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At least Two Lives Are Lost On Nigerian Roads Every Four Hours-Research

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LUKMON AKINTOLA

LAGOS

If the duo of Taye and Kehinde Animashaun had envisaged their death would follow a visit to their mother, they would not have embarked on the journey.

31 year-old, the duo were returning to their hometown in Ijoko, Ogun State from Sango area of the same state when they crashed into a stationary truck by the roadside on July 15, 2018. For the duo, and the bike man riding, it was instant death.

It is the same fate that befell the family of Tavershima Jebe when he lost his wife and three children in an accident that took place in Akwanga, Nasarawa State on September 15, 2019.

Indeed, death via road accident is now a recurring decimal in Nigeria. Statistics from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) stated that an average of 11 persons die from accidents either through cars, bikes, trucks or other moving mechanisms.

FRSC officials helping victims of an accident

The Facts

Statistical analysis has also shown that every four hours, at least two lives are lost on Nigerian roads, while annually about 20,000 of the 11.654 million vehicles in the country are involved in accidents.

The deaths have led to the loss of a score of promising lives that ordinarily could have turned leaders of tomorrow, maybe even today.

The situation has indeed become worrisome, as it has led to a drastic loss in productive human capital, as a consistent amount of deaths are recorded annually.

According to the Federal Road Safety Corp Commission (FRSC), there were 12, 077 road accidents of which 5, 400 persons died in 2015.

In 2017, the FRSC recorded 4,410 deaths from 7,937 road crashes with 23,392 people injured. The figure was lower than the 4,527 deaths recorded in 2016.

In the first quarter of 2018, the FRSC recorded 1, 945 crashes nationwide, a 13 percent reduction in accident cases compared to the same period in 2017 which is put at 2,240 accidents.

The period in review also witnessed a corresponding decline in the number of people killed, as 1,079 were killed in 2018 as against 1, 297 in 2017.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.35 million deaths worldwide in 2016. What it means is that one person is killed every 25 seconds.

It is also a fact that low-income countries now have the highest annual road traffic fatality rates, at 24. 1 per 100, 000, while the rate in high-income countries is lowest, at 9.2 per 1000, 000.

While there is a global concerted effort to reduce the figures, total eradication is what is desired.

Road management officials have collectively identified speed violations as the main cause of road crashes. Other variable factors such as inpatient and reckless driving, distraction, and attempted robbery also have their place in the equation.

Though deaths via road accidents occur daily, the toll rises during the concluding parts of the year especially as festivities such as Christmas and New Year draw near.

Its recurring nature has thus raised eyebrows with blames being ascribed, and calls for related organisations to rise to their responsibilities being heightened.

In December 2013, the FRSC revealed how 24 people were killed in 28 road crashes recorded during the yuletide period.

In the preceding year, at least 88 people died in various accidents across Nigeria during the festive period between December 22 and December 31, an official cumulative reports by the FRSC showed.

A 2017 report by the FRSC also revealed that over 4,410 deaths occurred in the year. The rate of death from accidents during the festive period is indeed high with some blaming it on bad roads among other factors.

Who Is To Blame?

Prince Abimbola Sunday Abimbola, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Epe Branch blamed both drivers and the government, calling for training for drivers when they contravene traffic laws.

“Money they say is the root of all evil. In the festive period, people have access to money, they have saved for the period and they are happy going home. On their way home during the journey, they have stopovers and a bottle or two of beer is consumed. In some cases, more than three bottles are consumed. At the end of the day, you find out that almost all of the people driving during the festive period are either almost drunk or are indeed drunk, it is the common thing these days. People take Tramadol, sniff gum. Today, Indian hemp is smoked everywhere, most of the things they tell you are for pile contains alcohol and local drugs.

“Alcohol is sold in sachet and they are readily available. Besides that, another cause of accidents is bad roads, the government is not making new roads, and the old ones are in a bad shape, they are hardly maintained except when there is an uproar from the consequences of a major accident. Today, the roads that are constructed have a life span of fewer than four years except those done by renowned construction companies. These are the causes of accidents on our roads.

