By Festus Adedayo
Is there any connect between law and public opinion or judgments and public opinion? Before Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad’s (rtd) valedictory speech at the Supreme Court last Friday, the connect or disconnect between those two had begun to assume a life of its own. The presidential election judgment delivered by the Supreme Court the day before heightened concerted quests for the nexus or disjuncture between them. In the Dattijo valedictory, it would appear that the Learned Justice had deliberately set out to take the sail off the wind of views which divorced law from judgments and public opinion.
In the valedictory, Dattijo lamented how public perceptions of the judiciary had become “witheringly scornful and monstrously critical”. He was equally worried that “the public space” had been “inundated with the tale that court officials and judges are easily bribed by litigants to obviate delays and or obtain favourable judgments”. Quoting copiously from an earlier valedictory of a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Oludotun Adefope-Okojie, Dattijo read: “Pleas are expressed everyday by the generality of the public begging the judiciary to be just, to be truthful; and to save the country from collapse. My question is whether the judiciary needs to be begged or cajoled? What is it that qualifies any person to bear that exalted name ‘Honourable Justice’? Is it not for him to administer justice without fear or favour?… Unfortunately, it has been severely vilified, with the Apex Court so denigrated and called by a social commentator as a voter gaggle of useless, purchasable judicial bandits. How did the judiciary get to this level? Why is the whole country on edge for fear of what the public regards as unpredictable judicial pronouncements? There must be a rethink and a hard reset. If the people we have sworn to defend have lost confidence, there is a problem that must be addressed.”
Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Kayode Ariwooola, a few weeks ago, attempted the thrashing of any nexus between judgment and public opinion. While administering oath on 23 newly appointed judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Ariwoola sternly warned judicial officers on the need for impartiality in the dispensation of their duties, stating implicitly that public opinion cannot supersede the constitution in any judgment. In the presidential election appeal at the Supreme Court last week, it was apparent that the court harkened to this warning of MiLord. The court sounded the death-knell of public opinion. Ariwoola didn’t believe that there was connect of any kind between the opinion of the people and redemption of society which law, broken into its brass-tacks, represents.
So, when judges deliver their judgments, do they bother about public opinion? Do public opinions sway them? Should it sway them?
Political science gives a prime place to public opinion due to the massive role it plays in government and politics. It gives major attention to the influence public opinion has on the development of government policy. Some political scientists even regard public opinion as equivalent to the national will. In its raw form, public opinion is primarily a communication from the citizens to their government. This is why, in autocratic regimes, such opinions are only expressed in a clandestine manner, if it is expressed at all, but is majorly suppressed. Jeremy Bentham so venerated public opinion that he called it “the tribunal of public opinion” which he believed could prevent misrule and suggest legislative reforms. Philosophers of the enlightenment period believed so much in the efficacy of public opinion that they demanded public communication of governmental acts.
Since Justice Ariwooola made that distinction, public opinion will seem to have suffered mortal blows in the hands of those who eke out their daily meal through canvassing public opinions. Arise Tv duo, Reuben Abati and Rufai Oseni have literally been at professional loggerheads, sparring in a mini rumble on the place of public opinion society. While Oseni was averse to emergency morticians proclaiming the death of considered views of the people, Abati appears to have lent the rabble a hearse to wheel the mercilessly pummeled public opinion to its graveyard. On Friday, in the duo’s final autopsy session on the cadaver of the opinion of the people, Abati had said: “Public opinion is kilometers and kilometers away from law. Law is not about emotions and sentiments…and we have the authority par Niki Tobi JSC in Atiku Abubakar v Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who said that the only clientele of law is the law and not public opinion. People may express what they like at beer parlours. We saw that yesterday as their Lordships dealt only with the law and qua law… the judges, yes they are not going to follow your opinion, they follow technicality of the law. This matter is now rex judicata, settled in law.” Abati even chose to tread the unenviable gas-lighting path that traducers of public opinion walk severally. This he did by equating public opinion to alcohol-induced views at shebeens. The way he argued it, you would think that public opinion was a demon whose spirit needed to be exorcised.
