Nasarawa guber: Ombugadu, PDP and the recourse to blackmail 

 

Even when the 2023 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon David Ombugadu, and his party have gone to the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Governor Abdullahi Sule by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as duly elected governor of Nasarawa state, there is every indication that the duo are resorting to media trial and blackmail in order to attract public sympathy. 

While it’s incumbent on both Ombugadu and the PDP as petitioners challenging the election of Sule to ensure that their petition is established on the law, their recourse to media trial and blackmail shows clear desperation and lack of confidence in the veracity of their claims.

First, the lingering protest by supporters of the PDP, mostly widows of murdered security operatives hired to display nudity to the consternation of the discerning general public, as well as the relentless falsehood propagated on daily basis in a section of the media, are aimed to evoke public sympathy on a case that has since been lost at the polling units.

In their characteristic effort to blackmail members of the tribunal, Ombugadu and the PDP took to the media to create an illusionary image of a disturbed Governor Sule, merely because the tribunal admitted four witnesses belonging to the petitioner.

In a report titled “Nasarawa guber: Tension grips Gov. Sule, as tribunal admits Ombugadu’s 4 witnesses”, published in an online news media, it was alleged that the governor was apprehensive following the tribunal’s decision to admit the four witnesses standing for Ombugadu and his party.

This is outright falsehood as Governor Sule did not even bat an eyelid over the matter. Instead, and as the time of filing the said report, the governor was away in Lagos, having joined his colleagues in Abuja to travel to Lagos on Sallah homage to President Bola Tinubu.

If Ombugadu and the PDP are certain of their claims, why don’t they just pursue their matter before the tribunal instead of resorting to propaganda on the pages of newspapers and on television. 

Prior to the report mentioned above, Ombugadu and the PDP had earlier sought to malign and blackmail the INEC when they accused the body of frustrating their case at the governorship tribunal.

Spokesman of the opposition party in the state, Mallam Ibrahim Hamza, claimed that despite the tribunal’s order, INEC officials have refused them access to electoral documents for inspection.

This move however did not appear to Ombugadu and his party that they are only trying to be jurors in their own case. If indeed Ombugadu is confident and convinced on the falsehood being propagated by his party suggesting that the governorship election was manipulated in favour of the ruling APC, why the campaign of calumny against Governor Sule and INEC?

This allegation against INEC by the PDP is coming against the backdrop that the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has assured that the commission has nothing to hide.

In a recent response to similar claims by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, the INEC boss assured that resident electoral commissioners in states would also make available necessary documents to the party speedily.

The PDP and its governorship candidate in Nasarawa appear to have thrown all caution to the winds in their collective amnesia about the outcome of the 2023 guber election in which citizens of the state vehemently resisted the temptation to introduce religion and tribe into the politics of the state.

The people of Nasarawa state jointly and variously asserted their abiding trust in the leadership of Sule by turning up en masse to reelect him for another term in office in an election adjudged fair and transparent.

The continuous recourse to primordial sentiments instead of focusing on the weight of its argument before the tribunal exposes Ombugadu and the PDP as the proverbial Nigerian politician and party that never loses at the polls unless they are rigged.

Celebrating the acceptance of witnesses by the election petition tribunal is premature as it remains to be seen what these witnesses can bring to the table. 

Ombugadu and his party were thrashed by Governor Sule back in 2019. Ombugadu resorted to the courts then and was again defeated. Unlike in 2019, the level of desperation is such that Ombugadu and his party appear in a hurry to procure favourable judgment not from the election petition tribunal bit from the courts of public opinion. 

This, indeed, informed their resolve to embark on relentless media trial and blackmail against Governor Sule, INEC and any other constitutionally recognised agencies with the capacity to call their bluff and expose their lies.

Abare, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lafia, Nasarawa state.