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Ahmed Usman Ododo and The Rest of Us

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By Obafemi Babajide

It is in order, to congratulate His Excellency Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo of my dearest state, Kogi, for his victory both at the polls and at the harrowing election petition tribunal, that gave its judgment and vindicated the Governor on May 27th, which happened to be the children’s day. For me, it is a symbolic article that the Yoruba called an ‘iroko’, it is symbolic maybe because the Judiciary wants Mr. Governor to embrace everyone. Just like the children who rarely have enemies. Gov. Ododo should once again be magnanimous in victory, he should reach out to everyone; he should get even the opposition onboard, after all, the state belonged to everyone.

We were at a hangout and someone sought my opinion on an issue and he got so annoyed with my opinion. The person had asked me what my opinion was on an issue he wanted to take to court, he said he went to pray somewhere and they confirmed to him that his elder brother’s friend killed him with the use of voodoo [ Africa charm] because they competed for something. He said that the person used an occultic power to transfer some sicknesses into his brother’s body and his brother who was not careful didn’t survive it. My first question was if the guy had poisoned his brother and if an autopsy was carried out to confirm same, he said no. I then asked him again if, he had any evidence or witnesses to show at the court, he said yes. What is the evidence and witness? He said he would bring the prayer man to the court to say what he saw spiritually, that is the evidence, and that the guy will witness against the defendant and prove how cynical the defendant is. That was when I dropped my simple advice. I simply told him to go home and prepare his house and that of the prayer man, for they will soon be living inside the prison, he got annoyed.

The next day, someone told him to visit me again to apologize and ask me why I felt he didn’t have a case. As soon as I saw him, I jokingly asked if he wanted me to come with him to court as a witness, I quickly added that I wouldn’t go with him because I do not want to be jailed. He then asked me what was my reason for saying all this, after all, I am not a lawyer, so I asked him to go consult a good lawyer, relay his case again and hear the opinion of that lawyer if only the lawyer was ready to be sincere. I told him that the court works on a concrete body of proof not hearsay, the court wants to see striking evidence, not third-or-fourth-party evidence, the court wants to have a beyond reasonable doubt proof, and finally, the court or Nigeria constitution does not recognize charms, voodoo or spirituality.

You still have to bring concrete evidence to court even with what the Judges sees and may know, a proof that will be left as a judicial precedence, a watertight proof not a windy or uncatchable proof. My friend thanked me and left, that was the last I heard of the case, he had allowed the voice of reasoning to prevail. Engage the spiritual with the spiritual, no more no less.

Each time I read, hear, or watch the macabre dance engaged in by Muri, SDP and their cohort, I deeply look into their prayers at the court, I shake my head. As emotional as they were with that court case, I knew they were going nowhere. By the body of proofs, the case became chaffs that were blown away by the wind.

Were they wrong in approaching the tribunal to tender their grievances? No! The judiciary is and will remain the last hope of the common man. As much as this last sentence is true, the common man who felt cheated should come with a strong body of proof, he/she will certainly get what judgment is due to him/her.

Approaching the court or tribunal involves being technical and circumspective, all these were lost in their bid to prove their victory. Take for an example, you brought a forensic expert who could not prove his certification and his expertise, where do you think he is going with his forensic reports? Come of it, the judges may be meek but they certainly are not dunces. Another simple one is telling the court you are coming with 305 witnesses and you ended up coming with 22 or 25, what percentage is that? Another one is not making sure that your star witnesses and some big witnesses belonged to a party or have a role they played at the election except that they were onlookers or electorate. The law as much as it is simple, is also complex, there are a lot of ifs, whens, hows, whys, and all. A dot in the constitution could have or make a meaning, the punctuations therein are meaningful, and the lexicons and grammars of law are not that of a common writer, wordsmith or grammarian. Before now, although I am not a lawyer, I had seen gaps in their case and prayers and I told some of my friends who are apologists of the group.

Aside putting so much emotion into arguing their case, they threw tactics away, they didn’t pay attention to details, they refused to hammer on technicalities, and in the end, the emotions that beclouded them unmade them. Another nauseating angle is the so-called “agenda” that they profess, Kogi State just like Nigeria is multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, the Yoruba man says that ‘aikin ti oju onika mesan ka’, you don’t tell a man with nine fingers that he walks around with an incomplete set of fingers.

I agree that the state is multi-ethnic, power is supposed to be rotated, power could go back to the East as a matter of rotation only when the West also have their own fair share. The governorship position or power is not anyone’s birthright and it may also not be served al La Cartel. Power is taken, with a lot of scheming, not with a boastful bout.