To drive home the metaphysical powers inherent in opinions of the collective, otherwise called public opinion, popular Yoruba Sakara music exponent, S. Aka, alias Baba Wahidi, narrated an instructive fable in his Itan Agilinti album. He must have sung it in the 1960s. Aka was a traditional songster who dominated the musical stratosphere of the Western region of the 1950s, 60s and even up till the late 1980s. He was an Egba of Abeokuta in Ogun State and bitterly rivaled another notable musician who sang same genre of traditional music, Yusuff Olatunji. Aka’s songs were steeped in the tradition and culture of the people of Yorubaland, with occasional tinges of his ancestral Egba dialect jutting out of his rhythms. Proverbs, incantations, wise-sayings and ways of life of the people were dished out in a medley of praise-singing and excoriation of the evils of society.
In this particular album, Aka told the story of a king who, in appreciation of a favour he did to a renowned medicine man, was given a small talismanic gourd. Whenever he had the gourd as amulet around his waist, so said the medicine man, he would hear clearly the exchanges between animals, including domestic ones in the palace. One day, a sheep strolled into his hearing distance in the palace, ostensibly on a visit to another sheep within. Distinctly, the king heard the visiting sheep tell the one in the palace that in the next seven days, the king’s palace would be totally razed down. On the prompting of this revelation, that night, the king evacuated all his costly belongings from the palace. On the said seventh day, the palace was in total flames as the sheep predicted. When the whole town thronged the palace to commiserate with the king, they asked, pleasantly bewildered, how the palace was bereft of any belongings at the time of the inferno. Did the king have premonition that disaster was afoot?
A few weeks after, the same sheep strolled into the palace and in conversation with his pal, revealed to him that the king’s priceless horse would die in the next seven days. As he did earlier, the king pretended he hadn’t heard this foretelling and the second day, sold the horse. Exactly the seventh day of the foretelling, the horse suddenly died in the hands of its purchaser. A couple of weeks after, the sheep again came into the palace and told his peer that exactly seven days thence, the king himself would die. Exasperated and terribly worried, the king, unable to feign understanding of the two sheep’s conversation, moved closer to them and asked what he could do to avert his impending death. The sheep however told him that, no matter what he did, he would surely die. And on the seventh day, the town erupted in mourning as the king kissed the canvass. The morale of the fable was that, if the king had allowed the previous calamities he averted to befall him, they would have acted as propitiations for his life. The animals told him that in the commiserating words of a multitude of the people lay redemption from colossal tragedies.
Yes, public opinion has mutated from its erstwhile kingly role to the place of scorn it currently occupies. Today, it is a dirty and filthy rag which is often held as the province of charlatans. In ancient times, this was not so. First, what is public opinion? Hans Speier, in his Historial development of public opinion, defined it as “free and public communication from citizens to their government on matters of concern to the nation.” In the words of some scholars, public opinion is a synthesis of the views of all or a certain segment of society. In his 1918 writing, American sociologist, Charles Horton Cooley said that public opinion comes from interaction and not as a broad public agreement, while the political scientist, V. O. Key defined public opinion as “opinions held by private persons which governments find it prudent to heed.” In the same vein, American editorialist, Walter Lippman, in a treatise published in 1922, said that the mystery enjoyed by public opinion was given it by democracies. In decades, public opinion has become a powerful force across human spheres of existence like culture, fashion, literature and the arts.
In his valedictory of Friday, Dattijo made a significant dissection of the public perception of the judiciary and his conclusion was that the public was right about some of its opinions on judicial interventions and judgments. Dattijo stood on the side of public opinion. So why would Abati and Justice Ariwoola pour such scorn on public opinion as if it was a filthy rag?
There have always been struggles between law, morality and public opinion on whether there is a relationship between them. Between law and morality, while both regulate behaviours of human beings, there has not been any consensus on their relationship. While a school of thought believes in their mutual independence, another believes they are interdependent and yet another, they are mutually exclusive. The argument is, how does any law that claims to regulate human behavior not be in harmony with moral norms? The law must be such that safeguards the welfare and good of humanity and this can only happen if the law sits firmly on a strong moral template.
While Justice Ariwoola may be right to some extent in his submission that judgment takes no cognizance of public opinion but the technicalities expressed by the books and the constitution, Abati was not right in his claim that “public opinion is kilometers and kilometers away from law.”