“In the Ibeju Lekki axis of Lagos State where I reside, most of the time when these accidents happen, they are caused by truck drivers. I am sure you heard of the Dangote truck that recently killed three innocent people in BRT buses in Ikorodu. The truck drivers drive with so much recklessness because in a way they believe that they are driving for the superman of Africa, and nothing can happen to them. Several tricycle riders have been killed and some maimed by the truck drivers along the Lekki-Epe Expressway. These are issues we should look into, there has to be a total change of attitude to driving.”

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Prince Abimbola also called on the government to construct new, standard roads and repair old ones to taste.

He said: “roads are often repaired in January, February, basically early in the year. By July, August, September, and October, the rains would have arrived destroying some portions of the roads and accidents will naturally be on the rise. A driver driving on the fast lane may want to divert to the service lane because of a pothole and that alone can cause a road accident if he is not careful.

“Normally, it would be expected that by November and even early December when the rain has subsided, palliative works would be done on these roads in preparation for festive travelers, but this is never done. We have to find a solution to this problem instead of accepting it as the norm.”

Alhaji Hakeem Bello, a transporter in the Ajah axis of Lagos ascribes blame for the continuous accident on Nigerian roads during festive periods on traffic enforcement officers. According to him, most of the supposed traffic officials are only interested in generating revenue for their agencies rather than the safety of lives.

“Are the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) not susceptible to corruption? The Road Safety hardly does anything good. All they do is harass people. You are putting penal issues ahead of restoration. If somebody drives wrongly, you ask him to go and pay a fine, you are not talking about training or enlightening him so that he doesn’t commit the same offence again. He has to know why he should not commit that offence, it is not all about fear, in Lagos State, fear is the tool for enforcement. The government both federal and states are looking for revenue and when a driver drives wrongly, they fine him, they make him pay penalty but they don’t train him. That way, he gets to commit the offence again, and probably kills somebody the next time he gets stopped because he would attempt to escape by all means available to him. If the government wants to generate revenue, it should not be at the expense of its people. The government pays lip service to complains, and always say that they are working to better the situation, but nothing gets done. Look at the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), were they not better during the past administration? They victimised Lagosians and when we cried out, the then governor came to the rescue, the men of LASTMA still did their job. They are back to their old style now, and we have been complaining, but nothing has been done about their highhandedness. They said the new law was not punitive, but it has turned out to be so. You can get arrested for staying too long at a bus stop, where is that done?”

On his part, a teacher in one of the government schools in Lagos State who preferred anonymity called for a total re-orientation of the Nigerian driver.

According to him, the situation is so bad that the average Nigerian driver does not know the basics of driving on the road. “They don’t know that they should give preference to a learner or that a driver with a ‘Baby On Board’ sticker on his car needs to be given preference.

“The driving culture is worse with commercial buses. The drivers hardly listen to you. The more you complain, the faster they go. Some of them drive as if they are possessed. I am not sure that they even go to driving school at all. The only thing that can change the situation is a total re-orientation.

“Frustration is in the land and most people driving were not originally drivers. Some of them after losing their jobs became Uber drivers or Cab 45 drivers because they need money to feed their children, pay school fees, but the fact is that they are not trained, drivers.

“People like this will be exposed if they have to drive a long distance because what they do typically is to take their bosses to the office and back home.”

“Most of the time when you travel home to the East at the end of the year, you can be sure that you have only made the trip when you return because your life is in the hands of the driver who you know nothing about. Your fate is in the hands of his company, and that is why people prefer to travel with transport companies who have proven themselves over time,” Nkechi Ozurigbo, a member of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), serving in Lagos State stated.

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Road Safety Corps

FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, while acknowledging the fact that there would always be crashes on roads explained that the corps objective is to ensure that there are no deaths in the crashes.

Explaining how the corps was able to manage the 2018 festive period, Dr. Oyeyemi revealed that in 2018, the FRSC activated 201 mobile courts and deployed 21,000 personnel for duty.

He revealed that the team included recovery vehicles, ambulances, and bikes, adding that the FRSC also partitioned the country into critical 52 corridors, and divided their operations into three segments namely pre-Christmas, post-Christmas and post-New Year.

He stated that the move resulted in a reduction in crashes and fatalities, attributing the result to the corps enlightenment programmes and the support from stakeholders, including the security services, media, and the transport unions.

