Aftermath of Tribunal’s Verdict: Abiodun Entice Opposition

Dapo Abiodun

Femi Ogbonnikan writes on the olive branch extended to the APM governorship candidate, Adekunle Akinlade and his supporters by Governor Dapo Abiodun, shortly after the Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal affirmed his election

When it was announced that the Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal would deliver its verdict on September 14, in the petition brought by the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) and its governorship candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, against the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Dapo Abiodun, neither did the defendant nor the people of the state fret. The truth was not far-fetched. From the outset, without an augury to foretell the outcome of the verdict, it was glaring that the premises of the petition were destined to fail.

True to type, the three-man panel headed by Justice Yusuf Halilu, in a unanimous judgement, said the petition lacked merit and described it as “lazy, deficient and shallow”. It further said Akinlade “did not only fail, but also irredeemably failed to prove” allegations of over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

With the euphoria of the affirmation of the electoral victory, it was another moment to show solidarity for Abiodun, as traders, road transport workers, students, APC supporters and chieftains, clad in “yellow revolution”  T-shirts, positioned themselves strategically at every location close to the Tribunal’s sitting venue, Isabo, Abeokuta. They subsequently took to the major roads and streets upon receiving the good news that the panel had struck out the petition of the APM governorship candidate and subsequently, re-affirmed Abiodun, as governor.

The overwhelming joy and happiness of the day knew no bounds. The governor described the verdict as the triumph of rule of law; victory for democracy and further re-validation of the mandate bestowed on him at the polls. 

He said he remained magnanimous in victory and extended, once again, a hand of fellowship to all opposition elements in the State and called on the opposition APM to forget about 2019 gubernatorial elections and join hand with his government in its “Building Our Future Together” agenda. 

Abiodun, who was on the retinue of President Muhammadu Buhari to Burkina Faso, said rather than dissipate energy and resources on litigation, the aggrieved APM leaders and their supporters should have a rethink of either negotiating their return to the APC where they were or start preparing for 2023 elections. 

“Opposition strengthens democracy and I appreciate the fact that he (Akinlade) went to the Tribunal in the exercise of his constitutional rights. The Tribunal has validated the mandate freely given to us by the masses at the polls. 

“The governorship candidate and all members of APM and indeed members of other parties are free to join APC. Those who are still aggrieved should learn that democracy is about majority rule. The people have spoken and the Tribunal has validated their choice of me. Anybody who feels otherwise should start preparing for 2023.” 

Without mincing words, he expressed appreciation to the people of the state for their unflinching support and solidarity throughout the travails and promised not to take their mandate for granted. 

Specifically, Abiodun commended the judiciary for the impartial verdict, which he noted, has further strengthened and restored confidence in the psyche of the people as the last hope of the common man. 

The governor said his legal team, led by Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), demonstrated depth, dedication and brilliance during the proceedings and further applauded the support and cooperation of the APC leadership for their solidarity, love and firm commitment to the course of justice.

“Let me assure the people of Ogun state of our administration’s commitment to providing focused and qualitative governance anchored on fairness, equity, just and inclusiveness,” said the governor.

By and large, to calm the frayed nerves, Abiodun has extended an olive branch to the aggrieved APM candidate, chieftains, supporters, loyalists and their principal, because he (the governor) believes, in unity, we stand to “build our future together” in Ogun State. Not limited to the APM camp, other opposition groups are being courted to join the moving train to to the next level. 

In the last 113 days, the landmark achievements are unprecedented and unsurpassable and the administration’s footprint is etched in gold.  

Abiodun is more passionate in exploiting the endowed potentials (both human capital and natural resources) towards making the state self-sustaining. 

He resumes office by 8:00 am and closes late at night. He works round the clock in conjunction with seasoned technocrats, made up of Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Deputy-Governor; Tokunbo Talabi, Secretary to the State Government; Shuaib Salisu, Chief of Staff; Dapo Okubadejo, Chief Economics Adviser; Olakunle Olude, Special Adviser on Job Creation, and a host of others.

With a clear vision, Abiodun leaves no one in doubt in his deft approaches to formulating laudable projects and programmes that are capable of improving the lot of the people of the state. Like never before in the past, residents can now heave a sigh of relief and attest to the rehabilitation of major roads within their various neighborhoods, courtesy of the swift intervention of the governor. He has directed officials of the Ogun State Public Work Agency (OGPWA) to move their equipment into the affected communities. 

The workers of the state government have had cause to commend the governor for living up to his social contract of ensuring the prompt payment of salaries before the last working day of every month.  Congratulatory messages keep pouring in quick succession. Leading the pack, is the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who said Abiodun truly deserved the victory that came “despite the intimidation, harassment and violence unleashed on your numerous supporters and other shenanigans perpetrated by known opposition elements within and outside our party, APC.”

Also joining the fray of those that congratulated Abiodun, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, former Deputy-Governor of the state and an APC chieftain, admonished Akinlade to accept the verdict in good faith and noted that Ogun could not afford to be held down by unnecessary litigations. 

Besides, Kaka, former Senator who represented Ogun East at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly between 2011 and 2015, counseled the APM candidate to put an end to what he called “unpatriotic pursuit” by heading to the Court of Appeal.  The Ogun State chapter of the APC, according to its caretaker Publicity Secretary, Comrade Tunde Oladunjoye, commended the panel of judges “for a detailed and thorough job that was so clear, convincing and beyond reasonable doubt.”

But in his riposte, the APM governorship candidate rejected the judgement of the tribunal and has decided to appeal. 

––Ogbonnikan is a Media Consultant to Governor Abiodun