This may be coming a little too late but it’s still worth going on record. Tola.
While a court case over election outcome in Nigeria is not necessarily a given that the candidate who has gone to court to ask for prayers has been really aggrieved, Soremekun’s choice as the Returning Officer for Ondo’s governorship elections raises definitely questions.
Professor Kayode Soremekun is the Vice-Chancellor (academic head in Nigeria’s educational system) of a “federal” university, and Nigeria’s electoral body is ruled by the central government.
Now, in the matter of serving as a Returning Officer, i.e. the person in charge of overseeing the collation of results from different parts of a state or the entire country in the case of a presidential elections, I do not believe a PhD is needed to do the job and acquit oneself well in doing the job.
Having said that, things are never what they seem in Nigeria. Many returning officers over many elections have ruined their reputations – at least those that had earned any before venturing into vote counting even as judges, professors, et cetera – after taking appointments that most Nigerians believe earned them lucrative illicit earnings.
While not saying that Kayode Soremekun took under-handed payments for what led to the problem at Edo, it is not only amazing but downright insensitive that the same man who served in a capacity that resulted in an election being declared as “rigged” would be the only vice chancellor of the only “federal” university of the only Yoruba State – Oye, Ekiti) to be found suitable for the Ondo State job.
As Ekiti’s worthy son, the much-hated (by some) and much-loved by many (in Ekiti State and all over Nigeria now, if comments on online news-sites are indications) put it in his devil-may-care language:
“The questions that came to my mind were is Prof Kayode Soremekun Ṣthe only Vice Chancellor in Nigeria? Is FUOYE the only federal university in Nigeria? Is Ekiti the only State where INEC can find Returning Officers?”
A question that must also be asked is: how come a vice-chancellor of a university has so much time to keep on being invited to serve as a returning officer when most Nigerian universities have tons of problems on their hands, newly-founded Oye (under years old), especially?
INEC has shown it’s no unbiased umpire in the decisions it has taken, and it would be really sad if Ondo is thrown into chaos – AGAIN – due to meddling from Abuja despite Mimiko’s exoneration of the president. In Nigeria, FEDECO … INEC have never been “independent” no matter the tags on the various names this and past electoral bodies have been given.
Why must the old Ondo Province – now Ekiti and Ondo States – be always so coveted by the succeeding central governments and/or their electoral bodies that they never tire of setting events that led and could lead to conflagration in motion. Former President Obasanjo was so hell-bent on “capturing” Ekiti that Returning Officer Madam Ayoka Adebayo’s “conscience” which purportedly made her refuse to declare Obasanjo’s candidate as winner a governorship candidate soon deserted her. Ekitis and millions of Nigerians will never forget the widespread violence that followed the brigandage and brazen rigging of the elections that saw late Yar Adua become president in 2007.
Ondo, too, has been a theatre of political war that have seen – twice – hundreds lose their lives and properties. In 1983, a man I actually knew, Ọga Awọ̀lọ̀ – Chief Olaiya Fagbamigbe of eponymous publishing house who had not the instincts but the political ambition which he joined at a very wrong time AND on the very wrong side of the mainstream, was roasted alive just like many people in today’s Ondo State.
And under Obasanjo, a forerunner of Kayode Soremekun as Returning Officer gained infamy when a “popularly elected” [late] Dr. Agagu was so scared of remaining in his state’s capital city – Akure – that he had to escape from his “teeming supporters” in the dead of night to Abuja, the “federal” capital – over 400 kilometers away – to be declared “winner”. Agagu would later lose in the courts to the real winner, Mimiko, the present governor whose term ends in April.
With all these past misdeeds and wrong-doings to us in Ekiti and Ondo States, one would imagine the president not only knowing [if] he has no hands in the shenanigans of an election that INEC is determined to conduct 2 days after a candidate gets back his chance – through the courts – to contest but that he must show the leadership called for to order INEC to cut off its partisanship that shows APC – judging by statements by ALL three major parties for the election.
What is more – the president was at Akure a few days ago for the APC candidate’s rally to support him, and is therefore a very interested partisan party.
I’m sure it still can be done IF the will is there: the professor from Oye should be ordered back to his institution where I’m sure he must have issues needing his attention and if there’s a fixation for university VCs, I’m sure there are many Yoruba – should not have to be from Ekiti – among whom one can easily be found from private or public universities.
