By Ibrahim Sarafa
Over the past week, Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his diminishing base of supporters have refused to come to terms that the July 16 governorship poll in Osun state has come and gone. The voters have spoken and their verdict is clear– the Oyetola administration will end on November 27, 2022.
Distraught and by account of the desperation seen so far, Oyetola is still lost in the illusion that no election was lost. This erroneous impression was amplified by Oyetola’s spokesman, Ismail Omipidan, who has consistently promoted a vague, false narrative that ‘his boss lost the vote count and not the election.’ This is an ill thought out joke from an otherwise brilliant professional, of course, except that some innocent observers may not see through the deceit of the narrative.
Another hack writer, one Kolawole Olabisi has been churning out half baked truths , vulgar articles, full of disrespectful choice of words and reflective of a troubled, demented mind worried about imminent loss of power. It has been a cacophony of illogical propaganda and failed alternative narratives, all of which have failed to erase the bitter fact that Mr Oyetola was soundly defeated and a Governor-elect is working assiduously to ensure seamless transition and good governance for the people of Osun state.
Many, myself included, had hoped that Oyetola and his supporters would get past the pain of losing an election with time. It however seemed naive to ignore the history and everything about Oyetola and his party when it comes to reaching for power. In other words, we’re wrong to count on Oyetola or any of his supporters to understand that in a democracy, the people decide and nothing more. The anti-people ideology seems deeply ingrained in their psychic, masked by the deceitful toga of progressivism.
Don’t forget that the mandate that Oyetola is about exhausting wasn’t his, to begin with. This fact was acknowledged by President Muhammadu Buhari, who happens to be the national leader of the APC, that the election that brought Oyetola into office four years ago was made possible with the aid of a ‘remote control.” And this same truth was established by the election tribunal, which restored the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke before two higher courts reversed it largely on the premise of ‘technicality’.
Definitely, someone in that mold may find it hard to appreciate the sanctity of the mandate of the people not to talk of showing any form of respect. Senator Adeleke won the Osun governorship election by more than 28,000 votes, and interestingly, defeated Oyetola in eight out of the 10 local governments in the outgoing governor’s senatorial district. Pseudo intellectuals pampered by spoils of office around the mandate usurper are desperately over – working to reverse the will of the people even with series of failure that regularly greeted their evil agenda.
Before we go further, let me be clear about what I am not saying. I am not saying that Oyetola should not exercise his rights to legal redress should he find any reasonable ground to do so. But the evil that will materialise is the belief of the APC caucus that it is nothing bad to take what he failed to get on the ballot through the backdoor. This was the case in 2018, and the resentment that comes from it contributed in no small measure to his defeat in the recent poll. For 2022, the day time is here and no mandate thief can operate without being apprehended by law and the people.
If you doubt this, I encourage you to randomly sample the opinions of Osun electorates. When you do, you will find that aside from the fact that Oyetola’s lackluster performance in office was not convincing enough, the people were not comfortable rewarding the brazen undermining of their power to decide who lead them four years ago. It was a clear-cut choice and by all measures, they are justified. Our people are resolved to sternly rebuke a clique with utter disrespect for good governance, public decency and governance integrity.
This is a democracy, and the people, have the ultimate right to determine their leader. Of course, the courts are there to adjudicate disputes that arise from elections but the resort to media trials and disinformation campaign illustrates how the Oyetola team isn’t using the legal process– it is trying to manipulate it. And the most worrying thing about this is that it is being deliberate in this ridiculous route.
It is not in doubt that the true motivation behind the latest spurious claims, including the spirited effort to move the Tribunal sitting away from Osun state, was to perverse the course of justice and as done before, unduly imposed a choice different from what the people made at the poll on them. This is a failed venture.
And not just the tribunal case has shown this tendency. A pre-election suit filed by now expelled PDP member, Dotun Babayemi, has every feature of the outlandish move to prevent the manifestation of the will of Osun electorates. Despite the fact that it is purely an internal affairs matter, many supporters of Oyetola have taken it upon themselves to make wild speculations, and in some cases, project the likelihood of manipulating the case to favour Oyetola’s stay in office not minding rejection at the poll. This I must add amount to holding behind a finger.
This goes to confirm the long-held suspicion of many people in Osun state that Babayemi is actually Oyetola’s backup plan to hold on to power through the backdoor. No functioning system will allow an usurper, a desperado, to succeed as this will be deeply harmful to our democracy. The judicial system will surely not allow these evil tactics to prevail.
In a review of Trump’s judicial efforts to upturn the 2020 election, Russel Wheeler, a visiting fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program and the President of the Governance Studies, says “One sign of a healthy democracy is a judiciary that applies the law independently, even in cases involving powerful partisan interests.” This is the same standard Osun people earnestly look towards.
As I have noted before, the issue here is very straightforward, and that is the fact that the only acceptable route to power in a democracy is the electoral system. And good enough, this has been explored and Osun people were resounding in making their choice known to the whole world. It will be against the principle of democracy to bypass their wishes for something different. They have gone through that pain before and will be unfair and thoroughly unjust for them to go through it again.
In reality and in line with fact of history, the people prevail. Democracy exists because it give vent to the will of the people. In Nigeria today, Osun election that produced Adeleke governorship remains a yardstick for electoral standard. Affliction shall not rise again.
• Ibrahim Sarafa is a public commentator and writes from Iwo, Osun state. He can be reached via Twitter @SarafaNgr or email: email@example.com