Ogun: Who Is afraid of Dapo Abiodun?

Ogun: Who Is afraid of Dapo Abiodun?

The headline question is usually not my style of writing. The reason for it is that it leaves the readers with some unresolved puzzles. As a matter of rule, a good write-up should provide answers to all probing questions. But in this piece, I take an exception to that rule.

Other than fuel subsidy which is at the heart of the nation’s economy and its impact on every single individual, household, corporate body, and business concern, another issue that excites the populace is the outcome of the deluge of election petitions before the various tribunals sitting at different levels. In Ogun State, it is more like a boxing bout between Governor Dapo Abiodun and the governorship candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Oladipupo Adebutu, who is fighting a proxy war.

Since the declaration of Prince Abiodun as the winner of the last gubernatorial election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), heaven has been let loose. Adebutu and his cohorts have seized Ogun State by the scruff of the neck, literally turning the State into a hotbed of politics. They are the forces allegedly fingered behind the commotion recorded at a recent sitting of the tribunal held within the Magistrate Court premises, Isabo, Abeokuta and the continued threats to lives which have always put the state in the spotlight for the wrong reason.

Months after the elections, their sponsored supporters are still roaming about in the streets waiting for the last-minute order to unleash mayhem at the slightest opportunity just simply because they lost out of power contest.

Recently, they took their restiveness to a ridiculous level, beating up Segun Sowunmi, a recalcitrant member of their party, at the premises of the tribunal. The state has yet to recover from that embarrassing scenario. At home and abroad, people have condemned the culture of violence being foisted on the peace-loving people of the state. Unfortunately, they have refused to heed the wise counsel of the elders to give peace a chance and allow the course of justice to run its natural course while pursuing their legitimate case at the tribunal. They refused because of the fear of defeat that is already staring them in the face.

So, the strategy to ward off the looming disgrace now is to make the state ungovernable by constituting themselves into a huge distraction to the Abiodun administration. Yes, politics, sometimes, is a bully game. But a good player doesn’t get distracted, he keeps his eyes on the ball. In spite of all distractions, Governor Abiodun is keeping his eyes on the development agenda he promised the people in his electioneering for his second term. And he would live by them.

Most regrettably, the petitioner (Adebutu) is cooling off in an undisclosed location in the United Kingdom (UK) from where he has been fanning the ember of disunity all in the name of power acquisition. This leadership style is both uninspiring and unpatriotic. A patriot is one who places the collective interest of the state above personal ambition. Adebutu’s quest for power has become an obsession. And the problem with obsession is this recurring urge to repeat the same behaviour over and over again which smacks of desperation.

Beneath the desperation we have seen is the challenge of striking a delicate balance between what constitutes the collective interest of the state and his personal inclination to lead. An inspiring leader leads in the front. Lado has remained largely at large since the legal fireworks on his petition started. And understandably so because of the shadow of his past. But no matter how fast he can run, it will continue to dog his footsteps.

While we wish him a quick recovery from his lingering illness, it is rather shocking and pretentious to hear that he recently attended a party in London. If that is the case, we can hazard a guess that all is now well. We are anxiously waiting for his homecoming to answer the charges of vote-buying, money laundering, bribery, and criminal conspiracy for which he is being tried because that was the primary reason he went into hiding in the first place, claiming to be on medical treatment.

While his alleged medical treatment lasted, the governorship election tribunal hearing his case challenging the victory of Governor Abiodun had made considerable progress. Unfortunately, it has been a harvest of losses for him and the PDP.

What’s more? The tribunal in its Thursday ruling dismissed the application by Adebutu seeking to strike out Governor Abiodun’s prayers establishing vote-buying allegations against him. This followed strong evidence of electoral fraud allegedly perpetrated during the March 18 governorship election in the state which Governor Abiodun had proved against them.

Accordingly, acting on what it termed as a plethora of evidence at its disposal through discreet investigation and the confessions of some members of PDP who were caught in the act in the alleged money laundering along with Zenith Bank, the police accused them of gross criminal conspiracy during the polls consequent upon which Adebutu took to his heels and hurriedly sneaked out of the country.

With the weight of evidence before it and the portion of Governor Abiodun’s response which specifically indicated the degree and effects of electoral fraud committed by Adebutu and the PDP, the tribunal unanimously ruled against the application seeking to strike it out, giving the governor another victory in the ongoing legal proceedings. This was in spite of Adebutu’s argument that the petition did not include allegations of vote buying and that the governor’s defence should not also have included such allegations.

However, in its ruling, which was delivered by a member, Hon. Justice J.B. Egele, and supported by the Chairman Hon Justice H N Kunaza, and the other member Hon. Justice Sannusi Shehu, the Tribunal held that Governor Abiodun was not restricted to the same issues that Adebutu and PDP raised in their petition. The Tribunal further held that in any event, vote buying is in the same family as corrupt practices, which is the ground on which Adebutu and PDP filed their petition, and accordingly dismissed the application.

By this ruling, the allegation of vote-buying, money laundering, and criminal conspiracy has become an albatross on the PDP and its candidate. And the earlier he (Adebutu) comes out of his hiding to face the trial, the better for his party. This development and without prejudice to the outcome of the tribunal proceedings, Governor Abiodun may be well on his way to the final victory, while working hard to deliver on his electoral promise

.Ezekiel wrote from Imeko, Ogun State