ELECTION News

GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS: Tension in States as Parties Set To Battle

President Muhammadu Buhari is off to Akwa Ibom, Delta and Imo states today to boost his party’s battle for governorship Poll coming up on Saturday.

Different Political parties are strategizing and stepping up their campaigns for the elections in 29 states on Saturday.

But a group has said it is curious that the President chose Akwa Ibom as the first state to visit after his re-election instead of those that gave him overwhelming support. Besides, it reminded Buhari that Akwa Ibom is a PDP state.

The Akwa Ibom Youth Coalition Network, in an advertorial in the Nation newspaper today, asked, why the APC is so interested in winning their state.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) lost to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the presidential and National Assembly elections. Senator Godswill Akpabio lost his seat in controversial circumstances.

Here are reports of developments in some states:

LAGOS

The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos has urged Igbo residents to put the events of February 23 behind them and support the governorship candidate of the APC, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The apex Igbo cultural group backed the APC candidate at a town hall meeting held yesterday at MUSON Centre in Onikan, Lagos Island. Igbo residents gathered to discuss the outcome of the presidential election in which some members were allegedly prevented from voting.

Igbo leaders noted that the APC candidate stood by the Igbo during the event that trailed the presidential election.

Sanwo-Olu and his running mate, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, were invited to the meeting.

President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos, Chief Solomon Ogbonna, said the Igbo and Yoruba were brothers, stressing that politics would not strain the relationship between the two ethnic groups.

Ogbonna dissociated Igbo residents from a divisive campaign being spearheaded by the PDP, which is playing up an ethnic card to sway voting on Saturday.

He said the Igbo apex cultural group did not share the sentiment that Lagos had been in bondage. He observed that Ohanaeze Ndigbo would always subscribe to a healthy debate that would address the wellbeing of the people.

He said: “The event of the February 23 was regrettable but we have put that behind us. We don’t want the issue to define the template of our relationship with our Yoruba brothers. Our relationship is beyond politics and differences of political opinions cannot separate the two ethnic groups.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos represents the best interest of Igbo residents in the state and going forward, we have resolved to support the candidacy of Mr Sanwo-Olu, because we are convinced he is the best for the interest of our people in Lagos. Election of Mr Sanwo-Olu is tied to healing the wound and the future of our people living in Lagos. We are not part of an agenda playing the card of ethnicity to win election. We are convinced Sanwo-Olu will be a governor for all.”

The group’s deputy president, Vitus Uzoh, promised the APC candidate that what happened in the presidential election would not repeat itself in the coming governorship election, describing Sanwo-Olu as “a detribalised technocrat”.

Sanwo-Olu said he was contesting to make the state habitable for all residents and not to become a tribal leader. He said those whipping up ethnic sentiments to win election did not consider the resultant effect of their action, adding that it was unfair for politicians to divide the people they wanted to lead.

He said: “The coming governorship election is not about me, but about the collective wellbeing of our people and the development of the state. We must not allow those exploiting our ethnic fault line to divide us and derail our future. I have consulted widely among all ethnic groups living in Lagos. I am not aspiring to become a tribal leader. I will be the governor for all residents, irrespective of language, religion or cultural background.

“I am in the governorship race to bring more development to all Lagosians. A vote for APC is a vote for unity and shared prosperity. I will run an all-inclusive government that will not discriminate against any person, whether Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or Ijaw.”

An Igbo leader, Joe Igbokwe, reminded the Igbo residents that the APC government in the state had protected their rights to live in the state and created a platform to succeed in their chosen businesses.

In the communiqué issued at the end of meeting, the leadership of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo endorsed Sanwo-Olu and called on their members to vote for APC in the Saturday governorship poll.

Some of the Igbo leaders at the event included Eze Ndigbo of Lagos, Eze H.N. Ohazurike, chairman of Council of Ndieze, Eze C.U. Nwachukwu, and Eze Ndigbo of Ikeja axis, Eze Uche Dimgba, and Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos, Chief Ernest Ozonneke, among others.

