Democratic Legitimacy, Supreme Court and the Imo Crisis 1

Democratic Legitimacy, Supreme Court and the Imo Crisis

By: Ralph Achalonu

Within the last twenty years, Imo State has been grappling and even grooving in the dark on how to reset its governance system. The peculiarities of the Nigerian democracy is compounded by leadership recruitment process. Such that Imo State has regrettably become a victim in bounds.

In 2019, Imo voters had hoped that the governorship election would provide for them a platform to squarely address the democratic deficit of past administrations and their sordid experiences. It was an occasion that the voters had longed for to deploy their democratic rights as given by the universal adult suffrage to every man and woman to cast his or her vote.

While the Imo voters kept to their faith, and voted Hon. Emeka Ihedioha into office as roadmap to reset Imo for good governance and development, the Nigerian state, this time, the Supreme Court as a democratic institution had a different thought. On 14th January, 2020 in the peak of Coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court nullified the legitimate mandate of Imo voters and took their votes and gave to Sen. Hope Uzodinma, a candidate that came fourth. A candidate whose party and his candidature had already been nullified by the same Supreme Court in the case of Uche Nwosu vs APP & Others.

It is this miscarriage of justice propelled by the Nigerian state and powerful forces in Abuja and the nation’s ruling party that has landed Imo in unimaginable political crisis. By the very decision of the Court which denied Imo voters of their democratic rights, the Supreme Court had given political power to an occupant without the legitimacy. In a democracy, legitimacy is very sacrosanct.

While this writer do not in any way intend to question or disparage the Supreme Court, it is shocking that for nearly a year now, the appeal for the enforcement of the judgement in the case of Uche Nwosu vs APP & Others/SC.1384/2019 have been laying fallow for so long. This seeming delay and the inability of the Supreme Court to take action is responsible for the deplorable condition Imo is facing at present.

Of a truth, Uzodinma is fighting a two prong wars. One is to curry favour from Abuja; the other is exert himself and force legitimacy from the people. Democratic legitimacy cannot be gotten through fiat or brute force. It’s derived democratically, specifically, through elections and the ballot box.

It is pathetic that Imo people have to go through this sad experience. Uzodinma’s quest to brutally gain legitimacy has resulted in political crisis, whereby, governance and development in the state hs taken a back seat. Even at that, Uzodinma’s penchant to resort to self-help without exploring all the democratically recognized institutions of law and other has escalated the crisis in the state.

On the other hand, Sen. Rochas Okorocha’s resolve to dare the state government is indirectly an attempt to exert power and prove that the government in Imo lacks legitimacy. The issue of legitimacy is at the core of the ongoing crisis in the state. These squabbles are all the footprints of the crisis of legitimacy in Imo State.

Further, the current crisis has left Imo state lagging behind in many respects. Because of the leadership gap and the legitimacy question, the Okigwe Zone, today do not have a Senator on the floor of the Nigerian Senate. Imo State now suffers from an avalanche of crisis from political, leadership, government and worst still, development..

That notwithstanding, Imo citizens will never lose faith on the Supreme Court as a democratic institution. We have the hope that if the Supreme Court expeditiously re-examine its judgement on the Uche Nwosu vs APP & Others matters, just will surely be done. Imo State deserves a more democratic atmosphere and rancor-free politics, this prospect of sane leadership and good governance will never be feasible. Let the Supreme Court acts now.

Achalonu, is a public affairs analyst, he wrote from Owerri, Imo State capital.

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