His words: “The corps worked assiduously in 2017 to bring down the rate of road traffic crashes nationwide as we recorded 7,937 crashes as against 8,560 in 2016, indicating a decrease of 7.28 percent, while the number of people killed in 2017 was 4,410 as against 4,527 in 2016. This represents a reduction of 2.58 percent.

“Our principal responsibility during the period was to ensure a free flow of traffic; you may likely experience some gridlock in one or two areas in the cause of the ongoing construction work. So, we are not talking about enforcement; we are talking about the issue of getting the travelers home safely.

“Also, the recovery vehicles were deployed to critical locations and we also worked with private tow trucks operators so that peradventure if there is any breakdown of any vehicle or truck, immediately we will be able to remove all these obstructions which normally lead to gridlock,” Dr. Oyeyemi said.

Urging members of the public to make use of its toll-free number 122, the Corps Marshall added that road users can place a call to the number whenever they get to a crash scene before FRSC personnel.

“They should be able to call 122 and inform us so that we can deploy appropriate personnel and the required vehicle or whatever is required. I want to assure the public that we will be able to reduce the stress for the travelers.”

With drink driving known to be common in the festive period, the FRSC boss said such offenders will be prosecuted.

“We have purchased digital alcoholisers. I want to assure members of the public that we will lessen the stress of this by the end of the year patrol 2018/2019.”

While it is laudable that the corps was able to achieve its 2018 corporate strategic goal of improved enforcement and rescue services to reduce road traffic crashes by 15 percent and fatalities by 30 percent, traveler craving presently is to see the FRSC better that achievement, even as Christmas and New Year draws nearer.

 

Road Maintenance Agency

In the past, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), is known to have claimed to ensure a better and safer road for commuters traveling for Christmas. However, it appears that with the worsening roads, the responsibility has become too much for the agency to manage especially with several bad federal roads staring commuter in the face when traveling. The situation has thus seen calls for a better road maintenance culture, and improved policy system.

In anticipation of the 2018 Christmas period, Nurudeen Rafindadi, Managing Director of FERMA was quoted as saying that critical federal roads had been identified to be given palliative measures during the festive period.

“In order to realise this goal, the agency has been assigned 16 very critical and prominent roads that need to be addressed immediately within the period.”

Rafindadi also added that FERMA has put in place an implementation plan for the maintenance and repair of identified roads and others frequently used by motorist including those outside the ministry’s jurisdiction.

While the FERMA boss might have sounded convincing, not much evidence was seen, as complaints about the bad conditions of federal roads continue to mount. This position has given rise to concerns.

Advocacy

It is a known fact that to control climate change there has been advocacy against tree cutting, but where one is cut, at least two is planted as a replacement. A similar culture has been advocated for roads. A case where alternative roads are adequately put in shape before a major road is closed is only logical, as the idea of travelers spending five hours on a journey which should ordinarily not exceed two hours should not be acceptable.

Though the FRSC is known to shut down the major part of its operations in December with the bulk of its officers on the roads, it is hoped that Dr. Oyeyemi’s statement in Abuja while giving a performance review earlier in the year that “we are not saying there will be no crash, but the focus is that let there be zero death” becomes the watchword of the FRSC and related agencies as the 2019 festive period beckons.

 

 

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Opinion

Hitlist N Cruzin To The Next Level A Priority In 2020–Mursty Adinoyi

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Mursty Adinoyi

Seasoned entrepreneur and producer, Mursty Adinoyi, is the brain behind one of Nigeria’s leading television shows, Hitlist N Cruzin. For over a decade, he has successfully changed the lives of young Nigerians across several states via the programme which takes people on a dream shopping spree. In this interview with Lukmon Akintola, he speaks on his 2020 development plans for the show, the need for youths to be more dedicated to the country and the impact of terrestrial television on the society.

2019 was a positive year for you and Hitlist N Cruzin, tell us about your 2020 plans.

Personally, I have a lot of plans for myself, long term plans that will culminate into awing developments. In addition to our flagship programme, Hitlist N Cruzin, we have AIT Music+, and both programmes have garnered positive followership.

Are there plans to take the programme to other parts of the country where it is not popular?

