On Tuesday, Prof. Niyi Akinnaso, a back page columnist on The PUNCH stable, authored his perspectives to the political crisis in Ondo State in a piece entitled, “Why Ondo State should not burn.” In that piece, the columnist spent his time basically making a scapegoat of the Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, over the protests that erupted in the state following the illegal substitution of the name of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the forthcoming November 26 governorship election, Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), with that of Mr Jimoh Ibrahim (a person who, only in June this year, granted an interview to a national daily saying that he was no longer a member of the Peoples Democratic Party) by the Independent National Electoral Commission. INEC cited a nebulous court order granted by a judge, but that fact does not excite the writer.
For a start, Akinnaso compares the completely unrelated crises rocking the PDP and the All Progressives Congress, and concludes that the APC’s conduct has been exemplary. Hear him: “In none of the APC struggles was a bonfire set up on a major highway. Rather, their struggles were limited to verbal duelling among their members, protests at their party secretariat, and litigation. This is not to say that the APC is a political angel. We all know that it is afflicted with various internal problems. But the party has handled its own internal squabbles over its party primary in Ondo differently.’’
This is unfortunately the language of demagoguery, and it is unbecoming. First, Akinnaso’s equation of the reaction of the people of Ondo State to daylight judicial/political robbery with a protest by the PDP faithful is inappropriate. Until empirical facts emerge to indicate that the thousands who trooped into the streets in different parts of Ondo State to protest against the antics of external forces are card-carrying members of the PDP, the allegation amounts to a wild conjecture. But even in his error, the writer commits another error, for he contends that the burning of used tyres by enraged citizens is a crime, whereas he saw nothing wrong with the burning of tyres by Nigerians during the fuel subsidy crisis of June 12. It is certainly bad judgment to nullify the right of Ondo people to protest against injustice through a recourse to ideological state apparatuses, specifically the rhetoric of brainwashing. Surely, the writer must know that the Ondo people cannot be brainwashed.
Following the insinuations in the media, a group, Ondo Coalition for the Advancement of Democracy, debunked insinuations in some online news media that the recent protests that took place in parts of Ondo State as a result of INEC’s illegality was instigated by Mimiko. As it noted: “We are quite amused by the fact that anyone would think that the people of Ondo State would wait until someone of high personality prods them before they express their total rejection of some… bent on forcing himself on the state as a governorship candidate riding on the shoulders of divisive and hateful elements who are well-known to be enemies of the state over time. To say that Dr Olusegun Mimiko was behind the protest was not only false and malicious, but also a wicked and calculated attempt to tarnish the image of a man who for nearly eight years now has held Ondo State together in peace despite our multiple differences and diversities. In fact, but for his timely intervention through our traditional rulers, security personnel and other stakeholders, the situation could have been worse.’’
The writer claimed that the protest in Ondo claimed the life of a student of St. Joseph’s College, Ondo, the governor’s alma mater, but nothing can be further from the truth. The story that a student died in the protest has since been retracted by Vanguard, which even took steps to punish those who planted the story in its medium.
More disastrously, the write-up cleverly avoided addressing the real issues at stake in Ondo in the attempt to muzzle the freedom-loving voices of the people of Ondo State. And, yes, the issue: On October 14, Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court altered the equation, when he ordered the commission to accept Ibrahim as the candidate of the party. Ruling on an application filed by the Chairman and Secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, Biyi Poroye and Ademola Genty and others in Osun and Oyo states respectively, Abang held that INEC had no reason to reject the candidate submitted to it by the plaintiffs. However, the said application was for the enforcement of a June 29, 2016 judgment of the court affirming Poroye, Genty and others, who emerged from the May 10, 2016 congresses of the party in the South-West, as the authentic leaders of the party in the Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos states. In short, Abang turned the law and logic on its head and gave judgment on issues not presented before him and without inviting submissions from the parties his judgment was meant to address. This is an open invitation to anarchy.
Only on Monday, some elder statesmen in Ondo State warned the Federal Government to avoid a repeat of the 1983 anarchy which eventually consumed the Shagari government, but Akinnaso went to great length to claim that the situation now is different. He claims that “the struggles so far are limited to the internal squabbles within the PDP over who should be the party’s candidate for the November 26 governorship election. It lacks the scope and potency of the two post-election crises to which it is being compared.’’
Evidently, the writer conveniently ignores the fact conflagrations result from small fires.
Mrs Akinsoyinu wrote in from Iju-Odo, in Ondo State.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
from Punch Newspapers http://ift.tt/2fClvqV