When in 2015, Smart Adeyemi declared interest to run for third term, to be the voice of Kogi West people at the National Assembly, little did he knew he was going to face the horrendous voyage of his political life. He faced the most excruciating political experience perhaps in the history of modern Nigeria. He was greeted with crude injustice, intimidation and elites conspiracy. The elite and political class who ganged up against him were not interested in his unparalleled political antecedents nor his vibrant representation at the floor of the National Assembly. To them, no one has gotten a third term chance in the state and Adeyemi would not be an exception.
The onslaught started for Adeyemi in August 2015 when he overwhelmingly won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial primaries for the Kogi West senatorial district. In what was adjudged widely credible, free and participatory, Adeyemi defeated his major opponent, Tolorunju Faniyi. It was unprecedented and the people who came out to vote went frenzy celebrating far and wide of the district. It was a victory like never before, a candidate they have always looked up to.
However, the unimaginable happened, the forces of evil reared its ugly pangs, overnight, starting within his party, PDP, as major bigwigs within the party kicked. Senator Tunde Ogbeha (himself, a former two term senator) led the civil war within the party in the Lokoja/Kogi Federal constituency. A highly compromised leadership of the PDP and highly positioned appointees of government were brainwashed to work against Adeyemi in the general election; and they did.
Adeyemi like the two previous elections, won the five council areas in the Okun speaking part of the zone; Kabba/Bunu, Yagba West, Yagba East, Mopamuro and Ijumu. Despite the intra party gang up, Adeyemi led, with Accord Candidate, Sam Aro coming second, while Dino Melaye of APC was third with over 10,000 difference..
But in a dramatic way, his winning streaks was upturned in Lokoja and Kogi council areas as Dino make up the differences in the two council areas, but not without some polling units cancelled in Kogi LGA. Election in the canceled area were re-conducted twice just to pave way for Melaye. And then, the winner suddenly became the loser as Melaye was gifted a surprise victory.
Adeyemi pursued the result to Tribunal, insisting that Dino was holding on to a stolen mandate. Also, for the fact that the APC, did not conduct primary for all their senatorial candidates.
other two senators lost their seat on the same premises of no conduct of Primary, but Melaye wriggled his way out. The state was stunned with such an absurdity as the train of injustice throttle around with offensive impunity.
Adeyemi case was thrown out on ground of technicality. He moved to Appeal Court, a retrial was ordered. The same tribunal judge, Justice Akon Ikpeme knocked it out. Adeyemi Appealed judgement but lost.
However, leaked audio recording of ‘transaction’ between Melaye and the judge surfaced on public glare. Adeyemi petitioned the judge to the Nigeria Judicial Council, NJC, but has to overlook the case when the network provider were not ready to release the call log of the judge unless Adeyemi secured a court order.
by civility and decorum, Adeyemi knew he had exhausted all entreaties with his party who acted the script of deceit and compromise from the party hierarchy. The die was cast, Adeyemi political foot soldiers and associates commanded him to move to the APC who had already formed government at the central.
Few months to the last general election, Dino Melaye returned to PDP, and was compensated with the Senate ticket at the neglects of other aspirants. Adeyemi too contested and won overwhelmingly the APC senate ticket to face Dino once again.
Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared Melaye winner of the February 23 senate poll. Adeyemi studied the scenario and observed all the manipulations, alterations, cancelations, and over voting that characterised the result. Coupled with the fact that the Senatorial collation centre in Kabba was abandoned to announce the result in Lokoja despite a court judgment sought by Dino himself stipulating Kabba. Adeyemi said the change in venue was how the manipulations was carried out.
Again, Adeyemi filed at the Tribunal, who were now sitting in Abuja due to the Judicial staff who were on strike in the state. Adeyemi engaged his political and legal gear with the services and experiences of a seasoned and cerebral lawyer, Chief Tony Adeniyi supported by Barrister Dapo Otitoju; who came hard on the sheer treachery and crass impunity of the system in supplanting a winner for a loser.
The tribunal ruled in his favour, Melaye appealed but lost two months after.
the Appeal court judgment calling for rerun within 90 days, another rematch was cast between him and Dino. Adeyemi deployed all arsenals as he mounted the campaign podiums crisscrossing the length and breadth of his senatorial district while acting as the Director General of Bello/Onoja Campaign organisation, which governorship election came up same day..
The people witnessed real political engagements as he toured every available local government areas in the senatorial district. So coordinated was his campaigns that the people joined in echoing his message of redeeming the image of the zone from the previous occupant.
made the job of the governor very easy in Kogi state as he coordinated the activities of Bello/Onoja campaign. The reward of hard work results to success as Adeyemi didn’t only deliver himself in the senatorial elections by defeating the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party but garnered majority votes for Governor Yahaya Bello in the governorship elections.
Respite came; reason prevailed as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced him on Saturday, November 30 as winner of the Kogi West rerun senatorial election. Senator Smart Adeyemi scored a grand total of 88, 373 to beat Melaye with 62, 133, as the SDP candidate polled 659. A vast margin of 26,240.
Fortnight before the supplementary election, Adeyemi joy of winning was postponed. Even though he polled the highest vote of 80,118 against PDP candidate, Dino Melaye who scored 59,548 with margin of 20,570, but the returning officer, Prof. Olayide Lawal declared the election inconclusive and ordered supplementary elections to be conducted in 53 polling Units where election were cancelled or not conducted. The affected polling units has 46,127 Registered Voters, but 30000 PVC holders. However, the postponement gave Adeyemi opportunity to extend his lead margin.
All is now set for Senator Smart Adeyemi to begin a robust representation in the red chamber of the National Assembly. Though the excruciating legal tussle since 2015 have chop off his time, energy and drained available resources, Adeyemi has a task to deliver for his people just like his first two terms; if not more now.
It was indeed a resounding victory for the good people of Kogi west who now have their hope restored of having not just having a vibrant legislator but one with cultured, moral and behavioural traits.
For Senator Smart Adeyemi, this is indeed a long torturous journey to the Senate for the third term. The first person to achieved the feat in the state.
Now that the odds had kowtowed on his heels, the constricted onslaught of conspiracy has crumbled against him and the reign of truth prevails over evil manipulations, this is Adeyemi’s time to redeemed the image and provide vibrant legislative governance that people of Kogi West yearned for.
– Boluwaji Obahopo, a journalist, writes from Lokoja.