To the chagrin of all, the headlines hit the airwaves on Tuesday November 12, 2019 reading- “Confusion in Oyo over Appeal Court ruling.” It was a shock find for millions of residents and indigenes of Oyo State and observers of activities in the Pacesetter State since the close of the governorship elections of March 9, 2019. In the said ruling, a panel of the Court of Appeal, sitting on the election petition by Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) did a little to the left, a little to the right and left a bit for the centre. It ruled in one breath that the Election Petitions Tribunal failed to accord fair hearing to Adelabu. In another breath, it declared that having gone ahead to further analyse the Tribunal’s verdict, it found that the pleadings by Adelabu cannot be granted. It thereby refused to grant Adelabu’s quest for retrial, rehearing or rerun of the election.
But Adelabu and his party leaders have been celebrating the “window of hope” and manipulative tendencies they believed was opened via the ruling of the Appeal Court. Even at that, the said hope they flaunt is sure to end in despair because the mathematics of the March 9 election and the legal geography do not bind in their favour.
Ahead of the March 9, 2019 election in Oyo, every nearby and distant watcher saw that the tide was in favour of Engineer Seyi Makinde, the young entrepreneur, who had made his mark in the oil and gas field. Only a few actors who were blinded by the old ways of doing things never saw the Makinde electoral tsunami coming. Severally, such actors told their party men ‘we are home and dry.’ Each time some of the distant stakeholders in the broom ensemble made enquiries about happenings in Oyo, they reply with the ‘we are fully in control’ countenance.
So to that class of actors, the turn of events at the close of the March 9 election was a huge jolt. Makinde, in their reckoning was a distant contender; a man who in their estimation, could in no way match the financial muscle encapsulated in the power grabbing- ‘Oyo for sale’ triumvirate.
But it emerged on March 9 that they were only home and dry to failure and ever since, they have not been at ease accepting the massive loss and the fact that a pot of soup has just been rescued back for the true owners, the people.
It happened that in that March 9, 2019 election, Engineer Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) won in 28 of 33 local governments, with his party winning 26 of 32 House of Assembly Seats, a massive show of force by the people of Oyo State, who taught the erstwhile ruling party in the State, the APC a lesson on humility in power.
Rather than accept the lessons, which modules were properly sketched out by God and the people, the real owners of power, the defeated went ahead to form the proverbial ‘axis of evil,’ trying so hard to badmouth every good step of the new whiz kid in the state’s power equation. They are attempting to reshape the hands of the clock and turn history on its head. But its certain to be a futile attempt as the people of Oyo are resolute in defending their mandate.
The Nigerian laws and the Constitution guarantee that victory in elections would be by simple majority. The laws also indicate that election tribunals can only overturn election results where there are proven violations of the Electoral Act and indeed the Constitution. The bad losers in the axis of evil are however championing alleged violations to the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to goad the Judiciary into usurping the power of the people and that of God. They know it is against the affirmed rulings of the apex court of the land, thus their antics can only amount to a shot into an empty town-aimless.
Close to the governorship election in Oyo State, the signals were clear on the walls, the screens and even on the sky. Those in the city of Ibadan and all the political zones of Oyo state had concluded easily that the emergence of Engineer Seyi Makinde was not in doubt. But those conceited in the pool of aggravated self-importance have continued to miss the reality. The groundswell was for the Engineer, the son of a Teacher turned Accountant and a Telephone operator mother. Everywhere you go, it was “Seyi e da?” (Where is Seyi)…”O ‘Seyi, O se emi,” “O ‘Seyi O se nkankan!!!” Many gladly shouted the Omi tuntun (new dawn) slogan on sighting the Makinde campaign train or even the PDP flag.
