Last Saturday, I attended a highbrow prayer session somewhere in the deep south. Highbrow because, in this age of eccentric anti-establishment public cynicism, a sympathiser or insider must devise pro-government lexicon. As the event crawled towards the culmination, a sensitive remark forced my focus to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Sir Celestine Omehia and Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON.
I always thought people in government didn’t have the balls to voice naked sentiments. Not so this in-house reverend gentleman. While rounding off his message on divine favour, the homilist opined that but for God’s mercy and love no human being would deserve this blessing. Then, he dropped the verbal bomb: ‘even some of us in this hall, if God were to display our heart (towards this governor) on these television screens, all hell would break loose.’
With the hall slipping into graveyard-like mode, my mind wandered to the incumbent’s predecessors recalling how an alarming majority of their hosanna choristers deserted them after office. I wept in advance for this governor. My thoughts drifted to some former leaders abandoned by the people, around the country. Strangely, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.) and Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo never came into the picture: the three don’t look at all like people abandoned!
I shook my head when I remembered Dr. Jonathan, more for the thousand and one near misses of those promising five years. For Sir Celestine, the Rivers governor ousted by the Supreme Court in October, 2007 after just four, five months, I wondered why he has allowed that misfortune to rapture him permanently out of politics. When my mind’s eye settled on the immediate past governor of Imo state, I found myself -like in a trance- smiling so triumphantly. I pictured him from behind identified by his inevitable stylish green cap locked away in a go-to-hell embrace with Lady Ebere Ihedioha who herself wore the most genuine smile Nigerian politics has seen since 1999.
I recognised the photo, instanta. It had gone viral, thanks to Twitter, the day the judicial flood swept away the Ihediohas. Lady Ebere is that wife every man needs. She’s one of the fantastic takeaways from this slight mishap.
The others are: one, from what I ‘see,’ ‘hear’ and ‘know,’ this isn’t and can’t be the last sunset on the Oriental leader’s political career. Two, Politics Nigeriana is one day at a time; not a tenure at a time: no need to procrastinate or fritter away time and resources on frivolities thinking you have a tenure. Those beating 2023 drums of war in 2020 must beware of possible supreme disruptions. Three, some setbacks are a wake-up call: look at how this Ihedioha blow has rallied his party overnight.
The man, whose trademark temperate language even in these heady times deserves commendation, also should enjoy empathy from every person who fears God. Yet, he must discover what the Supreme Being wants him to glean from this ill luck. Is it to learn trust, or patience, or forgiveness, or courage, or humility, or all? Rather than crying over spilled milk, which is what the daily reaction is tantamount to, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives should do what he has to do and thenceforward disappear without one more word to pray and watch -and wait!
Just as I was knocking this piece together, someone I had said some things to the day the Ihedioha news broke forwarded me a Vanguard newspaper entry by the legendary Prof. Tonnie Iredia. Here are some defining extracts that I agree with, one hundred percent. ‘Almost 50 years ago, we had the case of Johnson v Lawanson (1971) 7 NSCC 82 where the Supreme Court found cause to overrule itself. In that case, Justice G. B. A. Coker of the Apex Court made the point that “when the court is faced with the alternative of perpetuating what it is satisfied is an erroneous decision which was reached per incuriam and will, if followed, inflict hardship and injustice upon the generations in the future or of causing temporary disturbances of rights acquired under such a decision, I do not think we shall hesitate to declare the law as we find it.”
‘The decision of the Supreme Court in the Imo governorship case that the exclusion of certain votes was illegal because it was done by unauthorised officials cannot be faulted; it is in (actual) fact a point to be saluted if we must put an end to our history of rancorous elections. But if the addition of the controversial votes creates mathematical errors as we now have, the court ought to correct such clerical error, accidental slip or omission. That is probably what any person would regard as the ordinary meaning of Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules which creates an exception to the rule that a court cannot revisit its own ruling. Thus, nothing in our view stops Emeka Ihedioha from pointing out the apparent error occasioned by the addition of the voting figures approved by the court.’
The conclusion by the former Director General of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) is iconic. ‘All he needs to do is to present an application to the Court for the correction of the error in computing the votes and not to seek an appeal. In other words, Ihedioha must not go to Court to seek a reversal of his case as Andy Uba was wrongly persuaded to do in the Anambra governorship election in 2007. Ihedioha should stop at correcting errors.’
Eureka! That indeed explains the charming smile that enveloped my face over the weekend. I saw a window through which our supreme principalities of law could prove clean and clear that their infallibility and finality do not tolerate injustice. Even if that window fails, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON should not lose hope that greater hope comes after hope: just a little time.
God bless Nigeria!