The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council Chairman, Chief Nyesom Wike, has declared that the Edo Stae governorship election would be won convincingly by Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The PDP National Campaign chairman, who is also the Governor of Rivers State, made the assertion at the Grand Finale of the Edo PDP Campaign held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, yesterday.
Wike said the convincing evidence on ground has shown the general acceptance of the party by the electorate.
He stated that with the achievements of the last four years, it would be impossible for Obaseki not to be declared the winner.
The governor, however, urged Edo people not to take things for granted but turn out in large numbers to vote the candidate of PDP.
“By the grace of God, the election has been won by Governor Obaseki. That does not mean that you’ll go and sleep. Everybody that wants to fight godfatherism should come out to vote.
“Use Edo election to end godfatherism. Make sure you vote and be vigilant too.
“I agree with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the election will be free and fair. Even the Inspector General of Police has promised that nobody will rig the election. But do not leave the polling units after casting your votes.
“Repeat the Rivers State model. Let every woman wear Jeans on Election Day, cast and defend your votes.
“Follow the votes to the collation centres. Do not go until INEC has announced Godwin Obaseki as the winner,” he said.
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus described the Edo election as a special one.
He said the election would determine the status of elective democracy in Nigeria that was devoid of rigging.
“Let there be more restrictions for election riggers, just like United States has done. I call on other democratic countries of the world to rise to protect Nigeria’s democracy.
“We all know that Obaseki is a performing governor. He has impacted the lives of Edo people. Let their will prevail. Edo people should resist all forms of godfatherism,” he stated.
In his speech, the Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal urged Edo people not to sell their votes.
“I hear somebody said he will come to Edo with bullion vans. Stand firm and do not sell your votes.
“I appeal to INEC to conduct free and fair election. There should not be intimidation of the electorate.
“Stay at your polling units. Ensure your votes are counted. Vote for continuity,” he stated.
On his part, the Chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum and Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa said nobody can cheat PDP of its votes because it was a majority party in Edo State.
“We are not afraid. Nobody will change the results or cheat us on Saturday.
“You have done extensive campaign, from ward to ward. Pick your PVC on Saturday, go to your polling units and cast your votes for PDP,” he said.
The former Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Mr Peter Obi, also spoke in the same vein, and urged Edo electorate not to vote the APC candidate for the sake of Nigeria.
According to him, ”we want Nigeria to be good and people like Obaseki are trusted”.
The mega rally was also attended by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Mr Emmanuel Udom.
Also in attendance were the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, his Abia State counterpart, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde, and the Cross River State Governor, Prof Benedict Ayade.
Other dignitaries that accompanied the Rivers State governor on the trip were the former Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia; the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara; and the former Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo.
Meanwhile, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said it was amused by the conduct of All Progressives Congress (APC), National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who in a video, tasked Edo voters to reject Governor Godwin Obaseki in the September 19, governorship election in the state.
Tinubu, in the said video, also described Obaseki as a dictator.
In its official reaction, yesterday, the party, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was pathetic that “Asiwaju is claiming to be the leader of all democrats in Nigeria, which obviously he is not, while at the same time violating the fundamental of democracy, which is allowing a people to freely chose their leaders without confrontations with lies, coercion, mudslinging, slanders and beguiling as exhibited in his amateur video.”
The statement further read: “It smacks of unpardonable hypocrisy that an individual who claims to be a democrat will at the same time chose to sit in the comfort of his residence to insult the people of Edo State over their manifest choice of Governor Godwin Obaseki as their preferred leader, for another term of four years, due to his sterling democratic qualities and performance in office.
“Asiwaju cannot be claiming to be a democrat while campaigning for an individual that has already been rejected by the people of Edo State, having been exposed by none other than the former national chairman of his party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as a thief, fake pastor, acid bather, a person of questionable character who is only fit for ‘night meetings’ and should not be trusted with the position of the governor of Edo State.
“We know that Asiwaju is desperate to re-launch himself into relevance but can someone who wants the nation to believe that he is a democrat be campaigning alongside self-confessed liar, who has been rejected by his kinsmen and suspended as national chairman of his party, all in the quest to install a stooge in office?
“Asiwaju must be reminded that Edo State is not part of his fiefdom and that the needless sanctimonious pomposity which he displayed in the broadcast will never sway the people.
“This is because Edo State is home to very eminent and exceedingly intelligent personalities including highly revered royal fathers, religious and community leaders, astute public administrators, outstanding politicians and captains of industry, who are not ready to alter their resolve for Governor Obaseki.
“If anything, Asiwaju’s broadcast has again exposed an imperialist agenda against the Edo people, a development that has further strengthened the resolve of the people of Edo State to permanently put an end to political godfatherism, which Asiwaju represents in the Nigerian political firmament.
