“KAKA K EKU MA JE SESE S AWADANU!
(THE RAT SCATTEERS SESE(A BEAN SEED) if IT IS PREVENTED FROM EATING IT!)
Aketi and Oke incur additional deficits
May 7, 2013 by Niyi Akinnaso (firstname.lastname@example.org) 16 Comments
Anyone who has been following Ondo politics would have observed that the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party entered last year’s governorship race with different motives. The ACN wanted to “capture” Ondo State by all means, while the PDP was anxious to regain power, which it lost to the Labour Party in 2007. In the course of the campaign, however, the media focus was on the ACN, partly because of the large number of aspirants; partly because of the externalisation of the process beyond Ondo State; partly because of the visible role of the National Leader of the ACN, Bola Tinubu; and partly because of the various tactics employed during the campaign, including negative propaganda.
However, after investing substantial human, financial, material, and political capital in the October 20, 2012, governorship election, Jagaban returned to Lagos empty-handed (The PUNCH, October 22, 2012). I did not write that piece to deride my friend, Tinubu. As the ACN’s National Leader, he should encourage his political party to participate in elections throughout the country. My grouse was with the tactics used by the ACN, particularly the location of the planning and logistics of the Ondo election in Lagos and Osogbo and the massive negative propaganda which defied decorum and truth.
You would have thought that, having lost the election, Tinubu would have advised his political party to desist from making additional investments in a lost battle. Why, you would ask, would the ACN candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, go to court to challenge an election that was universally adjudged to be free, fair, and peaceful? Why challenge the victory of the Labour Party candidate, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, given the overwhelming evidence in his favour?
Unfortunately, however, Jagaban, Aketi, and the ACN decided to behave like Kurunmi in Ola Rotimi’s play of that title, in which Brother Tortoise’s futile adventure was used to illustrate the tragic irony of Kurunmi’s engagement in a war he should not have fought. In his blind anxiety to disgrace the Alaafin and the Ibadan Lords, Kurunmi likened his enemies to Brother Tortoise as he derided them: “When Tortoise is heading for a senseless journey, and you say to him, Brother Tortoise, when will you be wise and come back? Tortoise will say… Not until I have been disgraced”. As it turned out, however, it was Kurunmi himself who was disgraced as his army was soundly defeated.
In further pursuit of their attempt to “capture” Ondo at all cost and perhaps “teach Mimiko a lesson”, Jagaban, Aketi, and the ACN headed for The Election Petitions Tribunal after Mimiko was officially declared as the winner of the October 20, 2012, governorship election. It is quite understandable why the electoral defeat was painful for them. On the one hand, Akeredolu would have loved to become the Governor of Ondo possibly in order to atone for his controversial services as the state’s Attorney General during the ignoble Abacha regime, when Akeredolu participated in the universally condemned arrest of Pa Adekunle Ajasin, his townsman and the first civilian Governor of Ondo State, for his leadership role in NADECO.
On the other hand, Jagaban, would have loved to add Ondo to his ACN empire in the South-West, perhaps in order to use the entire region as a bargaining chip in the 2015 presidential election. There are even speculations that he also wanted Ondo for its mineral and agricultural resources. His election campaign speeches, especially during the so-called Redemption Rally held at the Akure Democracy Park a few days before the election, also indicated that he wanted to settle scores with the governor for not crossing over to the ACN, despite his (Tinubu’s) “assistance” during the mandate fight in 2007.
However, as in Kurunmi’s case, disgrace came again when the three-member Tribunal, led by Justice Andovar Kaaka’an, dismissed the petitions of the ACN and the Peoples Democratic Party in succession on Friday, May 3, 2013. The senselessness of the petitions is evident in the grounds for their dismissal. For example, many of the petitioners’ witnesses, who testified before the Tribunal, did not actually witness the alleged acts but relied on what the judge described as “bundles of primary and secondary hearsay”, which is not admissible in law. Moreover, the testimonies of the petitioners’ witnesses were said to be full of contradictions and at variance with the pleadings in the petitions, which made the testimonies unreliable. The judge added,“No single witness testified that he or she did not vote or that the votes were taken away to unauthorised places after the election while no police report, which indicated violence during the election, was tendered by any of the parties”.
In a unanimous ruling, the Tribunal concluded that the petitioners failed to prove that their complaints substantially affected the outcome of the election. It added that the petitioners also failed to show that they would have won the election or that Mimiko would not have won it. A careful reading of the judgment shows that the Kaak’an-led Tribunal further enhances the credibility of the court as a desirable arbiter of electoral disputes.
The petitions and the Tribunal’s judgment raise important questions. First, why would electoral losers file petitions, when it was clear that they had no evidence to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that they would have won the election or their opponent should have lost it? This question is the more important when it is recalled that the candidates for both the ACN and PDP in the Ondo case are lawyers. There are two possible answers: Either they are still desperate to win or they want to prevent the governor from concentrating on the business of governance. The latter point reminds one of a Yoruba saying, Kaka k’eku ma je sese, a fi s’awadanu (The rat scatters sese (a bean variety), if it is prevented from eating it).
This leads to an even more fundamental problem, namely, the abuse of the judicial process. True, it is the legitimate right of the ACN and PDP candidates to go to court to seek redress, if they were truly aggrieved. However, it is a waste of time, money, and other resources to file petitions against an election that was well acknowledged by local and foreign observers as free, fair, and peaceful. Why conjure violence in a petition, when there were neither police reports nor eyewitness accounts of violence anywhere during the election? Where do we draw the line between a peaceful and a violent election or between a good and a bad election?
I raise these questions because the time has come when candidates should begin to accept electoral defeat with equanimity, as in Ghana and South Africa. Otherwise, we would normalise the practice of petitioning every election, no matter the quality of the electoral process and the sanctity of the outcome. Besides, if Aketi and Oke keep pursuing an election they lost badly at the polls and in court, what would they have done if they lost as incumbents? The state probably would have been confronted with a Laurent Gbagbo situation. On the basis of the present evidence and the Tribunal’s careful ruling, this matter should be regarded as closed,