Most definitely. We are expanding the map to other states. We want to take it to places where we are not known, not just where people are already watching us. Talking about plans, I pray that all the ideas we have materialise. At Emrose Adinoyi Productions, we don’t make one-year plans, but long term plans. It’s our lifestyle and we’ll keep seeing what we can do to get better.

You are known to be passionate about Nigeria, do you have plans to start a programme that will dwell on Nigeria’s peculiar challenges?

Having a programme that focuses on Nigeria’s issues will not make any change. If you watch Kakaaki on AIT or Channels Television in the morning, you will see all of this stuff ongoing. If you watch Focus Nigeria on AIT as well, you will see all these discussions ongoing, but have there been changes? They say that democracy is the best for us, but we have to find a way to make sure that it works for us, because the way it is right now, I don’t think it’s working for us.

What are the peculiar challenges in your industry?

There are so many challenges. Don’t forget that to shoot Hitlist N Cruzin, we go out, looking for winners to take on a cruise. You hit the road, you see bad roads. You get a good car before you know it, it’s gone because the roads are bad. Some major roads are bad, how much more the roads in the hinterland? So, the challenges are enormous.

These challenges have seen a lot of people relocating out of the country, are you thinking of joining them?

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If your father’s house is not painted, instead of looking for an apartment to rent, look for money and paint it, that’s my belief. So many young people are leaving the country because they’re looking for greener pastures. You can’t blame anybody, but for those of us who believe in the Nigerian dream, we will contribute to the development of the country. I will rather do that than leave for Canada or anywhere in the world.

You have also been making political statements in recent times, are you thinking of going into politics?

This is our country and some of us are committed to its development. If things are not going well, we have to speak out. We should all know that life is in stages, we are in our forties right now, it’s just very unfortunate that the Nigerian system tells us that at forty we are young, we are actually not young. Very soon, leadership will fall into our hands. So we need to be consciously telling ourselves the truth so whoever amongst us has the opportunity to occupy an office can do the right thing. If we’re doing the right thing, people will not travel to other places, and even if they travel, it will be for fun, they won’t abandon Nigeria.

There have been calls for people to make their industry buoyant such that it can contribute to the country’s GDP, do you think the television industry can do this?

Content can be created from the training that an ex-military man has gotten. People will benefit from it, and then there will be much money for him and even the television station airing the programme and other participants. I am telling you there are so many things we can create, lots of things, even an ex-banker can create a programme. So, there is a lot of money to be made here, but first, we have to develop Nigeria first, using television.  Everything about us can be on television and we would make money from it. Okada, for instance, can be used for stunts. If independent producers can have good money with them and we are tax-free, we can gather Okada riders, create stunts, stage them, put them on television and make money out of it for development of the country. We see all these things on foreign channels and we think they are just for the foreign market, but they are also applicable here. There are lots of independent producers that can create good content for television consumption that will engage hundreds and thousands of people. That way, the unemployment rate will definitely drop.

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You have severally called for a tax-free media, can you justify this?

When I say tax-free television, I am not referring to cable television because there is a lot of money on pay television. There is a lot of money coming in because people subscribe to watch. I am speaking in relation to terrestrial television, some of these stations cannot even pay salaries. You need to realise that a local television station and independent producers are capable of employing more hands. But if you tax this sector too much, there will be no much money to even sustain what they have talkless of bringing in more hands. If we are actually looking at a better country, policies that we create should be those that would be for a better Nigeria, that will benefit Nigerian companies. When I say tax-free, I don’t mean for foreign companies. For instance, if VAT is 7.5% media-related companies can be made to pay 2.5%. The country is not growing because the policies we make are not developmental. If we have developmental policies, we’ll definitely move forward. We need to face reality. The government needs to see beyond immediate gain and make policies to help grow Nigerian companies and also make plans for our growing population.

There are people who will argue that if a company can’t pay its staff it should close shop, what do you say to that?

That would be wrong because when you talk of a direct impact on our society, it is terrestrial television that gets it done, not pay television

You have asked for all-round development in the country, where would you want the government to start from?