“Furthermore, without conceding to Asiwaju’s jejune argument, we ask, what contribution to democracy did he found in President Muhammadu Buhari when he presented him, then as Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), to Nigerians ahead of the 2015 presidential election?
“Moreover, Nigerians are gradually seeing through Asiwaju’s claims of having fought for democracy as mere myth. The true heroes of democracy include the founding fathers of our party and the regular people of Nigeria, who unlike most self-acclaimed leaders of democrats, never sneaked out of the shores of our country but stood firm to the very end.
“Our party had severally cautioned Asiwaju Tinubu to steer clear of our candidates and desist from infantile attention-seeking in a political dispensation that has moved beyond unnecessary ego trips.
“The people of Edo State had since made up their minds to re-elect Governor Obaseki and APC leaders such as Asiwaju, in their vanity should come to terms with that.”
Similarly, The National Peace Committee (NPC) headed by former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalmi Abubakar (rtd), its Convener, Bishop Hassan Kukah, yesterday, made the contesting political parties to sign a peace accord where they were charged to ensure they work for peace, and also accept the outcome of the results with special emphasis on the two major contenders which are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki; and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Abdulsalami said that the peace pact means that the actors have embraced peace, adding that with the assurances from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of maintaining neutrality and the Inspector General of Police Muhammed Adamu, assuring of adequate security, Edo people should come out and vote on the Election Day even as he lauded the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II for his efforts at bringing the warring parties together when the tension was at its peak.
He said, “The gubernatorial election in Edo State is just a few days away and giving peace during and after the election is a priority and it must be done. We as a people should aspire to see Nigeria where people feel safe to come out of their homes to cast their votes without any fear.
“As you are all aware, the election cannot hold in the absence of a peaceful atmosphere. All contesting parties need to adopt a code of conduct that will remove confrontation among yourselves because by agreeing to sign this covenant of peace, all of you are committing yourselves to ensure an enduring peace in Nigeria and Edo State before, during and after the election and agreeing to look beyond short term political gains, sectoral interests or narrow party advantage and accepting nothing but for the development of Edo State.
“As we go into the elections, we have been given all assurances by the INEC chairman and he has repeated it here this morning, he told us that they are ready with all the necessary materials and they will conduct a free and fair election haven got this, the rest is left for you the voters to what is right by desisting from selling your votes thereby selling your rights, freedom and conscience.
“Similarly the Inspector General of Police, who was here yesterday and who is ably represented by the DIG has assured that the police are here to ensure that there is peace and tranquillity and citizens who want to vote will do so freely.
“I urge all of us to use the process of election in Edo as a test of future elections as reiterated by President Muhammadu Buhari let every Nigerian be respected and be given an opportunity cast his or her vote without intimidation or coercion and once that vote is casted let us applaud that vote.
“I ask all the stakeholders and key people here present to commit to the spirit of this accord while also remembering that the violators of this accord are putting their integrity on line because you are signing this as ladies and gentlemen who are to be taken for your words we therefore call on everyone to work to ensuring a peaceful election process to ensure that peace reign in Edo state during and after the election”.
On his part, Bishop Hassan Matthew Kukah said that the peace meeting was a rare one as the committee usually works during presidential elections.
“This is one of the very rare occasions where the peace committee has to roll out its drum to accompany gubernatorial candidates, usually, we do our work at the level of presidential election”.
On his part, Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, reassured of the readiness of the commission to conduct a credible election, adding that the NPC has demonstrated that so much can be achieved in nation building by the force of moral rather than statutory authority.
“INEC working with civil society organisations and other stakeholders will continue to support the work of the peace committee. We welcome this initiative. Our preparation for deployment of personnel and materials, new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and above all the credibility of the election have all been negatively impacted by violence and malpractices.
“I wish to assure you of INEC’s commitment to credible election, the votes will count, the people of Edo State will determine who will become their next governor, their choice will be upheld”.
On his part, the Police IG, who was represented by Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Research and Planning, Adeleye Oyebade, said that “the police would work with sister security agencies to ensure a peaceful exercise.”
In remarks, the Oba of Benin, who was represented by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri while applauding the initiators, said election in Edo has never been this tense.
He said: “I want to tell you that elections in Edo State have never produced such a bloody outcome. The first election I participated in was in Benin in 1952. Since then I have participated in every national, sub-national, local government election that took place in Nigeria.
“We appeal to our sons who are all in the field to know that only one winner will emerge. This election is particularly good because the two main contestants are people from reputable families in Benin. They are from families that have been ruling and have been associated with the good administration of this place.
“The Omo N’Oba is very happy that the committee is here to help to bring peace to this kingdom of Benin and the rest of Edo”.
