Supreme Court Judgment: Vox Populum Vox Dei
Our Supreme Court judges have once again shown the world that the court is the last hope of the common man. It was Aristotle who stated that the difference between man and other animals is Justice hence when justice is denied, man will no longer be better than other animals. Immediately, Supreme Court judges passed their verdict on the Rivers state governorship election, residents of the state took to the streets to celebrate the victory. I was so happy that I forgot to take my dinner. One may ask why people were celebrating the victory of a leader whose election was alleged to be marred by violence and other irregularities. Chief( Barrister) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is a leader who knows the needs of his people.
Daniel Defoe observed that, ‘it is better to have a lion as the head of an army of sheep, than a sheep as the head of an army of lions’. The choice of Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as the PDP governorship candidate sent chills down the spines of other political parties(especially the then ruling part) in Rivers state. Out of all the ministers that resigned their appointments in order to contest the 2015 gubernatorial elections in their respective states, only Chief Wike was successful. Even the former minister of Health who was supported by the then incumbent governor could not win the PDP primaries in Ebonyi state.
The paradox is that Chief Wike that survived was the one that faced the most challenging battle before ,during and after the elections. As a political juggernaut, he started building his political structure many years before the campaign for the 2015 governorship election properly began even when his opponents were busy attacking the then president while their proverbial house was on fire.
He started building his political structure in the form of a social organisation called the Grassroot Development Initiative (GDI). He started sensitizing the people in the grassroot politics while his main opponents were busy playing to the gallery. When his opponents realised that this political guru had won the hearts of many residents of the state, they started a campaign of calumny against his candidacy.
When Chief Wike's political opponents understood that he had permeated all the political fabrics of the state, they simply sponsored candidates to go and pick PDP governorship nomination forms in order to create chaos after the PDP governorship primaries in the state so that in the midst of the melee, the votes in the general elections could sway in favour of the opposition parties. In view of this, PDP in Rivers state witnessed the highest number of governorship aspirants ever since the state was created in 1967. Many of the aspirants knew their roles which were either to create chaos after the primaries or to share the votes that ordinarily would have gone to Chief Wike, who according to some mischievous politicians ,came from the least favoured zone in the state with respect to the 2015 governorship election.
At the primaries, Wike having built a formidable political structure months before the PDP primaries simply won with a very wide margin. The moles among the PDP governorship aspirants, having realised their mission, ganged up against Chief Wike ,protesting here and there for the sole aim of frustrating Wike 's candidacy .The then ruling political party in the state issued a statement that the choice of Wike was PDP 's faux pas .Everybody knew that, the statement was ironical because it was only Chief Wike,among the numerous PDP aspirants, that had the political clouts to wrest political power from the then ruling party in the state. The moles, presenting as PDP aspirants, were busy protesting even at the national headquarters of the party ,bringing up the issue of Riverine and Upland dichotomy in the state . It was then that it dawned on the people of the state that some of the PDP governorship aspirants were really sponsored. How could one explain the rationale behind the gang-up when at the end of the exercise ,only one of them would still win the primaries election if there was a rerun?
Why was this issue of rotation of power between the upland and Riverine natives of the state not come up when Dr Peter Odili handed over to Omehia and thereafter Omehia handed over to Rotimi Amaechi due to the Supreme Court judgement? All these three successive governors of the state were all from the so-called upland region .Why did they not raise the issue then and why must it come out when Chief Wike declared his interest?
Having seen that the issue of Upland-Riverine dichotomy in the state had failed them , the next strategy was a rumour that Chief Wike was a member of a secret cult and that he had been initiating all his followers and supporters. At this point, it was clear that the then ruling party in the state was afraid of the candidacy of Chief Wike .My question is, since Lagos state was in opposition to the 16 years of PDP rule at the federal level ,will it now be a 'taboo' for Rivers state to be in opposition to the APC led federal government ?If yes, then where lies our democracy?
