Obiano’s victories in perspective
Just as you need not play a dozen different violins to render a musical masterpiece, the victory of Governor Willie Obiano at the Apex Court needed not the gathering of seers to foretell. The tide of victory flowed from the outset of the case at the Otuocha Court through the tribunal to the Appeal Court and finally the Supreme Court. It scorched fast, eliciting commendations across party lines. The Sun newspaper while commenting on the victory in its editorial of Tuesday September 30, 2014, urged the governor to “demonstrate magnanimity in victory and eschew the winner-takes-all philosophy which has been the bane of our politics”. If there is a better advice it is yet to come.
I had earlier written in favour of a round-table talk as an alternative to litigation, and it bears repeating here: For those already seduced on appeal it does not seem anything, including a dim prospect of winning, can deter them. Even though it is an inalienable right of any who desires it, going on appeal is not germane to the spirit of renewal going on in Anambra state right now. It is as distracting as it is wasteful. It may be argued that appeal is a civilized way of seeking redress from a presumed wrong; but this view does not in any way foreclose other avenues of redress. And the situation will not get worse if the court option is not taken. Neither will the state stop existing if she plays down overreaching politics and explores the round table option. Anambra state can resist, for once, the allure of being Nigeria's theatreland where citizens are forced - as unwilling spectators – to witness who leaves the scene of confrontation, wearing a smirk.
Not wishing myself the trouble of being accused of writing sub judice I balked at giving wide publication to the essay whence the above extract was taken. It only made what may be termed “cameo” appearance on the net. Had the objective been achieved it would have been a pleasant surprise. But it came to pass that none of the aggrieved was dissuaded from dragging the case through the whole gamut of legal inquisition. Today the victory has been reaffirmed and all the shouts of possible cancelation of the election muted in sobriety. What is more the anxiety of a promising win is now sedated by superior judgment.
One or two lessons can be learned from this. The Sun newspaper in the same editorial wrote that Ngige was quoted as saying he would now congratulate Obiano, but quickly added that “observers wished he did so when the commanding lead of his opponent had become glaring, immediately after the election results were declared”. Elsewhere on the social media the publicity secretary of the All Progressive Congress in Lagos State was reported to have also publicly acclaimed the victory. All these bear the victory out as inviolate. Perhaps there was no need to plumb the depths of defeat in the first place and thereby exposing the state to avoidable waste. Regardless, the act of sportsmanship by the duo of Ngige and the publicity sectary is commendable just as the views of the observers are worth reflecting upon.
It is a fact that post election litigation exerts a lot of burden on states. It spawns criminal dissipation of resources and weakens the ligaments that connect growth. It can be argued that it helps to strengthen the democratic process. Maybe! But when pitted against the alternative resolution process (round-table talk), it is nothing but a cesspit of waste. It is twice as bothersome. The waste is made evident, especially when the result being contested is clearly unassailable as was the case in the Anambra election. Litigation is money guzzling and time consuming. But for the unusual quick dispensation of justice on this matter, the charge of double registration, for instance, might still be oscillated between courts. To put a price tag on such exercise would be most difficult. Yet both the state and individual keep losing. But the state appears more vulnerable here for it contends with both resource waste and the pressure of distraction. Not so for the individual who has only himself to distract, and very easily recoups his “investment” from the same state if victorious.
Had wise counsel prevailed, the case shouldn't have gone through the complete range of appeal thus saving the state unnecessary dissipation of resources and distractions. But that option was not attractive to the aggrieved. Not when the case was generating a lot of controversies even without enough evidence in support. This type of controversies Bertrand Russell, British Philosopher and Mathematician, was quick to call savage. “The most savage controversies”, Russell wrote, “are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way”.
It is a great relief that the matter has been finally resolved notwithstanding rumours bruited in quarters that some of the aggrieved may still throw some punches. The governor as well as the state has abseiled the last of the mounts to a glorious reign. Having successfully sloughed off the worries of a trite and distraction charge, the governor can now broaden his government to accommodate those willing to contribute. Together everybody will pull the levers of development. Any, who is not positively disposed, wishing perhaps to continue the bickering must realize he is helping to intone the difficult-to-govern reputation the state has copped over the years. No doubt Anambra has dissipated more resources on power struggle than she devolved to developing her potentials. No state, however endowed, can achieve greatness on this score. A state can be called great if she is possessed of the capacity to stave off distracting battles, and greater if she can call a truce if the battle has ensued.
Hopefully, all the distractions have been resolved. The governor can now plop down on a chair and do the job for which he was elected. Already he has shown sparks of a committed leader. Given the transcendental manner of his emergence both as All Progressives Grand Alliance candidate in the November 2013 election and ultimately the governor, he cannot afford otherwise. I recall a conversation I had with a senior friend of mine on how heaven seemed to have consciously blazed the man's trail. With a quick repartee he likened Obiano to a man not scheduled for a picture session, and therefore outside the camera range. However, when the photographs came out he was not just among those captured, but the most photogenic and picture-perfect. The man is lucky and should be allowed a propitious paddling of the state canoe. Anambra - without all the distractions – is already a handful. Pushing the distraction angle further will be overkill. Let's help the state reclaim her lost glory.
Ejike Anyaduba writes from Abatete