OYO

In Oyo State, the ambition of APC candidate Adebayo Adelabu, fondly called Penkelemesi, at the weekend received a boost as the leadership of the Yoruba Patriotic Movement (YPM) vowed to ensure that he becomes the next governor.

YPM President Chief Oladosu Oladipo assured Adelabu of the group’s backing while welcoming him to his Bodija home, with over 3,000 members in attendance.

Oladipo said: “Politics in Yoruba land has gone beyond allowing mediocres to be in government. In Yoruba land, we have brilliant people, holders of doctorate degrees and professors virtually in every home. So, we have no choice than to support Chief Adelabu that has an intimidating profile.

“We have done our investigation among all the contestants for the seat of governor and Adelabu Penkelemesi is the best for this state in the current political dispensation.

”This is not our first time that YPM, a movement that has it members in rural areas across Yorubaland, is declaring our support for a candidate that is credible.

”As you can see, our members here present are over 3,000 and we have resolved to mobilise our people from the grassroots for your success.

”We agreed and work for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo because of our faith in them and now, we are transferring the same for Adelabu and we are sure he is the next governor of Oyo State by God’s grace.”

The APC candidate thanked the leadership and members of YPM for their trust in his pedigree to move the state to its next level.

As part of plans to ensure Adelabu’s victory, the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party for Ibadan North West/South West Federal Constituency in the just concluded National Assembly election, Dr. Rotimi Ajanaku, returned to the APC.

Ajanaku, accompanied by thousands of his supports at his Oke-Ado base, noted that although he did not win the election, his absence and that of his supporters was felt in the APC camp.

RIVERS

The members of the Coalition of Governorship Candidates and Party Chairmen (CGCPC) in Rivers State have accused Governor Nyesom Wike of acquiring and distributing illegal arms and ammunition in the 23 local government areas to rig the governorship and House of Assembly elections.

On Saturday night in Abonnema, the headquarters of Akuku-Toru Local Government, Rivers State, hoodlums killed two soldiers, exactly a week after a Lieutenant was killed in a gun duel with thugs during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

The two soldiers, who were part of the troops stationed to maintain peace in Abonnema, according to sources, were gunned down at the Obonoma-Abonnema Junction.

The 6 Division’s Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, was yet to react to the killing of the two soldiers as at press time.

During the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections, voting could not hold in Abonnema and the entire Akuku-Toru Local Government, following the outbreak of violence, which led to the death of many persons. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rescheduled the polls till March 9.

Reacting yesterday his Rivers Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, who doubles as the Director of Information and Communications of the PDP’s Campaign Council in the state, stated that he was not stockpiling arms and ammunition.

BENUE

The APC in Benue State yesterday said it had uncovered plans by Governor Samuel Ortom to rig.

According to the plan, said the APC, INEC ad-hoc staff in the 5,102 Polling Units and Voting Points will be given N75,000 for refreshment amounting to N382,650,000.00. In a similar manner, Ward Collation Officers in the 276 local government wards in Benue State are to go home with N150,000 each. Each of the 23 Local Government Electoral Officers (EOs) will get N1,500,000 as “understanding” fee. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Benue State is not left out in the largesse as N500m has been earmarked for him to be paid through a royal father in the state.

The party said: “Votes are to be bought in all the polling units with N300,000.00 (1,530,600,000 for 5,102 PUs) set aside per polling unit for that purpose. In view of where we are in Benue State where salaries are not paid for over 12 months as well as Gratuities and Pensions, these monies earmarked for the election by the Governor are ridiculous, to say the least. The Benue State Governor has not initiated and completed any project in the last four years and setting aside these huge amounts of money to buy votes would amount to playing on the sensibilities of the Benue electorates, especially those who are vulnerable.”

It went on: “While the emerging Entrepreneurial spirit of Benue sons and daughters has been exterminated by the Governor in the last four years, his personal enterprises have blossomed. Something as common as water taken at all government functions must be the Governor’s Goshen water just as printing of all documents by the Benue State Government is done by Oracle Printing Press, owned by the governor and now managed by his younger brother and his in-law.

