By John Mayaki
Last Friday, the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, Edo State, explicably and unequivocally unanimously affirmed the verdict of the Edo Governorship Election Tribunal that Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and not Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), won the September 2016 governorship election in the state.
In his reading of the undivided decision of the justices of the appellate court, Justice M. O. Bolaji-Yusuf maintained that the court threw out the case of the PDP because the decision of the lower court was “thorough” and “unassailable”. It sustained the lower court’s valid conclusion that PDP’s case, like its quest to govern the state, lacks merit.
What the foregoing amount to is a repetition of what the PDP, its candidate, and its few supporters don’t like to acknowledge: the Edo electorate never voted for it. The party is very well aware of this fact but likes to pretend it’s a darling of the voters. Its labours in the court are mere non-functional academic exercises, sheer waste of money, and an incredible way of blunting the harsh reality of defeat.
The Edo APC didn’t rob the PDP of any mandate. It never had one in the first place. That’s what the tribunal and the appellate court confirmed. The votes it secured during the elections were mainly all it had. Nothing more, for the fact must be stated that the PDP in Edo is its own mortal enemy. It is the one robbing itself of votes.
To this end, serious soul-searching behoves the PDP. The party behaves as if it never has a past – a terrible one to be precise – that its defeat at the poll can be traced to. Unless and until the umbrella party purges itself of the unsightly and multiple stains of lack of coherent ideology, viable vision, and unfeigned sensitivity to the needs of the people, it will be continually rejected by the Edo voters.
As a matter of fact, the commendable performances of the APC under erstwhile Governor Adams Oshiomhole and now as are being seen under the capable leadership of Governor Obaseki make the product that is PDP less and less desirable to the voters.
The meaning that governance during the eight years of Comrade Oshiomhole brought to the lives of Edo people exposed the fraud and anaemic efforts of the PDP governors. The people realised that they had been serially defrauded and cheated by a party which noised it deafeningly that it was there for them. More school children were made ignorant. The education system suffered impossible neglect. Public utilities waned and went weak. Many more facilities went moribund in the locust years of the PDP. The goons in that party and their insatiable god-fathers feasted riotously on the common till while the people suffered on all fronts. Edo under the reigns of the PDP deteriorated and blossomed retrogressively in the column of dysfunctional states within Nigeria.
All of the above and more taught the voters in the state to reject the PDP. When they cast their votes for the APC and its candidate, Obaseki, in September last year, they were simply sending the message that they would like to continue with a party that brings meaning to their lives. In other words, if an APC Oshiomhole used the instrument of government to transform their lives, his party and candidate can be trusted to improve their lives more and more in that line. They purposefully chose Obaseki and effectively rejected PDP.
Indeed, Edo people by their admissions at different points across the state are happy they stick to the APC in the state. To be sure, since he assumed office, Governor Obaseki has got his sleeves rolled up for serious works. In about seven months, he has by his policies and programmes increased the confidence of the people in his ability to widen the sphere of development. He is concretely engaging the problem of unemployment and reorganising the state as an active economic hub and investment destination. Physical infrastructure and education are receiving undivided and quality attention. Workers’ capacities are being increased and revenue generations through creative means are being significantly improved. All of these and more are what the people had in mind when they refused to look the way of the gaunt and mean PDP. It is very certain that with the way the present administration is minding the question of development in the state there will be no claim for the PDP to make to voters in 2020.
The party may reject the verdict of the Appeal Court on the lack of merit of its case. It’s its right to do so. But it must understand that it has no chance even at the Supreme Court. If it didn’t win at the polls, it will never win at the court, for as everyone knows it neither won the election nor were there cases of irregularities that robbed it of votes cast for it. Ize-Iyamu was wrong in his response to the appellate court’s ruling. According to him, “There are things it said that we believe cannot stand the test of time.” If there is one thing that has refused to and will never stand the test of time, it’s his and his party’s claim to victory in the September governorship election.
Truth be told, as far as Edo State is concerned, the PDP is doomed by its past records of underwhelming and insulting performances. It was rejected in the two elections that brought in Oshiomhole. Same thing in the one that brought in Obaseki. Its case at two different courts were rejected on the considered fact that they were unmeritorious. Rejection awaits it at the apex court just as 2020 promises it another round of rejection.