will remain constant- September 28th is sacred and irreversible, the Court of Appeal as well as the Supreme Court will see the petition for what it is-an egotistic political document for shaped for legal adventurism- the manifest destiny of Edo people as legitimately and democratically expressed in the election will never be altered.
Mr. Oteghe Adams, a political commentator , wrote from Benin City, Edo State