The next fear after Soludo’s victory

3 weeks ago 28

After last Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State, many have been wary of what card is up the sleeves of those who lost in the contest. It is still a wet paint situation in Anambra State. Most of the contestants in the poll and bigwigs from different political divides have been sending their congratulatory messages and concessionary ballads to Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Yes, but the Anambra political sky still looks misty and cloudy, a la Majek Fashek. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ in the minds of the people because universally, there is total lack of trust in what an archetypal politician cannot do or become when the matter is elections and gaining power. And that is more so for its Nigerian model…

Candidate of ADC, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, was the first to throw in the towel when APGA cleared 18 of the 20 local governments where polling had been concluded on the first day. At the conclusion of the supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area, Senator Ifeanyi Uba of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) reached out to and congratulated Professor Soludo. Then, Mr. Val Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) followed suit to widen the relief. Dr. Chris Ngige, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), yes, the same Ngige that was kidnapped as a sitting governor, also felicitated Soludo. Ngige is Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Productivity and the highest-ranking APC chief in Anambra State and indeed. However, the party’s candidate, Chief Andy Uba, did not join the chorus. People said Uba would rather ignite an affray. And that is where the people’s fear stems from.

The discerning Anambra person knows that Òkúkò kà bè nà ngù (the fowl is still perching on the rope) The electoral victory of APGA’s Soludo and his running mate, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, is sealed by the people’s votes and delivered by the pronouncement of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but the contest is not a done deal yet. There are chances that the second round of the contest would be in the courts, a tense battle that could drag to the Supreme Court before the war can be said to be over indeed.

The last Anambra election would not have been anything to worry about if we are to go plainly by the votes cast by the electorate and the results declared by INEC. But the memory of the Supreme Court verdict in the 2019 governorship election in neighbouring Imo State creates fears in the people. Not a few Nigerians have been cringing under the flapping wings of that Supreme Court judgement that enthroned Senator Hope Uzodinma and dethroned the man everyone else except the Supreme Court Justices believed actually won the election. The jitters are even more pronounced when it is remembered that Emeka Ihedioha had been in office for about eight months as governor of Imo State before Supreme Court happened on January 14, 2020.

Many things accentuate the fears post-Anambra election. A system that questionably brought a fourth-placed candidate to become the first should be feared. The scenario of Imo State is a forbidden food in our plate. Before Imo, there was Osun State during the second term of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as governor of the state. In that era, governorship election petitions terminated at the Court of Appeal and whatever outcome at that court was final. Then, the Court of Appeal under Justice Ayo Salami sacked Oyinlola as governor and in doing so, had graciously granted some reliefs that were not pleaded before the court to the appellant, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola. That judgement saga splashed enough mud on the reputation of Justice Ayo Salami. The buzz around it didn’t just bring Salami to disrepute; it also spiralled to his vacating his exalted position and, of course, he retired into ignobility. From thence too, the powers that be in the country made sure that petitions arising from governorship elections were pleaded up to the Supreme Court. This became a kind of buffer for petitioners who might fall into the kind of quagmire that the Court of Appeal became for many.

It became reassuring and had restored hope in Nigerians. They can get justice at the Supreme Court – the final human arbiter. But what happened in the Imo case killed whatever remnants of hope some Nigerians still had in the courts. This is reinforced when users of the hallowed services of the judiciary reason that what happened in the case of Uzodinma of Imo is worse than what happened in the case of Aregbesola in Osun.

Imo and Osun have rekindled sad memories. A man bitten by a snake shudders at the sight of a giant earthworm. One of the interpretations of Ernest Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea says: “The old man muses that the sea, a symbol for nature itself, is simultaneously beautiful and cruel because it gives life and takes it away.” Another school says the man got the marlin as a prize, but the vicious vultures will not let him get his prize home. That speaks to the prize Soludo has and those who have encouraged Andy Uba to challenge the victory at the tribunal.

Emeka Umeagbalasi of Intersociety said: “At the first stage politicians will congratulate you. The next moment you see them filing cases at the election tribunal; and you will now wonder the potency of such congratulations. I remember that the Imo State election was transparent. This means that in Nigeria, even after you have won the election you still have to stay about 10 months before you can call yourself properly as the governor of your state. They can go to some local government areas and cook up something; and the law is that when the Supreme Court makes a pronouncement, however nonsensical the pronouncement of the Supreme Court appears to be, that carries the day. That is why we tell the stakeholders that it is not yet uhuru and they should not be carried away by the aura of being victorious in the election because the hawks are still around.”


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