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OKORO: BETWEEN AREGBESOLA AND OYINLOLA IN OSUN

By NBF News
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THE on-going sweep of the political terrain in some Nigerian south-western states is novel. And court decisions have played a major role in returning power to the people's candidates. However, some few elements in the country would rather view the court's interference as scuttling. That the reclamation of mandate by the Action Congress of Nigeria in the Osun State gubernatorial polls of 2007 is drawing the ire of some people is pathetic at this stage of the nation's democracy.  It's a shame.

After reading insinuations which arose from series of questions posed by Adeolu Oyinlola, writing in The Guardian newspaper of Tuesday, December 14, over the judgment which upturned Prince Olaguunsoye Oyinlola as governor in Osun, I could not help sighing. The opinion was set to deflate the elation over the reclamation of 'stolen' Osun gubernatorial mandate by Engineer Rauf Aregbesola of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. The writer posed a number of questions which according to him 'should prick the conscience of the Bench.'

The name, Oyinlola like many other names is shared by many people. But at this point, I ponder, is Adeolu Oyinlola, the writer of an opinion titled 'Osun governorship election appeal: Matters arising' related to Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the deposed Osun State governor? Is the similarity in surname a mere coincidence? Or is the author just holding brief?

Anyway, it is shameful that Oyinlola has resorted to bandying fine words and addressing flawed technicalities to wish away an obvious truth. The truth is that Osun people want Aregbesola. If not, Oyinlola should explain the torrents of well-wishing which heralded Aregbesola. A leader is always welcome in his place. He has little need to cocoon himself with high walls and gun-toting security. I doubt if Adeolu Oyinlola was at Osogbo to witness the tumultuous crowd that greeted Aregbesola's inauguration. It was a gathering of ordinary people who wanted to share in the extraordinary recovery of their choice.

Oyinlola opined that: 'The judgment of the Osun State Appeal Tribunal appears emblematic of an emerging trend of judicial pronouncements which suggest that judicial officers are increasingly being motivated in the discharge of their duties, by factors which are not consonant with their oaths of office.' This is not new and a misnomer in that direction reared its head initially as judicial battle for the Osun Government House was on-going. However, Oyinlola deliberately addressed this aberration superficially, preferring to present an unholy alliance with Justices as responsible for the court victories.

But, remember the communication whose transcripts set the polity on fire a while back? In an arrangement where communication should not have taken place between a Judge and a lawyer with a case in court, Nigerians heard the news of the 'unholy' text messages exchanged between Justice Naron and Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN), Counsel to Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Since this exchange blew in the open, nothing further has been heard about that exchange. Perhaps, Oyinlola the opinion writer would care to shed more light on that communication which would have signalled the end of Naron's and Kalejaiye's judicial and legal careers if they were in other climes. Maybe, this vital piece of information was too small that it was overlooked as the author trounced Court of Appeal Justices that served at the Election Appeal Tribunals.

Reading Oyinlola's points, I remembered King Solomon, famed in the Bible for his wisdom.  According to the Bible, two women had come with a baby, each, claiming the baby was hers. Solomon decided to have the baby cut into two with a sword with one part to be given to each woman. It was a trick, but one which revealed the true mother as she would prefer to let the other woman have the kid rather than have the baby killed. In the case of Osun State, while Aregbesola knew he was the rightful winner of the election, as a man of peace, he fought the peaceful way. And for over three years, Aregbesola sought relief in the courts, preferring to go the way of learned men.

With 11 years now into the Fourth Republic, Nigeria's democracy should start evolve out of its 'nascent' appellation. We should fall politically, learning from every fall, and positioning our minds to move forward. The years of bitter politicking should be relegated to the past. Faulting institutions, procedures, and persons must be done constructively. Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola should be allowed to settle down, re-strategise to contest again, or left alone to lick his wounds. The Appeal Court must be commended for confirming what many people knew all along. And Adeolu Oyinlola must learn to differentiate simple truths from legal technicalities.

He should also remember the popular saying that you can fool some people some of the times; you can never fool all the people all of the time. Oyinlola, the analyst, can't seem to get it!

• Okoro lives in Lagos