Since the week, there have been serial defeats and serial victories from the rulings of the Election Petition Tribunal. But, I declare that, in a sense, there is no victor, no vanquished. There is no loser, no winner. We have only one victor and one winner and that is our state, Abia, constituted by the people and the masses of our constituencies; the people whose will and aspirations have been upheld by the impartial judiciary, the last bastion of hope for the masses.
This lies our spirit and our attitude as government over the rulings by the Election Petition Tribunal. The victories are not the victories of individual ambition or the victories of a party but the victories of the standards of democracy. To Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, it is the victory of our state over any fettering chain that will draw us backward. It is the triumph of the new spirit with which he intends to expand the frontiers of our human existence as one people united by our common ancestry as Abians.
We have not won a war and therefore there are no captives and no prisoners of war. We have merely won the wishes of the people. We have only ensured that their hope and aspirations are not thwarted; that their divine mandate is not hijacked. The law and the tribunal have only defended the will and soul of the people of Abia and we are only witnesses to the smooth berth of the wheel of justice.
After the elections, the Governor moved away from politics to governance. Abia and all her citizens both home and abroad are the subjects of the Governor. From the thick rainforest of Ukwa East to the rolling hills of Arochukwu and Umuneochie, the Governor has stamped his feet with development projects. The victor is Abia and the vanquished are all the cankerworms that have held us backward like ghost worker syndrome, paddling of vouchers, inflation of contract rates, crime and banditry, visionless leadership, etc.
Thus, there was no need for the kind of timid reactions by the members and supporters of the major opposition group who, having lost out in the Appeal Court ruling and the other rulings of the State Tribunal, took to the streets and resorted to violent demonstration as a reaction to the rulings. The scene created by these misguided elements along the Umuahia/Ikot Ekpene Road on Tuesday after the ruling on the National Assembly petitions that caused a breach of peace was glaringly uncalled for. The planned importation of thugs into the state and instigation of members of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOP) against the state was quite unnecessary.
Their aim was to create an atmosphere of pandemonium and thereby portray the state as being in crisis over the rulings that mostly favoured the ruling party, PDP. It was a desperate strategy directed entirely to blackmail the tribunal into perverting the course of justice by giving the impression that there is a total breakdown of law and order as a result of the tribunal rulings. Regrettably, it fell flat and has been badly counterproductive.
I wonder why APGA will take to this tattered route. They have always boasted of having an unflinching faith in the tribunal, of a strong faith that the tribunal will dispense justice accordingly. An APGA apologist had run a serial media campaign with the title, waiting on the Wheel of Justice. But, yesterday, they held a press conference in which they made uncharitable statements to malign the integrity of the jurists. They are now blackmailing the judges of the tribunal, accusing them of having been bribed with monetary gratification and having been compromised with houses worth N6 billion each in Atlanta, USA. Their problem now is not about the wheel of justice but about the recipient of justice. Hypocrisy!
I call the leaders of APGA to the responsibility of statesmanship. The test of statesmanship is to win gallantly and lose gallantly. A statesman must exercise the maturity to win with honour and lose with honour. In any situation, what are at stake are the state and the community and not the individual ambition. Former President Goodluck Jonathan raised that bar for Nigerians and for this singular act alone, his name shall ever remain indelible in the hall of fame. His portrait shall ever stand on the honour’s gallery.
In view of the unfolding scenario, it has become imperative to remind APGA and their overzealous members not to take the calm and accommodating disposition of the government for granted as the government will not allow any breach of peace or any attempt to create insecurity in the state. This will surely be resisted with the full weight of the law. All citizens should respect the rule of law and respect the judiciary as an impartial arbiter of justice. If APGA members have had a bad case in the tribunal, there is still a window in the appeal court. The right recourse is not to take to the streets or resort to creating mayhem.
We are therefore appealing to all citizens to remain law abiding and not to dare the might of power. The first mandate of government is the maintenance of law and order and protection of lives and property and therefore the government cannot fold its arms and watch a group foment trouble or cause chaos in order to disturb the peace in the state.
There is no victor; there is no vanquished. Our state and democracy are the winners.
Adindu is the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia State Governor