The scripture said let there be light and there was light. So, taking it from that angle, I would say the first thing we should be thinking of doing in terms of development should be stable light. Light is important because if we have it, other things will grow. But it’s not just about having light because other aspects also have to work. Transportation, the train needs to be connected to every state so that instead of everybody moving to Lagos State, you can even stay in Kogi State and do your business and if you have to come to Lagos State, you come by train. There are so many things that need to be done. There is a need for a change in government policies such that it will favour Nigerians.

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Opinion

Overrated: How Odion Ighalo Disappointed Nigerian Fans

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odion

Ex-Nigerian International, Odion Ighalo, disappointed fans when he only saw a cameo appearance for his debut.

Nigerians who were excited about Ighalo’s six-month deal move from Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United on transfer day deadline had expected a major appearance for his debut.

However, the ex-Watford striker only got a few minutes when he came on for Anthony Martial at the 90th minute.

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Ighalo is the first Nigerian to play for the Red Devils, making setting a record amongst Nigerian footballers.

Man United’s next fixture is against Club Brugge, while they will play Watford in the premiership on Monday, February 23. Ighalo is expected to be in the lineup for the matches.

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Judicracy And The Fairness In Being Unfair

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Fidson

Abraham Lincoln described democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” during the American civil war in 1863. His notion later became the often quoted definition of democracy and a benchmark of rating its success globally.

More than a few nations have actualized Lincoln’s thought, but Nigeria is lagging behind. Her quasi-democratic arrangement is what the writer terms Judicracy: representative government via the verdict of law lords. J-u-d-i-c-r-a-c-y is a flawed democratic system in which the court repeatedly determines who rules, instead of the electorates.

2019 general election is the worst in Nigeria’s history as it produced the highest ever, about a thousand lawsuits. Virtually all the governorship election outcomes were challenged up to the Supreme Court. The judgments issued bagged no dispute, except that of Imo and Bayelsa States. In Imo, the lordships sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the fourth winner. Despite the unprecedented controversy and protests this sparked, the Supreme Court courageously made another upset in Bayelsa by nullifying David Lyon’s mandate barely a day to his inauguration.

The Bayelsa Case

Two lawsuits emerged from the Bayelsa 2019 governorship election. The first is an intra-party candidacy tussle between Hieneken Lokpobiri and David Lyon, both of the APC. The Supreme Court ruled in the case that Lyon was validly nominated. The other lawsuit is an inter-party, deputy governorship candidate qualification case, instituted against the APC by the PDP. Lyon’s running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo was accused of forgery and perjury. The Supreme Court pronounced him guilty, and consequently sacked him and Lyon on the basis of their joint ticket. Lyon did no wrong, but was fired for the sins of Eremieoyo. The judgment is both fair and unfair.

Why the Judgment is Fair

It is fair to sack persons who aspire to rule or are ruling with false documents. Eremieoyo’s deputy-governorship nomination form shows he has answered five different names since he was born. In his first school leaving certificate dated 1976, Eremieoyo bore the name Degi Biobaragha. He bore the name Adegi Biobakumo in his o-level results dated 1984 and Degi Biobarakuma in his bachelor’s degree dated 1990. Also, he bore the name Degi Biobarakuma Wangagha in his master’s degree dated 2002 and he’s currently bearing Degi-Eremieoyo Biobarakuma. One person. Five names.

Eremieoyo’s trial judge proclaimed that only a woman who’s been married five times could have changed names the way Eremieoyo did. My take is Eremieoyo may have been a fraudster who kept changing names to conceal his identity and wrongdoings. Before the advent of fingerprint technology, fraudsters conceal their identity by changing names and appearance.

Eremieoyo’s counsel and apologists argument that his periodic change of name was as a result of the chieftaincy titles he bagged holds no water. Traditional honors rarely require name change; the titles are only placed before the recipient’s conventional name. Though not impossible, it is very rare to come across honors that would require a total change of name. Bola Tinubu’s name didn’t change when he was made the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom. Also, Atiku Abubakar’s name didn’t change when he was turbaned the Waziri of Adamawa Emirate. Even kings don’t change names after coronation.

