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Of godfathers and judicial pronouncement

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By Idemudia Oviosun (PhD)

It is not always difficult to know when a person is afflicted by the pathology called double morality. When they talk or write, no matter the gamely toils they put up to mask or conceal it, signs of that afflicting disorder can be established from their write-ups or speeches. To be sure, the disease of double morality is often evident in a person when it is the case that they venomously speak against whatever does not serve their interests. They profusely compose panegyric in outlandish praise of that which profits them or redounds to their good as proper and acceptable while they bitterly caterwaul and script threnody in response to whatever does not favour them.

The foregoing position very well describes the personality of the pro-People’s Democratic Party hatchet men and spin doctors like Efosa Ugiagbe who have continued to stain the pages of newspapers with puerile falsehoods and farcical projections in the build-up to and after the verdict of the Edo Governorship Election Tribunal. Having emboldened themselves, their sympathisers and backers with the false hope that only surface thinkers are amenable to, they wrongly read certain clauses of the Electoral Act (2010) and proceeded on the wings of some patently odd logic to expect that the Tribunal’s judgement would favour them.

However, since that did not happen, these specious thinkers and analysts have achieved a volt-face that enabled them to abandon their advertised confidence in the judiciary and the provisions of the Electoral Act. Their double morality ailment makes it possible for them to find unjustifiable faults in the Tribunal’s judgement. Newspaper articles written thereafter by them have become doses of trivialities diverging completely from logical analysis and bordering on a quest to blackmail the superior courts into acquiescence through a sustained attempt to rewrite the facts of the litigation process which led to the verdict. The latest scene in this awful drama is the gobbledygook entitled “Of godfathers and judicial pronouncement”, authored by Efosa Ugiagbe, and published in the May 9, 2017, edition of The Vanguard newspaper. This waffle projected as sense is nothing but a name-calling propaganda roguishly built on ex-governor Adams Oshiomhole’s obviously figurative description of the verdict as “mama akara”.

Reeling from the crushing defeat that befell them at the Tribunal, they, like a vanquished and retreating army would do, resorted to attacking soft targets for which Oshiomhole’s utterance came in handy. By this show of shame, the Edo PDP leaves no one in doubt that even Boko Haram is more principled than them as regards adherence to the Rules of Engagement in war. Why abandon their previous “evidence-based” arguments for the non-indicting statement made by an individual whose freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed?

In their quest to manufacture for the expression an entirely new context, they have sponsored articles and cartoons in the media insinuating that Oshiomhole’s words are a Freudian slip, indicative of an underhand factor in the Tribunal’s proceedings. Unfortunately, their malice-laced anomalous interpretations have refused to gain traction as it conflicts with the conventional meaning and application of the expression among the grassroots where its etymology inheres.

The far-fetched meanings those souls of oily manners have dressed the phrase (mama akara) in compels a clarification.

Literature is a very expressive form of venting emotions and maudlin sentimentality. Sometimes, by deploying figures of speech and literary devices, the artist lends eloquence and style to his art. The story of Oshiomhole, especially of his humble background, is a well-known narrative. He was not born with a silver spoon and so he is no stranger to that delightful delicacy (akara, bean cake). He must, therefore, be forgiven if that was the first image that flashed through his mind for encoding his thoughts.

One possible interpretation of Oshiomhole’s riddling metaphor is that mama akara’s simplicity is renowned. Therefore, if she is called to judgement on an issue, then the issue must be so simple and without any undue complexity. A no-brainer kind of case.

It is not lost on the right-thinking Edo people that the typical Nigerian roadside akara seller has no flair whatsoever for any rigorous analysis beyond the realm of the simple daily routine arithmetic of her sales and the balance she gives to costumers on payment.

Therefore, as a pidgin figurative phrase, “mama akara” connotes a kind of logical simplicity and self-explicitness that falls within the grasp of even the unlettered section of the society represented in the female roadside bean cake seller. It becomes obvious that Oshiomhole’s use of the expression was a hyperbole to underscore the glaring simplicity of the logic behind the verdict as it relates to the petition.

It therefore remains an interesting irony that the Edo State PDP, which never let an opportunity to boast of grassroots presence and knowledge slip by during the campaigns, now ironically betrays ignorance of the correct application of an expression with indigenous etymology.  If the disorderly party and its purblind stringers of untruths now chose to explain “mama akara” in the self-serving ways they have done, then we must understand that the action as consistent with what is expected of those horribly assailed by the ailment inverted morality.

Accordingly, Mr. Efosa, on behalf of the Edo PDP, is admonished to get off the infantile quest to trivialise the Tribunal’s verdict with his spoofing of Oshiomhole’s words, and rather busy himself with telling the Edo public exactly which part of the judgement is a perversion of the Electoral Act (2010) as he alleged. Next time, when Oshiomhole hands him a literary lemon, he should make lemonade like a progressive fellow, not poison like a sorcerous alchemist. Better still, if Oshiomhole hands him akara, he should make some pap and have a good meal, not choke on the delicacy.

Obviously, the PDP and its backers are relentlessly obstinate. Undeterred by the public’s rejection of the otherwise dubious perspective of theirs, they have taken a step further to accentuate it by stringing up dubious narratives of Oshiomhole’s alleged influence on the judiciary, all aimed, in their subconscious mind, at giving Oshiomhole a bad name in order to hang him noticeably for his “sin” of demystifying the PDP hegemony in the state. This misplaced objective makes most part of Mr. Efosa’s unfortunate thesis.