Concerning the secret cult rumour, the originators and peddlers of that rumour in the state were aware that our people are hyper-religious. Consider, for an instance, a former governor of Imo state lost his re-election partly because there was a false rumour against him then that he slapped a catholic priest. Many people accepted the rumour without verifications .One popular priest in Enugu went to the extent of singing a song about the slapping of a fellow priest by the embattled governor without verifications.
It was many years after the then governor lost his re-election that the same priest that sang the song came out to openly apologise that the former governor never slapped any catholic priest, but then the deed was done as that unsubstantiated rumour contributed to the former governor's failure to win his re-election. Believe you me, in other developed climes, that should have been a subject of litigation and the priest that produced such music album would be made to foot the bills of the damages that would be awarded .
In rivers state, they brought up the issue of Chief Wike being a member of a secret cult in order to score cheap political points. Meanwhile,Chief Wike had repeatedly denied the allegation and he even went on to openly say prayers like,'God,let no member of a secret cult win any election in Rivers state.' Later the peddlers of the rumour saw that the rumour could not have the same effect as it had in Imo state in 2011 governorship election. It dawned on them that while they were playing to the gallery, claiming to be national heroes, the residents of Rivers state lacked good road networks and all the state owned courts were closed down.
Having seen their failure before the result of the governorship election was announced, they mischievously started claiming that elections did not hold in Rivers state when the same people were captured by cameras accrediting and voting in their respective polling units. What a self deceit? After the elections, the same group of politicians went on to sponsor series of injunctions, through their proxies, in different states (since they had destroyed the judiciary in Rivers state), seeking to stop the inauguration of Rivers state democratically-elected governor.
It was at this point I knew that they had no evidence to defeat Chief Wike in the court. The irony is that some of these politicians once benefitted from the judiciary, but they later paid back by destroying the Rivers state judiciary during their tenure .What an irony of life? They contributed immensely to the closure of Rivers state owned courts but after the 2015 governorship election in the state, they urgently needed the help of the same judiciary to stop a democratically elected governor. I want to thank the members of our judiciary for not allowing those that destroyed the Judiciary in the state ( for their selfish reasons) to use the same judiciary in other states to truncate democracy in Rivers state.
Why should Chief Wike not win with a very wide margin in Rivers state? The closure of the state owned courts for almost a year, the deplorable states of many state government-owned roads and non issuance of certificates of occupancy to landowners (especially the non-natives of the state) and other failures of the past government were enough reasons to sway the votes in favour of Chief Wike. The way Jonathan was misled by his advisers was exactly the same way the past governor of the state was misled by his own advisers.
The immediate past governor erroneously believed that APC was going to win the governorship election in Rivers state because his party won at the federal level. The truth is that people of Rivers state equally voted for change the same way Nigerians voted for change in the presidency; hence Wike was the people's choice. The people of the state have spoken through their respective votes and for those fighting the Chief Wike led administration in the state,we say vox populum vox dei,the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Meanwhile, we heard series of reports where these disgruntled politicians boasted that they were going to reclaim ‘their mandate’ at the tribunal at all costs. However, many of us still believe in the incorruptibility of our judges .I want to specially thank our supreme court judges for not allowing the tax payers’ money to be wasted in the name of conducting a governorship rerun in Rivers state.
This is because, with what is on ground in the state, Chief Nyesom Wike will win the election again even if God and his angels come down to conducting the election. Rumuigbo community is always over flooded whenever it rains due to poor drainage system which the past administration ignored. Civil servants protested severally and it was after the series of protests that the former adminstration started paying them by instalments.
The mind-boggling amount of money that was sunk into that white elephant monorail project in Port Harcourt was enough to fix many roads in Rivers state or better still revamp the intra-state railway system,decongesting the ever busy Aba and Ikwerre roads in Port Harcourt. Rumuagholu and Rumudara-Eneka roads,among other roads in the state,were death-traps to all road users before Chief Wike intervened.
