Bola Bolawole: Wike’s victory good for democracy but…

Bola Bolawole: Wike’s victory good for democracy but…

Thursday, January 28, 2016 3:06 pm


Nyesom Wike

Nyesom Wike

By Bola Bolawole

Before discussing Nyesom Wike’s victory at the Supreme Court, after having lost at the elections petition tribunal and the appeal court, let us take notice of the Riots Act read last week by the Lagos State Government to cults, area boys and such other street urchins and rough-necks who have prided themselves above the law. What Boko Haram is to the North-east; Fulani herdsmen to the North-central with sporadic forays into other parts of the country; resurgent Biafra and come-backing Niger Delta militancy to the South-east and South-south respectively, that is what the menace of cult groups has become to the South-west, with particular reference to Lagos state. Hardly a week goes by without reports of mayhem unleashed in Lagos state by rival cult groups; in reprisal attacks and supremacy wars against one another; often with innocent citizens getting caught in the cross-fire. As if that is not bad enough, they also audaciously intimidate, blackmail, rob, main, and kill law-abiding citizens. We have had cause to cry out against the fast-burgeoning “power” of cultist groups in the South-west but with the relevant authorities either paying no attention or, at the best, treating the miscreants with kid gloves.

Now that the Lagos State Government is waking up, we heave a sigh of relief but will continue to monitor the situation closely, lest the threats issued to cult groups by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, die a natural death. Government must follow the threat with firm action and root cultists out of the society. Usually, children of the influential and powerful in society are involved and these bend the law for their errant wards to ride on. Until and unless the law is enforced without fear or favour and regardless whose ox is gored, we will make no headway in the fight against cultists.

Permit me also to draw the attention of more knowledgeable Nigerians to an issue that confuses me. According to newspaper reports, Festus Keyamo, a very famous legal practitioner, is counsel to former EFCC boss, Ibrahim Lamorde, who is fighting off Senate efforts to investigate allegations of malfeasance to the tune of over N1trillion. The Senate committee wants Lamorde to appear before it but the former anti-graft czar is filibustering, such that the Senate committee has threatened warrant of arrest. The same Keyamo is EFFC’s prosecuting counsel in money laundering charges against former governor of Imo state, Ikedi Ohakim. As EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, it should be expected or assumed that Keyamo will have easy, if not free, access to EFCC offices, personnel, and documents as well as enjoy some privileges with the anti-graft agency.

Now to Wike and the Rivers state governorship election which the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, awarded to the PDP candidate. I said “award” because everyone knew there was no election in the real sense of the world in Rivers state – but there was war, well beyond the usual thuggery, playing monkey games with the distribution of election materials, inducing voters with “stomach infrastructure”, and commonplace snatching of ballot boxes or tinkering with election results. It was full-blown war; no thanks to the reputation of the Niger Delta as hotbed of resource-control militancy, with the entire region awash with arms and dare-devil militants resolute to impose their will and stamp their authority. As it happened, they had a common purpose with a pliant or conniving Federal Government, such that the Rivers debacle as well as the “election” in Kano state, where the under-aged voted in full glare of television cameras and one party and candidate nearly scored 100 percent, were the worst in our recent history. That being the case, why did the apex court uphold such a shenanigan as Rivers?

But with the same Keyamo defending Lamorde, whom Buhari shoved out of office and has said would not be let off the hook if found culpable of the allegations against him, how does it all add up? If the Senate recommends Lamorde for trial and or the EFCC decides he has a case to answer, will Keyamo still defend him in court? Can Keyamo approbate and reprobate at the same time, as they say? Can he “fight” and at same time “defend” the EFCC? Can he prosecute the allegedly corrupt while also defending the allegedly corrupt? I do not seem to know and, therefore, like Abelard, I ask so that I may be educated.

Now to Wike and the Rivers state governorship election which the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, awarded to the PDP candidate. I said “award” because everyone knew there was no election in the real sense of the world in Rivers state – but there was war, well beyond the usual thuggery, playing monkey games with the distribution of election materials, inducing voters with “stomach infrastructure”, and commonplace snatching of ballot boxes or tinkering with election results. It was full-blown war; no thanks to the reputation of the Niger Delta as hotbed of resource-control militancy, with the entire region awash with arms and dare-devil militants resolute to impose their will and stamp their authority. As it happened, they had a common purpose with a pliant or conniving Federal Government, such that the Rivers debacle as well as the “election” in Kano state, where the under-aged voted in full glare of television cameras and one party and candidate nearly scored 100 percent, were the worst in our recent history. That being the case, why did the apex court uphold such a shenanigan as Rivers?

While the court will come up with the legal basis for its verdict at a later date, we can offer our own guesses. One is that the stronger a party is in a location, the more likely its capability to rig elections there. The audacity of the PDP in Rivers as well as the APC’s in Kano could be a sound measure of their stranglehold over the respective territories. Two: If the elections in Rivers were free and fair, the likelihood is that the PDP would still have won, but not with the ridiculous margin it awarded itself. Three: The need for a balancing act; the type that former EFCC boss, Prof. Attahiru Jega, himself applied when he accepted the humongous results of Kano and other places in the North for Buhari\APC as well as those of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and other places in the South-east and South-south for Goodluck Jonathan\PDP.

Finally, I think it is good to ensure that the country does not become a one-party state. APC, which controls the Centre and many more states than the PDP, is already damn too strong politically for the opposition; losing more of its states, especially a key state like Rivers, will further weaken it. To my mind, what Wike has in his hand is a war trophy; not the mandate of the people of Rivers state. He won a war and not an election. All the same, savour it, Nyesom! Niccolo Machiavelli teaches that the end justifies the means!

FEEDBACK
I disagree with yours on Olisa Metuh; I hope you did not benefit from the PDP largesse! He is a criminal by tearing EFCC papers; after all, even Sambo Dasuki was not treated like that. Let us support Buhari’s anti-corruption war. I respect your frankness most times; so let us call a spade, a spade. The last administration for 16 years took Nigerians for granted. Right now, I have four graduates without jobs; the looters caused it. If Buhari fails, this country is doomed. –Dr. Olakolu.

When I ask that due process be followed in punishing offenders, it is not because I shared in the loot or support looters or oppose the anti-graft effort. Going by our recent history of dictators, I fear that if a blank cheque is extended to any leader, we may relapse into dictatorship again. As Editor of PUNCH newspapers during the June 12, 1993 political impasse, I was harassed and detained and narrowly missed death. I am not ready for an encore. I support stringent punishment for graft, up to the death sentence, but strictly under the law. That way, every law-abiding citizen can feel safe and secured in their little corners.

-turnpot@gmail.com 0803 251 0193


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