On Wednesday, the Ekiti Election Petition Tribunal, handling the judicial challenge mounted by Segun Oni, against the election of Governor Abiodun Oyebanji, adjourned for judgement after taking parties’ written addresses.
Oni’s case is built on two major planks. One, Oyebanji, not being lawfully nominated as the candidate of APC, due to the involvement of Mai Mala-Buni, a sitting governor who served as caretaker chairman of the party, for 640 days. Two, the school certificate issue of Oyebanji’s deputy, Monisade Afuye, the immediate Woman Leader of the party, who was allegedly, singlehandedly added to the Oyebanji ticket by the former First Lady of the state, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
Without the Nigerian factor, the case, could go either way. There are two major Supreme Court pronouncements on the two issues built against Oyebanji’s victory by the SDP man. Both aren’t in the favour of the ruling party. In the neighbouringOndo State, APC escaped the Buni conundrum and retained the state, simply because a majority decision of the apex court said Buni, wasn’t joined as a party. In Oni’s case, that defect is cured with Buni being made a necessary party.
With the law, issues that seem and look straight, may end up not be, when varied interpretations come into effect. However, with the war being waged against conflicting judgements by the leadership of the Nigerian Judiciary and the stated commitment of NJC to the Guidelines it issued to all Nigerian judges on how political cases, should be prosecuted to avoid embarrassing outcomes, judicial precedents may give Oni a wide smile at the end of the day. But we wait.
When APC began to squabble over late Afuye’s seat, it was like manna for Oni and many disgruntled APC and PDP chieftains, backing the SDP candidate, because they are sick to the stomach over the manifest shocking bromance between Oyebanji’s obvious godfather, immediate governor, KayodeFayemi and his assumed old nemesis, AyodeleFayose, who disgraced Fayemi as a first-term governor in 2014 with a comprehensive 16-0 drubbing. Fayemi repaid him in 2018 with another 16-0 defeat of Fayose’s handpicked successor, Prof. Kolapo Eleka. Both elaborate victories are believed to be tainted, especially Eleka’s loss to Fayemi. After leveling score, an alleged anti-Oni project united Fayemi and Fayose and today, Oyebanji, is largely seen as the product of the “alliance”. Now, that both men are “working” together, those who had fought side-by-side with each of them, when they were mortal enemies, are now licking their wounds as the unwanted in the blossoming “friendship” between the two former governors.
One of such castaways is Gboyega Aribisogan, the lawfully-elected Speaker of Ekiti Assembly, who has been forbidden from ruling, because of his “PDP” background, according to Fayemi’s group. Though the embattled Speaker left PDP seven years back, after becoming a real thorn in Fayose’s flesh, while fighting Fayemi’s battle, recent developments have shown that the ruling fraternity in Ekiti APC, is yet to really admit him as a “full member” despite winning his last election on the platform of the party. Fayemi’s ruling clique in the state, found it difficult to allow a “PDP” man, be in charge of its most potent leverage on the governor installed by the same establishment and the new Speaker gotta go, hook or crook.
Aribisogan’s travail should be a major lesson to those who fight political battles blindly and wildly. Today, it has been confirmed that those he has around him as real allies in the struggle to reclaim his “mandate” are “brothers” and “friends” from PDP, who are mostly in APC and SDP, after quitting PDP to teach Fayose a lesson. Aribisogan has a chance at future relevance, with the way Ekiti big jurisprudential masquerades are rallying behind his cause, but it is doubtful he would return as Speaker for the rest of the legislative session. As weighty as the intervention of the Big Lawyers is, their pronouncement has no force of law and once the matter berths in court as being planned by Aribisogan’s corner, all manners of judicial entanglements and acrobatics, would simply drag the rest of the lawmakers’ term out. Fayemi will see to that. Seeing the legal giants uncharacteristically united against his interest, must have communicated the inevitable to him and it is a political battle he must be prepared for.
Oyebanji wants to be his own man, period. Touring the chambers of the legal titans after his election, even before swearing-in, in the guise of paying homage to heavyweight Ekiti sons and daughters and seeking support for his administration, has now proved to be a premeditated plan to contain his godfather and godmother (the former First Lady) though he might not have planned for an early collision.
It is pubic knowledge that EreluBisi has always been a force around her husband’s politics. When she reportedly brought Afuye, who was reportedly running a local bukateria in Ikere as Oyebanji’s running mate, her husband and the then candidate could not have claimed not to know the academic issues of the party’s Woman Leader, whose major public office mileage was as the Chief Cook of College of Education, Ikere, years back. These facts are in public space. But Erelu had her way and Oyebanji is sweating for it today, at the Tribunal, where the legal team handed over to Fayemi by Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, even refused to call the deputy governor to the witness box, during hearing.
The emergence of G6 SAN, in the political drama in Ekiti, obviously for the governor (not Aribisogan as being widely assumed. He is just a beneficiary), is setting the stage for bigger dramas, including the planned demystification of Fayemi, as Gibbers gathered. The Baba Afe Babalola-led coalition wasn’t even pretending to be an impartial arbiter. I learnt the Aribisogan’S episode has provided the launch-pad to teach Fayemi some bitter lessons, for his daring assaults on many venerated institutions in the state, particularly the traditional. Since he wants to be an all-conquering godfather out of office, he should be prepared for what is coming, now that he has shown his hand early that he intended to control the state legislature to tame Oyebanji, through continuous dangling of impeachment threat.
In all of these, Oyebanji is to receive the biggest blame. In fairness to Fayemi, he is doing what all ambitious godfathers would do. The morality of godfatherism, is debatable. If Fayemi stuck with him, when he could have looked elsewhere, the governor should not present himself as an ingrate, though God is the Ultimate power-Giver. That was the most compelling argument of Tinubu’s camp against Vee-Pee Osinbajo in the build-up to the APC presidential primaries. That won’t make Fayemi or Tinubu right, and certainly not Oyebanji and Osinbajo, for attempting to ensure their benefactors lu’le (are disgraced). Apologies to Asiwaju.
Now, Oyebanji has to worry. The case at the tribunal has never looked good for him. A sensible politician will allow such an ominous cloud to pass before tussling for independence he signed away when he was chosen as the flag bearer over his more illustrious competitors. Until the Assembly cracked, Oni stood little chance even if Judiciary eventually enthroned him, because the APC Assembly would have definitely chased him around with impeachment, the same way Fayose was harassed by APC Assembly led by Adewale Omirin, from the moment he was sworn in, until November 17, 2014, when “seven” PDP lawmakers, led by Dele Olugbemi, acting Fayose’s script, dislodged. The 19-lawmaker strong APC.
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Now, another “seven” lawmakers have been unwittingly provided SDP by the feuding APC leaders, and history may repeat itself.
There is a story about how old warhorse Dayo Adeyeye of APC, judicially lost his senatorial mandate to Abiodun Olujinmi of PDP. You don’t start probing into your father’s death, until you have the sword’s hilt. Oyebanji is treading a slope…