By Eberechukwu Lebechi
As Imo State government dig deep its status, and the question of democratic leadership raises again, many are wondering how Imo State got here. The trenches of bad governance, legitimacy crisis, unpopular government and its policies have now become the hallmarks of the Douglas House. It is one of a depressing story, that has caught Imo citizens and electorates unaware and in search of the moral compass about the essence of democracy.
The crisis of governance and leadership that has continued to bedevil Imo State originated from nowhere than the January 14th, 2020 Supreme Court judgement on the case of Uzodinma vs Ihedioha/SC./2019. It is a decision that the democratic powers of Imo State were hunted down in a very troubling way. The sad story now is that while the Supreme Court Jurists in Abuja have moved on from their decision, Imo people are now left to face the consequences of that critical and painful verdict.
Ordinarily, Imo State was supposed to be spared this orgy of democratic misfortunes. But in the ensuing political gimmicks championed within the Nigerian state, those with the muscles, connections and roadmap to high places in Abuja often have the last and powerful say even over the collective will of the people. It is powerful forces that the Nigerian democracy breathes has caused Imo this present political catastrophe.
Uzodinma can afford to swim in the euphoria of the power accord to him by the Supreme Court, but deep down, he is aware that Imo voters never at any particular time extended their mandate and legitimacy to him. The crisis of legitimacy will perpetually remain an albatross to the government that he superintend over.
Further, the most challenging aspects of the Supreme Court’s decision is not about the leadership vacuum and crisis it has created but the developmental gap, Imo State will suffer from within this period. At present, from teachers, pensioners and public service workers in the state are all trapped. The sorry state of infrastructure has even gone worse, with no hope that things will ever get better under the administration.
More importantly, the citizens should see the Supreme Court as a democratic institution that is constantly on the defense of hapless citizens. Doing everything within its constitutional scope to the protect the inalienable rights of the people. Chief among the constitutional rights of the people is the free rights to vote in an election. But when those rights are denied, you have a crisis that ends derailing the very meaning of democracy itself.
In Imo, it is the pain of staying with a Supreme Court decision that has no bearing on the decision of Imo electorates in the 2019 governorship election. While legal luminaries may engage in the extrapolation of what constitutes the law and the arrival of the Supreme Court at such decision, the Imo voter knows where his heart went and the party that he/she gave his or her mandate went to.
The contrary step taken by the Court has tended to betray the mandate and the rights of the people. Rather than the court acting as a safeguard to democracy, it has regrettably expose the Ills of democracy and its institutional leakages and lack of accountability. It is not too late for the Supreme Court to take a second look at that decision. The court upend this catastrophic legal decision by re-examining the case of Uche Nwosu vs APP & Others again. That is what Imo voters deserve. It is the minimal requirement for redress in the midst of a depressing political judgement. Time is key here.
Lebechi, a public commentator, writes from Ehime-Mbano