Nseobong Okon-Ekong enters a discussion with Mr. Iboro Otu, Akwa Ibom State 2019 governorship candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party on his position regarding the pronouncement of the Osun state governorship tribunal
As an aggrieved governorship contestant, does the Osun governorship tribunal verdict offer any comfort?
Of course, the verdict of the tribunal on the Osun state elections is great comfort to people like me. It assures us that justice is coming for those who seek it without cease. Of course, we know that this won’t end here, it will go all the way to the Supreme Court, however, it is good for our democratic process and the country in general. Nevertheless, I must also confess that the process isn’t perfect. It is very expensive to do these things, the entry level of our democratic process makes it prohibitive for normal people to get in. I pray President Buhari puts things in place to mitigate other issues that are standing in the way of our growing democratic process. I must use this opportunity to thank the President for his firm stance against unjust influence on our democratic processes at any level, favorable to him or his party or not, this is very highly commendable. His public position on this, whether it is with influencing INEC to favour his party and a host of other possible illegal avenues, has strongly brought confidence to the system, nationally and internationally. It is also primarily why people like myself who aren’t traditional politicians are able to engage our political system and stand until today. I pray God gives our President the grace to do more for the sake of this great nation.
Apparently, there are still many hurdles before Senator Ademola Adeleke, as the matter is likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court, what do you anticipate?
There are still many hurdles, I can only pray and hope that the better side wins and that justice be truly served. My anticipation is wrapped in belief that the will of God be done in bringing justice to the desire of Osun state people. Only God knows who truly the majority of Osun state people want as their governor, my hope is that He will use the justice system to give justice to Osun people because there is so much suffering in the land. I know political machinations sometimes have undue influence and reach across several sectors in Nigeria, but you’ll agree the wind of change is blowing again. It’s exciting times. Looking at how the last elections panned out in several states in Nigeria, I anticipate surprises and a lot of turn-around in judgement delivery at the election tribunals.
How will this affect the future of elections in Nigeria?
This will greatly affect the psyche of Nigerians positively and will encourage great people with the needed leadership capabilities to engage the political system. It will also encourage investors, the international community to come in and reposition. No one will take us seriously until we take our country seriously. Seriousness is amplified when credible people take up leadership positions and when corrupt ones are punished.
We are a great people and it is especially disheartening too when we only read about many wonderful Nigerians celebrated overseas and not in their country of origin, first. We are supposed to be selling our people to the world but today, it seems like reverse is the case; the world is selling our best to us. I strongly believe when politicians of the day realize that vote buying themselves into power will be truncated at the tribunals for example, they will be forced to do the right thing and this is where I will make my case as an example to watch.
Do you think this will lead to a renewed interest in challenging the out come of elections, though it is generally known that litigation is expensive?
Istrongly believe when the tribunals deliver verdicts contrary to INEC results, more disenfranchised people will approach this angle and our traditional politicians will be forced to temper down their vote buying and voter intimidation exercises, it’s common sense. This will also totally recalibrate winning strategies of both the people with money and those without. We totally have to contain the impact and influence of excessive money in our electoral process. The litigation process is a very expensive exercise. Elections generally are prohibitive in Nigeria and this has to change.
It is the cost of this whole process that prohibits great Nigerians – who otherwise would move this country to greater heights – out of politics and this is very dangerous. As it is today, if vote buying, for example, is allowed to take hold, imagine the crop of people that will come in? Soon all manner of illicit money and questionable characters will use our democratic process as an avenue to wash their dirty money, either by buying their way into political office or buying it for someone else and that will mean certain death. I celebrate and support our judicial system in its bid to do the right things. I also celebrate and congratulate our President for standing firm in making sure that justice is served.