Up till this moment, I still don’t know whether to celebrate or bemoan the turn of events in Bayelsa State.
With less than 24 hours to the inauguration of Chief David Lyon as governor of Bayelsa state, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Supreme Court, like the proverbial death of African folklore, which kills a man on the sweetest day of his life, struck. In a unanimous decision, Milords of the apex court pulled the rug off the feet of running mate Sen. Segi (I honestly don’t know his real names right now), dragging Lyon and APC with him, as collateral damage. The Deputy Governor-elect’s penchant for changing his own name at will had finally caught up with him, hitting him where it hurt the most.
And as I write this piece, this romantic night of February 14, I’m glancing at the electronic copies of two different invitations cards, inviting a friend of mine to both the swearing-in ceremony, at the Samson Siasia Stadium, and the inauguration lecture, to be delivered by my friend, Dr. Otive Igbuzor. Both event, needless to say, were aborted. My imagination is running wide. Where is Gov. Nadir el-Rufai, who was to headline the Lyon swearing in, at this moment? What happens to the event planners? The hotel reservations? The Aso-ebi? The pimps and all the merchandise already procured for VIP relaxation? So many people are going to lose their deposits. Many will never get their balance. And I’m not saying anything about the near-heart attacks. This, no doubt, is what the traders call “bad market”.
PDP is celebrating, APC is livid – going violent in some instances. Torching a few things. Flash back to November last year, when PDP was convinced (and rightly too) that it had been robbed at the polls. It did protest, calmly: Addressed press conferences, wrote petitions and went to court – and largely reined its supporters. It also took all the snide remarks with equanimity. Now, fast forward to February 13, 2020, and all hell is let loose, as the rolls are reversed and APC is handed the short end of the stick.
I don’t want to speculate on who set fire to PDP secretariat in Yenagoa, but I can confirm that the same hoodlums who had been procured the previous day to stone Dickson’s convoy, accusing him of ‘wasting money on projects’ and not paying workers their salaries, returned to the same government house to set bonfires in protest against the Supreme Court verdict. They even attacked Gov. Dickson’s home. Again, they had a field day, with the police barely protecting government property and officials, and doing little to stop the rampaging touts.
This was the same Bayelsa where APC campaigned unmolested in the run-up to the election, yet even with a PDP governor as incumbent, APC thugs would not allow PDP to freely campaign in the state. The APC seemed to be spoiling for war, deliberately provoking the ruling party in the state.
Yours sincerely was in Bayelsa on the day of the bloodbath at Nembe, 48 hours to the November 14, 2019 election. I recall the pressure aides and security operatives attached to the governor mounted on Dickson to allow them return fire for fire. I recall the governor shouting some down, insisting that a reprisal attack would lead to more violence and death, and that at the end of it all, it would still be Bayelsans who would be killed on both sides. According to Dickson, it was better to get robbed of electoral victory than to turn the state into a killing field.
In Bayelsa, the APC is of a disposition that is completely at variance with everything the National APC stands for. Bayelsa APC is synonymous with violence. When they campaign, they deploy violence, when the vote, they deploy violence, when the celebrate victory (irrespective of how the victory is procured), they also unleash violence. When they win in court, they celebrate riotously, and when the court rules against them, they still respond with violence.
But I’m less bothered by how PDP and APC react to victory, than the fact that our democracy has so degenerated that all and every election must now go to court. The courts (judges and lawyers)are now the ones picking our leaders for us. Very soon, we’ll get to the level where aspirants would just summit their documents to the courts and wait for one of them to be pronounced winner and sworn-in. That will be the day! I hope this is not the ‘Next Level’ we were promised?
Gradually, whatever happens at the polling booth is increasing becoming irrelevant. Now it is what the courts say happened that happened. Its immaterial whatever INEC, independent observers, the media and party agents saw and reported. When it suits the courts, they go with technicalities and dismiss the substance of the matter. At other times, they look at the merit of the case. It all depends on who they want to gift the victory.
While one is tempted to view the sacking of David Lyon as poetic justice, given that there was always a general consensus among non-partisans that he was the beneficiary of an electoral heist, one can only shudder at number of similar injustices that we have been forced to live with.
That brings to mind the situation in Imo State, where Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has returned to the Supreme Court to seek elucidation on the Supreme magic that produced a Hope Uzodinma governorship.
And while he’s at it, literally abandoned by all those who dined with him yesterday but are today disparaging him as “Amadioha”, one cannot but wonder what would happen if his mandate is suddenly restored on March 9. Will all those lawmakers who decamped to the party of the new governor re-decamp back to PDP? How would they look at each other? But, I guess, I’m only worried because I’m not one of the mindless politicians. They would retrace their steps and continue from where they left off.
Isn’t this the reason why we are where we are today? Politics without principle. Or maybe, there is principle: principle of the pocket. Principle of stomach infrastructure. The same people who sing hosanah today, at the slightest turn of adverse fortune, begin to scream ‘crucify him’.
That is why, one of my kinsmen looked me in the face last month and was lecturing on how Ihedioha was busy fighting Rochas and destroying all the good works that Rochas did. Hood works? Okorocha? I could not believe my ears! This was the same kinsman who invoked the wrath of the gods on Okorocha, soon after Ihedioha mounted the saddle, for looting the state blind. And after I had served him a few more bottles of beer, he asked me if I knew there was actually no voting. He soon regaled me with details of how they manufactured the Hope Uzodinma figures sent to the supreme court. For him, Uzodinma is the new way to go, and like the politicians in Owerri, even this village folk of mine is adjusting and find a way to fit in. And because former governor Okorocha has somewhat returned to reckoning with the emergence of Uzodinma, my kinsman no longer wanted to rub him on the wrong side. In fact, in his rather tipsy narration of Imo politics, he soon drifted into Okorocha’s eight-year rule, telling me how Okorocha was the best governor Imo ever had. His reason: Rochas gave his daughter N250 launch money one day at her public primary school. I was shocked, not only by the ease with which my kinsman changed his position, but by the miracle of what magic N250 could do to a grown man’s reasoning. How sharing money instantly turns politicians into folk heroes. Yes, we always expect our political office holders to share money. Those who don’t share money are regarded as failures, irrespective of whether or not they gave the state its best infrastructure, education or healthcare development. It makes me remember how former Lagos state governor, Akinwumi Ambode suddenly became a political leper. Even your trusted aides would not only decamp, they would join the vanguard of those abusing you. That is the tragedy of our democracy and its free-wheeling constitution.
I can’t wait to witness the re-realignment that will now follow Sen. Diri’s swearing-in in Bayelsa. It is the same naked dance that will happen in Imo in next month if the unthinkable happens at the Supreme Court.
– Nwosu is a respected journalist with www.thexpressng.com