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Two pernicious political scenarios are presently playing out in Nigeria, and if they are not strangled before noon, will inflict an incurable injury on Nigeria’s democracy, thereby compounding the woes of what has been a stunted democratic growth during the last 23 years.
In Yobe Northern Senatorial District of Northern Nigeria, incumbent Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who contested the All Progressives Congress, APC presidential primaries and lost the ticket to Bola Tinubu, is ordering Mr. Bashir Sheriff Machina, who legitimately won to step down for him. He is desperate to occupy a position for which he was never voted.
Also, in the Southern part of Nigeria, precisely Cross River Northern Senatorial District, Governor Ben Ayade, who contested APC presidential primaries and lost to Tinubu, is mounting enormous pressure on his erstwhile Chief of Staff, Martin Orim to surrender the senatorial ticket he won to him.
It is utterly distasteful that politicians are displaying this crude sense of entitlement and arrogance, to the extent that they want to occupy an elective office for which they did not submit themselves to the rigorous process of an election. That has to be the nadir of any dysfunctional society, and we’re not going to let it happen.
On April 26, 2022, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade declared to run for the Office of President of Nigeria and adopted “Afrotionism” as his campaign slogan. Two days later, on April 28, his Chief of Staff at the time, Mr. Martin Orim took to his Facebook account to announce that he was going to stand for senatorial elections in the Cross River Northern Senatorial District. Announcing on Facebook, Martin wrote: “It’s settled, I’m officially in the race for the Senate of Cross North.”
However, conscious of the gloom hovering over his presidential ambition, Mr. Ayade covertly purchased a senatorial form as a backup. News broke during the senatorial election of May 28 that the Governor had been defeated at the polls, but he emphatically repudiated the reports through his Chief Press Secretary, Christian Ita.
I respectfully crave the indulgence of my readers to quote relevant portions of Christian Ita’s statement in which he announced that his principal never participated in the May 28 senatorial primary election of the APC and how he acknowledged Martin Orim as the winner of the primary election.
Ita’s press release on behalf of his principal, with reference number: GO/PRESS/012/VOL.II/221, partly reads: “For the avoidance of doubt, we hereby state clearly that Governor Ayade did not take part in any senatorial primaries.
“His Excellency is a presidential aspirant who will be taking part in the APC presidential convention now slated for June 6.
“The only valid and recognized senatorial primaries that took place in Ogoja and which was won by the former Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. Martin Orim, which does not have Ayade on the ballot, was monitored by the INEC and representatives from APC’s national secretariat.”
Now, despite the Governor’s public admission that he did not participate in APC’s senatorial primaries of Cross River North, CrossRiverWatch is reporting that Governor Ayade is harassing Martin Orim to surrender his senatorial ticket to him. He is also insisting that Martin Orim should do so in writing.
I am compelled to write this treatise for two cardinal reasons: firstly, and most importantly, in the interest of justice and fairness. Secondly, this matter affects me directly being that I am also from Cross River North. I will therefore not be found perching on the fence when the future and will of our people are on the verge of being abducted by a Governor who should have legitimately made himself available for the primaries if being a Senator was his priority, but chose to run for president even when he knew victory for him was a pipe dream.
Consequently, it is my sustained argument that Ayade lost every right to the senatorial ticket when he willfully decided to embark on a wild goose chase for a presidential ticket in Abuja. I, therefore, call on him to respect himself and equally respect the collective will of the delegates who voted for Martin Orim on May 28, 2022.
Martin Orim, on his part, must resist every form of intimidation or harassment from Governor Ben Ayade who wants to sneak into the senatorial office through the back window. This Governor does not own any part of Cross River State, and as such he is devoid of the competence to assume that he is empowered to appropriate whatever he desires. This lawlessness will meet the stiffest resistance.
Martin Orim has the obligation to defend the mandate that was handed to him by the free will of the people. Any attempt to surrender Cross River North’s Senatorial ticket to Ben Ayade will amount to an outright betrayal of the people’s will, and this will ultimately cast a dark cloud over his political adventures in the future.
Both Ayade and Martin Orim must live with their decisions and choices, for there shall be no substitution. This is not a football match.
Elias Ozikpu, a playwright, polemicist, human rights activist, and citizen journalist, is a Cross Riverian and writes from Abuja.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Elias Ozikpu, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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