Despite the heavy pres
ence of security personnel put at about 75,000 including soldiers, policemen, members of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and even sniff dogs to Osun State, which the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as attempt to intimidate its members and the electorate, the much talked about governorship election in the state went on smoothly last Saturday.
The contest which centred mainly around two major contenders, the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf A. Aregbesola of the APC and Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) witnessed massive turn-out of voters who trooped to the accreditation centres as early as 6.30 am.
At last, Aregbesola beat his main rival, Omisore to a distant second. While Aregbesola polled 394,684, Omisore scored 292,747 votes.
Meanwhile, Aregbesola’s victory which was greeted with wild jubilation in Osun State has also elicited reactions from some eminent personalities in the country, including President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade and Chief of Staff Government House Port Harcourt, Sir Tony Okocha.
The President’s congratulatory message to Aregbesola was contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati. The statement reads in parts:
“President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan congratulates Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State on his victory in Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
“The President commends the Independent National Electoral Commission and National Security agencies for ensuring that the elections were free, fair, credible and peaceful in keeping with the avowed commitment of his administration.
“As Governor Aregbesola prepares to begin a second term in office, President Jonathan looks forward to continuing to work with him and other state governors to further improve the living conditions of Nigerians in Osun and other States of the country.
“ I have seen a new lease of life for the people of the state of Osun over the past three and half years due to the radical improvements in the quality of governance you introduced. It is gratifying to note that you have restored a people-driven governance, reminiscent of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Bola Ige eras, thus placing you firmly in the pantheon of the greats to have come from that part of the country.
“The wide margin of the votes you recorded in your re-election victory over your closet rival is a clear testimony of your doggedness and the confidence reposed in you by the good people of the state in your ability to move the State of Osun forward and position it among the best in the country.
“Above all, your victory has strengthened the progressive movement nationally and further enhanced its capacity to positively affect the direction of the nation’s polity.
“I salute the people of the State of Osun for choosing to the path of positive progressivism and lasting legacies over the politics of stomach infrastructure which the other party has introduced into the nation’s political lexicon.
“As you settle down to the business of governance in your second term, I wish you greater and quality achievements in your efforts to reposition the State of Osun. I assure you of the continued solidarity of the people and Government of Edo State”.
Sir Tony Okocha
In Port Harcourt, a victory dance reportedly broke out immediately Governor Aregbesola’s victory was confirmed. Leading the celebration was the Chief of Staff to Governor Amaechi, Chief Tony Okocha, an APC chieftain, who reportedly threw the gates of his palatial mansion situated at the old GRA, wide open to all comers for good music, as well as assorted food and drinks.
According to Chief Okocha, “Today is the happiest day of my life as the Osun result declares the immediate demise of PDP, whose presence in Nigeria has become a curse and bad luck to Nigeria and Nigerians. Things have gotten so bad that no family in Nigeria can be sure of seeing tomorrow as their lives are no longer secured, apart from the few operating this government that is doomed to be chased out by the Nigerian masses in 2015. Let Nigerians celebrate as their freedom from a visionless, clueless and misguided government is at hand. The Lord is good. It’s confidence restored. Congratulations to all agents and adherents of change.
“We salute the great people of Osun State for giving us hope that together, we shall in 2015 free Nigerians from an inept government and enthrone a people-oriented government that will utilise our God-given resources for the development of our nation instead of the few currently oppressing and looting our common patrimony with impunity.
“ I sincerely salute Governor Amaechi for the great role he played to ensure that Osun State did not fall into the hands of PDP, whose mission was to wreck the State and take it back to the days of darkness. My commendation also goes to the People’s Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who has proved that he is truly a lion, a great mobilizer, a political bulldozer, a man of the people and most importantly that he is on ground. I am happy to award the Governor the title of Tiger of our democracy”.
The Man Rauf Aregbesola
Rauf Aregbesola was born on May 25, 1957. He graduated from The Polytechnic, Ibadan where he studied Mechanical Engineering.
He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Association of Technological Engineers and Certified Marketing Communications Institute of Nigeria.
He was on April 12 this year endorsed as the governorship candidate of the APC. The emergence of Aregbesola was preceded by congresses. The governor, who had no opponents, was endorsed as the flag- bearer of the party.
The Nasir el-Rufai-led committee supervised the primary election in which Aregbesola was endorsed. While giving him the certificate of return, el Rufai said 269,631 members of the party voted for the governor for a second term out of 355,390 members who registered in 332 wards across the state.