Four years ago during a year-long sojourn at Akure, I wrote on this blog what I told many people in discussions about [then] coming Ondo elections: that Akeredolu who happened to sit around the same area where I sit at church in Ibadan, had no chance against the incumbent, Mimiko, in the elections. As somebody else used to put it when we discussed back then at Ibadan, “It is not a matter of APC controlling the West but if Akeredolu could can win, it may be at Ibadan …” The manicurist I’ve patronized for years called me the day after the elections at Akure: “Mommy, Ẹ ma sọ bẹ! [Mommy, you said so!]
This time, though, I really cannot make a prediction because unlike 2012, I am far away even though I remain a home-girl whose heart lies smack in the middle of Ekiti and Ondo States. All I can conjecture is that Olu Agunloye should be able to win Akoko Division; Akeredolu should win old Owo Division; Oke should win old Okitipupa Division [the Waterside, now called “Coastal area” while Jegede, as Mimiko’s Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner should win old Akure and Ondo Divisions – his Akure Division and Mimiko’s Ondo Division – as things go in Nigeria, generally and is all I can say as one who has not been to the State since May this year. My sister, who lives at Akure and travels fairly well within the state has an informed “either/or” pick for winner but I cannot impose that here.
The president must not be so determined about 2019 – most in Western Nigeria are, to say the least, displeased about what he has made of the 2015 mandate they overwhelmingly gave him – that he’s ready and willing to throw Yorubas under the bus of his ambition.
Ondo State people must be given a chance to choose whom they actually want to rule them. Ibrahim, who cannot win any statewide election has rightly been sent packing by the court despite his support by INEC. The remaining candidates: Agunloye, Akeredolu, Jẹgẹdẹ and Oke have fought gallantly and Ondo voters must be allowed to decide who they want to cast their lot with.
Excerpts: Today, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the ACN, rules in six of those seven states except Ondo and wants to add Ondo to its ranks but it has NOT done it the proper way but this essay cannot go into the histrionics that landed us here. Suffice to refer to the fact that I have written quite a few times, pleading that the leadership of the ACN reconsiders its route to a proper “integration of the Southwest”.
Now, Action Congress’ Rotimi Akeredolu’s case is interesting. He’s had so much press via The Nation that people still asked me as late as yesterday – Friday – how I believe he cannot win. Simple: Mr. Akeredolu is a candidate who is not known enough in Ondo State to be accepted but more important, Ondo State indigenes want Segun Mimiko to continue the vast changes he has brought to the State.
When we arrived at Akure in September last year, most major roads were in various stages of disrepair. To get to St. David’s Church, Ijomu (where I was confirmed October 26, 1965, and which we attend when at Akure), your car would do dances of death and your inside, especially if you are no spring chicken, would cry, and I’m not kidding! Meanwhile, on the major old Bourdillon Road which I learnt at the time was now rightly christened Oba Adesida Road, you’d spend a lot of time to drive from the Alagbaka end to what we knew as Oke Igan – now New Garage.
The Action Congress Party leadership under Chief Akande and Asiwaju Tinubu must go back to the drawing board IF it is really serious about “integration” of the southwest. The name-calling and abusive language must stop and we must see each other as equal inheritors of Awo’s legacy. I’m sure Awo would approve of Segun Mimiko’s efforts at Ondo and it does not help for Chief Akande to label anyone who supports what is going on in the state as “political prostitute”. It’s not a way an old man – I’m old, too! – should end what was a sterling political career, especially his leadership at Osun where he worked wonders with very little resources.
Attempts to throw out Ondo State and claim a unified Yoruba-land is bound to fail and may be insincere. A way must be found by Action Congress’ leadership to integrate the whole of the Southwest with Ondo not just because as I once pointed out that it’s impossible to go to Edo without going through Ondo State for the planned railroad but because of Ondo’s natural resources which seem what everybody is eyeing. [The whole essay can be read through the link below.]
Comments worth sharing: Mimiko’s re-election & aso oke for wedding mail answered, October 31, 2012
From my firstname.lastname@example.org Mail Box”
Mimiko’s re-election, Yoruba aso oke for traditional wedding
How are U, Ma? Thanks for ALL your postings. I particularly took note of your prediction of Mimiko’s re election and based my arguments in his favor using your data I also visited Akure before the elections and was impressed. Although I am still a strong ACN sympathizer, Mimiko deserves some respect.
Ma, my daughter is preparing for her wedding in Feb 2013 she was so delighted with your posting on the Aso Oke as I forwarded it to her. The Fashola cap enlivened our discussions
Dosu [Last name withheld]
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2016. 9:48 p.m. [GMT]