For Deltans, the import of the proverb in issue finds due relevant expression in our politics
BY MONDAY UWAGWU
Long ago, African sages held that no wise hunter willfully allows his community to chase after the evasive antelope in his new crop farm.
The import of the ageless African proverb above is to the effect that, while misunderstandings maybe a necessary part of human life, even at the community level, the wise one would, if he were truly sincere, not persist in an unwise action which negative effects far out-weigh the envisaged benefits, if any, in the long run.
For Deltans, the import of the proverb in issue finds due relevant expression in our politics and the necessity for reasoned action(s) in the overall interest of the state and its people.
And this is how.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court, Nigeria’s apex court, put the lid on the multiple cases against the election of the Governor of Delta State, by affirming that the victory of the Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborebvwori, remained inviolable and valid. The court, in arriving at this conclusion, had reviewed the various appeals before it arising from the verdict of the Court of Appeal on the matter of the election of Oborevwori as governor. The appeals had been launched by multiple interests, including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in last year’s governorship poll in the state and former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; the Labour Party (LP) and its state governorship poll flag bearer, Ken Pela, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate in the poll, Chief Kenneth Gbagi. All of them had stoutly challenged the outcome of the poll and the declaration of Oborevwori, who flew the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election.
By the decision of the Supreme Court on Friday, all matters relating to the poll, its conduct and outcome are, barring all unforeseen circumstances (of the very rare situation of a party raising an appeal for the Supreme Court to review its judgments on the matter, for instance), deemed laid to rest. And this is where the import of the proverb in the opening paragraph of this write up has foundation: Delta State belongs to its every citizen and now that the disputes among the political parties and their candidates have been laid to rest by the Supreme Court, all of us-contenders and all others-must show restraint, like the wise farmer who would not allow his community chase after the elusive antelope on his crop farm, fully aware that even in the event of the little animal being caught, his share of its meat will pale in relation to the value of the crops that would have been desttoyed in the course of the chase. All Deltans, irrespective of differences in political affiliation, tongue, culture and creed, must now realize the fact that everyone is a stakeholder whose honest effort is required to attain the accelerated development goal of our dream state of a truly competitive people. Everyone, like the wise farmer in the above proverb, must guard against anything, anything at all, that has the capacity to create and or sustain a situation that can impair the early realization of our collective dream of a truly developed state and contented and competitive people.
And this is why.
Whatever anyone thinks of the Nigerian judiciary, especially the echelon of it, the judgments of the Supreme Court have demonstrated unanimity of opinion on the part of the adjudicating officers at the various rungs of the judicial ladder-Tribunal, Appeal Court and, eventually, the Supreme Court. It is interesting to note that the judiciary, which has long been criticized by some as controversial and inscrutable, agreed, at all the three levels named above, that there was nothing the matter with the governorship poll in the state as conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), which, in a way, also benefits from the import of the apex court judgments that, in a sense, affirm the credibility of the poll and its lead up processes.
Now, if the judiciary, at all levels of adjudication as outlined above, found no reasonable cause to question the poll and its conduct, can the critics (of the poll and INEC, and even the judiciary) subsist in their doubt of the transparency of the process?
To have scaled the hurdle posed by the import of the 38 pre and post- election challenges to his candidacy and his eventual election victory, the judiciary may have also not only affirmed the suitaqbility of Oborevwori, but also enabled him set a potential record-of holding the most litigated candidacy and victory in a single election in one election cycle in the country. Abi, e dey easy to attain such a feat?
Any way, jokes apart, the fact that the judiciary, which holds ultimate authority on disputed poll outscomes in the country, has given the March 18 2023 gubernatorial poll in the state and Oborevwori’s victory a clean bill of health is sufficient reason everyone should, in the parlance of Niger Deltans, maintain.
That is point number one.
Another reason for the necessity for restraint is the import of the critical imperative of politics (which is the quest for political and others genres of power for public service) and the sacrament of its philosophy, which holds that there are no permanent enemies in politics, but permanent interests. In the case of Delta State, that permanent interest, at least, for the truly sincere and altruistic, resides in the overriding good of public over personal, interests.
For all of those who find themselves in the different partisan canopies of our partisan politics and its trappings, there is a good lesson to learn from the philosophy underpinning politics as outlined above-the need to put the selfless permanent public interest over and above all else, including personal ones. One and all, they must remember that their parties and manifestoes represent only the diverse routes to the desired/aspired destination or goal, which is power through electoral victory, for the selfless service to the state and its people; these routes (which, as I said, represent thoroughfares to the same destination), do not, even for the minutest capsule of time, respresent irreconciliable differences among the parties and their members, particularly their candidates and leaders. In this sense, and for the overall good of our state and our people, all of those who have credible creative ideas on how best to grow and develop the state and enhance the overall wellbeing of its people should rise beyond the dictates of partisan political considerations and put them forward to those in positions to utilize them for the long-term good of the state and its people. In doing so, they must realize that, just as efficiency is not a matter of geography, political efficiency is not exclusive to any particular political party. As the Americans say, there is no dirty dollar, provided it is legitimately earned.
Fortunately for us, some of the legal combatants have since the Supreme Court verdict, publicly spoken of their abiding faith in the judgments and wished Oborevwori and his government well as it seeks to deliver on its MORE agenda. The public reactions to the Supreme Court judgments by the litigants are reassuring, to say the least, but require practical demonstration of their commitment to their avowal of a thaw in the frost that their litigations had tended to create in the polity. They can do this by helping out with ideas, concepts and projects that will help accelerate the development of the state for the benefit of all Deltans,diversities in tongue, culture, religion and political affiliation notwithstanding.
For Governor Oborevwori, the import of the Supreme Court judgments go to two effects-aside of putting an enduring seal of legitimacy to his election victory, they have also provided the opportunity for him to live out the truism of his vow to remain the governor of all Deltans, differences in partisan political, cultural and other considerations notwithstanding. Consistent deference to the vow to this effect (which he made during his visit to the then ailing NUPENG former Secretary, labour icon and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, will imply that, shoving aside partisan political considerations and the disquiet that may have characterized the multiple legal challenges to his election victory, he will reach out to those on the other side of the political divide for two major reasons-to give fillip to the peace and security enhancement element of his MORE agenda, and in the overall interest of the state and its people, who, beyond everything else, desire and deserve enduring peace as a panacea for the accelerated attainment of their dream state. He must realize that since development ideas are not the exclusive preserve of any party and its members, knowledge and skills sourced from the other side of the political divide are not forbidden fruits; they must be utilized for the public good. He must appreciate the fact that by his election, he has accepted the responsibility, for the pendency of his term of office, to be primarily liable for the successes and failures, God forbid, that he may record when he runs full cycle on his mandate. In this sense, he needs to appreciate that, without sacrificing the interest of his party and its members whose efforts largely led to his success at the poll, he would be judged for success or failure at the end of his term of office, by the quality of service he delivered to Deltans, and if a so-called opposition politician or even non-politician has the demonstrated capacity to make him excel, he should not hesitate to enlist such an individual into his team.
Anyway, there is plenty of lessons to learn from regarding the transience of power and how, when all else is done, it is the public perception of his performance that will determine his relevance in his post-power days.
Fortunately, Oborevwori has shown, by his personal inclination since being sworn into office, that while elections are not shooting wars, election victory does not equate the conquest and subjugation of political opponents, and that the overall interest of the people he has been privileged to lead, counts far more than anything else.
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