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Lessons from Oni’s Legal battle with Fayemi

The struggle by Engr. Segun Oni to be recognised as the rightful candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2018 Ekiti governorship election has ended with the Supreme Court verdict on the matter.

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019 the Supreme Court brought to an end the long search for electoral redemption by Engr. Segun Oni, a former governor of Ekiti State in his bid to assert himself as the real candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2018 governorship election in the state.

Following his defeat in the party primary election, the former governor had shifted in between congratulating Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who emerged the clear winner and exploring legalistic loopholes to claim the top prize, which eluded him during the voting.

There are conspiracy theories as to why Oni approached despite all entreaties not to do. The belief remains that some of his associates either supported the decision to go to court or were prevailed upon by some political chieftains, who are against the eventual winner, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

Oni had following his failure to get reprieve at the lower courts approached the apex court to invalidate the emergence of Fayemi as the candidate of the APC in the Ekiti governorship election. The resolution of the case should ordinarily provide a stimulus for total reconciliation by all tendencies within the APC. Even more, it should be the anchor for stakeholders within and outside the state to latch on to towards giving momentum to the enterprising programmes of the incumbent administration as led by Dr. Fayemi.

But whether Oni and his associates would grab that opportunity or not is a different ball game and only time will tell. That internal party dispute over the candidature of the APC in the governorship election had, to the surprise of many, including associates of Oni, continued even after the party concluded its primaries.

Oni was one of about 30 aspirants who contested for the ticket of the party. The former governor, who was a deputy national chairman of the ruling party, was undoubtedly the highest political office holder from the state in the APC just before the election. Oni, a former member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party on whose platform he served as governor between 2007 and 2010 before the election was invalidated. He crossed over to the progressives camp following the implosion that hit the PDP in the period leading to the 2015 general elections. Irrespective of the political differences he had with people both in the PDP and APC,  Oni will always be a gentleman. His moral compass on financial matters is a testimony that has often enchanted political folklore.

Gentle speaking yet assertive in his missions, it was not difficult finding common interests with other chieftains of the APC after he defected to the then newly registered party in 2014 alongside other members of the New PDP (nPDP). His pursuit of redress to the apex court might well be considered in some quarters as part of his natural gravitation towards rectitude in the political space.

It is also remarkable that while the court arbitration lasted, Governor Fayemi did not begrudge him or use the instrument of the state to molest him or intimidate him as some others in his position would have done. Such examples of tolerance especially within political parties is commendable and the example in Ekiti state should be demonstrated for the enlightenment of political operators who do not brook nonsense or opposition from fellow stakeholders. However, as the courts ruled severally, Oni may have unusually erred in his summation of the propriety of the election that set Dr. Fayemi as governor. It is on the basis of this that the former governor and his associates appear to be limited in their options. The easiest option he may have should be to join the new administration in Ekiti towards restoring the dignity of the people of the state after four years of rule by the PDP government under the immediate past governor, Ayo Fayose.

Oni’s capacity is definitely not in doubt. It behoves him and all major stakeholders in the state to work towards the kind of political stability that would enable the incumbent administration achieve its set goals.

Besides, the now concluded case involving Oni and Governor Fayemi is also being challenged by his main challenger in the governorship election, Prof. Olusola Eleka, the candidate of the PDP in the election. Fayemi emerged triumphant in the two judgments given at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal. Expectedly, the PDP has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court where stakeholders are calmly waiting to check off the opposition. The calm that engulfs the governor’s camp in respect of the claims by his opponent, Eleka, is understandable.

Fayemi believes he won the election and has a template to punch away whatever allegations are raised against him. While it is doubtful that reason be put forward to the ultimate godfather of the PDP candidate for him to step down the case, confident associates of the governor are themselves anxious for the case to be settled on its merit to the purpose of bringing enlightenment to all political stakeholders as to the clear victory of Dr. Fayemi in the election. With the case settled and out of the way, the nation would then again and again observe without the present distractions the unfolding renaissance in Ekiti.

@Leadership newspaper

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