Ogun tribunal: As Abiodun extends olive branch
A week ago when it was announced that the Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal would deliver its verdict on Saturday, September 14, in the petition brought by the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) and its governorship candidate, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, against the electoral victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun, as governor, the defendants (Abiodun and the party, APC) did not fret. Neither did the people of the state lose any sleep. From the outset, it was glaring that the petition was destined to fail. The three-man panel headed by Justice Yusuf Halilu, in a unanimous judgment, said that 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 that greeted the reaffirmation of the electoral victory, it was another show of solidarity for Abiodun as traders, road transport workers, students, APC supporters and chieftains clad in ‘yellow revolution’ T-shirts and who had positioned themselves strategically at locations close to the tribunal’s sitting venue, Isabo, Abeokuta, took to the major roads and streets upon receiving the news that the panel had struck out the petition of the APM governorship candidate and reaffirmed Prince Abiodun as governor.
The joy and happiness of the day knew no bounds. Personally, the governor described the verdict as the triumph of the rule of law, a victory for democracy and further revalidation 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. He called on the APM to forget about the 2019 gubernatorial election and join hands with his government in its “Building Our Future Together” agenda. Abiodun, who was on the retinue of President Muhammadu Buhari to Burkina Faso, through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), said that rather than dissipating energy and resources on litigation, the aggrieved APM leaders and their support should have a rethink by either negotiating their return to the APC where they were or start preparing for the 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.” He expressed appreciation to the people of the state for their unflinching support and solidarity throughout the trial and promised not to take their mandate for granted. Specifically, Abiodun commended the judiciary for the impartial verdict, which he noted had further strengthened and restored confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man. His legal team led by Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), the governor said, demonstrated depth, dedication and brilliance during the proceedings. He 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 and inclusiveness,” he said. By and large, to calm frayed nerves, Abiodun extended an olive branch to the aggrieved APM candidate, chieftains, supporters, loyalists and their principal, because he believes that in unity, we stand to “build our future together” in Ogun State. Other opposition groups are being courted to join the moving train to the next level. In the last 113 days, the landmark achievements have been unprecedented. The administration’s footprints are etched in gold. Abiodun is passionate about exploiting the state’s potentials (both human capital and natural) to make it self-reliant. He resumes office by 8:00 a.m and closes late at night. He works round the clock in conjunction with seasoned technocrats, including (Mrs) Noimot Salako-Oyedele (Deputy-Governor) Mr Tokunbo Talabi (Secretary to the State Government), Alhaji Shuaib Salisu (Chief of Staff ), Mr Dapo Okubadejo (Chief Economics Adviser), Mr Olakunle Olude (Special Adviser (SA) on Job Creation) and a host of others. With a clear vision, Abiodun leaves no one in doubt in his deft approach to formulating projects and programmes capable of improving the lots of the people of the state. Residents can now heave a sigh of relief and attest to the rehabilitation of major roads within their various neighborhoods. The majority of the roads are now wearing a new look courtesy of the swift intervention of the governor who directed officials of the Ogun State Public Work Agency (OGPWA) to move their equipment into the affected communities.
Workers in the state government have had cause to commend the governor for living up to his social contract by ensuring prompt payment of salaries. And there has been a galore of congratulatory messages. National leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, 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”. Tinubu added: “We were all living witnesses to the fact that 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, you emerged victorious because the people of Ogun stood by you.” Senator Adegbenga Kaka, former deputy governor of the state and an APC chieftain, admonished Akinlade to accept the verdict in good faith, as Ogun could not afford to be held down by unnecessary litigations. The state chapter of APC commended the panel of judges “for a detailed and thorough job that was so clear, convincing and beyond reasonable doubt”.
- Ogbonnikan is a media consultant to the Ogun State governor.