Danger Ahead: Mimiko Mimicry!

And so it was……Dr Olusegun Kokumo Agagu became the 11th governor to be removed from office since 2007 for electoral irregularities. 

There’s plenty to cheer about this relative novelty in our land.
Before now, elected officials have always been invincible….no matter how badly they performed, there never seemed to be a reckoning.
So it’s very refreshing to see justice being done in cases where electoral fraud has clearly been perpetrated.

To my mind, we are now making up for lost time.
Imagine what Nigeria would be like today if we had used the June 12 1993 elections as our standard?
Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk…it’s taken us 16 years but we are getting there.

The next step will now be to get the electorate themselves to treat their votes as something precious not to be given away cheaply to some lousy politician.

Another reason to be cheerful is that despite various attempts by some unscrupulous people to heat up the polity, the much hyped and predicted violence never materialised save for the odd skirmish in pockets.
This is a wonderful thing…Nigerians are now realising that no politician is worth dying for.
This is especially heart warming when you remember the history of Ondo state as the cauldron of violence and mayhem it turned out to be after the disputed 1983 elections where Akin Omoboriowo somehow ‘defeated’ the late Adekunle Ajasin after defecting to the NPN from the UPN.

May we never see such senseless violence again in the name of politics.

But there’s a slight problem with all of this.

Dr Rahman Olusegun Mimiko [pronounced Mee Mee Ko…I am an Ondo man so I can show off!] has now been sworn in as Governor of Ondo state almost 2 years after the elections he apparently won took place.
As commendable as the judiciary has been since the April 2007 elections, more needs to be done.

We cant be having people in executive office for 2 years before realising they werent meant to be there in the first place.
What’s to stop an incumbent, who knows he has no chance of winning reelection, from rigging the elections as brazenly as possible knowing fully well that it will take another 2 years for him to be removed from office.

Nigeria doesnt have 2 minutes to waste…never mind 2 years.
The original judgement in the case was delivered on 29th of July 2008.
The appeal took another 7 months to conclude!
What do you reckon Dr Agagu was doing in the state house in those 7 months? Especially as it was  pretty obvious he wasnt going to win the appeal.

We must avoid a situation where politicians begin to view the slow pace of justice in Nigeria as an ‘opportunity’ to be manipulated to their advantage.

There’s a slightly similar case being played out in America at the moment.
Since November 2008 one time funny man, Al Franken and Senator Norm Coleman have been haggling over something like 400 votes…less than 1pct of the total votes cast.
Al Franken has now been declared the winner of the election but he wont be seated in the Senate until Norm Coleman has exhausted all appeals available to him.

In fairness, a Senator is very different from a Governor and the United States Senate can function very well with one less Senator.
But the principle to be learned here is that people ought not to be given any authority or paraphenelia of office until the courts have declared their elections as final.

There is no easy solution to this problem because even if the tribunals work overtime and reach a verdict during the transition period, the case can still get slowed down if the loser decides to go to the Appeal Court.
The only way is probably for electoral cases to be fast tracked through the courts in the transition period.

The other slightly worrying development from this case was that out of 276,938 votes that were cast during the election, only 152,474 were eventually accepted by the courts as valid votes.
In effect Dr Mimiko has been declared the governor of Ondo State based on a plurality of 55% of the votes….hmmmm.

Again there’s danger ahead here.
Very soon we will have people being elected based on a majority of the minority if we are not careful.
As usual it’s the ordinary people who suffer when 2 Seguns fight.
In this instance, the entire votes from Irele and Ilaje local governments were nullified…..thus depriving the people of those areas of the chance to speak.
I suppose the Judges had no choice to do this when names like Michael Jackson and Palm Kernels were appearing on the list of voters.

Nevertheless we must not get into the habit of silencing the votes of some people no matter the situation.
Mimicry of the Mimiko case must not be allowed to happen again in any shape or form.

Our democracy is far from ideal and as Barack Obama said recently, sometimes we musnt let the perfect get in the way of the achievable….so I am toasting this victory for the rule of law.

Dr Mimiko appears to be a very smart and thorough man.
Let’s hope he exhibits the same levels of energy and tirelessness when it comes to the actual job of governing.

Ale o egin, wo kubo

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