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Absurdity in the Midst of a Great Celebration

Dr Stephen Ayo Fagbemi
Published November 10th, 2010

Nigeria is so full of interesting scenes, right from the sensible to the obscene. In the 50th year of its independence it is the struggle to entrench democracy that constitutes another of its many great challenges apart from the monster called corruption and the dilapidation of infrastructures evident everywhere.

It is the recent court verdict in favour of Dr Kayode Fayemi, the ACN gubernatorial candidate in Ekiti State in the last election that raises some interesting issues again. Ordinarily it is a cause for rejoicing and huge celebration given that Dr Fayemi has had to wait 40 months for his mandate to be validated by the Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin . While this celebration is on-going, the matters arising from this need not be overlooked as I believe that they are very important especially for posterity. I dare say that in the midst of this, there is an absurdity that bothers on disrespect to the people of Ekiti State whose votes have finally been made to count.

Many people would feel vindicated by this latest act of the Appeal Court of Ilorin, not least the many election observers at the rerun election who were mercilessly beaten by political thugs and the scores of journalists who were abused and bastardised in the course of performing their legitimate duties and tasks during the election. Of course, the enthusiastic majority who went out to cast their votes during the election should now breathe a sigh of relief, as the verdict has finally given recognition to the genuine intent of the people of the state.
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Dr Fayemi has undoubtedly demonstrated resilience, doggedness and great courage throughout this process and he seems to have a date especially with the Court of Appeal in Ilorin . Following the 2007 elections, which had been declared in favour of the PDP candidate, former Governor Segun Oni, it was the Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin that nullified the result and ordered a rerun in selected constituencies and local government areas in Ekiti. Unfortunately, the rerun election was marred by the antics of desperate politicians aided by political thugs, all showing signs of desperation and well-orchestrated strategy to rig ex-governor Oni into office. Many actors were involved in the drama that followed. Chief Mrs Ayoka Adebayo, the Resident Electoral Officer absconded claiming she could not do anything against her conscience and her Christian faith as though she was under pressure. Not even our apostle of rebranding, the Information Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili was untainted in this drama. In the end Mrs Adebayo was pressurised and she gave up her initial resistance; she declared what many would believe to be spurious election result in favour of Mr Segun Oni. This was greeted with dismay, outcry and disagreement which resulted in another round of election tribunal that cowardly confirmed the INEC result.

As though Mrs Ayoka Adebayo’s initial claim hadn’t already showed the whole world that there was something unusual happening (not unusual in Nigeria where rigging was conventional). Now at long last, destiny would confirm that Dr Fayemi’s fate and his right to the keys of the Governor’s house of Ekiti is to be finally sealed in the same court of appeal that had initially ordered the rerun election. Is Dr Fayemi a man of destiny? I would suggest that Ilorin has a place in his destiny and political history. It is in Ilorin that justice has come for him and all lovers of democracy in Nigeria and especially those in Ekiti State . So congratulations are in order to both the new Governor of Ekiti State who has had to wait for nearly three and a half years to regain his mandate and to the entire people of Ekiti State .

Any observer would know that left to INEC and the enemies of democracy in Nigeria , Dr Fayemi could have remained simply one of the contenders for the office of the Governor of Ekiti. It is to the judiciary that gratitude is due for the bold and courageous judgement that has seen justice enthroned in Ekiti State .

Now in the midst of this celebration, there also came along the absurd and ridiculous, which I am still trying to make sense of. The presentation of certificate of election to the new governor by INEC was in my opinion the height of absurdity. What exactly was this supposed to mean? That Ekiti had elected the governor under the supervision of INEC? Far from it! We all know that without the court this would only have remained a wish. I would suggest that it was an anomaly to have the INEC present a certificate of election to someone they had denied the same certificate a couple of times. One could say that INEC was only acting on the orders of the court or that one could not be a governor unless he had a duly issued certificate by INEC; but this is anachronistic given that INEC had colluded with the enemies of democracy in each case. Or would it mean that INEC had now changed its position or accepted it was on the wrong side of history? I remain unconvinced about this, and I find no reason to commend INEC at all. Rather, I believe that INEC ought to be investigated for its role in the whole saga. It is unfortunate that INEC had shown itself as a polluted and biased umpire in the Ekiti gubernatorial election. One could only hope that it would not compromise its integrity in the future. But I am quite content and willing to see a governor rule simply because the courts have vindicated him and restore justice without any INEC certificate rather than celebrate the absurdity of the presentation of a certificate of election in which INEC had compromised the integrity of the electoral process and sided with the electoral thieves and manipulators.

The vindication of the governor by the law court confirms that INEC and all those involved in manipulating the rerun election in Ekiti were wrong. Now, Mrs Ayoka Adebayo ought to be investigated further about the initial comments of those days before she absconded. Nigerians deserve to know the true story surrounding the manipulation of that result. Our apostle of rebranding and Information Minister ought to apologise to us for the role of government at compelling Mrs Adebayo to declare that election. In fact, the Police who declared her wanted are equally culpable and Nigerians must know the whole story. Thankfully the former INEC Chair, Professor Iwu has been removed; otherwise the whole of INEC should have been disbanded for their role in this unfortunate incident. Nonetheless Professor Iwu now ought to be invited to tell us why the certificate that they could not issue then has now been issued by INEC. He must know something we do not. The new INEC chair has a lot to do in disabusing the minds of Nigerians about the infamous antecedents of INEC. They have to prove to Nigerians that our votes will count at the next poll. Otherwise presenting a certificate of election three and a half years after it was due does not seem to me anything to commend. Rather we have the court to thank once again for standing up for the masses.

What Nigeria now needs is to know the whole story surrounding the last rerun of Ekiti gubernatorial election. If every soul is truly to matter in Nigeria , justice must be done; but every soul also deserves to be treated with utmost respect; they deserve to know what is being done about them and what was done with their votes. There is no place to hide; the truth must be unveiled. Whilst congratulating the new Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, he must realise that to whom much is given much will be expected. Nigerians, especially people of Ekiti, deserve good governance. And anything short of that would amount to another form of injustice. We wish Dr Fayemi a successful tenure, God’s strength and focus, vision and energy, in the discharge of his duties.

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