A Victory That Rendered Further Conflicts Unnecessary

January 29, 2024
Sheriff Oborevwori

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

It is pedestrian information that pursuant to the provisions of Section 72(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, issued a Certificate of Return to Sheriff Oborevwori, Delta state Governor-elect. The ‘ritual’ followed his electoral victory at the Saturday, March 18 gubernatorial poll in the state as conducted by INEC.

But similar to every new invention which comes with opportunities and challenges, many of Oborevwori’s opponents particularly candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Labour Party (LP), in pursuit of their constitutional rights proceeded to the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the result declared by INEC.

This ‘ exercise’ meandered through the tribunal to the Court of Appeal down to the Supreme Court where it recently upheld the election of Oborevwori as the duly elected governor of Delta State.

Undeniably, from the spontaneous and coordinated jubilation in Delta state that trailed the final judgment delivered by the Supreme Court which of course had led to rest all tussle arising from the gubernatorial election, it will not be wrong to conclude that the nation’s apex court spoke the minds of Deltans.

From the people’s reaction, it was clear that the state governor won at both the Supreme Court as well as the court of public opinion.

Viewed broadly, particularly with the maturity with which the state governor’s frontline opponent and candidate of APC in the March 18 election, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, welcomed the decision of the court,  it is evident that the judgment amply ushered into the political space called Delta state a victory that rendered further conflict and agitation unnecessary.

His maturity in reaction also made him a winner that will be remembered by future exemplary generations.

This specific thought came flooding following the news report that Omo-Agege in a statement personally signed by him shortly after the apex judgment, congratulated the state governor, noting that the unity, peace, and general good of Delta are bigger and more important than any individual or group interest.

This, in my view, is legendary!

Aside from describing the Supreme Court as the final court of the land which all citizens are bound to accept and abide by its decisions even if they do not accord with their personal or collective expectations of justice, also impressive and exemplary Omo Agege’s latest demonstration of spirit of sportsmanship was his call on his supporters to respect the court’s decision and give their best to promote peace everywhere in our beloved Delta State.

In fact, this piece is genuinely impressed by the action and statement of the APC candidate and deeply touched by his unique admonition to the state governor.

The statement said in part; “Now, to my dear brother, Sherrif Oborevwori, the Governor of Delta State, accept my congratulations on your victory today. It has been a long-drawn-out struggle to offer our people the best in the governance of our State. It is about the collective interest and good of our people, not our interest. Having now received the Supreme Court’s seal of approval, I must wish you well as a Democrat. May the good Lord guide and abide with you and give you good health, strength and wisdom to govern our State well in Jesus’ Name”.

For me, there are lessons as well as reasons why Senator Omo-Agege’s effort must be acknowledged and appreciated.

Separate from the fact that he has set for upcoming politicians in the state a new standard and approach to reacting towards unpalatable political outcomes, there exists this time-honoured belief that in the world of politics, the generality of political gladiators does not have the means to act independently, on their initiatives; they lean on, and learn from others. If the personality they look up to is strong, fair, firm, convincing and with something positive to impact, then such learners imbibe positive lessons. But in a situation where there is no positive lesson to draw, society is doomed.

Similar to the above fact is the awareness that men are won over by the present far more than by the past; and when they decide that what is being done here and now is good, they content themselves with that and do not go looking for anything else.

Without any shadow of a doubt, Omo-Agege in the opinion of this piece has set a very strong signal to future politicians in the state. This signal indicates that politics is not a ‘do or die’ adventure. Democracy works where the people have a 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.

If such disposition as lately demonstrated by Senator Omo Agege is imbibed by all politicians in the state, it will promote rancor-free politics on our space.

Also alluring to this piece and of course a lesson to all politicians in the country was the former Deputy Senate President’s recognition that it is God who gives power as it pleases Him alone.

He said, “To my dear and dependable brother and running mate, the Rt. Hon. Friday Osanebi, thank you for your strong character and firm belief in God who gives power as it pleases Him alone. We ran a great race. Hold your head high as a man of honour. I pray the Almighty God rewards your faithfulness and loyalty beyond ordinary human comprehension.”

As Deltans therefore, celebrates the end of electoral litigation in the state, this piece holds the opinion that the state governor should be magnanimous in victory as well as reciprocate the goodwill bestowed on him by Deltans through infrastructural development, inclusive economic growth, reduce the worrisome high level of youth unemployment and poverty while improving the general well-being of all Deltans.

Achieving this feat will be possible if Oborevwori presents himself as all-knowing, selfless, more intelligent or good-looking than other stakeholders.

Still, in this season of celebration, Oborevwori needs to internalize the truth that any developmental plan in the state without youth education delivered in a well-structured learning environment and fair fees will amount to a mere waste of time and effort.

On their part, the APC, SDP and LP, among others, should be ready to provide credible opposition in the state.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy) for Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]/08032725374

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