As it is said, any attempt to attire falsehood in the garb of truth often results first in commonsense becoming a casualty. Mr. Efosa in his objectionable tripe claimed Oshiomhole lost the elections at the polls and won in the courts. This is a betrayal of crass ignorance of what constitutes victory at the polls. By this, the writer seems to suggest that election at the polls and subsequent litigation at the Tribunal are two entirely independent events similar to home and away matches in soccer. Do judges conduct fresh elections inside the courtroom for the two contending candidates who come before them for adjudication or that they rather review the election conducted right in the polling booths and then determine who really won at the polls? Of course one understands the psyche of a gang of sore losers who have been trying to redefine over-voting, evidence and all other Electoral Act provisions all in a futile bid to mitigate their loss at the Tribunal.

In insinuating that Oshiomhole’s confession to receiving financial support from the-now-late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua in forms of campaign and litigation funds against the PDP in 2007 translated to Yar’adua bribing the Tribunal and Appeal Court judges, the writer lost sight of the fact that such insinuation against Yar’adua is very preposterous in the eyes of the general public which still believes that Yar’adua, who in the history of Nigeria has been the only elected leader honest enough to admit that the process which led to his own victory in the same election period were flawed and soon afterwards spontaneously set up an electoral reform panel to the rescue, could not have at the same time been fascinated by let alone indulged in any prospect of bribing judicial figure into perversion of justice in favour of a member of the opposition for that matter.

Moreover, the very fact that Yar’adua had, according to the referenced Olalekan Adetayo’s article, started supporting Oshiomhole financially right from the campaign stage invalidates the writer’s insinuations as neither Oshiomhole nor the PDP took the other to any court over any pre-election issue. Thus, Yar’adua’s monetary gestures to Oshiomhole could not have been motivated by the quest for judicial manipulation. The glaring truth back then remains that Oshiomhole’s sterling comradeship credentials were so irresistible that no rational person could resist admiring and identifying with.

Unfortunately, Mr. Efosa showcased selective amnesia over the verdict of the 2007 Ondo State governorship Tribunal which was similar in facts and outcome to that of Edo State. Could Yar’adua have also influenced the judges in favour of Olusegun Mimiko, another opposition member at the time in question? If the liberalism and fairness of Yar’adua to the opposition could pass for undue influence on judicial proceedings as Mr. Efosa would have his readers believe, then he has given himself the moral burden of explaining to his readers that, as Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan’s swift extension of congratulatory messages to Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi of Osun and Ekiti states upon their respective Appeal Court victories in 2010 signalled a Jonathan’s godfather influence of  the judiciary in favour of the two opposition members to his own party’s detriment. The unduly suspicious mind-set of the likes of Mr. Efosa will obviously undermine Nigerians’ quest for fairness and statesmanship in every sitting president.

Furthermore, in a very misleading assertion, the author accused the 2007 Governorship Election Tribunal of declaring Oshiomhole winner in violation of the rerun dictated by the “facts” of the case. The truth of the issue is that the Tribunal averred that it could not grant what the PDP did not pray for in its deposition before it, coupled with the fact that by the total number of registered voters in the two cancelled local government areas a rerun in them would not change the outcome of the elections as seen from the results of forensic analysis.

The next line in his mix of malicious conjectures is the insinuation that then Action Congress members’ preparation for celebration ahead of the verdict was indicative of high profile assurances of success at the tribunal. For projecting this theory the author seems to suggest that favourable election tribunal victories in which PDP members themselves immediately break out into celebrations with customized banners and umbrellas in the streets indicate a high-profile assurance of victory while the trials lasted at the tribunal.

On the issue of Oshiomhole vs Airhiavbare, 2012, Mr. Efosa expectedly shied away from the contents of the verdict itself and attributed Oshiomhole’s victory to a combination of help from a Northern business man and traditional ruler and the Senior Advocates’ play-up of technicalities. For the avoidance of doubt, he needs to be reminded that the Supreme Court’s position back then was simply that the petitioner and PDP candidate grounded his petition on corrupt practice and non-compliance with the Electoral Act (2010), but not on Oshiomhole’s certificate. Juxtaposing that verdict given as far back as 2013 with the one from the 2007 Tribunal and with the current Tribunal on Obaseki vs Ize-Iyamu, it becomes obvious that this is not the first time Edo PDP is pursuing an allegation totally different from what it pleaded in its petition before the courts. Indeed, the PDP is both unteachable and incapable learning from experience. Rather than confront its demons, the party has made a pastime of castigating the judiciary, quoting out of context and self-servingly re-interpreting the statements of imaginary enemies. The thinker who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and again the same way and expecting a different result certainly had in focus the disorientated minds that make up the Edo PDP.

Let Mr. Efosa and his backers note that no matter how hard they try to confect falsehood and serve it as truth, it will only guarantee them another round of unmitigated defeat at the Appeal Court to which they have taken their barren case. Their Lordships deal with unassailable evidence and sound logic but not with moonlight tales of godfathers and shoddy interpretations of judicial verdicts.

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