At long last, the long distance runner had his diadem returned to him. After a gritty struggle that would have ordinarily tasked the man in any Nigerian, Kayode Fayemi has retrieved his diverted mandate and sent packing the impostors that have domesticated this heist for close to four years and kept away the rightful owner from his deserved electoral due.
What came to my mind as that great development unfurled is the age-old saying that truth will eventually catch up with falsehood even if the later runs for a million years. We owe this moment as well the creative imbuement it deigns on the country’s badly managed electoral process to the resilience and the staying power of Kayode Fayemi. We owe this joyful return to Fayemi’s faith on the process, even in its flawed form, to do the needful and do justice in a case that is as obvious as it was clear.
Going by the long and enervating process he indulged in retrieving his mandate, there was no doubt that Fayemi prepared himself for a long distance race when he decided to throw his hat into the ring for the governorship of Ekiti. There was no doubt that he was prepared for the sapping and winding bends the contest went but it is still doubtful if he was prepared for the incredible twists that made this case drag for nearly four years while an impostor reigned. Yes, given his stoic and principled persona, Fayemi must have prepared himself for the worse but never did he fathom that this struggle will stretch him so thin as it had done. This must have added a sweetening elixir to his present triumph.
As his certain victory was held up and a usurper accredited his just reward in April 2007, he must have placed implicit faith in the judiciary to return that diverted victory in a matter of months. So when the election tribunal decided to play pranks with his case in a bid to affirm that stolen mandate, he was still firmly anchored within the normal run of the contest. He went to the Appeal Tribunal as a normal reaction to such judicial perfidy which came in an annoying way. The Appeal Tribunal was to put its wise kens to decide rightly that Fayemi won the majority of the valid votes cast in that contentious election. But it fell short of declaring him the winner as it ruled for a supplementary election in a fraction of the state where PDP’s rigging machine overworked.
As he was entering the make-up election, it was obvious that the game was his. To his opponents, it was certain that only a high-tech miracle can save the PDP from rustication. To Nigerians, the mandate was as good as safe in the kitty of the rightful owner but in a land of thriving electoral impunity, nothing was put beyond imagination. Knowing its disadvantaged position, going into the re-run polls in April 2009, the PDP went on a mobilization spree and brought all apparatchiks of hell to Ekiti State. There were threats, there were intimidations, there were state sponsored hounds littered all over Ekiti State for that re-run election. But that was enough to save the PDP from an imminent defeat. As the early results from that heavily policed and violence-infested make-up election strewed in and as it became obvious to the PDP that it had to surrender the mandate of Fayemi, they latched up to the last card-a putrid and malfeasant plot to secure the state at all costs. That birthed the infamous Ido Osi charade, replete with the desperate attempt to decide the re-run election with a forged result that was spawn to make up for the shortfall the PDP was suffering after the collation of the results from over 96 per cent of the state.
As a shocked and awed nation was left to ponder how low the PDP was able to go to covet a state, Fayemi headed to the courst in a fresh effort to retrieve his mandate. His opponents, still smarting from their concocted victory, made merry and partied. They taunted him to abandon the struggle, they intimidated them with bayonets and cudgels but he remained firm, being a long distance runner that has every faculty to last him the uncertain distance. As he was fighting to retrieve his mandate, his opponent was fighting to get rewarded for re-stealing his mandate and a vicious circle was unleashed to ensure nothing changed in Ekiti.
The Bukar Harman tribunal was to toe the infamous paths of its predecessor, the first election tribunal in Ekiti as it ignored weighty evidences of electoral fraud, well documented incidences of violence, intimidation and all other vices, to affirm the perverted mandate-Ido Osi and all. At this stage, it would have appeared that the road was closed to Fayemi but he neither dithered nor wavered in fighting on for what he and millions of Nigerians were convinced were his. He approached the Appeal Tribunal, buoyed by the split nature of this latest verdict and put up a case anyone would have ignored at his peril. So at the very last hour, and just few months to the exploitation of his four years mandate by a usurper, he got his mandate returned to him in a bitter-sweet manner!
The Appeal Tribunal has served good notice, just at the door of another general election, that electoral usurpers must start warming up for the final whistle. It has also redeemed a hefty tar on the image of the judiciary, after the sordid showing of 2007 and the cases from it. It has through this verdict placed the judiciary in the right pedestal to face the challenges of 2011. The President of the Appeal Tribunal and the entire panel takes great credit for this lifting effort to re-imbue confidence on a process that is taken as malleable and elastic to the capricious whims of those that access state power through foul means. There is little doubt that the verdict on Ekiti will greatly inflate the confidence Nigerians place in the judiciary to tackle the many malfeasances of desperate politicians in 2011.
The people of Ekiti State must take credit for this day for they demonstrated through stout resistance to injustice, that a determined people will ultimately get their just reward in due season, if they persist in resisting evil. Their showing during the macabre and sordid period of the re-run has placed them in courageous lights to reshape the history of democratic struggle in Nigeria.
But the biggest chunk of credit the present belongs to Kayode Fayemi who has shown perseverance, resilience and fortitude in the face of the intimidating force of the state. He has shown what is still possible with the Nigerian judiciary that has been smeared by the unbridled conduct of most of its members. He is a lesson in stoic endurance and has uplifted the confidence in the process through his persistence in the fight for justice. He is a confirmed long distance runner, as I labeled him in an earlier report and he has shown that patience, discipline and maturity pay in the long run. he certainly will cut a place in Nigeria’s compilation of good politicians whose acts and conducts helped sway us from a certain self-induced political doom.
Peter Claver Oparah.