Like Trump, C’ River may have a ‘Historic’ Governor soon —By Inyali Peter

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Inyali Peter|10 November 2016

The historic victory of the Republican Candidate, Mr. Donald Trump in the just concluded United State of America, (USA) elections has taken the entire world by storm. Many people, including the popular Nigerian tele-evangelist, Prophet TB Jushia who is known for his controversial prophecies, predicted victory for former US secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, the standard bearer of Democrat party.

From when Trump publicly declared his intension to join the race to White House, he suffered all sorts of attacks from the political the elites in US and across the world. At some point, Trump was described as the modern day Adolph Hitler who would lead the world to another world war. The local and international media were against him and of course the US government led by a Democrat.

But he shocked the world by doing what many world leaders perceived impossible. While people were attacking him and branding him a racist, religious fanatic, inexperienced etc, what probably was going through his mind was the believe of possibilities. He may have took solace in the words of Author C. Clark that "the only way to find the limit of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible". Indeed, his historic triumph looked almost impossible until it became possible.

The outcome of the election has given political scientists a new area to study about possibilities of winning elections. Nobody gave him a chance but he has set a new era in world's politics and I think every lover of democracy should commend what happened in the US. For me, I don't think American voted the Republican party but a man who despite his inexperience in politics understood what Americans wanted to hear than the experienced Clinton.

While some supporters of Clinton from Nigeria and indeed Cross River are still suffering the hangover of the defeat, Cross River State may be heading towards experiencing a repeat of US election in the battle for the government house.

Since the mile drama that took place in the Supreme Court on September 28 which saw PDP lawyer adopting a perjury suit on age falsification filed against the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade by a PDP governorship aspirant in the last election, Mr. Joe Agi SAN, there have been serious arguments over who will be Governor after December 9 by the supporters of the two political juggernaut.

The Ayade supporters may be relying on the corrupt Nigeria judicial system to support their expectations that he (Ayade) will floor Agi because in any case, the issue before the court is a clear bad case for the governor. Agi's supporters on the other hand are so confident that they have sufficient evidence (Which is obvious even to a layman) to nail the governor. Although, any statement now about the case may amount to contempt, but the true winner of the December 9 judgement should it go against Ayade may not be Agi or PDP but the All Progressive Congress, APC Mr. Odey Ochicha.

I know many people may read all kinds of meanings to this or see this prediction as crazy but before Ayade and Agi supporters collaborate to rain abuses on me, let me explain. I am not oblivious of the fact that Ochicha is not a party in the case as result can't be declared governor. But I'm also abreast of the fact that Agi cannot be declared the governor because he didn't participate in all the stages for the office of the governor as provided by section 141 of the electoral act 2010 (as amended).

Chief Okoi Obono-obla, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and a social justice advocate in his piece titled "WHY THE FACTS OF JOE AGI ODEY (SAN) VERSUS PDP & SENATOR BEN AYADE ARE DISTINGUISHABLE FROM ROTIMI AMAECHI VERSUS INEC & OTHERS (2007) 7-10 S.C 172" argued that the electoral act which the supreme court acted upon to declare Amaechi governor of River state has been amended. The current law provides that for a person to be declared a winner of any elections by the tribunal or court, he/she would have participated in all the stages of elections.

According to Obla, "The relevant law now is the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). It is the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) in which the case of Joe Agi Odey (SAN) versus PDP & Senator Ben Ayade will be decided. It is the law in force when a cause of action arose that it is the relevant law"

Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) stipulate that an election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstances declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all stages of the said election.

Obla referenced the case of Eligwe v Okpokiri (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt.1443) 348, which the Supreme Court observes that: “What section 141 provides in plain language is simply meant to take care of the position of candidates who for whatever reason have not fully participated in all the stages of election to turn round in an election petition and claim to be returned as duly elected.”

Continuing he stated that "It is submitted that a proper analysis of the provision of Section 141 of the Electoral Act reveals that a person can only be declared a winner if and only if:
1. He participated in all the stages of an election;
2. He won at all such stages; and
3. He is available to take the oath of office

For Agi's supporters who are using Amaechi's case to hope for a victory, Obla said that, "there was no similar provision such as Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) in the Electoral Act, 2006 on which the case of Rotimi Amaechi Versus INEC was decided by the supreme court.

The pertinent question is, he posited, " Did Agi participated fully in all the stages of the 2015 general election?  The answer must be in the negative. Agi only fully participated in the PDP Primary Election to nominate its Governorship Candidate for Cross River State. He did not fill INEC nomination form to participate in the 2015 governorship election in Cross River State.

Section 87 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides that a political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.

Taking part or participating in a Primary Election is not enough for an election tribunal or Court to declare somebody who did not take part in the general election winner of an election"

Obla expalined further that, "The key phrase in the provision of Section 141 of the Electoral Act (supra) is: 'fully participated in all the stages'. This presupposes that an election has stages. So, when is a person said to have fully participated in all the stages of an election?

The Supreme Court in PDP v INEC (2001) 1 WRN 1, illuminated on the stages in an election as follows:

'There are three stages or phases in the process of a person contesting election to become a Governor or Deputy-Governor. The first stage is before and up to the holding of the election. The second is after having been elected but pending the assumption of office. The third stage is on assumption of office of the Governor or Deputy-Governor after declaring his asset and taking the prescribed oaths".

From the analysis above by the vast constitutional lawyer,  thereevery likelihood that should Agi wins,  the court may order for a rerun election. This is so because Agi didn't fulfill all stages as provided by the electoral act to be declared the governor. This means that neither Ayade or Agi will remain governor after December 9 and while the later will have opportunity to go head to head against erudite APC Ochicha, the former may witness the election from Kuje prison as the case against him is a criminal case that attract jail term.

If this projection come out right, a rerun election between Agi and Ochicha would be like Trump and Clinton and Ochicha is likely to coast home to victory. This is for many reasons! For instance, With the abysmal performance of the PDP led government, Cross Riverians would not want to return to darkness.

Another reason is that the APC will go into the election stronger than in 2015. Today, APC would not only go into the election with a federal Minister but with many federal appointments which will mean strong federal presence during the election.

Also, with the spate of defection which saw former Governor Clement Ebri, former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, former Senator, Prince Bassey Otu, former PDP governorship aspirant, Goddy  Jedy Agba, former SA to the President and Publicity Secretary of PDP, Barr. Venatius Ikem, two times house of representative member, Rt. Hon. Paul Adah, Earnest Irek, Fidelis Ugbo, Francis Bullem, Dr. Peter Oti amongst other top former PDP members leaving the party for APC, the PDP will go into the election weaker than 2015.

If Ayade is eventually sacked, the division in the PDP will widen which will translate into some factions of the party especially the one loyal to Ayade preferring to work for Ochicha and APC than supporting Agi and PDP who conspire to axe him from office.

Despite this glaring possibilities (in case of a rerun) that favours Ochicha, many people have written him off in the battle for the soul of Cross River like Trump. I have no doubt that if there's a rerun election today in Cross River between Ochicha and Agi, Ochicha would make history like Trump just did in the US.

His well articulated plans for Cross River which I will analysis another day would surely endear him more into the minds of Cross Riverians after seeing the performance of PDP in the last 18 months of Ayade tenure. He may not be vociferous like Trump, but he quite understand the immediate needs of the people which Cross Riverian will definitely buy into. If my projections are right, then a shocking political history  like in US is underway in our dear state.

Inyali Peter
Writes from Calabar