By Fred Edoreh
Apart from the threat by Aghwarianovwe Ikie to continue his litigation, the Supreme Court judgement in the matter between Olorogun David Edevbie and Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori has put a closure to the tussle for the Delta State PDP Gubernatorial ticket.
In the primary conducted on May 25, only one candidate would have emerged. It could have been any of the aspirants and he would have expected that all others and the whole membership of the party would rally round him to ensure the victory of the party in the coming election.
The legal tussle that ensued, as is allowed in a democratic process, was only an extension of the primary. Now that it is over, the simple thing to do is for all to get back together as the one family they are.
This may appear a simplistic view, given the tempers of disaffection, anger and resentment that followed the contest and accusations of high-handedness against both Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the party leadership in favour of Oborevwori.
My attitude to this is that, in politics, people are bound to take sides and possibly use every influence at their command to favour their choice. This is the reality of the game for which all are complicit.
It couldn’t be Oborevwori’s fault that Okowa preferred him and did all he could to ensure his emergence. All others also had the opportunity to play into the Governor’s heart or build a strong internal force to oppose and defeat his choice like was done against Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in his choice of Tony Obuh in 2014. Rather, many of the political big weights chose to hedge their bets and did not come out openly and strongly enough behind their choices. Who is to blame for being their so afraid and not standing up, live or die?
If there is another blame to make in how the primary was decided, perhaps a critical port should be the National Assembly which bungled the amendment to the Electoral Act just few weeks to the primary and struck out statutory delegates whom many of the aspirants had canvassed all through their consultations.
It is also not Oborevwori’s making that both the Appeal and Supreme Court gave him judgement. The talk about bribery is neither here nor there, being hard to prove, and the technical grounds on which the judgements were predicated only speak to the contradictions in our jurisprudence.
The courts held that Edevbie’s suit was premature but, whereas the law stipulates that pre-election suits should be filed within 14 days After the primary, it did not give any concurrent deadline for political parties to submit the name and documents of their candidates to INEC. In same vein, INEC’s guidelines for submission far exceeds the 14 days.
The Supreme Court insisted that it is only when the name and documents of the candidate had been submitted to INEC that a cause of action can crystallise. The corpus of Section 29 (1,2,3,4) of the Electoral Act and Section 182(J) of the constitution suggests so. I am convinced that just one subsection (29:5) cannot negate all the others.
Secondly, whereas the Electoral Act gives jurisdiction on pre-election matters to the Federal High Court, whereas the constitution provides that the FHC can give directives on practice and procedure on pre-election matters and whereas the FHC gave a directive that every pre-election suit shall be commenced by Originating Summons which Edevbie’s counsels complied with, the superior courts held that the directive cannot supercede the established rules of court which prescribes that matters with inherent criminal content can only be argued by Writ of Summons which requires witnesses and proof beyond reasonable doubt.
In all these, neither Edevbie’s nor Oborevwori’s counsels can be blamed.
The Supreme Court has established what it believes to be the most justiciable tenet of the law and we cannot continue to take it against ourselves. Delta PDP is neither the bar nor the bench.
There are persons who reasonably feel apprehensive, in their perception of arrogance, that the party does no longer want them in.
There are also those who may have been intimidated or victimised in the process of the primaries that their confidence to remain in the party is challenged.
There are those who lost primary tickets for House of Assembly, Representatives or Senate, who feel that the Governor or party leadership did them in. They no longer have confidence that they are still wanted and can benefit anything from the party and its government, going forward.
It needs to be known, for instance, if there was a promise to the Deputy Governor or the Ijaw nation to succeed Okowa.
Whether yes or no, the party must now have to assuage all feelings of disaffection or dissatisfaction. It behoves Governor Okowa and the state party leadership to now call the house together and give sincere assurances.
But, to all possibly aggrieved persons, I must say that jumping ship is no option. Nigerians know the history of poor performance of the opposition at the national level, the reason why all Nigerians are suffering greatly now. It cannot be different at the state level.
On the national level, there are those who feel that Okowa was unfair to them and would want to work against his Vice Presidential interest.
My question is what purpose would that serve?
It is in our best interest as Deltans to have the Vice President. I recall that when Ovie Omo-Agege was contesting for the Deputy Senate President, there were persons who insisted that the state should campaign against him so that he doesn’t emerge a strong force with federal influence against the party and government in Delta State, but Okowa insisted that it was better for the state to support him in view of whatever development he can attract to the state as DSP.
Indeed, he directed Senator James Manager and Peter Nwaboshi, both PDP Senators, to champion the motion on the floor in favour of Agege, all for the interest of Delta State. I should think that Agege knows and would appreciate that.
I think this was the finest of politics, notwithstanding that Agege is contesting against the PDP now.
At the national level, Governor Nyesom Wike has raised issues about balancing of power between the North and the South and we have seen accusations against Okowa for teaming up as running mate to Abubakar Atiku.
It may appear that there is good point in insisting that with the end of Buhari’s tenure, power should rotate to the South or, at least, have the office of the National Chairman of the PDP returned to the South.
We must however also remember that after President Obasanjo’s 8 years tenure, power was supposed to rotate to the North but, when it did with the Presidency of Umaru Yar’Adua, he died after just two years.
The North insisted on substituting Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President with a Northerner to retain and complete the Presidency but the nation decided on “Doctrine of Necessity” and allowed Jonathan to continue.
After completing Yar’Adua’s tenure in 2011 and despite the clarity that the position should then return to the North, Jonathan insisted on continuing.
We too, as Southerners, supported him and the Northern PDP conceded.
That was a geo-political sacrifice which gave the South 14 years in the Presidency while the North had had only two years under the new democratic dispensation.
Such magnanimity cannot be ignored and would always require a payment day.
It was only when Jonathan insisted on further retaining the Presidency in 2015 (to 2019), which would have meant 18 years of Southern Presidency while the North had had just still two years, that the North protested, leading to some of their big weights in PDP leaving for the APC.
Accordingly, in as much as we wished that the Presidency should rotate to the South, we cannot be unmindful that the Northern PDP did sacrifice in favour of the South in 2011. They gave and, no matter how difficult we find it, we must also be wiling to give.
In view of these whole scenario that we have experienced in our political history, my candid opinion is that there is strong reason now for us not to destroy our own house, neither because of the primary in Delta State PDP nor because of the issues at the national.
Indeed, I doubt if we have any inheritance in any other party. Even the Northern caucus of the PDP who left for the APC in justifiable anger in 2015 have seen that it was no home and have all returned.
To put it vulgar, there is no point sticking ones finger into the anus to see if it will smell because it will surely smell.
Delta is PDP and PDP is Delta. No matter whatever misgivings, home is the best.
Politics is about winning and losing in different seasons. Some have had their season and off seasons. It may now be be season of some others but we must all remain and rough it out in-house.