Nigerians are comparing President’s Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate and identity controversy case to Eremieoyo’s, but the facts are different. Buhari presented an affidavit and a re-issued copy of his disputed result to the court, while Eremieoyo only presented an unverifiable affidavit. Besides, in Buhari’s case, the spelling of ‘Muhammadu’ only changed to ‘Mohammed,’ on a single occasion and Islamic clerics clarified that both names are one and the same. On the other hand, Eremieoyo’s name changed significantly, sometimes completely, multiple times. God forbid a Nigeria where the court would free such a dubious personality to govern despite convincing evidence. Cry or smile, the Supreme Court judgment is fair.

The implication of allowing Eremieoyo rule Bayelsa is grievous. Every deputy governor is a governor-in-waiting. If Lyon had been sworn-in and (God forbid) dies in office, Eremieoyo will take over. By then, the same Eremieoyo the lordships fail to sack will be appointing judges to do his bidding and hounding those who fail to. The same Eremieoyo that has no clean record and certificate will be commanding professors who have many degrees and appointing vice chancellors. Haba! Nigerians should be grateful to the Supreme Court for saving Bayelsa State from such catastrophe.

APC’s failure to act right made her pay the hard price. Eremieoyo shouldn’t have been nominated, or better still, the party should’ve replaced him in the wake of the scandal. The court did no wrong to have enforced the law made by APC members for themselves and the national laws, made by the legislature in which APC is in the majority.

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APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s aspersion on the judiciary over the Bayelsa judgment is dishonorable. He should rather resign for failing in oversight. If the party he leads deliberately fail to obey legitimate laws and the court decides to punish accordingly, how dare him utter unfair!

It is indeed a great loss to APC members and chieftains, but protesting Eremieoyo’s sack in the face of overwhelming evidence is a display of sophisticated foolishness. Will any of them, as an employer, retain an employee that secures a job under them with false identity and fake certificate? In this case, Bayelsa people lack the power to sack Eremieoyo for his dishonesty, but the constitution empowers the court to, and that has been done. Instead of belittling the lordships, they should be praised for acting right. Eremieoyo’s sack is fair and should not end there. He should be prosecuted for bringing pain to APC and Lyon.

Why the Judgment is Unfair

The Supreme Court’s verdict is deserving on Eremieoyo, but unfair to Lyon. Recognizing two persons as one is an unfair custom that will always make the guiltless sink with the guilty. That is not justice. If a father cannot be imprisoned for the crime of his son despite their blood ties, it is absolutely unfair to punish Lyon for the crime of Eremieoyo, a nonrelative.

Moreover, Lyon has been a businessman all along, while Eremieoyo is a career politician. Based on the difference in their yesteryear engagements, the governorship election is probably the first relationship between Lyon and Eremieoyo. There is word on the street that Lyon never chose Eremieoyo as running mate. He was imposed on him by the minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva and the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. With the lordships awareness of the rampancy of imposition in Nigerian politics, crucifying Lyon with Eremieoyo is not justice. It is, in my opinion, a miscarriage of it.

Lyon shouldn’t suffer for Eremieoyo’s misdeed, especially when he never partook in the crime. The judgment would have been fair on Lyon if he’s complicit, but he’s not. With the judges’ awareness of such fact, it is unfair to waste Lyon’s 352,552 votes because his deputy broke the law. Such verdict is an injustice to the electorates that voted Lyon and his party, the APC.

Duoye Diri, the PDP candidate who lost at the ballot shouldn’t have been foisted on Bayelsans by the court. Such action will lead to an increase in political apathy. Electorates will no longer troop out to vote because the court may upturn their will. With apathy, rigging will increase and democracy will die slowly. To my mind, it is undemocratic for the court to keep installing those who lost at the ballot. It happened in Zamfara, and now Bayelsa state. The law should be amended if necessary and politicians must endeavor to always play by the rules.

A number of Supreme Court judgments states that votes are for the parties and not the candidates. This is premised on the reason that the names of candidates don’t appear on the ballot; only the parties’ logo appear. In this respect, it is disappointing that the lordships annul 352,552 votes when some previous judgments can be referenced and applied to save APC’s mandate. The judges should have protected APC’s vote, but punish Eremieoyo. Ordering that he be replaced with another person would have been just. Although the Supreme Court has the power to judge as it pleases, the adverse implication of the judgments on lives and properties must be considered, especially in sensitive cases.