In his reaction, Governor Godwin Obaseki urged the committee to also look out for non-state actors who he said have influence over voters even as he said he as a candidate and chief security officer of the state would abide by the peace pact.
Mother And Child Hospital To Be Commissioned Soon, Wike Confirms
The 258-bed capacity Mother and Child Hospital in Rivers State is to be commissioned soon.
The two- storey complex also has 50 delivery rooms and six modular theatres, among other modern facilities.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, announced this, yesterday, when he led members of the State Executive Council on an inspection tour of the Hospital and the Rumuogba Flyover Bridge.
Wike said the health facility would provide specialist services for mothers and children.
He stated that government plans to open the facility for public use before the end of 2020 and has ordered the contractors to speed up the installation of equipment and furniture.
“Within the next one month, we hope that all the equipment and furniture will be installed.
“As a government, we are committed to improve our health facilities so as to provide quality health care delivery in the state.
“The facility was conceived to be a partnership between the state government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“But the NDDC did not fulfil their own part of the agreement. The state government decided to construct the facility because of its importance to the state.
“This is the first Mother and Child Hospital in the entire South-South. It is a specialist hospital that will take care of the children and our mothers.
“After commissioning the hospital it will be attached to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital to also train doctors,” he stated.
Wike also said that there was an intensive upgrade of facilities at the various zonal hospitals across the state to make them functional.
He stated that his administration would not solve all the problems in the health sector before 2023 but would strive to improve on what was met on ground.
According to him, when the rehabilitation of all the zonal hospitals across the state was completed, healthcare delivery would receive a major boost.
Commenting on the progress of work at the Rumuogba flyover bridge, the governor said, it was satisfying to see what proper deployment of scarce resources can achieve.
“I am satisfied with the extent of work at the Rumuogba flyover. This work started in October, 2019 alongside the flyovers at Rebisi and Okoro-Nu-Odo.
“It is a job we must commend. I decided to take members of the State Executive Council to come and see the project with their eyes.
“Whatsoever money that the council has approved, we have made sure that it is being used properly.
“We did not make a mistake by giving the contract to Julius Berger Nigeria PLC.
“We are confident that the Rebisi flyover will be opened to traffic in December, 2020,” he added.
No Going Back: Labour Insists On Reversal Of Fuel, Electricity Tariff Hike
The organised labour, yesterday, insisted that the Federal Government should revert back to the old prices of petrol and electricity tariff, if not the strike will stand.
This is as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye, had a hot altercation over the letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the prices of petrol and electricity tariff.
Meantime, Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF), Boss Mustapha said that deregulation of the petroleum sector was long overdue, but the TUC President maintained its previous position that government should revert to the old prices before any discussion would continue.
The meeting, which took place at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, had in attendance the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; the Minister of Power, the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN; and some relevant agencies and parastatals.
Sources at the technical session which was under closed-door said that the labour has not changed from its previous position that the government should go back to the old prices of petrol and electricity tariff.
In his presentation, the TUC President had told Ngige to withdraw the statement that the centre was not right to write to President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that as the President of the country all the economic decisions end on his table.
Besides, Olaleye during his presentation insisted that the TUC stood on its earlier submission that the government should reverse the increases before they would resolve on anything.
He had said, “The most important thing to us today is that we are here, we are engaging with you. Like I mentioned in the last meeting we had here that if we have been having constructive engagement in the past, maybe we would have been able to solve some of these problems.
“But the government turned a deaf ear to us even before the arrival of the world enemy Covid-19, we have written to the government suggesting an alternative way to run the economy, but nobody ever listened.
“And I can send to you many communications from Labour movement suggesting solutions and now we have found ourselves in this situation but the truth of the matter is that Nigerians are suffering and it is our responsibility as Labour centres to fight for their rights, to protect their interest.
“N30, 000 minimum wage was agreed last year and now there is an increase in PMS price, increase in tariff of electricity, the introduction of stamp duty and some other hardship on the workers and their families. We live in a country where a worker is responsible for more than 12 people.
“At least, eight from his family and the other six from the in-law’s house. I wonder how N30, 000 will be able to cater for all these but instead of the government to look at a better way to increase our lot, we are the sacrificial animal to make the economy better for few people.
“I heard when the minister mentioned that the country belongs to all of us, I as a person except you change my impression, I believe the country belongs to the few politicians that take decisions and make policies that are very hard for us to live in this country.
“If the country belongs to all of us, the question is why are people running out of this country, our youths are running out of this country despite all the dangerous obstacles on the road, many have lost their lives.
“Can somebody run out of his father’s house when nothing is pursuing him? So definitely the answer is now. Let’s make the country to belong to all of us so that we can be a bona fide owner of our country.
“Democracy is all about the people, we voted a few people who represent us at the government level and when decisions and policies are to be formed, we are the first to be considered.
