The past has a way of catching up with humanity. No matter how far gone or how fast we run, it takes only a second for the past to level up with us. The experience thrown up in contemporary Nigerian politics attest to the truth of this conclusion. In less than a year after the present dispensation was inaugurated, two leading political actors namely Evan(s) Enwerem and Salisu Ibrahim were indicted for possessing multiple personalities and fake certificates respectively.
Both actors were members of the National Assembly. Enwerem was Senate President, while Salisu was the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. They both lost their offices with ignominy and brought public ridicule to the legislature as well as their political party. The matter became a reference point whenever the veracity or authenticity of certificates presented by Nigerian politicians is made subject matter of discourse. This trend has been quite dominant since 1999 when the ongoing civil dispensation kicked off. Many politicians, men and women, realizing the importance of education often pad their curriculum vitae with degrees they never acquired. Others have had to pay mercenaries to sit and write examinations for them. Such has been the craze for paper qualification. The list of Nigerian politicians who walked this shameful path is long.
The most recent disastrous example was the case of the 2019 Bayelsa State governor-elect, David Lyon. The man got the governorship ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and contested the governorship election in Bayelsa State and won. He celebrated and was actually at the venue of the swearing in ceremony rehearsing to be sworn in as Governor of Bayelsa State the next day when the bombshell sacking him came through a Supreme Court judgment. What happened? Lyon’s running mate who was then the Deputy Governor-elect, one Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo supplied contradictory information in his name, certificates and affidavit to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). That act was simply that of multiple personalities and multiple certificates rolled up in one person. Political opponents went to court and the matter ran its course with the Supreme Court sacking not just Degi-Eremienyo, but David Lyon! Thus what was supposed to be a tenure as Governor of Bayelsa State never took off.
The foregoing scenario is about to be replicated in Delta State. Deltans and Nigerians were shocked to discover that one of the aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) exists in about five multiple personalities with names that are in strong contradiction with all the certificates he presented. The wide gaps, more than a generational gap, in the dates when the qualifications were acquired all point to massive certificate fraud. History has a way of repeating itself because Governor Diri Duoye who is the beneficiary of the punishment in the Bayelsa case of multiple personalities and multiple certificates was the Chairman of the PDP Governorship Aspirants Screening Committee in Delta State. Those who knew what went on during the screening exercise confirmed that Governor Duoye was at pains over the discovery and that the Committee was most unwilling to screen and clear the said aspirant. But pressure prevailed and the aspirant was belatedly cleared.
The PDP in Delta State must see that aspirant as “bad market” despite the forces propelling him. This is where the Delta State PDP delegates must secure the honour and fortune of the party in Delta State so that what happened in Bayelsa State will not happen in Delta State. Bayelsa State is next door to Delta State. Political gladiators, especially of the APC, are watching to see whether the forces pushing the aspirant with the multiple personalities and multiple certificates will succeed. If they do, then Bayelsa will happen in Delta State. This is too big a risk and embarrassment for the PDP in Delta State and it must not be allowed to happen.
Delta State is too enlightened and too forward looking a State to be governed by those whose personalities, integrity and certificates have been called to question. This is a taboo that should not happen. Right now, the ball is in the court of the PDP delegates who must protect the integrity of the party and also ensure that the party does not lose Delta State. In one accord, party leaders, members and delegates must be united to avert this looming disaster. If allowed to happen, then it is farewell to the PDP in Delta State because as it is in Nigerian politics, the party in power attracts followership more than the one in opposition. It must be emphasized that the PDP cannot be an opposition in Delta State.
The national leadership of the PDP should also take a serious look at the matter and ensure that only an aspirant without such controversial multiple personalities and multiple certificates becomes the party’s candidate in Delta State. This is to ensure that the party does not lose Delta State. Delta State remains a significant factor of reckoning in the national affairs of the PDP. It is for this reason that the national leadership of the party must intervene and make sure that Bayelsa does not happen in Delta State.
Kubeyinje writes from Warri.