Chief Wike ,as the man of the people launched the much-awaited 'OPERATION ZERO PORTHOLES IN PORT HARCOURT ' during his inaugural speech at the liberation stadium. As that was not enough, the same day this man of the people moved down to Iloabuchi-Diobu area of Port Harcourt to commission the renovation of some deplorable roads there that had cut off the traders and residents of that part of Port Harcourt city.
The new governor in the same speech went on to appoint an acting chief judge of the state so that our judiciary could start functioning. That is one of the qualities of a lion because a good leader should know the needs of his subjects at each point in time. Many suspects awaiting trial have been in different prisons in the state for more than a year doing nothing .Was the immediate past government in the state expecting the sane people of the state to vote for continuity during the state election?
What would the residents of Rivers state do with a monorail when many of the state and local government owned roads were in deplorable states? Why did the former governor defy the impending court injunction, to conduct local government elections in the state just less than a week to the end of his administration if he was not determined in creating a political crisis to the incoming government in the state? If this present federal government is serious with her anti-corruption stance, then the results of any election should truly represent the wishes of the people.This is only possible if every vote counts and when that is done, people like us can go and apply for our voter's cards to perform our civic duties.
Then it will no longer be the exclusive right of the ruling party to win any state they so desire ,irrespective of the wishes of the masses. There is no gainsaying the fact that sizeable number of Nigerians that applied for voter's cards did so as a form of identification because in banks and other sectors where identification is required. This is because Driver's license, voter's card and National Identity card are the only recognised forms of identification.
Meanwhile, one of the reasons given by the lower courts for the nullification of chief Wike’s election was the non-use of the card readers in some polling units hence the number of people accredited with the card readers was smaller than the number that voted. However, section 52(1) of our electoral Act forbids electronic voting in its entirety but in the last general elections, card readers were liberally used .Are card readers not electronic devices?
In 2003, a Federal High court sitting in Ebonyi state nullified an election that made use of Open Ballot system as against the secret Ballot system contained in the electoral Act. Without mincing words , elementary physics taught me that electronic objects are those that make use of electrons hence the card readers are electronic instruments.
I have listened to different arguments by different lawyers in support of the use of the card readers in our elections , I refuse to be hoodwinked by their vague legalese. I am aware that 'electronic' is the adjectival form of the noun 'electron ' and my elementary physics taught me that electron is a subatomic particle, that is negatively charged.
In view of this, INEC card readers are electronic devices hence their use in our elections violates the aforementioned electoral Act, though the lawyers in their characteristics can go on to twist the facts, all I know is that any device that makes use of electrons is electronic. Meanwhile, In lagos state, PDP went to court with non-use of card readers in some polling units,as one of their points against APC but the tribunal held that card reader was not part of the electoral Act but in Rivers state the non-use of the card readers in some polling units was used to nullify the election of the incumbent governor by the lower courts, what an injustice?
Also, let this anti-corruption fight start from our electoral system so that our leaders will know that power belongs to the people .Then our leaders will learn to talk humbly and not insolently. Those that worship on Saturdays should also be captured in the amendment of our electoral Act because section 42 of our 1999 constitution, as amended, gives every Nigerian the inalienable rights to freedom from discrimination hence no Nigerian citizen of a particular religion shall be subjected to restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other religions are not made subject.In view of this, members of Seventh Day Adventist church, Sabbath Mission etc who worship on Saturdays should be allowed to worship their God unrestricted.
This will only be possible if our election days are changed from Saturdays to other weekdays because in the same way Moslems and other Christian worshippers are not restricted on Fridays and Sundays respectively to worship their God during our election periods the wishes of these minority Saturday worshippers must also be respected .
To Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, we say continue your massive road constructions in the state as those that called you ‘a caretaker governor’ can now shamefully recoil to their shell till 2019. Let your good work continue shining so that their next propaganda will not see the light of the day. At least your detractors are now aware that Wike means the son of power and the good people of rivers state unanimously gave you that power through their votes in April 2015.
Dr Paul John