Before becoming the state governor in 2010, Aregbesola had served as the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure for eight years under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then governor of Lagos State. He left Lagos State Government to contest the governorship election in Osun in 2007, on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
At the end of the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) under Prof. Maurice Iwu declared Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the PDP, the winner of the election. The former commissioner and his party contested the result, taking Oyinlola and the INEC to court.
In May 2008, Aregbesola called over 100 witnesses and tendered 168 exhibits in his petition before the Election Petitions Tribunal, alleging violence and ballot boxes stuffing in the election.
The case was moved from the election tribunal to the Federal Appeal Court in Ibadan.
After several dramatic exchanges in the courtroom, which lasted for three-and-half years, Justices of the Appeal Court finally declared Aregbesola the winner of the 2007 election, ordering that he should be sworn in as governor by noon on November 27, 2010.
Upon assumption of office as governor of Osun State, the former Lagos State commissioner outlined what he called his ‘Six Point Integral Action Plan’ which focused on agriculture, economic and youth development, health, education and security.
The six points are to banish poverty, hunger, unemployment; restore healthy living; promote functional education; and enhance communal peace and progress. These, the governor said, would seek “to ensure that the fruits of economic development positively impact as many lives as possible” in Osun.
Aregbesola’s interest in politics dated back to his undergraduate days, when he served as the Speaker of the Students’ Union Parliament at The Polytechnic, Ibadan.
His First Official Reaction To His Re-Election
In his first official reaction to the outcome of the governorship election held on Saturday, Governor Aregbesola described his victory as a call to increased service.
In a broadcast to the people of Osun State, he pledged to leave no stone unturned to continue in transforming the state, saying “we shall work even more”.
His words, “On behalf of my party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), we are delighted to claim this hard won victory against all odds.
“I salute the courage of the people; I salute your courage, loyalty, your integrity and your desire to nurture our nascent democracy. The trust reposed in me and the confidence you have in me shall not be taken for granted, the outcome of this election shows that you people are interested in the growth of democracy.
“From now on, every vote must not only be counted, every vote must count.
“This victory is for the people and it is a call for increased service”.
Okowa Sends Names Of 18 Commissioner- Nominees To Assembly
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has forwarded the names of 18 nominees for appointment as commissioners to the state House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.
The names of the nominees were contained in a letter read by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, during plenary of the Assembly in Asaba, yesterday.
The Tide reports that Okowa on May 18, dissolved the State Executive Council.
The 11 former commissioners that have been re-appointed and their portfolios, incelude: Mr Charles Aniagwu, Information, Dr Barry Gbe, Economic Planning, Mr Julius Egbedi, Agriculture and Mr Lawrence Ejiofor, Culture and Tourism.
Others are: Mr Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, Youths Development, Chief Arthur Akpowowo, Urban Renewal and Chief Festus Ochonogor, Housing, Mrs Flora Alanta, Women Affairs, Mr Churchill Amagada, Lands, Chief Fidelis Tilije, Finance and Mr Chris Onogba, Environment.
The seven new nominees are: Mr Jonathan Ukodhiko, Mrs Evelyn Oboro, Mr Noel Omordon, Mrs Rose Esenwu, Princess Shola Ogbemi-Daibo, Mrs Kate Oniawan, and Mr Johnbull Edema.
The speaker directed the nominees to forward 35 copies each of their Curriculum Vitae to the office of the clerk of the assembly on or before June 21.
He called on the nominees to appear for screening and confirmation on June 22.
The Assembly, yesterday, also screened and confirmed the appointments of Justice Theresa Diai as the Chief Judge of Delta State as well as Justice Patience Elumeze as President of Customary Court, Delta State.
The confirmation of the nominees followed a motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Mr Oboro Preyor.
The motion supported by Mr Emeke Nwaobi, member representing Aniocha North Constituency in the state Assembly was unanimously adopted by the Assembly, when it was put to a voice vote by the speaker.
Anambra Guber: CLO Calls For Level Playing Ground
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), an NGO, has urged political parties participating in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra to ensure free, fair, credible and generally acceptable primaries, devoid of acrimony and manipulations.
The Chairman of CLO, Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Enugu, yesterday.
Ezekwueme urged political parties to adhere strictly to the principles of participatory and constitutional democracy; thus ensuring the tenets of internal democracy.
According to him, it is pertinent for party leaders to be honest, transparent and selfless in the conduct of their various primaries.
He urged political delegates to the various primaries to get it right by voting for the most credible, God-fearing, articulate and most qualified candidates that would render selfless service to the citizenry.