Indeed, in their literature, there is a close affinity between law and public opinion, with public opinion being seen as a major source of law. This is because it is almost an impossibility for the legislature to pass any law, for usage by the government, without basing such on public opinion and the demands of the people. In the same vein, public opinion has been held to be the guardian of rights and freedom and this is so because the rights and freedom enjoyed by the public requires adequate protection and these guardians are opinion moulders. No law can operate without public opinion in a democracy and in fact, as underscore of their Siamese relationship, the legislature has been held to be a very important source of law. This legislature is a body of representatives of the people who are expected to be mirror of their opinions in the parliament. In practice, and according to P S. Mathur, “Law should be not firmly rooted in public opinion but should be a little ahead of it”. He was most probably giving heeds to German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who described public opinion as “containing both truth and falsehood” saying that it was the task of the great man to distinguish between the two.
Dattijo’s valedictory is a restoration of a pride of place to public opinion. First, in the earlier valedictory of Adefope-Okojie he cited, that public opinion scion was Saturday Tribune’s inimitable columnist, Farooq Kperogi. Kperogi’s submission that the Supreme Court had become “a voter gaggle of useless, purchasable judicial bandits” was the public opinion that went viral when the Supreme Court affirmed that former Senate President, Ahmed Lawan had won an election he didn’t participate in. For Justice Adefope-Okojie to cite the opinion of Kperogi is an affirmation of agreement with his submission. For Dattijo to now cull it is an affirmation that that greatly vilified opinion of the public space also retains some weight of pride.
Dattijo had deliberated on further issue of “the unpredictable nature of recent decisions of the courts as well” and that “a number of respected senior members of the bar inter alia, citing the Lawan, the former President of the Senate and the Imo governorship appeals, claim that decisions of even the apex court have become unpredictable. It is difficult to understand how and where, by these decisions, the judicial pendulum swings. It was not so before, they contend”. The Learned Justice even went a step further: “In some quarters, the view is strongly held that filth and intrigues characterize the institution these days! Judges are said to be comfortable in companies they never would have kept in the past. It is being insinuated that some judicial officers even campaign for the politicians. It cannot be more damnifying!”
You will recall that the judicial affirmations of the elections of Lawan and the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, in the court of public opinion, irretrievably dimmed the respect and reverence accorded by Nigerians to the apex court. That public opinion that is said not to matter has since removed the rug of legitimacy from Uzodinma as governor. He is mocked as “Supreme Court governor” and I hear that the widespread discontents against his government arose out of the belief that the governorship must have been arranged. If someone didn’t participate in a senatorial election but the apex court awarded him the election, all in the name of technicality, what kind of opinion should the society have about that person and the institution that awarded him that seat? If another one came fourth in a gubernatorial election but a court, which claims it is insulated from public opinion, ordered that the person should be sworn in as governor, what should public opinion say about such a court?
Then Justice Dattijo raised issues about quadrupling finances of the apex court and asked repeatedly what happened to the billions that accrued to the court. You didn’t need any soothsayer to know that MiLord was lamenting the existence of a mysterious funnel at the Supreme Court that drains the monies into unseen pockets. For the judiciary to even have a modicum of moral right to try any case of fraud or corruption subsequently, it must answer all questions posed by Datijjo on what happened to those billions.
The retired justice’s recourse to the Holy Quran and its precepts about morality and the path to tread speaks volume about the nexus between the voice of opinion of the people and the voice of God. Public opinion stands for justice, just as the Holy writ enjoins the people. Technicalities of law do less of justice. In the words of Dattijo’s quotation from the Quran, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves or your parents or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts) lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your evidence or refuse to give it, verily Allah is ever well a Acqunted with what you do.” Chapter 9 Verse 71, he said, requires that believers, both men and women, do what is just and forbid what is evil.
With the revelations by Justice Datijjo, (rtd) and the hubris of self-righteousness that surround the Nigerian judiciary’s dispensation of justice, it is becoming crystal clear that Nigeria’s Lady Justice is fascinated by the jungle. When law or judgments of the court become impervious to public opinion, they turn into purely mechanistic and absolutely mechanical rituals, lacking human blood flowing in their veins. To divorce public opinion from judgments equals the technicality that is today the provenance of the Nigerian judiciary. That provenance breeds the public perception that the Nigerian judiciary is home of miscarriage of justice.
