The Dilemma of a Winner

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Ugo Aliogo narrates the travail of House of Representatives member from Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency in Cross River State, Hon. Agom Jarigbe Agom, which shows that winning a tightly contested senatorial by-election may be the easiest task, but being sworn-in to begin his legislative duties has become an unbelievable nightmare

When Senator Rose Oko representing Cross River North senatorial district passed on after a protracted illness, the position became vacant. As it is always the case, the jostling by those who considered themselves eminently qualified began. Ultimately, like the biblical saying goes, many are called but only few are chosen. A lot of those who started the race fell by the way side leaving two contenders: A two term ranking member of the House of Representatives from Ogoja/Yala constituency, Hon. Agom Jarigbe Agom and Dr. Stephen Odey were left as two of the last men standing.

In the ensuing hair raising drama that kicked in, few days to the primary election, rumours started flying around that Agom had been disqualified from contesting the election. But like the man whom God wants to crown a King, Agom, in local parlance jump am pass and emerged victorious at the polls and also in the courts.

However several months after his victory, he is yet to be sworn in to begin his legislative duties in the same vein as the senate has refused to communicate with him and keeping him incommunicado while his opponent whom the Supreme Court has already ruled against is still attending plenary sessions.

Agom admitted that “I am yet to be communicated to by the Senate. My Certificate of Return and all the judgements of the respective courts, including that of the Supreme Court have been submitted to the Senate through the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly.”

He explained that he was also aware that, the Legal Department of the National Assembly had advised the Senate President that he should be sworn in, in compliance with the judgement of the Supreme Court and the Certificate of Return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“To my astonishment, my opponent is still being allowed to attend plenary by the leadership of the Senate. The Senate is the apex institution of law making and cannot continue perpetrating an illegality. The Senate leadership has stopped listing my opponent’s motions and bills on the Order Papers because they know that whatever he does in the Senate at this point, is null and void because it is inconsistent with the Rule of Law.

“My only fear is that this will set a bad precedence and after the next elections, some governors who decide to be brutish, can move to Abuja and stop the Senate from swearing in whoever they do not endorse from their respective states,” Agom lamented.

While he has come under intense pressure from his supporters and persons of good will urging him to return to the court to seek a writ of mandamus compelling the Senate to do the needful, Agom replied emphatically that “I am not going back to the Apex Court. The judgment is unambiguous and does not need any further interpretation. My next line of action will be dependent on what happens as the Senate resumes plenary.”

As a cognate member of Parliament he warned that he should not be pushed to a point, that will make him react like an outsider. “If the leadership of the Senate continues to treat me like an outsider and with total disregard to my office, as ranking member of Parliament, I will have no choice, but behave exactly like an outsider. No matter how ruthless we decide to be, we should display camaraderie. I will not be pushed by the governor to get ballistic, against an Institution, I am an integral part of,” he assured.

The Senator-designate pointed out that his victory was not a fluke as he was the most prepared for the position after the demise of the late Senator Rose Oko. He added that after serving two terms as member of the House of Representatives in Cross River State, everyone who has become governor, since 1999, got sworn in as governor before they got to age of 50, including the incumbent going by the records he made available to the party.

He pointed out that Ogoja LGA, where he comes from is the mother local government area of Cross River North and the people have never had the Senate seat, since the advent of democracy. Agom said it was unfair. “Where is the equity they talk about. Above all, I think I have done well for my Federal Constituency and expanding my horizon politically, is the way of the future.

“We have victory already. What’s happening right now is incontrovertibly inconsistent. The Parliament must rise above this and do the needful,” he stated.

On whether he has any doubt in his mind where the pendulum would swing, the Senator-designate was full of optimism and stating emphatically that “I will be Inaugurated and all I will do is to consolidate on my achievements but extend the benefits of what the Federal Constituency is enjoying to the whole Senatorial District. I discover that Obudu, Bekwarra Obanliku Federal Constituency needs my intervention. The various communities need social amenities and proper infrastructure. These can only be achieved by being selfless and understanding the workings of parliament.”

He told THISDAY that he was an incurable optimist who believes strongly in the fact that no one can truncate the collective resolve of the people and the grace of God upon his life and that of any man, adding that “The dream has already been realized. I am not the proverbial“ doubting Thomas”.

Speaking on a recent threat by an aide to the governor who vowed that he will never set his foot on the senate plenary except his ghost, Agom explained that “The guy that posted that, happens to be one of the governor’s aides. It’s unfortunate that we have a government populated by comedians, who only think through the food on the table.”

He assured that the security agencies were aware of the statement from the governor’s aide adding that Investigations will commence soon on that. He recalled that this was not the first encounter as members of his supporters group have been faced with far more threats by agents of the state government.

He narrated what transpired during the primary election pointing out that “One of my supporters was killed in the house of a serving commissioner one day to the primary. The venue of the primary election was like a battle ground, with security men attached to the governor, shooting indiscriminately at my supporters. The DSS is aware of the threats to my life. The Nigerian government and God will protect me and also keep my supporters away from their evil plans.”