Kogi State’s 2015 governorship election tussle also establishes the inconsistency of the Supreme Court. When candidacy dispute arose after Abubakar Audu’s demise during the Kogi election, the Supreme Court denied his running mate, James Faleke the chance to inherit the votes of the Audu-Faleke ticket. The mandate was surprisingly given to Yahaya Bello, who was selected by the APC to replace Audu. If Faleke wasn’t allowed to inherit the mandate of Audu, then it’s a miscarriage of justice to drag Lyon into Eremieoyo’s conviction. The logic is simple. Since Faleke wasn’t allowed to profit (positively) from Audu, it is unfair to make Lyon profit (negatively) from Eremieoyo.

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The people of Bayelsa felt PDP hasn’t served them well, so they voted the APC. Upturning their decision means the court is forcing them to remain under the rule of an unwanted government. Such action itself is a murder of the democracy and rule of law the court is trying to protect.

Since Eremieoyo’s qualification case is a pre-election matter, justice would have been appropriately served if the ruling was given before the election. Democracy would’ve still manifest even if APC was denied participation. Several parties fielded candidates and the people may decide to vote massively for any them if they don’t want the PDP. With that, the leadership production process remains democratic and the people’s right of choice remains protected. The law must be amended to effect this.

A more sad side of the unfairness of the Supreme Court’s verdict is the cost and emotional effects on Lyon’s families, followers and political associates. It would have been kind if the judgment was delivered a week earlier. Governorship inauguration is a big ceremony in Nigeria. Even if Lyon chose to celebrate low key, his nearest and dearest would blow the trumpet with their personal fund.

Think about the level of preparation that would have been in place before Lyon was sacked some few hours to his inauguration. Special attire for the occasion (aso-ebi) have been bought and sown; cows have been slaughtered and stewed; wines have been iced; guests have started landing from across Nigeria and abroad; and all hotels had been booked. Furthermore, Lyon had rehearsed how to inspect the guards of honor and people were already addressing him as ‘Your Excellency.’ Even the President was preparing to grace the inauguration. But, all of a sudden, the Supreme Court threw Lyon into confusion. He was disgraced few hours to his glory for a crime he never committed. That’s unfair!

The Supreme Court should have kindly reduced the emotional and cost effects by issuing the judgment earlier, at least a week or two before the inauguration. Perhaps the judgment was delivered late to teach APC a bitter lesson for failing to learn from the annulment of its candidacy in Zamfara and Rivers States.

End Note

It is unfortunate that the court that is expected to be the last hope of the common man is now taking away the wishes of the common man in Nigerian elections. Judicracy is not good for Nigeria. It is a recipe for crisis that may tear the nation apart. Election must start and end at the ballot. Shifting the contest to court is distracting the APC and PDP from concentrating on governance. Both are devoting their energy and resources on winning in court, rather than tackling the nation’s challenges.

Certificate may not be the perfect means of measuring intelligence, but it is the global standard of confirming that an individual have passed through the rigor of acquiring knowledge and proficiency. Eremieoyo’s ordeal is a lesson for everyone to get some education and always act right. Although Nigerian courts sometimes fail to command justice on apparently guilty influential persons, Eremieoyo’s conviction may be beginning of the long-expected turnaround. The three arms of government must collaborate to address the flaws and lacunas in the laws. They must also devote attention to strengthening the institutions and the electoral process.

Lyon’s misfortune shouldn’t be the end of his political career. President Buhari should appease him with a major appointment. The APC should also give him an automatic ticket in the next election. On the other hand, PDP should not over rejoice as it may suffer the same tragedy if it doesn’t learn from APC’s mistake. Nigerian politics is an intriguing, suspense-filled, unending movie. New issues keep evolving each time the population thinks they’ve seen it all. It won’t be a surprise, if for the first time, the Supreme Court reverse either the Imo or Bayelsa verdict. Even at that, politicians must always abide by the rules, else the court will keep determining who rules.

*This piece is an innocent analysis and not an aspersion on the integrity of the Supreme Court. The writer, Omoshola Deji has profound respect for the judges, their decisions and the institution they represent. Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

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