Thursday, 17 September 2015

Akwa Ibom Governorship Tribunal: The discordant tunes

 Akwa Ibom Governorship Tribunal: The discordant tunes
The goings on at the Akwa Ibom State governorship election tribunal sitting in the federal capital territory Abuja has set off a firestorm of heated debates, falsehood, deception, uncouth assault on our sensibilities and hoopla in political circles. We are daily served with diverse news bordering on the happenings at the tribunal which in more ways than one, deform rather than inform us depending on who is reporting. Party A comes and says one thing, party B, just emerging from the same court room comes out with a different tale entirely. 

These people have confused us the more. Those of us who are not opportune to be there to follow proceedings remain at home and wait for those who are there to keep us updated on the true state of things, but what we get are information that sharply contradict themselves. The All Progressives Congress (APC) is contesting the victory of governor Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the tribunal. It’s candidate, Umana Okon Umana, hitherto a member of the erstwhile ruling PDP beliefs with stout deportment that elections did not take place in the state. He says that what took place rather was a state organised terrorism. This is the position of his party too.
He insists the election which was ‘purportedly,’ won by Udom Emmanuel should be cancelled and done again. Whether his party can win a state that many consider to be a Predominantly PDP state in the event of a rerun is not particularly his main concern. All the Nsit Ubium born politician wants is for the poll that gave victory to Udom Emmanuel of the PDP to be nullified on the grounds that the poll did not hold in the first instance. That is the prayer of his party and they are seemingly cocksure of having their wishes granted. What we don’t know is where they are drawing this optimism. Is it because the PDP is now the opposition party in the country? Are they sinisterly working in connivance with the Justice Sadiq Umar led tribunal as PDP have alleged to subvert the law to favour their party? What even gives the PDP the feeling that it is possible to subvert justice in the law court when it is supposed to be the last hope of the common man? Could it be that during its time as the ruling party, in the country, they indulged in such anti democratic and brazen act which has made them belief the APC can do same? We are keenly following proceedings.

But why can’t Umana just give up this case and his ambition considering the overwhelming argument in certain quarters that since he is not from Eket senatorial district, he had no license to have contested the election in the first place? Was it not clear to him when the Peoples Democratic Party disqualified him from contesting the primary on this ground? Was the message not clear? Why is Umana Okon Umana so committed to this tribunal stuff? Could it be that he has scores to settle with some persons or he is driven purely by the desire to offer service to the people of Akwa Ibom State? What even gives him that confidence that a party he joined due to circumstances has the capacity to win a rerun in a state PDP is widely acclaimed to be a religion? Have they not told him severally that even if elections are conducted ten times, PDP will still win? Could it be that UOU does not understand simple English again? Is he being sponsored by some highly placed individuals to keep the heat on Governor Udom Emmanuel who just hit the 100 days mark as governor? Many have even told him that he is too short a man to be a governor. Others have told him in clear terms that he can never be the governor of Akwa Ibom State. Why does he want to be a spoilsport for gentlemanly Udom? Someone should urgently give answers to these posers, please.

Has Governor Udom Emmanuel not started off on a good note to warrant support, judging from the paucity of funds at his disposal? Don’t tell me you have forgotten so quickly that the federation account has shrunk due to the falling oil price and dollar wahala.  Has he not kept the promise of industrializing the state? Ok, how do you make of the revival of the Peacock paint in his first one hundred days? Is that a mean feat? Isn’t that a working governor? Couldn’t he have cornered the money to his personal use without blinking an eyelid? Some people are even saying the governor is doing all these because he is preparing for a rerun. Really? Well, say what you like, the fact remains that Governor Udom Emmanuel is working and very hard too; ask his loyalists if you are still in doubt. But don’t tell them I sent you.

 Back home, the war of words are showing no signs of abating. If Iboro Otogaran is not tongue-lashing Governor Udom Emmanuel for his refusal to reveal the debt profile he inherited from the last administration, he is accusing the governor of paying court to his predecessor and pandering to his whims and caprices. These days, between Mr. Iboro Otogaran and APC’s national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, I don’t know who is more loquacious. When Udom sneezes, he says the governor is not supposed to sneeze as the number one citizen; on interim basis though, according to him. When the governor travels with president Buhari, he says Udom is distracting the president. Even when the state government have made it clear that the state is indebted to the tune of about 6.4 billion naira, Iboro and his party insist the amount is a fraction of what is the reality on ground. His comrade at arms appears to be Mr. Ita Awak, a former commissioner in Obong Attah’s administration and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress. For Ita Awak, anything that has the support of Senator Godswill Akpabio is not in order.

