Stare Decisis is a legal term that refers to the doctrine of precedent. It is a principle well established in common law that states that court rulings can be guided by previous judicial decisions. The term itself is derived from a Latin phrase which means ‘’to stand by things decided’’ or ‘’let the decision stand’’. In a word it counsels that previous or former legal rulings should subsequently govern future rulings. Authorities say a ‘’primary purpose of following the doctrine of stare decisis is to help ensure uniformity and fairness in the application of the law.’’
Judges in competent law courts here in Nigeria and worldwide apply the doctrine to arrive at sound verdicts that are hailed by plaintiffs and defendants. It’s been an unimpeachable practice for ages.
I am being led into these legal technicalities not necessarily because I’m a member of the learned profession, but because the issue bears veritable resemblance to the politics of the day. The extant politics of the season, to be specific, is the outcome of the Ekiti governorship ballot together with the forthcoming one here in the State of Osun next month.
The candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, trounced 15 other contestants. Oyebanji, immediate past Secretary to the State Government won in 15 out of the 16 Local Government Areas in Ekiti. He secured 187,057 votes to thrash his closest challenger, Mr. Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, who polled 82,211 votes. Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, representative, Mr. Bisi Kolawole had a dismal figure of 67,457 to finish at a disappointing third.
APC’s victory was wildly, fittingly so, celebrated, according to correspondents who monitored the ballot across the state. “Residents trooped to the streets to celebrate the victory in the dead of the night…In different parts of the state…some members of the ruling party celebrated the victory, describing it as well-deserved.’’
Observers have concluded that the outcome of the Ekiti poll suggests the shape of things to come in subsequent elections, notably Osun. President Muhammadu Buhari first gave that inkling as he congratulated Oyebanji. He said:’’ This is a good beginning…The APC is getting stronger and more united. The victory of our party in Ekiti is an indication of the confidence of Nigerians in the ability of our great party to deliver quality governance to all.’’ The president then charged all APC members to see the Ekiti success as ‘’good omen’’ to ensure the party’s victory in Osun next month.
The president was prudently applying the legal doctrine of stare decisis to call for support for Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the APC candidate in the election in Osun on July 16, 2022, only a few weeks away. Buhari may not have mentioned the legal term. But he spoke of the spirit. By asking his party men and women in the State of Osun to repeat what transpired in Ekiti, he was saying, ‘’Let what took place in Ekiti govern what happens in Osun. Let the APC carry the day as it has done in Ekiti. Follow the trend and let there be uniformity and fairness in allowing the people of Osun to continue to receive the goodies of democracy which Oyetola is dishing out to them.’’
We can’t fault Mr. President and all those who, after projecting Ekiti into Osun, are predicting a similar win for APC and Oyetola. This is so for a number of reasons. First, there is an APC candidate who shares broad ideologically identical party programmes that won the vote in Ekiti. Secondly, the APC candidate in Osun happens to be the incumbent with a tested and verifiable record as an achiever and promise-keeper in close to four years that he has been at the helm.
Thirdly, in a land where no one wants to identify with losers, the people of Osun would desire to be in the winning team always, not risking to take chances with untried hands or those who once let down the nation.
Therefore, the conclusion is that, although the people of the State of Osun are slated for a poll with several participants on July 16, 2022, an event has taken place in Ekiti that should make their decision on that day near effortless. Just as the arguments of solicitors in the law court as well as the rulings of the judges are facilitated by precedents, I make bold to proclaim that the great triumph of APC in Ekiti is only a foretaste of what is going to take place in Osun.
As it was in Ekiti, so it shall be in the State of Osun.
Oyatomi Esq is the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC in the state of Osun