Edo 2024: Obaseki’s Ingratitude Now Seeking Laundry
By Kassim Afegbua
Experience has a tendency to haunt their victims, and even render undue hardship to others in transfered aggression. When people behave in a very unsavoury manner to their benefactors, the rebound effect rubs off on others in a most regretful way, allowing reminiscences of old to perforate the reality of the present. What Governor Obaseki did to Senator Adams Oshiomhole, has taught the latter bitter leadership lessons such that circumspection, crystal gazing and double reflections have continued to dominate Oshiomole’s thought process as regards those seeking the governorship seat of Edo state. Bad behaviour of one is like that oil that soils the fingers of life, cascadingly spreading beyond known boundaries, and leaving traces of regret and “had I known” on the lips of its victim. Even as Senator Oshiomhole, tries hard to rid himself of the tempers and ridicule that Governor Obaseki and deputy foisted on him, he continues to see the vestiges of that bad behaviour as a trap that must be avoided in the future. There is no art to see the mind’s construction in the face; so says the old rhyme, but the behaviour of man is a predatory reference when trajectories are being chronicled. This is why Senator Oshiomhole, as leader of the APC in Edo state, is morbidly cautious about who to throw his weight behind, in the current contest for Edo Government House.
Anybody who survived Governor Obaseki’s invidious game needs to thank God for remaining afloat without being mauled down by a stroke, as a consequence of its rude shock. Not only did Governor Obaseki fight for the removal of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as chairman of the ruling party, he also blackmailed Oshiomole to a crescendo of contradiction. Oshiomhole’s God is truly alive and now watching the two actors, Godwin and Phillip, who combined to ridicule the former Labour Leader, go after each other’s throat. This should be a stark reminder to everyone that life’s positions are akin to a revolving door. Obaseki is winding down now, and he’s being confronted with accusations of poor performance occasioned by indecent behaviour, needless political squabbles, intemperate anger, noisy claims of bogus statistics, selective amnesia, importation of “foreigners” to run Edo economy, and a shameless attempt to balkanise the Benin Monarchy over artefacts that he knows nothing about. Now, at the twilight of his administration which has demarketed the state for the wrong reasons, at home and abroad, he suddenly remembers Senator Oshiomhole as a citizen deserving of an award. How disingenuous! A man he had hitherto rained all manner of allegations on, and was telling Edo people that Oshiomole wanted him to be making returns from Edo State’s money, has suddenly become the attractive bride to be lauded twice within a spate of two months; to be welcome to grace State Programs, during which Governor Obaseki declared that Senator Oshiomhole made him Governor. Hellooo oooo!!. Is someone suddenly awake from slumber? I am yet to fathom the motive behind Governor Obaseki’s recent romance. I pray Senator Oshiomhole does not fall for Obaseki’s political knavery and duplicity, not a second time.
While I cannot choose Senator Oshiomhole’s friends for him, I can caution him to be wary of those who speak tongue-in-cheek, conveying the symptoms of love in the morning, only to drive poison down his throat at night; those who are known to be bad people. Senator Oshiomhole must watch his back, and very well too. Governor Obaseki’s smile and pretentious laughter shrouded in hatred, blackmail, and his pathological double-standard. What has suddenly happened to the paradigm that made him heap all those insults on Oshiomhole, that made him present Oshiomole as one who sought to feast on Edo people’s collective till, with him the Governor, bravely wrestling power from this adversary on their behalf. Was it the same mouth that Governor Obaseki used to insult Senator Oshiomhole that he now uses to praise Oshiomole, to the point of saying that the former Governor made him Governor of Edo state? Has Governor Obaseki forgotten that he once said he had no godfather, and that he would not play the role of a godfather? For that reason, I guess he only played “BigDaddy” in the last Local Government election: The real elections were concluded in the field, but the losers went to the Government House in Benin to collect Certificates of Return, while the winners were left to agonise with dismissive verbiage. The victory of the current apparent winners was forced under Obaseki’s auspices. Till today, no corrective measure has been taken. Losers are in office, while winners are helplessly and awfully left in the cold. That is coming from a man considered to be a technocrat; grinding people’s emotions with high-handedness, heartlessness and sheer wickedness. How does one reconcile such situations? When leaders double-speak, it removes the fibre of morality and makes them little things before the discerning.