He has been vociferous in criticising this administration for all it stands for. Well, since Barr. Andem Ndem is there, we may leave both men to argue for and against what they believe in. The firebrand lawyer is an unrepentant supporter of this administration. The manner with which he defends the PDP and governor Udom Emmanuel whenever he has the opportunity shows clearly that he is a good match for Iboro Otogaran and co. He never chickens out of defending the immediate past governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio. It doesn’t matter that he was once in the camp of Senator James John Akpan Udoedehe when the latter was at loggerheads with Akpabio in 2011. Many have posited that the lawyer was bribed with humongous amount to switch loyalties. So, if that is the case, what is wrong with collecting money in a difficult terrain like Nigeria? You think Buhari will also probe this one? Funny folks. 

Back to the tribunal, I learnt Udom has called eight more witnesses with nineteen having testified already in his support. Well, not a few of his faithful want him to have the last laugh at the end of the whole legal fireworks. This is in spite of the reports that his witnesses were busy contradicting themselves at the tribunal especially when on cross examination. When it opened its defence last Wednesday, some of his witnesses were said to be fumbling helplessly. Some reports even had it that some witnesses, sensing how others before them were humiliated, had to chicken out to avoid similar embarrassments. Another reports also had it that Udom ran out of witnesses. But the last one worried me a great deal knowing full well that the PDP boasted of having over nineteen thousand witnesses ready for this battle. Well, except my eyes are deceiving me. Since then, we have been hearing a lot of things. Some are bizarre, others, simply ridiculous, while some are as outlandish as they are humorous.  At times, you hear that a PDP witness vomited while in the dock. These are some of what we are served from the tribunal:  ‘Udom blames Akpabio for his woes,’ Paul Ekpo, Ntukudeh, Emmanuel Enoidem, ors disappear in court, ‘we rigged for PDP, Udom’s witness confesses.’’ We also heard of an instance where a particular person signed result sheets of over 14 wards alone. Some PDP witnesses were said to have shot themselves in the foot by their testimonies owing to fright and all that. Many more of such tales have being bandied all over the place by those many have described as working for the All Progressives Congress, APC. Whatever that means. 

On the other hand, another reports emanating from this same tribunal speaks of how APC have been demystified, disgraced and bundled out of the whole exercise. In each of the day’s proceedings, one hears different things. Here, PDP faithful come out of the court room smiling, exchanging banter, high fives and all that and you just take it for granted that they have carried the day. Sooner or later, the online and print media is awash with reports like: ‘shame as Umana falls flat in court,’ APC surrenders as Uwem Ita Etuk takes Umana’s lead counsel to the cleaners,’ Umana’s lead counsel absconds, says he is tired.’’ PDP witnesses dazzle in court, dribbles everybody from back to the opponent’s half before scoring twice with one bullet shot.’’ UOU watches as his lawyers are disgraced; may shop for a new legal team as case crumbles.’’  Oh my God!  Who are those that report this other news? Is it possible that journalists have different ways of understanding tribunal matters? It is possible o, you may never know. After all, did God not create us differently? So, why are you arguing as a people with little knowledge? 

But what one can deduct from all what is transpiring at the tribunal is that both parties are committed to this case and we are seeing it on TV and all of that, unlike before when court cases existed in the realms of conjectures and went unreported in any national paper nor television but back here, the town was abuzz with how the immediate past governor will be thrown out of government House by a court we never really knew existed.  This one is different. You can pick up the national dailies and read about the tribunal proceedings. It is also on different television and radio stations across the nation. State media, the print, online and electronic mediums are also serving us a potpourri of the tribunal details daily. Don’t worry about the discrepancies in their reportage. Just know that there is a contest between Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP and Umana Okon Umana of the APC over the election of April 11 and it is real. That should be your consolation. Ok, if you want to take this for granted, ask Udoedehe, Imo Udo, Frank Okon and their co-travellers about court cases. 

While we are all waiting with bated breath of how this tribunal brouhaha will pan out in the end, a little bird told me that the case is a 50-50 affair. It can go either way. Forget the boastfulness of both parties. They are doing what one has to do in order not to dampen the confidence of his camp. No one is sure of what the judges will decide at the end. The ball is at their feet. If it were the time that our courts were in ruins, one could have given up hope. But with the reforms that are taking place coupled with Buhari’s stand on corruption, every institution has no choice but to sit up. Remember it is a season of probes. You have to be ultra careful else the pap you take in the morning will be enough to have you probed especially if you add milk! 

On the whole, we are waiting and watching with keen interest what will be the end point of this blockbuster case even as we pray for continued peace and tranquillity in our dear state.

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