The late kurist, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, who at a point was known as the Socrates of our time, once noted that “the verdicts of the Supreme Court are not final because they are infallible, but they are infallible because they are final.” Oputa operated at the Bar and the Bench and had enough experience to make such comments as the one above.
The verdict of the Supreme Court concerning the gubernatorial election in Imo State, wherein Senator Hope Uzodinma was declared winner in place of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who had been in the saddle for seven months and had begun to dig in and make impact in governance before he was cut short by the Supreme Court, has elicited wide criticism, and even protests. Imo people, via the protests, say Uzodinma did not win the largest number of popular votes in the election that brought him to power. A simple survey in the state shows that his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), has no seat in the state assembly, yet the election that the Supreme Court has declared him winner took place the same day. Logical extrapolation from the foregoing is that Uzodinma did not win the majority of votes cast in that election.
But the senator insisted that his votes were not collated at the polling units, which was why he came a distant fourth in the vote. His opponents said the votes he was brandishing were concocted and the product of forgery. But no one has explained why the said votes were duly signed by authorized officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The election tribunal and the appeal court agreed that the said votes might have been compromised, but the Supreme Court, in its finality and infallibility, said the votes were not concocted, and added them to Uzodinma’s tally thus making him winner of the election.
And hell was let loose, but the deed had been done. All manner of interpretation has been ascribed to the verdict. There may well be a higher angle to this, one that defies logic and legalese. There were divine interventions on the matter, ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, which, the people say, have truncated their will. But Uzodinma may be a divine intervention, which may defy logic. In 2007, no one gave Ikedi Ohakim a slim chance of mounting the saddle, but by some inexplicable reasons this same People’s Democratic Party had internal problems that denied it the post and Ohakim emerged from a relatively unknown Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and became governor. There is more to power than votes. There is always a divine input in the arithmetic of power. The greatest disservice Governor Uzodinma would do to himself and the state is to discountenance the divine backing to his emergence. It is an open secret that his image would need some laundering, but such would fizzle into insignificance if he puts up a superlative performance. He must cast his net wider than his party in making appointments because his tenure is a make-or-break one. God has given him a lifetime’s opportunity to make a difference. There are strong indications that Ihedioha had put the state on the right footing, which is why Uzodinma does not need to attempt to reinvent the wheel. He could build on what has been set before him, given that the people become ultimate beneficiaries. If the people are top on his agenda, he must put his all into the office and disprove those who say he wants power for the sake of it. He must remember that his emergence has effectively killed zoning in the state because, from Achike Udenwa to Rochas Okorocha, and Hope Uzodinma, Imo has been in the hands of people from Orlu zone, save for Ohakim’s four years.
All odds are stacked against him, but his party has moved ahead to lure members of the majority Peoples Democratic Party. That political move could stabilise him but his greatest stability must come through the instrumentality of performance, for that should justify the divine intervention that brought him to office. Some new prophets have said that Ihedioha still has hope, but like Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka said when he made the revelation of Uzodinma’s emergence, I do not know where Ihedioha’s new hope lies. Imo must be the ultimate beneficiary of whatever political outcome of the new predictions and counter-predictions. For now Uzodinma must act with wisdom, and put the people first. Truth be told, the All Progressive Congress is not popular in the state. Internal wrangling, which made Rochas’ anointed son-in-law emerge on the platform of another party, further balkanized the party. Political expedience calls for unity, and the estranged members are running back and are fortified by the defection of members of the former ruling party in the state. Uzodinma’s growing stability, and the presumed miscarriage of justice by the lordships at the Supreme Court should be to the ultimate benefit of Imo people. The new governor must show the people that his divine emergence is in the interest of the people.
That the APC has become the new political bride in Imo is a clear indication of a clime where ideology and principles play no role in political leanings. The critical implication is that Imo State would glow like a new bride in the wake of political changes in the state. The difference in the new political order must be clear.