Now that Edo 2024 race has begun, Governor Obaseki’s ingratitude and bad behaviour has kept Senator Oshiomhole pussilanimous, while seeking God’s face and His voice in his choice of who flies the party’s flag. There are persons who share the same characteristics as Governor Obaseki; people who pretend to love Oshiomhole more than himself, who have already positioned themselves; we know them. They speak about loyalty as though the word emanated from their cocoon. That was Godwin Obaseki’s pastime between 2008 and 2016 when he was the Economic Adviser to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He carried Oshiomole’s bag when they were traveling on several occasions, woke up in the mornings at Oshiomhole’s door-step, and was arguably the last man to shut Oshiomole’s door at night; but as soon as he won the election on 28 September, 2016, Oshiomhole was his first casualty. The heart of man is indeed deeply wicked: after the campaigns and election and results had been declared but the baton had not been handed over, they both travelled outside Nigeria for a short rest to recover. Unbeknownst to Oshiomole, Obaseki before leaving left instructions with the then Accountant General not to honour payments and approvals from Oshiomhole’s table going forward. Civil servants being respecters of the In-Coming, the Accountant General played the ostrich from then on while Oshiomhole’s approvals were pouring in but remained unattended. That was just the beginning. At Oshiomhole’s present age, his muscles won’t be able to withstand another stab in the back. He has to be circumspect and wary of the ides of March. There are a lot of Brutuses preying on him, but the thought of Godwin Obaseki’s indecent behaviour scares his innermost recesses. Obaseki’s latest olive branch compounds the scenario. It shows that it was all a plot. Nothing was inadvertent. Obaseki did all that he did deliberately. It was a tactic that fitted in his game plan. And he indeed scored a goal even at the price of being called infamous and a betrayer.
Governor Obaseki picked holes in the word “godfather” making it sound like an abominable word that he can never be associated with; but one year into the end of his tenure, just like yesterday, he has become the real godfather to his numerous footsoldiers and political gadflies. He’s even telling his deputy what the deputy can do and must not do, assuming the author of a self-made constitution that bars Phillip Shuaibu’s inalienable right. It may be said that it serves Phillip right, following his indecent behaviour like his boss’, but the fact remains that Governor Obaseki cannot take away the right of anyone as guaranteed by the constitution. Now, Phillip Shuaibu has dared his boss, and declared his ambition to run. Welcome to Edo state’s version of A Game of Thrones and Thorns. Get yourselves some popcorn, fasten your seat-belt, put a drink beside you, and off we go to the cruising altitude of comedy, tragedy and political tragi-comedy. It promises to be a blockbuster kind of drama, unveiling the protagonists and antagonists, locking horns in what promises to be an exciting drudgery. Now that Obaseki’s tenure is coming to an end, with low ratings, no legacy projects, and with his intemperate behaviour towards Senator Oshiomhole staring at him in the mirror, he’s mortally afraid of what Shuaibu’s effort will bring forth before his table of authority. And the circus continues, even as Senator Oshiomhole laughs away the beauty of the soundbites. With his seat belt fastened, the thought of his successor’s bad behaviour still hits at his mental awareness. It is a behaviour that will adversely affect others, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.
Power is an opium, an intoxicant that makes men blind to their real intention. Power and its addictive properties easily make men see their tenured positions as an endless voyages; as a sweet sail which end will never come. When they start snoring away their tenure, and the last year knocks with feverish pitch, the entire years scare them away especially when their performance cannot be fully celebrated. If Obaseki’s deputy can run down their own administration, as lacking in sounds and bites, what better interrogation can be more than this authorial verdict in a piece of essay. Rather than be Obaseki’s running mate in the shared vision to deliver on the promises made to Edo people, Shuaibu now uses his own mouth to run down their leadership. Obaseki and Phillip have taken their script to a ridiculous level, showing their cat and mouse skills. That is what happens when there is no sincerity of purpose, when mutual suspicion dominates actions, and when plans after plans are footed as stumbling blocks in the way of the actors. Are they Finishing well as their latest slogan declaims; erosion is still rife in Benin City. Finishing well, yet a library was demolished, to give way to the business of Shoprite’s buying and selling. Yes, a place for knowledge acquisition and research for the tomorrow of Edo state was demolished for Shoprite chains of business. How well is this finishing? Or is it their fight they are promising to finish well. Anyway, what do we expect when the Governor has broken our vertebrae and left us nearly sprawling on the floor unable to be erect. When you affect the psyche of the average Edo mind, the mind of an average Edo mind will get to a psychic level of hollow ritual, loud noise and no content. May we never experience another Godwin Obaseki again. A second affliction will be one too many. Oshiomhole’s taciturn approach will eventually exude much wisdom. May God bless Oshiomhole, our dear state and us all.