The CLO boss advised party delegates to vote with their conscience and conviction, devoid of monetary inducement or influence by political leaders and stakeholders.
“CLO decries with great disdain any attempt to impose candidates on the delegates or unjustifiably screen out or bar some candidates from contesting after collecting outrageous nomination and expression of interest fees, to pave way for emergence of anointed or favoured candidates.
“Significantly, it is only justice that will precipitate credible elections and guarantee peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections. This is the best and greatest yearnings and aspirations of all Anambrarians.
“Let all the stakeholders work harmonious with patriotism and selflessness for the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries and the November 6 governorship election,’’ he said.
Ezekwueme noted that any party that could not conduct free and fair primaries would be unable to guarantee and ensure a free election in the main gubernatorial contest.
The CLO boss, however, appealed to all the political parties to zone their governorship candidates to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
“This appeal is in the spirit of justice, equity, morality and good conscience in tandem with the zoning formula propagated by former Gov. Peter Obi and which has helped douse political tension in the state.
“We commend the unique wisdom and political sagacity of Obi and we implore Anambra political gladiators and stakeholders to respect the zoning arrangement for the interest of peace and unity,’’ he said.
Ayade And The APC Albatross
Like Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State before him, Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, did not take many by surprise when he eventually broke camp with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched tent with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party at the centre on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
A pointer to the fact that Governor Ayade had long signaled his romance with the APC was evident in the statement of welcome by a party chieftain and one-time leader of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, when he noted that Ayade had “consciously navigated the ship of governance in sync with the APC-led Federal Government”.
Of course, for a long time, close watchers of the Cross River State Governor had noted how he had openly expressed admiration for the president and leader of the APC while overtly distancing himself from every criticism by the PDP, his party then, against the Federal Government and the ruling party. In fact, it was even obvious to casual observers that all was not well between Ayade and the PDP when he became consistently absent in the meetings of his fellow governors on the platform of the party and other high profile party engagements.
However, there has been some interesting political developments in Cross River State following the defection of the state Chief Executive, and leader of the PDP until that select group of APC governors and other top ranking party leaders stormed the Government House in Calabar to receive him into their fold. Buoyed by the gathering of members of his cabinet, members of the Cross Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, some National Assembly members from the state, Chairmen of local government councils and their councilors, and other stakeholders in the state including Dame Princess Florence Ita-Giwa and High Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong, Prof. Ayade boldly declared that by virtue of the event of his detection, Cross River State had become an APC state.
As if to prove the point that there could not be another party, particularly the PDP, without the government that he leads, the governor ordered the annexation of the PDP state secretariat and convert all its property into the use of the APC just two days after. Responding to the turn of event at the party secretariat, Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the governor said the PDP could not claim to be the ones to continue to occupy the property as the rent was paid by the governor. He said the rent for the said property was only renewed recently by the same PDP that has now totally collapsed into the APC.
“The same officials of PDP who occupied the property when it was secretariat of the PDP still occupy it, having switched allegiance and moved to the APC with the governor”|, he said.
In a swift reaction, the PDP Federal Lawmakers and Stakeholders Forum in Cross River State dissociated themselves from the governor’s move. Addressing a press conference on Friday, May 21, 2021 in Abuja, the forum pledged to remain in the PDP and declared Cross River State as a stronghold of the party.
“As far as I know, till date, the National Assembly caucus remains intact. I don’t see any of us leaving. We are legacy members of the party who have been in this party for the past 15 to 20 years. So, we are not going anywhere”, Senator Geshan Bassey who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, accusing Ayade of not consulting them but insisting that even if he had “we will not follow him”.
On the same occasion, Senator Liyel Imoke, former governor of the state, on behalf of the PDP Stakeholders Forum in Cross River described Ayade’s defection as regrettable, even though not unexpected.
According to Imoke, an overwhelming number of Cross Riverians remains resolute with the PDP, emphasizing that “our key stakeholders, members of the national and state assemblies, and strategic grassroots mobilisers are still members of our great party. We, as a party, therefore, remain virile and strong. Our shell remains uncracked”.
Imoke said “We understand that the people of Cross River, who have stood firmly with the PDP since 1999 and other lovers of the state are deeply disappointed by this move made by a governor, who has won all his elections under the platform of the party. Given the overwhelming support which he enjoyed under the PDP and the fact that PDP has undeniable strong grassroots in the state, we affirm that Cross River remains a PDP state”.
