The last 10 months has witnessed a plethora of electoral and judicial battles among political gladiators in the Cross River North Senatorial District. Dr Steve Odey and Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe have been at each other’s jugular as they battle to secure that seat in the National Assembly, after the death of Senator Rose Oko.
From a contest within the PDP to the high court, to the court of appeal, to the supreme court on one hand, and then from the elections petition tribunal and finally to the appeal court, the two sons of Cross River State fought with everything they had.
The two were contesting basically about the candidacy of the PDP for the election. Each of them claimed to have been rightly and validly nominated by the PDP for the election. Interestingly, the two of them went into the election as candidates. And the two of them also got certificates of return from INEC.
Odey was eventually sworn-in as senator for that seat. But Jarigbe refused to give up. He insisted that it was his right to be inaugurated as senator, having met all the electoral and judicial requirements.
And on Friday, July 30, the contest ended when the court of appeal, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Chioma Ihieme ordered that it was a misnomer for INEC to have issued a certificate of return to Odey and also ordered that the certificate issued to Jarigbe remained valid and that he should be so inaugurated to take the seat.
With the judgement, Odey has ceased to be called a senator. And it is expected that when the National Assembly resumes in September, Jarigbe would be inaugurated as senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent the Cross River North Senatorial District.
The political chess between Odey and Jarigbe has ended, in the real sense of the word. That is how every game should be. There must always be a winner and a loser. But what happens after the battle is the most important thing.
In this case, what happens between Odey and Jarigbe is much more important than the battle they fought before the July 30 judgement which declared Jarigbe as winner of the election. This is why we believe that Odey should congratulate Jarigbe and then think of how he can support Jarigbe to make things work for the people of that senatorial district.
We also believe that Jarigbe should be magnanimous in victory. He should take deliberate steps to meet his brother Odey and exchange banters, give themselves same warm embrace and then a slap on the wrist, while also exchanging ideas on how the senatorial district will become better, knowing that the people have already lost 10 months as a result of their fight.
In politics, there shouldn’t be anything like permanent enemy. It is always about interest and since one person has emerged winner after the prolonged battle, the time has come for them to bury the events of the past and move their senatorial district forward.