Little wonder, the key political actors in the state who had always worked at cross purposes were able to forge an alliance with the PDP ahead of the 2019 election. Governorship elections in the State since 2007 have been dogged by a failure of alliance by key actors. In 2007, the fact that Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and others failed to align paved the way for Adebayo Alao-Akala as Governor. In 2011, the refusal of Alao-Akala and Ladoja to work together created the opening for Ajimobi to emerge. The same happened in 2015 where Ladoja, Alao-Akala, Seyi Makinde and Senator Teslim Folarin all slugged it out with incumbent Ajimobi, who coasted home with minority of the votes. The winner of the governorship election in 2011 and 2015 secured less than 40 percent of the votes cast on each occasion.
In 2019, Governor Makinde polled 515, 621 votes to beat his closest challenger, APC’s Adebayo Adelabu, who scored 357,982 votes. The distance between the two candidates stood at 157, 639 votes. It shows the wide acceptability of Engineer Makinde and goes to confirm that any attempt to drag a case on this matter would amount to a wide goose chase.
But the axis of evil has been upbeat in recent weeks, especially after the news headlines suggested “confusion” over the Court of Appeal ruling. A number of their chorus men who lost their polling units, wards and local government during the polls have suddenly regained their voices, banking on false hope of a jaundiced system. They have been claiming the implantation of “banana peels” on the path of Governor Makinde and some have even christened their evil plots as a “set of traps.”
It is obvious that the opponents of Seyi are not in tune with the yearnings of the people of Oyo State. They are apparently blinded by the allure of raw power, power for the sake of power and perhaps deafened by the waves of the Atlantic. Some would say they have been seized by the arrogance of power and the claim that “what money cannot do; more money would do it!” But we know, only God is all-powerful.
So why are they activating an ‘axis of evil’ against an office holder whom the people are happy with? The reason is just simple; the purpose of the axis of evil is just devilish-it specialises in what should not be as against the common good.
Former American President, George W. Bush was the first to use the phrase “axis of evil” to depict the enemies of the United States of America, whose quest for weapons of mass destruction at that time was seen as real and present danger in the search of global peace.
In the initial days of the Nigerian National Assembly this Fourth Republic, the phrase was so domesticated that it was the trigger for the famous banana peels that signposted the removal of two Senate Presidents, resignation of another and the removal of a Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Whereas the axis of evil as premiered by the National Assembly in Abuja was to an extent with a cause, the axis of evil being orchestrated against Makinde is one without a cause. It is one that sets out to subjugate the wishes of the people, truncate their valid dreams on the altar of feudalism and reduce them to scavengers even in the midst of plenty.
They dwell on lies and negative deployment of money, but it is certain that only the truth can stand the test of time.
Again you ask, why the axis of evil against Makinde? The reasons are not far-fetched. Here is a young political actor in the Western Nigerian firmament, whose actions within less than six months of power have dwarfed whatever good deeds you can ascribe to the acclaimed lord of manor who have held sway for some 20 years in the geopolitical zone. He has given scholarships to over 20,000 students in his personal capacity; as the State Governor, he approved N500,000 as bursary to Law School students (the highest in the state’s history); declared free and qualitative education; his predecessor levied each public school student N3,000, his government is paying that much per student in every school; paid N526 million as grants to primary and secondary schools in first term 2019/2020 session; he is working on sound health policy and economic rejuvenation of his state. He is distributing free textbooks and exercise books; launched special compendium to aid SS3 students with special lessons to boost performance in public examinations; he has promised to double the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) within the first one year in office and he has restructured the security architecture of the state. He is launching a 20-year economic blueprint for his state and is set to turn the state to a construction yard with 24 percent of the 2020 budget devoted to infrastructure. In every sense, he is redefining governance in a way that threatens to cast the jeun soke, jeun sapo (stomach infrastructure) political ideology into the dustbins.
And it should be noted that the struggle by men of the axis of evil against the people-centred political ideology of Makinde is not strange. The Holy Bible recorded that when King Herod heard of the birth of the new King, he fought the wind, the moon and the stars. He mindlessly ordered the killing of every male child to preserve his throne. But God the Almighty saved baby Jesus from the wrath of the loser-Herold. And today, again, our God will save Seyi Makinde from the antics of this axis of evil.
––Adisa is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Oyo State.