By: Firsts Baba Isa (FBI) Esq.
Find attached the Certificate of Return issued to David Umahi before he was sworn in as Governor.
Get any certificate of any Governor in Nigeria, or any elected official, let’s have this conversation; please, constantly look at the Certificate of Return as we progress.
Section 75 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010, states that “A sealed Certificate of Return at an election in a prescribed form shall be issued within 7 days to every candidate who has won an election under this Act.” See section 72 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Without a Certificate of Return there is no evidence that a candidate won an election and he cannot be sworn into office. A Certificate of Return is the gold medal of an election; without it, you can’t lay claim to be a winner.
Now, let’s look at the Certificate of Return issued to Umahi.
It says: “I hereby certify that Nweze David Umahi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been elected to the office of Governor of Ebonyi State…”
Did you see that?
“Nweze David Umahi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)…”
Let’s look at the meaning of the proposition or the word “of”.
“Of” is used in expressing the relationship between a part and a whole.
So, the Certificate of Return made it abundantly clear that Nweze David Umahi (is a part) OF Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) (the whole)…” One cannot exist without the other in governing Ebonyi State. That’s why the Federal Government led by President Buhari is known as the APC Government. This is how it is all over the world that practise partisan democracy.
You can never divorce your government from your political party. In fact, the president or governor is the leader of his political party at the Federal or State, respectively.
When the people voted for you, it was your party’s manifesto, aims, objectives and proposed plans that they voted for. They saw the manifestoes of other political parties but chose yours. You are expected to implement your party’s manifesto as Governor. You can’t convince people to vote for one manifesto and then turn round to defect and adopt another one they rejected at the polls. That’s criminally dishonest.
Back to the Certificate of Return, a new one has not and cannot be issued to David Umahi after his defection. The only Certificate of Return he holds that empowers him to be Governor of Ebonyi State, is the one that reads: “Nweze David Umahi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)…”
You cannot hold a Certificate of Return that says you are of the PDP, while you have declared publicly that you have left the PDP. By this singular action, you have invalidated the Certificate of Return, the only document that gives you the power to be Governor.
As long as David Umahi maintains he has left the PDP, and as long as the only Certificate of Return issued to him by INEC states that: “I hereby certify that Nweze David Umahi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been elected to the office of Governor of Ebonyi State…”, Umahi cannot continue to be Governor.
He might be righteous but he has destroyed his foundation. And as the Psalmist lamented in Psalm 11:3, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
This applies to other Governors, like Ben Ayade of Cross River State, who have also decamped but holding Certificates of Return carrying the name of another political party.