General Muhammadu Buhari
It reminds one of what transpired during the prosecution of former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari’s petition against President Obasanjo’s election in 2003. Buhari contested that election on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). After the poll, which he lost, he headed for the election tribunal to challenge Obasanjo’s victory. His party, along with the former chairman, the late Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, was with him as he filed the petition. but along the line, as hearing began in the petition, Buhari was left in the lurch. He became a lone ranger prosecuting his own petition, as the party abandoned him.
Part of that experience may have led him to form his own party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the build-up to the 2011 election. But the case of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the last governorship election in Edo State, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere, is slightly different. Accepting that its candidate lost the July 14 governorship poll to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the PDP had said it was not going to challenge Oshiomhole’s election. They also asked Airhiavbere not to challenge the election results.
The Edo election, to all intents and purposes, was a battle between the people and the godfather – at least it was the perception ACN had successfully created. In that battle, the people chose the former Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leader Oshiomhole and dumped the godfather, Chief Tony Anenih. Therefore, it was no surprise last week that at the inaugural sitting of the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal hearing Airhiavbere’s petition against Oshiomhole’s election, the PDP filed a motion before the court seeking to withdraw from the petition. The party’s counsel Kingsley Obamogie urged the tribunal to remove PDP from the petition, arguing that Airhiavbere’s lawyer Efe Akpofure (SAN) did not get the PDP’s permission before including the party in the petition. He added that the PDP does not wish to challenge the election result. With the party out of the petition, Airhiavbere is on his own.