“The politicians have scrapped the middle class that we used to have, they have taken away our hope, it’s either you are rich in this country now or you are poor. No more middle class and these are the things we need people to look into if we actually want peace in the country.
“Nigerian workers are suffering, a lot of people have lost their jobs especially during this COVID-19 and the only solution government could bring to their doorstep is that they should pay more for electricity, they should pay more to buy petrol.
“This hardship is getting too much, so whatever solution we are bringing, must be holistic, something that everybody will feel that the country belongs to all of us sir.
“Be that may, the Honorable Minister I wish to call your attention to your regular statement that TUC that TUC did not address the letter to you. I want to disagree with you due respect to your office, we honour your office and we will not do anything to undermine your office.
“But this issue is the issue that Mr President himself has to handle, we are not talking about the minimum wage, increase or any price with government, we are talking about economic issues and we have elected Mr President to lead and that is why we have addressed that issue to him.
“But if you want to insist sir, that because the letter is not referred to you, then TUC can excuse you I know it’s a statement of divide and rule which will not be acceptable to this congress sir.
“But I have to retreat that the submission of TUC as at last week still remains, that you reverse all those increases then you can come up with economic recovery solutions that you have.
“I know many times we have advised you to diversify the economy and we even mentioned the introduction of the issue of modular refineries and we have never had any feedback from the government”.
But reacting to the call for the withdrawal of his statement, Ngige said, “I have been the Minister of Labour and Employment for five years plus. I have attended all International Labour Organisation (ILO) sessions, Governing Board and General Assembly, I have not missed any.
“The competent authority of every country is the Minister of Labour. In many climes, it’s Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Minister of Labour and Public Civil Service Affairs and Minister of Labour and Social Investment.
“The Minister of Labour is the competent authority of any country. In those countries too, labour matters are first addressed to the Minister of Labour.
“We have not tried to enforce this rigidly as it should be but in other climes, all labour and industrial matters and social security are channelled to the government to Head of State through the Minister of Labour.
“I don’t want this to continue. I have raised it with the TUC President before. The TUC President after being elected did not see his Minister of Labour, he did not correspond to Minister of Labour about the election, he went ahead to book an appointment to see Mr President and Mr Vice President.
“I will not sit on this seat and allow this to continue. All correspondence to government, President should come to the Ministry of Labour, that is the channel. If I don’t react, you can report me by doing a reportage to a higher authority but as far as Nigeria is a concern, I’m the competent authority here on labour matters.”
Speaking earlier in his opening remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha said that deregulation of the Petroleum sector was long overdue.
He said that the policy was not to inflict hardship on the masses, adding that at the end of the day the people will be better for it.
He said, “The president has said that no government decision taken is intended cause any pain or harm ”.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said that Labour was the only organisation that is pan-Nigeria and that the best way to address challenges, whether social economy or labour issues was to try to proactively engage Labour and have its perspective.
He said, “We are here to continue with the dialogue that started last week. As you are aware, after the dialogue, we were able to update all our members.
“We are here to find a lasting solution to the perennial issue of the twin challenges of the increase in pump price in the name of deregulation and also the issue electricity tariff increase, which we have explained the impact on Nigerian workers, but importantly the larger Nigerian society.
“I think the argument has been the same – people want to see a reduction in those prices which will then improve the lives of Nigerians, particularly workers.
“Clearly, part of the challenges is that this new increase has also reduced our purchasing power and eroded the gains that we have been able to make with the minimum wage, whereas we speak, many states are yet to implement.”
RSNC Gets New Helmsman …As Njiowhor Takes Over From Ukwe
The outgoing Acting General Manager of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation (RSNC), Mr Goodluck Ukwe, has formally handed over to the most Senior Director in the corporation, Mrs. Juliet Njiowhor.
She is also the new Acting Editor (Daily) of The Tide Newspapers.
Ukwe, who took over from Vincent Ake, the former General Manager of the corporation in April, 2020, formally retired from the Public Service of the Rivers State Government on September 15, 2020.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, Ukwe thanked the management and staff of the corporation for the cooperation and support extended to his administration.
He said that since April when he took over, the corporation has remained afloat despite the economic challenges in the country occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ukwe listed some challenges facing the corporation to include lack of fencing of the premises to ensure security of employees, and the moribund rotary machine, obsolete printing machines, amongst others.
Responding, the Acting Editor (Daily), Mrs Juliet Njiowhor, commended Ukwe for his leadership qualities, which ensured that the corporation bounced back after a three-month shutdown, and has remained afloat since then despite the economic challenges in the country.
Njiowhor said that the legacy of the outgone Acting General Manager would be sustained, and called for the support of the management and staff of the corporation to take the state-owned newspaper outfit to the next height.
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