End of a tragic drama
The Edo State Election Petition Tribunal examining the 2016 governorship election has justifiably and rightly terminated the spurious drama that was being staged by the PDP in the past few months. The temple of justice gave infallible legal affirmation to the incorruptible political aspiration of Edo people as overwhelmingly expressed in the choice of Governor Obaseki in the historic September 28th election. The dignified lordships of the tribunal upheld the unchangeable conclusion of INEC that the APC transparently and freely earned a total of 319,483 (three hundred and nineteen thousand, four hundred and eighty three) votes as against the PDP’s 253,173 (two hundred and fifty three thousand one hundred and seventy three) votes. The gap of nearly 70,000 (seventy thousand) votes was perceived as an insurmountable lead that the PDP could not possibly overcome to obtain anything significant from the tribunal.
Indeed a considerable number of respectable election observers, scores of non-partisan political leaders and civic organizations had described the September 28th exercise as a paradigm of peoples Democracy in action. Additionally, authoritative legal sources had postulated that the petitioner would be miserably deficit in meeting the necessary capacity to overturn an election based on the free and fair nature of the exercise. It was thought that the PDP governorship candidate, Ize-Iyamu, and the party’s factional chairman Dan Orbih would be cognizant and respectful of the freely and legitimately expressed aspiration of Edo voters-that the PDP leaders would consequently display rudimentary sense of civic courtesy and a modicum of altruistic patriotism and therefore resist the vain seduction of political drama at the election tribunal.
Unfortunately, there’s a sickening strain of the PDP that could not awake itself from the destination of political delusion to accept the reality of the outright rejection of the party during the governorship election. The verdict of the Election Petition Tribunal this’ Good Friday’, April 14th, morally and formidably validates the selfless concerns of those who predicted that the party’s petition would be dismissed for patently lacking merit. All through the proceedings, the PDP could hardly substantiate any remarkable instance of corrupt practices, situations of non-compliance with the electoral law or willful manipulation of the exercise. The judges rightly held that Governor Obaseki was the unquestionable winner of the highest votes in the election and was duly and legitimately declared winner by INEC.
While the option of going to the tribunal is perfectly within the constitutional right of the candidate, it is expected that any worthy petition will be based on genuine grievances to be supported with credible evidence at proceedings. Very shamefully, that was not the case in the Ize-Iyamu/Dan Orbih’s current instance. The PDP hardly won any of the major pleas that it presented to the tribunal because of crying deficit of evidence. For example, in the allegation of over- voting by the PDP, the tribunal remarked that the legal representatives of the party blew ‘’hot air with no value in their argument’’. After all, the worthiness of such allegations before a tribunal can only be tested in the crucible of evidentiary facts. The PDP tale woefully failed such tests in many significant instances during the proceedings of the election tribunal.
But could the PDP have performed differently and successfully before the tribunal? It couldn’t have. The real purpose of the PDP leaders in going to the court seems to be embedded in the intention of making the party members believe that their mandate was stolen. The duo of Ize-Iyamu and Dan Orbih needed to conceal the fact that almost all the so-called giants and ‘irokos’ of the party lost their units and wards during the September 28th contest. They would not want their supporters to remember that very pointedly and prominently in this gallery of failures, that Dan Orbih lost his ward in Etsako Central Local Government Area as he has always in most elections. For the petitioner, going to the tribunal was therefore envisaged as the theatre to write new songs and fresh homily for the extension of the funeral ceremony of a dead party, but there can be no redemption for a decadent beast that never had a soul.
Edo people and voters knew for a fact that there was no mathematical possibility or political plausibility for a PDP victory at the tribunal in the face of the stark reality of an unquestionable Obaseki’s landslide victory. While miracles and magic could constitute spectacular moments of exhilarating euphoria, there should equally exist measures of sobriety to ones fantasies. What the PDP leadership was seeking from the election tribunal was clearly in the realm of the hallucinatory. It was with such sane reasoning and awareness that the citizenry refused, resisted and rejected the surreptitious campaign to create ruckus and disorder on the streets of Benin in demonstration of support for Ize Iyamu’s concocted legal battle. Rather than join in a misdirected political action, the Edo voters who delivered the APC massive victory and a considerable portion of converted PDP supporters were more interested in taking their seats on the rapidly travelling train of progress that Obaseki’s government had engineered.
Eternal vigilance must continue to be the price of the people’s liberty –Edo people at home and the Diaspora must not be submerged in the dungeon of amnesia being constructed by the PDP. Beyond all the gyrating sounds and threatening fury of the PDP, we must never forget that the party lost 13 local governments out of the 18 in the state during the governorship contest. The point must remain indelible that the APC governorship candidate had remarkable outcomes in all the 192 wards across the three senatorial zones of the state while the PDP failed to emerge as a state-wide party beyond some its electoral enclaves. It is no surprise therefore to watch a progressive leap in the sociology of solidarity for Governor Obaseki during months of the tribunal proceedings. Edo voters and people were anxious to see the end of the diversionary but precarious picnic of the PDP-and that end has come.
There was nil to zero chance of the tribunal nullifying any portion of such a well and transparently conducted election or to gratuitously grant any of the nefarious supplications of the petitioner. Edo people and voters have been very patient; the day of judgment has come. It is hoped that the PDP leaders would have learnt a profound lesson that those who seek equity must come to the temple of justice and the jury of the people with clean hands. The era of electoral impunity is over.
• Adams is a political commentator in Benin City, the Edo State capital.