Rejoinder: Powerful Lagos, Powerless Osun State
By Mr Adedayo Oshodi, SAN
The article by one Lasisi Olagunju on the recent nomination of 21 justices for appointment to the Supreme Court should disturb any objective and well meaning NIgerian. It is calculated at escalating our fault lines. It is targeted at dividing the Nigerian judiciary along State lines. It is calculated at inciting Nigerians against Lagosians. It’s a hate piece. We appear not to be fed up with the damage wrecked to our nation by our perennial ethnic and religion divisions. As a corollary, we appear committed to a race to the bottom, when appointments to our apex court is reduced to the clout of the respective states of origin of the justices of the Court of Appeal without any consideration for merit and/or seniority at the bench.
Truth be told, this has nothing to do with pedigree of the two erudite and respected Honourable justices of the Court of Appeal: Hon. Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru and Justice Olubunmi Oyewole. Both of them are worthy and deserving of a seat at the Supreme Court. Just ask about them. Thus, it is bad enough that the judicial establishment appears to be heading towards one of them instead of both. We need and deserve both of them, in my opinion. On merit. It is even worse and unfair to both of them to reduce their hard work & careers to their states of origin with the despicable consequence of tainting the elevation of any of them by ascribing same to their origin as against their hard work and brilliance. It is a disservice to the erudite justices.
First, the author politically weaponized the appointments of nominees to the Supreme Court by referring to them as the “electors of our future presidents, governors and lawmakers.” Haba!! We all know how and where presidents, governors and lawmakers are elected. It is mischievous to interchange adjudication of electoral disputes to election. It is fraudulent.
Secondly, the writer totally disregarded seniority at the bar and bench, which is a fundamental consideration in the legal profession. Neither did he pay any attention or give consideration to when the two justices were appointed to the bench or the quality of their judgements.
A simple google search would have assisted Mr. Lasisi Olagunju to write a balanced article that states the criteria set out by law as well as state the facts that supports or goes against any of justice’s nomination. The fact remains that Justice Abiru was Justice Oyewole’s senior at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). He was also his senior at the bar. Most importantly, Hon. Justice Abiru was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2012, whilst Hon. Justice Oyewole was appointed in 2014. Would it be fair for Justice Abiru to be skipped over because he is from Lagos State ? Or for his junior in the heir-achy to become his senior?
Yes, the extant law requires fulfillment of federal character principle so appointments into national institutions are not lopsided towards a particularly region. The balancing is based on the 6 geo-political zones(NW,NE, NC, SW, SE, SS) not based on states as suggested by Mr. Lasisi Olagunju.
The facts in the article are wrong. Based on my findings, there used to be pairs and it was Lagos and Ogun, Oyo and Osun and Ekiti and Ondo. But the pairings were jettisoned under Hon. Justice Aloma Mukhtar tenure as Chief Justice of Nigeria and it became zones. Things changed further when the Supreme Court was tasked to appoint its full complement of 21 Justices. South West got a fourth slot instead of 3, which was given to Ogunwumiju, JSC.
Assuming, without conceding, that we are even going by pairings referred to by Mr. Olagunju, the Oyo and Osun slot is occupied by the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola.
The fact is that the slot available was vacated by a Lagosian in the person of Hon. Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, who retired on 22nd March, 2021 after he was appointed on 16th September, 2010. He replaced another Lagosian, Justice George Adesola Oguntade, who retired on 10th May,2010. Now, Lagos is the commercial nerve Centre of Nigeria, where 90% Nigeria’s VAT is generated. It’s a mini Nigeria that accommodates everyone. Arguably, Hon. Justice Oyewole is a Lagosian , though not an indigene, as he was not only resident in Lagos but was appointed as a judge of the Lagos High Court. Essentially, you have two Lagos jurists to a large extent. So, why this division where is there is none?
