By Anthony A. Kila
By any standard and generally speaking, Olisa Agbakoba is a good man: He has a known profession wherein he has excelled and continues to lead, he stands for his well-articulated ideas at any time and if need be he pays and he has paid for it severally. When he supports, he never does it as a follower, rather he does it as an ally and he always make clear his conditions and positions. His rise to fame and fortune is neither sudden, miraculous nor mysterious, he has earned every accolade he has and when you reason with him you don’t feel you cannot see why he is who he is. By the Nigerian standard of today, all these make Olisa Agbakoba a great man.
That said however and lest we become guilty of what we accuse others of, it is important that we clearly and publicly state that in the case of Atiku Abubakar, Olisa Agbakoba is wrong. There is no other way to put it than calling it wrong. Agbakoba is wrong on the advice he gave Atiku on his present options and on his future prospects.
In case you missed it, right after announcements by INEC of the results of the presidential elections wherein as candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar lost his bid to unseat the incumbent President Buhari who ran on the platform of his APC, Atiku and his party rejected the result, indicating that there was a heavy dose of voter suppression in his strongholds and that of the PDP, as well high inflation of votes in the strongholds of his opponent, Buhari and the APC. Atiku and his party further claim that they have proof of this malpractices and that they intend to go to court to challenge Buhari’s victory, expose the irregularities and overturn result declared by INEC.
Olisa Agbakoba in his reaction to the election results amongst other comments advised Atiku not to go to court, he also urged Atiku to join forces in building the movement of the third force in the country. Two very related issues here: one legal and the other political. On both counts Agbakoba is wrong.
There is an amusing side on the legal front: A lawyer that advises a litigant not to go court is not a common occurrence. Personally, I would like to see more of such occurrence, but not in a case like this one. Whilst it might sound commonsensical and indeed noble of Agbakoba to dissuade Atiku from going to court, in reality such recommendation if heeded deprives the system of valuable contributions the judicial arm of government can make to the development and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
For me, this is neither about Atiku nor the PDP: Going to court when any party feels the that the democratic process has been compromised for the benefit of any other party is a chance for the system and those operating it to prove that the system is indeed free from distortion and that those elected through it have true legitimacy to govern. For posteriority sake, investing some time in court is a good idea because it clarifies which are the myths and realities of the electoral process, it also allows us to improve imperfections that the court case might uncover.
In a fair court hearing, both sides will have a chance to put forward their cases and the judgment will assure all that justice has been done. There can be no justice if there is no hearing. It is not a good scenario that in which those that embody close to half of the voting population feel that they have been robbed of victory, there should be an avenue that leads to closure and the court is such avenue.
It is also very dangerous for the system if people get used to the idea the court is a waste of time, if anything we should be working towards more credible courts that can be seen to be above partisan limitations and corruption.
On the political front, Agbakoba is wrong when he calls Atiku to join in leading the third force movement: That is simply not his world. I suspect Atiku has no interest in the third force and I also suspect that those truly interested in the consolidation of the third force movement will struggle to list Atiku as part of their icons.
Atiku is legitimately a proud member of the establishment anchored in the PDP and APC, their politics is practiced through zoning and rallies, their funding is based on a model wherein a few fund many, their structures are based on who is in power today and who was yesterday and the influence of such power on people, they don’t really focus on the future.
When Atiku left the PDP for the APC he had no problem settling in, when he left the APC back for the PDP he had no problem settling in there either because those two parties are just sections of one world: His world.
Let us be clear: He is not the only one that belongs to the world but we are talking about him today.
The third force if it really wants to count for something in Nigeria needs to learn to recruit more soldiers and less generals, focus on ideas not personalities, work based on facts and data not myths and desires, interact with the willingness to sacrifice not impose and above all needs to commit and dedicate itself to institution building.
Olisa Agbakoba is wrong; he (Agbakoba) not Atiku should join hands with others in leading the third force movement.
*Join me if you can @anthonykila to continue these conversations.