For the SDP, its candidate and followers, the strategy to recontest in 2007 must kickstart now albeit in a more technical, brilliant and all-encompassing way. Except there are new grounds and evidence to present or there is a way to correct the errors made already, it is a waste of time and resources to appeal this case, methinks.

Go back to the drawing board, make agreements and realignments, and get all the senatorial districts involved instead of making it a one-tribe show. Enough said! I wish them the best of luck always.

For the victorious Governor Ododo, like I wrote in my opening paragraph, it is time to incorporate all. It is time to be magnanimous in victory. It is time to roll up your sleeves and work. The Bible says “no one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” Luke 9:62. I do not know what the Holy Quran says but I know that the Quran encourages hard work and good leadership.

Far from the old order, Gov. Ododo looks calmer, more reserved and not too interested in propaganda and praise singing. That appears to be his own style, each leader with their own style, what matters is the result you get with it and the benefit to those you govern.

I was reliably informed that the pensioners are now been paid, I also heard that there is a lot of peace at the various Local Governments, I heard that the salary percentage being paid is getting close to the 100 percent that is supposed to be paid. You may argue that this should not be an achievement but the right of Local Government Workers. Looking at it from another angle, those times that they were paid percentages that were not presentable, did heaven fall? Turn that time around to when good salaries are now been paid and things are beginning to take shape, your guess may be the same as mine.

Governor Ododo should make his appointees work, the era of being appointed in Kogi State while you stay back in your comfort zone should be gone forever. If he permits that, then he permits waste of taxpayers’ money. The appointees should have their offices where they assemble and work, they should stay on their beats, and they should be made accountable. There should a body, or organization that will checkmate them, they should be appraised periodically, and those who are found wanting should be shown the exit door after one or two warnings. By doing this, people will think twice about lobbying for appointments, you should at least be aware that nothing comes easy and free, not even in Freetown [either the one in Iyamoye community or the main one in South Africa].

There are some ministries that I think the governor should beam his searchlight on and make sure they are funded to perform. All the ministries are important but there are some I will point out as the A-List ministries.

Ministry like Agriculture should be well energized, with the arrays of green land and good soil in the state, except for skirmishes of insecurity here and there, Kogi State does not have a business in been on the list of states where food is most expensive. If our Agriculture Ministry thrives, the food basket of the state will come alive. Pray, tell me, what is happening to the rice mill at Omi? Can this beautiful project be revisited?

Another Ministry is the newly created Ministry of Innovation Science and Technology. The World is becoming more digital in all spheres including education, agriculture, taxation, just name it. When this ministry was created, I gave kudos to Gov. Ododo for thinking out of the box and giving Kogi a ministry that is needed, more thanks to him for appointing a round peg commission to lead the round hole ministry. But who is a workaholic, brilliant commissioner without an enabling well-funded ministry? The ministry will thrive, it will become the star ministry and the projector of this administration if an adequate attention is paid to it.

Other ministries are the Ministry of Steel if there is any, the Humanitarian Ministry which should empower and cater to the really less privileged around us, the Ministry of Environment which will help sanitize and correct environmental degradation, the Ministry of Land and Housing, which will cater to our low-cost housing deficits and do proper layouts and infrastructure, Ministry of Labour and productivity, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Health and so on.

I also opine that the Governor should look into creating the Ministry of Marines and Blue Economy, we are a Confluence State, and we should benefit immensely from our waterways. One of the first tasks that should be given to the Ministry of Marines and Blue Economy is working with the Federal Government to dredge the River Niger for small ships to berth, imagine a port in Lokoja, just take a deep breath and see how thriving the state economy will be.

Finally, the Governor should re-arrange his media team, no one will blow your trumpet other than yourself. He can have a good media team that will be preoccupied with just showcasing his good works and Kogi State to the World. Enough of allowing the state to be in the news for negative reasons, enough of unsavoury propaganda. A good Chief Press Secretary and Media Team will be a good mouthpiece of the Governor, a bad one will undo the Governor, so act fast. I shuddered the last time I saw those things being published as achievements of Gov. Ododo’s first hundred days in office, they look more like an itinerary than achievements, and that publication does not fit the state.

Once again, at least for the next four years, permit me to congratulate Gov. Ododo and his deputy because I see no further appeal case, permit me to also say that you, your deputy and your appointees are up against all of us, I hope you will win this battle by your performances in office, that will at least shut the mouth of your traducers. Don’t forget that a stitch in time they say, saves nine.

Babajide Obafemi is the Political Editor of Lagos Indicator Magazine and also the Managing Editor of NewsHub Mag!
























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