The long-awaited legal decision on who was the rightful winner of the 2019 guber elections in Benue between Emmanuel Jime of the APC and Samuel Ortom of the PDP, finally came to an end on Tuesday, the 21st day of January 2020. The decision of the Supreme Court was that the incumbent governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the said election, Governor Samuel Ortom, was duly elected and as such the status quo should be maintained.
During the course of the legal battle, there was palpable fear in the state. The fear was widespread and would have affected the whole structure of the state. Like a pack of cards, positions of power and influence would have evaporated in one fell swoop if the decision of the Supreme Court had gone the other way. I read somewhere that some people were packing property to private homes, with some hiding their official vehicles but it is certain that such people (if at all it was true), will all heave a sigh of relief now. Fear raises the adrenaline level and I hope medical bills for hypertension related ailments will not deluge private clinics across the country because some go far from home to get cures.
It has always been like this in our politics especially, the second term elections. Late Apollos Aper Aku suffered this when Wantaregh Paul Unongo dragged him all over the three tiered courts (Tribunal, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court); Professor Ignatius Ayua dragged late Rev Fr Moses Adasu through the courts; Professor Steve Ugba did the same thing by dragging Senator Gabriel Suswam through the process and now the extant case.
For the fact that none of the aforementioned had been successful through the courts in Benue state has not been a deterrent for people wanting the gubernatorial position through the courts, rather than the political process. It therefore, is my candid opinion that these trials overheat the state and it is good advice that people who lose gubernatorial elections should learn from others by conceding gracefully. It is heartwarming to recall that in 1999, the late Sir Ignatius Nomwhange, did not take Senator George Akume to court. Again, Wantaregh Paul Unongo actually congratulated George Akume in 2003. People can go to court in other elections but gubernatorial elections polarizes the state beyond compare.
It is also part of our political history as a state that no incumbent has lost a gubernatorial position to any opposition candidate because the second term is a final ticket, a nunc dimittis of sorts and our sense of fair play guides our choices. This fair play is also fueled by our dual Cosmos, the ‘Ya na angbian’ pendulum which oscillates from one end to the other. Bringing in a fresh person from the same pole has the potential of a new governor asking for a second term after his brother has had a full term. One side may get three terms and the position of the governor is rather powerful. It is better to kill a serpentine hatchling than allow it to grow to bare fangs laced with poison. As it is, Zone A is angling to produce the next governor after Samuel Ortom.
Again, the accusation of taking someone to court for rigging to victory is rather laughable. All parties rig elections and it is the case of one party rigging more than the other party and you can only rig where you have a stronghold; where you are more popular than your opponent.
Although it is a constitutional prerogative for one to approach the courts when not satisfied with the outcome of the elections, these court cases are costing us aplenty as a state. The humongous amount of money spent for court cases by politicians is enough for developmental projects that so many people can benefit from. The truth is that the money is ours, even when it is coming from the pocket of the appellants. They can equally use it to advance better causes than futile odysseys. The people displaced by the failure of government, the motherless babies’ homes and even churches can use such money to reach out to the poor and other charitable causes. Such monies can also be used to train indigent youths, who cannot afford the fees charged by schools. Such developmental initiatives would make the society to write their names in gold; they will become reference points in the perpetual discourse at improving the human condition rather than chasing lost battles.
Finally, I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Governor Samuel Ortom for emerging victorious at the Supreme Court. The victory has again presented him with a good opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in the State. Time for politicking is now over; it is now time for governance. The governor must understand that the case was a constitutional prerogative and it was not borne out of malice. He is now the governor of Benue State and not just the PDP. He must learn to accept divergent views (for and against him) as it is a necessity for his success. The governor must create institutions that will impact positively on the state; access roads, hospitals, schools, pay workers as at when due, make pensioners his priority as well as provide jobs for the teaming Benue unemployed populace. This is the only way he can leave behind an endearing legacy, during the few years he has to stay in office.