Lasisi Olagunji should do right by these two fine jurists by not diminishing their ascendance to the Supreme Court by crediting same to power play as against merit and the time honored tradition of the Nigerian judiciary of seniority.
Why I Want To Be Edo Governor
By Kassim Afegbua
I returned from Benin City yesterday with a huge feeling of nostalgia, reminiscencing on the fond memories of events that dominated my engagements in 2016, after a fulfilling service as Commissioner for Information in the state. I looked back with nostalgia, reflecting on the time when Senator Adams Oshiomhole was in the saddle in the state. Recalled his fierce quest to see a new Edo, his vehement fear of failure, and his deep level of commitment to ensure that he left footprints of achievements across the state. His red roof revolution in the schools then was cheering news to many Edolites, his health sector reforms was another template of achievements coupled with the huge infrastructure ramp up in roads, and effective flood control. Adams Oshiomhole’s well-intentioned administration was the denouement of recovering the state from inherited rots that dominated the state.
In 2008, Adams Oshiomhole was in a hurry to rewrite the ugly state of affairs in the state, by the time he would be leaving. Indeed he was satisfied as he bade farewell to the number one seat, that he had made considerable impact to lift the state from its infrastructural doldrums to olympian celebration of lofty achievements, which the people have not forgotten till date. On Saturday, 4 November, was another rehash of those good years: Adams Oshiomhole sauntered into the arena for the celebration of life of the mother- In-law of the sports maestro, Mike Itemuagbor, in Benin City. As Oshiomhole entered the arena, the shout of “Oshio” rented the air as he made triumphant gestures to the audience.
Edo people have a way of appreciating those who led them well, and Adams Oshiomhole is one former Governor the people cannot forget in a hurry. His huge achievements during his eight-years stint renew themselves everyday.
Edo State is presently in a state of quandary, enabled by a government that has paid little attention to important details. Edo state is flustered by a concatenation of developmental issues begging for attention. The intra-city roads wear the soreful eyeglasses of rotten underbelly. Potholes dot the streets in Benin like oasis of water in the desert. Benin City GRA is an embarrassment to any rational mind. With many big houses, many roads have been washed off by agents of denudation. The rain had just stopped when I arrived Benin City, and I saw the drugerous effort of my driver as he tried to navigate the pools of water and run-offs that make the roads almost impassable. The once beautiful GRA is a far cry of its old self. As we chatted on our way , I couldn’t help asking questions, in a bid to reconcile what I have read on paper from Obaseki’s media rottweilers and the reality I saw on ground. I was completely nonplussed.
When I see the Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Television trying to undercut the Federal Government for neglecting Federal Givernment roads, I see the height of hypocrisy at play, using Federal roads to take the people’s attention away from the mess that his township roads have become. Such administrative rot, wickedness and deliberate complacency and neglect of critical infrastructure has been the normative order in a government that is high on profligacy and low on performance. In Edo state, it has become a game of altercation between the government and the people; and the ugly sights of the township roads are quite discomforting.
Obaseki’s government continues its tales by moonlight; tales of backward integration and under-performance, tales of crass abandonment of critical infrastructure, and tales of hypocrisy promoted to the pinnacle of greed and avarice, and functionally fueled by gossip, hate, suspicion and subterfuge. I took time out to travel round the state and I saw how deplorable some of Oshiomhole’s projects have become for lack of maintenance by Obaseki, his successor. Each time I watch Governor Obaseki talk about the Federal Government’s deplorable roads around the state, I laugh at the folly of a man whose polluted sense of hypocrisy and selective amnesia has doubled in recent times.
He needs to be referred to the Bible passage that addresses his malady. Whatever is in his own eyes cannot be smaller than tree trunks. Aside from turn-key projects which were meant to paint existing buildings of government offices, I didn’t see any tangible, legacy projects to speak of in relation to the huge revenue of the state; and federal allocations have increased far beyond what obtained during Adams Oshiomhole’s time. Bail-out funds have also been poured into the coffers of the state in recent times: palliatives from the Federal Government have been encouraging, refunds for federal roads that were built and renovated by Adams Oshiomhole also came into the state in billions since Obaseki took over. With all these inflows, the quantum of work done is alarmingly low and not commensurate. Even those with established low IQ ask questions. The main question is, where is Governor Obaseki putting the money?
