By Amaka Ogunjobi
With the expiration of the 21 days within which candidates are allowed to file and amend election petitions at the tribunal, all eyes are now on the Nigerian Judiciary in what may well turn out to be the most important judicial proceedings in the history of the country.
Last week, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), responded to petitions filed by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, His Excellency Peter Obi, as well as that of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) asking the tribunal to dismiss their cases. On the heels of their response, the tribunal is expected to announce dates for commencement of proceedings.The questions on the mind of many Nigerians include:
1). Can the tribunal be trusted to deliver the right judgment?
2). Can the tribunal deliver its judgement before the May 29th handover date?
3). Is it mandatory for the winner of the Presidential election to score 25% votes in the FCT?
Perhaps the most important question, especially for Obidients is, what if the tribunal upholds the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President? What if the tribunal dismisses all the petitions raised against the APC and its presidential candidate?
Of course the petitioners still have the option of proceeding to the Supreme Court, however what if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling of the tribunal?
While I applaud the Obidient Movement for their resilience and putting up a formidable opposition to the shenanigans of the ruling APC, they also need to come to terms with reality and the fact that a winner of the Presidential election has been declared and he will be sworn in on May 29th.
Our constitution does not recognize the place of an Interim Government (ING) and there will be no vacuum in governance. On May 29th, the declared winner of the Presidential election will be sworn in except the tribunal rules otherwise before that date – one cannot as well predict how long an appeal would take.
What then are the options before the Obidient Movement going forward? Form a formidable opposition base and hold the government accountable. Strategically organise instead of consistently agonizing online. No matter how much we shout or wail, it will not change the technical interpretation of Nigeria’s constitution or the law.
Threatening members of the tribunal or making derogatory remarks against the judiciary won’t make them issue a ruling in our favor. One thing we can do, is set standards with which we can hold the incoming administration accountable in its delivery of the dividends of democracy as well as its campaign promises to Nigerians.
Again, I admonish us to tone down the heat and the verbal altercations online. Let’s be civil in our communications. We can disagree without insulting one another or setting the nation on fire with our unguided utterances. We have no other home but Nigeria.