FOR Duoye Diri, the Bayelsa governor, the game of gubernatorial musical chairs goes on. What goes around, comes around!
The country absorbed another shock on August 17, when the Bayelsa State Governorship Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, voided Diri’s “election” because King Lucky George, candidate of the Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP), alleged he was unlawfully excluded from the gubernatorial poll.
Well, lucky for George, unlucky for Diri, Diri was judicially tossed out; though the process goes on with appeal, possibly up to the Supreme Court. It’s Diri’s lousy luck that till then, he’ll be on judicial tenterhooks!
Still, why must Hardball refer to Diri’s “election” in quotes? Very simple really. As at the end of the exercise, Diri of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) polled 143, 170, while David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) polled 352, 552.
No, no, no — the apex court, which passed judgment on the matter, didn’t exactly say 143, 000 was greater than 352, 000. But because it ruled Lyon’s running mate has such a splendid harvest of names there were so many in his official documents, the apex court, in its apex wisdom, ruled 352, 000 had to give way to 143, 000, in its supreme version, of court-muscled democracy!
Diri may yet survive this storm. But if he doesn’t, it would be a case of the judiciary gives, the judiciary takes; while voters, whose democratic right it is to give or take, watch helplessly on the sidelines! There is a Yoruba jeer at Diri’s plight, should it take a turn for the worse: “ole gbe, ole gba” — stolen by one, snatched by another, case settled! What fitting cynicism!
The Bayelsa drama should teach the judiciary to be much more circumspect while exercising their judicial powers; or they risk becoming the quip by E. M. Forster, in A Passage to India, that soldiers fix one problem but leave hundreds of others crooked.
The voiding of Lyon’s mandate (cruelly on the eve of his swear-in) and Diri’s present uncertainly are not good for the political system. In those days of military opportunism, such uncertainty could have made a difference between the collapse and survival of governments. But the long, long night of military rule returned one unanimous verdict: the people, long-suffering Nigerians, are the victims.
Yes, Nigerian politicians appear wayward and reckless, in pursing their goals. Add to that the terrible breed of selfish, cynical and opportunistic lawyers, and what you have is nothing to crow about. Now, what happens if we add a band of legalistic judges, deaf, dumb and blind to the social chaos of their narrow technical verdicts? You just might be baiting needless catastrophe!
Let the people decide who rule over them. If the courts must come in, let them do so to reinforce justice, not to hoist cras technicality, most times so cynical (as in the Lyon’s matter) that reasonable members of the society begin to think the law is another empty racket.
It’s such feeling that would mock Diri’s present bind, however it is eventually resolved. But again, poor Bayelsans are the ultimate victims. They, as other Nigerians, deserve much better.