Now That The Courts Have Spoken
Babayola M. Toungo
Politicians are a funny bunch. While they crisscross their constituencies canvassing for votes from the electorates, the post-electoral reaction of the losers indicate their lack of faith in the sanctity of their constituents’ choices. They, most often than not, go through the motions of ‘connecting’ with the electorate in order to justify whatever shenanigans they have up their tricky sleeves. When the elections are done with and the electoral umpire declares who wins and who loses, the real drama begins. Where the constituents made clear their choices, may be numbering about half a million or so, the Nigerian politician will then run to an Election Petitions Tribunal with a membership of not more than three and asked to be declared as the winner, the efforts of those who queued to exercise their civic responsibilities be damned. It has now become a norm that whenever any politician loses an election, he is expected to run to the courts. The choice of his people could easily be truncated by a three-man panel.
APC as a party in Adamawa State was roundly beaten by the PDP not because the party is unpopular in the state or because it lacks supporters – the APC was beaten black and blue in last year’s gubernatorial election because it fielded a candidate who, by all permutations was primed to fail. Bindowo Jibirilla, the defeated governor was a fluke that happened on the political landscape of the state – more like a passing ship in the night. He was elected the governor of the state in 2015 due to so many factors outside his own steam. Instead of building on the mass movement that brought him success, he insulted the sensibilities and intelligence of everybody in the state. For him or anyone to assume that he will be re-elected will be the height of self-deceit. And instead of apologizing to the people of Adamawa, Bindowo embarked on a fantastic and time-wasting venture knowing fully well he doesn’t have a case. I don’t have a problem with his judicial junket. My problem is his expectation that a three-man panel at the Tribunal or a seven-man panel at the Supreme Court will be wiser than the about 360,000 electorates who voted for Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
The thought that I can queue all day just to make my choice which could easily be overturned by people who have never been to my state and may have no idea how we feel about our politicians or who we will like to lead us. Jurists (whom I have tremendous respect for) are invited to adjudicate in matters that they are not conversant with and are expected to take decisions based on dry facts while under tremendous pressure from a compromised media. When the decision goes against us, we resort to calling them names. Their decisions take precedence over that of the electorates. Bindowo and those who advised him to go to court have not been fair to the people of Adamawa state and the pronouncement by his excellency the Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri to probe the outgone administration and its operatives may be the only consolation to those who voted for him but have to hold their breath while the case dragged through the courts. They must be made to pay for the mental torture they put the rest of us while they toy with the destiny of the people.
The overwhelming rejection displayed by the people was a culmination of a strained relationship between the former governor and the people of the state. The former governor, a zany dresser, thought everybody is a fool bar himself and the people played possum waiting for their day to take their pound of flesh. The relationship between the governor and the people was akin to that between Tom and Jerry, the popular kids cartoon comedy. He was once reported to have said that while the people see him as a “monkey” he sees them as “bananas”. The banana has outlived the foxy monkey, it may seem.
The number of bridges Bindowo destroyed in four years with his in your-face style of leadership is enough to create hundreds of islets. No one was spared and no institution escape his destructive policies. Worst hit is the civil service. The service became a patronage dispensing institution where favours are dispensed at the pleasure of the governor. Discipline and morale fled through the window and mediocrity was celebrated. The current governor inherited a demoralized civil service which may need the wisdom of Solomon to fix.
His excellency, Rt. Hon. Fintiri has a lot of fixing to do in order to get the state working once more. The state stagnated in the recent past in terms of development, where the word “development” got an entirely different – road construction. Road construction – desirous as it is – became the yardstick for development not because it serves the people, but because it is a sector that can easily be ‘padded’. Social sector like education and health were relegated to rhetoric. I once visited the General Murtala Mohammed College (GMMC), Yola, the premier secondary school in the state in 2018. I wasn’t certain whether I was in Idlib province of Syria or Gubio in Borno state. This was in the aftermath of the declaration of “state of emergency” on education by Bindowo. It was later I realised that he might not have understood the full meaning and implication of “state of emergency”. Pathetic. But we paid the price. Our health institutions are not better.
These are the areas I will advise his excellency to concentrate and address fixing our social and economic sectors. It is going to be a herculean task, but I know governor Fintiri is up to the task.
Now that the courts have spoken, the litigators may retreat to their shells and allow Fintiri to deliver on his promises to the good people of Adamawa. Though the banana is not a carnivorous plant, it may appear to have used the monkey as manure.