As developments have shown, Governor Ayade may not have had the support of all his close functionaries in his voyage as he has had to offload not less than four of his commissioners and a number of aides believed to still be loyal to the PDP.
In a press statement signed by his CPS/Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, the governor, relieved the appointment of Mr Mike Usibe, Commissioner for New Cities Development; Rita Ayim, Commissioner in charge of Women Affairs, Mr Asu Okang, Commissioner for Information and Ntufam Donatus Etim, Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry.
On the part of the PDP, the regrouping of forces, especially the return of the likes of former governor Donald Duke, has not been without hitches.
Recently, the state caretaker committee chairman and secretary of the party were constrained to issue a warning to party stalwarts to restrain themselves from unguarded statements capable of causing division among their ranks. “The party will like to caution all stakeholders that this is a time for rebuilding, restoration and reconciliation. It is not a time for trading blames.
“The larger purpose of the development of Cross River State should remain our unwavering focus and should insulate party stakeholders from all other distractions”, the statement said in reaction to unauthenticated social media post by Ex-Governor Donald Duke accusing his successor in office, Senator Liyel Imoke of running a dictatorial administration.
The party, however, commended the courage of former governor Duke for returning to the party at such a time as this, hoping that his return would further strengthen the party to face the new threat posed by the APC and Governor Ben Ayade.
“We congratulate His Excellency Donald Duke for finding the courage to re-join the party on whose platform he twice contested and won elections as governor of Cross River State.
“It is our firm belief that his coming back to the party is not only indicative of the party’s strength in the state, but more importantly, will help in rebuilding a strong and virile party”, the statement said.
Prof Ben Ayade may have left the PDP but it is difficult to say if the PDP has left Cross River State. With the regrouping of battle-tested war horses in the state under the umbrella, the governor and his new party may have to work extra hard to dislodge the deep roots of the PDP in the state.
Asked how the governor’s move will affect the fortunes of the PDP in coming elections in the state, Senator Imoke said. “I think in the past, you would see that states that have that type of strength, irrespective of a defection, tend at all times to remain strong. There’s a reason for that. What you perceive as power will determine how you lead. If you perceive power to be a political party, then you will be moving from one political party to another, but if you understand that power ultimately is the people, and that it belongs to the people, you’ll appreciate that it’s not about the party.
“PDP in Cross River State has always been about the people and I think we still remain about the people; so the party has endeared itself to the people and as such a movement by the governor does not, of its own, translate to the people moving into another political party because they have already identified strongly with the party-the PDP. It is sort of like what you have in the United States and other countries where there are strongholds – a state like California, it is defined as a Democratic stronghold. Cross River State is a PDP stronghold”.
Even Ayade himself is without a doubt that Cross River State is a PDP stronghold but for how long this stronghold will hold is what is now being put to test as the governor has already made inroads into the traditional institution from whom he has extracted the same commitment and support they had always given to successive governors and their political agenda.
However, politics is about politicians and Victor Ndoma-Egba tells Ayade: “As you join us in the progressives fold, my expectation is that your coming will enrich our internal democracy and I enjoin you to be consultative, inclusive, democratic, transparent and accountable because these are the hallmarks of the All Progressives Congress family. I also expect that your presence in the APC will further strengthen the party and improve our electoral fortunes in Cross River State”.
Ndoma-Egba’s expectations are not just his expectation and those of the members of the APC in Cross River alone, they were the same expectations of the party faithful in Rivers State in 2015 and the ones in Edo State through the reign of Adams Aliu Oshiomohole. Whether the APC members in the Peoples Paradise will have a different experience remains to be seen.
What is certain is that the South-South region has not been a welcoming environment for the APC and it does not appear as it is ready to change that disposition just yet because of Prof. Ayade. He may just soon find out that what could flourish in the Southeast may require humongous effort to sprout on South-South soil.
By: Opaka Dokubo
- City Crime5 days ago
10 Offenders Convicted Under Anti-Piracy Law – NIMASA DG
- Politics5 days ago
NUJ Hails Wike As Pride Of Democracy In Nigeria
- Politics5 days ago
PDP Rep Harps On Justice, Dialogue To Secure Nigeria
- Politics5 days ago
Ex-APC National Chairman Tasks Party On Responsive Leadership
- Politics5 days ago
‘No Man Would Have Done What Wike Has Done’
- News5 days ago
Etche Diaspora Donates Equipment To Six Hospitals
- Sports5 days ago
Is Musa’s Super Eagles Career Fading?
- Politics5 days ago
Makinde Denies APC Defection Rumours