Opinion: Edo election tribunal and lesson from Professor Idia Ize-Iyamu

Opinion: Edo election tribunal and lesson from Professor Idia Ize-Iyamu

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Editor's note: In this piece, a Lagos-based media consultant, Jerome-Mario Utomi, writes about the recently conducted governorship election in Edo state.

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If there is anything that presents as false the claim by politicians particularly in Nigeria that their motives are unsoiled by private ambitions, that all they wish is to serve the public and to pursue the ‘public good, it is their inconsiderate and unguarded declaration that they can achieve the impossible with regards to winning elections no matter the enormity of the odds against them.

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When they contest and fail woefully, they will sing a new song of being rigged out and head to courts to regain a victory, which in most cases is hard to pin down.

As an illustration, few days after the 2019 general election result was declared, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement he personally signed and released to journalists, rejected the result of February 23, 2019, which he described as a sham and vowed to challenge in court the outcome of the presidential election.

Opinion: Edo election tribunal and lesson from Professor Idia Ize-Iyamu

The candidate of APC during the Edo governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his wife, Idia. Source: ThisDay.
Source: UGC

Atiku had said:

“If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the north and the south.
“However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019. 2007 was a challenge, but the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was remorseful. In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.”
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The rest is now history. Such declarations in the past after electoral contest are not by any means unique to Atiku.

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As it was in the news that before he finally emerged the president in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari contested, and lost the presidential elections for three consecutive times. And in each case, reputed for challenging such outcomes from the election petition tribunals to the nation’s apex court-the Supreme Court.

This experience may not be different in the just-concluded September 19, 2020, gubernatorial election in Edo state that saw Godwin Obaseki, the incumbent state governor emerges a winner.

The temptation of approaching the election petition tribunal by his strongest opponent in the election, Pastor Ize-Iyamu of the APC and other contenders may be high and anticipated.

Indeed, they enjoy the constitutional right to challenge outcomes at the election tribunal. Since the election is both political and moral issues that affect the survival of human civilization. It is not a question of left or right. It is a question of right or wrong. This is motivation.

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That notwithstanding, facts have emerged why all at the present circumstance must look back in order to more productively look forward.

Admittedly, an appreciable number of people in the state, going by the result did not vote for Pastor Ize Iyamu, candidate of the APC. But the situation says something else.

Instead of approaching the election petition tribunal when constituted, he needs to introspectively reflect to recognize that despite the election overtly not being in his favour, the true ‘winner’ of the election covertly resides within his household.

This idea may sound exceedingly complex and difficult to understand but packed with a lot of wisdom and meaning.

Besides the global recognition that democracy survives only where/when the people have the culture of accommodation and tolerance which makes a minority accept the majority’s right to have its way until the next election, and wait patiently and peacefully for its turn to become the government by persuading more voters to support its views, there is presently a bifurcation among Nigerians who see, understand and care for women that there is a woman that all through the electioneering period took the right part, choose the right value, and communicated the right perspective.

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Going by commentaries, right-thinking Edolites irrespective of party affiliations are in agreement that Professor Idia Ize-Iyamu, a consultant orthodontist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, and wife of Pastor Ize-Iyamu, did not directly contest in the just concluded election, but the dexterity of support given to her husband all through the electioneering season has without modulated logic but reflective thought characterized her not only as a ‘winner’ that should be celebrated but a woman packed with virtues that others can emulate.

To most political commentators/analysts, Idia’s exemplary/ impressive campaign which was never dull and by no means uninspiring or found lacking in action logic and strategy should serve as hope and a source of pride to not just the husband but the entire people of Edo state.

Apart from many having very interesting things to say about her performance, for the fact that the state parades such an intelligent breed is in my view a mark of hope for the future.

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Definitely, as humans, ‘we remember to forget but forget to remember’. But this time around the state government must again learn to look back to be able to more productively look forward.

It will be very rewarding if Governor Obaseki re-reads recent media reports were Professor Idia noted that Edo state has a very high imbalance in patient to doctor ratio. A ratio of 6:75,000 is far above the recommended WHO standard.

This she said is completely unacceptable. Mr. governor must also look back to remember that Professor Idia also noted that the healthcare system is not about building hospitals, taking pictures, and then shut down the place but must be made accessible to the people.

While this piece leaves Mr. Obaseki to ponder on this issue and draw necessary lessons as he prepares for the second term in office, there is yet another reason for Pastor Ize Iyamu to look back and shun going to tribunal.

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It stems from the fact that Godwin Obaseki has started on a good note the task of peacebuilding in the state with his recent declaration after being presented the certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on September 22, 2020.

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The governor spoke at a press briefing after being presented the certificate of return extended a hand of fellowship to the APC and the former chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole.

To Pastor Ize-Iyamu of the APC, he had said:

“We are one family in the pursuit to provide services for our citizens. I want to put it on record that the election of September 19, 2020, has been adjudged as one of the best-conducted elections in terms of it being free and fair.
“Our citizens have decided that for now, they trust us more with the affair of leadership. It does not mean that they did not have a role to play. It does not mean that they are not part of a family. So I am using this opportunity to extend a hand of fellowship to my brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his other colleagues in the APC to join us and work with us so that we can move Edo State forward.
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