As it is, Edo State is balkanised and there is an urgent need to build a state cohesion and enhance the usual spirit of camaraderie that formerly bound the Edos together. We are a people of shared commitment and values, with our cultural heritage that defines our identity. Governor Obaseki has blighted that and the state is now in disarray from different perspectives. The Benin Royalty, which used to be the strength of our communal linkages, is “suffering” in the hands of Governor Obaseki; no thanks to the Governor’s deliberate effort to hurt its historical ingenuity, by trying to create other Kingdoms in a most abominable manner.
When a Governor doesn’t connect with the people, the effect is the development of inferior complexes in form of conquistadorial mentality, that assesses every esteemed personality as a threat. The state has lost Chief Anenih, General Ogbemudia, Alhaji Inu-Umoru, Chief Uyigue, and quite a number of political bigwigs who made Edo’s politics thick, and have rallying points in each Senatorial District. The vacuums created by the demise of these political heavy weights have not been filled and attempts by Senator Adams Oshiomhole and Chief Lucky Igbinedion to patch up those vacuums have been quashed by a Governor that wants to be the singular and ultimate rallying point. For that reason, Edo is always in the news for the wrong reasons. News of boiling point political temperature, news of supplanting Local Governments with halleluyah boys; instead of the right persons that were voted for, news of poor development and news of insecurity across the state. For how long are we going to be rotating around the same axis and expect different results? The need for a fresh thinking is apposite.
Driven by the urge to offer a new paradigm from what obtains and further buoyed by the desire to ameliorate the pain caused my people by the failure of the present occupants of the Osadebe Avenue, and the despair that now dictates to my people because of the crass hypocrisy that has become the second nature of government in Edo state, I have elected to join the race for the governorship position of the state. Let it be known that unlike some of those being promoted by the incumbent Governor, I have a rich knowledge of the state in terms of demographics and geography, and can help to harness the potentials that the state can boast of. Plus, I have the capacity, courage and boldness and grit to take objective decisions that would add value to the wellbeing of citizens of the state and meet the peoples needs.
Also, I have been a champion of good governance in the state, so, when given the opportunity to serve, it will offer me platform to translate my vision and mission for the totality of our people and will have to practice what I preach. I am confident that my understanding of the potentials across the state will help me tap into and explore the opportunities within and even outside our state, for the overall good of our people. I am known for having the capacity to unite all the forces and factors in the state to create the nexus that would galvanise the people to promote a sense of homogeneity in our dealings and engagements. I want to bring back our lost glory in the past seven years in a manner that would elicit citizens participation in governance and enhance our productivity.
We will revive and sustain previous effort of Red Roof Revolution to reclaim our schools, and boost our education sector in a most progressive way in line with modern global benchmarks.
Our present infrastructural decay brought on us by a tactless government with no discernible roadmap was headed for the poor service delivery that we presently witness ab- initio. Bringing on board “strangers” who do not have a grasp of the state to succeed the present government is a sine qua non for another round of ineffectual leadership and that will be most unwise. A leadership that promotes ethnic chauvinism, that promotes greed and self aggrandizement, and one that has shown a marked appetite for primitive acquisition of the most bizarre form, cannot birth anything good for the future. Briefcase business scavengers have taken over Edo state in such whimsical manner, that citizens struggle to be in the know of what transpires in the state. Beware of who is talking to you now, my dear people of Edo State; even those who can’t even successfully run a home, are already criss-crossing the state in search of endorsement. Edo state will not travel that familiar route again; a route that foisted a leadership that never cared for our wellbeing or help to grow our collective destiny.
The state needs a young, vibrant, result-driven leadership that can connect to the aged and the youths, and help drive the wheel of progress to build a home where peace, love and affection radiates in our heart of hearts and prosperity is assured for all. We must insist on building our state in a manner that furthers our collective aspirations and yearnings irrespective of our political and ideological persuasions. The Edo spirit in us must be consciously nurtured to enrich our sense of oneness and unity of purpose. The task to building Edo of our dream with respect for our traditional institutions and royalties is what will help us to reposition our thought processes for a better Edo state. This is no doubt a huge assignment which I am prepared to undertake in order to reclaim Edo state, and save my fatherland; the heartbeat of the nation.
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