The APC said it was presenting “a credible candidate”, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime, who is described as “a patriotic Nigerian who does not own conglomerates and, as such, will not have any conflict of interest between his own enterprises and governance. He is not a businessman and would not attract foreign investors to his farm/business…

“Rt. Hon. Jime is not a farmer as such his administration will develop agricultural land schemes, buy tractors, fertilizers and other critical inputs for farmers in the state and not what is obtainable now … The Benue State Tractor Hiring Agency (BENTHA) has folded up … Publishers in the state would enjoy patronage under Jime who like his in-laws does not have a printing press.”

The APC urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as other security agencies to arrest vote buyers and probe INEC officials who participated in the February 23 elections.

The APC said it read from the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Terver Akase, of alleged plans by the APC leader in Benue State, Senator George Akume to invite the military to disrupt voting on Saturday. “May we for the umpteenth time request Governor Ortom to refrain from peddling false rumours as Benue people are ready to vote him out in a fair and free election without the use of the military. However, the law allows the use of the military and other security agencies to maintain peace and order during elections. Senator George Akume does not deploy soldiers.

The APC will not tolerate any attempts by Governor Ortom to disrupt the voting process with the use of Livestock Guards. It has become the trademark of the Governor that anytime he is planning evil, he turns around to accuse his opponents,” the party said in a statement signed by its Chairman, Comrade Abba Yaro.

KWARA

In Kwara State, hundreds of members of the ruling PDP yesterday defected to the rival APC, The defection, led by a former state lawmaker, Bamidele Aluko, was the second of such major exodus from the PDP in a week.

Until his defection, Aluko was a strong supporter of Senate President Bukola Saraki, who vowed at the weekend that the PDP would spring surprise on Saturday.

Also yesterday, over 500 PDP members from Asa Local Government Area joined the APC.

EDO

In Edo State, the PDP has accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of resorting to blackmail, intimidation and harassment of traders in the state with a view to forcing them to vote for the APC in Saturday’s House of Assembly elections. There is no governorship election in the state.

The PDP said the state government financially induced various market leaders at New Benin, Oba Market, Etinosa Market and Ekiuwa market to force traders to join an “Apology March” to Government House scheduled for tomorrow to beg APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and Obaseki for forgiveness.

Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, in a statement, said the traders were to pledge their loyalty to APC or lose their stalls.

Nehikhare urged the traders to resist the threat.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, described the allegation as a creation of the PDP.

Osagie said it would take someone suffering from horrific hallucination to imagine that Obaseki would hurt interest of the traders after prioritising their wellbeing through several reforms of trade practices.

He noted that some of the traders might not have obtained degrees from universities but they were more intelligent than Nehikhare.

BAYELSA

In Bayelsa, an APC chieftain Yekini Nabena, alerted of an arms build-up in the state ahead of State Assembly election.

Nabena accused the government of plotting to use armed thugs to rig the election in favour of the PDP.

According to him, the alarm being raised by Governor Seriake Dickson was diversionary.

Nabena, who is the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, cited a security report which uncovered the arms build-up in the state.

He said: “The Seriake Dickson-led PDP administration has become very unpopular and stands rejected in Bayelsa State. The governor, in desperation has turned to violence and manipulation of the elections to suppress the people and keep PDP in power in the state.”

Nabena called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to urgently probe the illegal activities of the state security outfit, Operation Doo Akpo, which he said was used by the governor and other chieftains of the PDP to aid rigging during the Presidential and National Assembly election in Bayelsa State.

But the State Chairman of the PDP, Moses Cleopas, raised the alarm that over 2000 members of the party who fled Nembe Bassambiri on the eve of the Presidential/National Assembly elections, were being prevented from returning to their homes.

Cleopas urge the Federal Government and the relevant security agencies to intervene in the tense security situation in Nembe Bassambiri, where thugs alleged backed by soldiers attacked PDP members.

The PDP chair also called on the Nigerian Army High Command to deploy a fresh set of soldiers to Nembe and Brass local government areas, alleging that the troops earlier deployed in the areas had been compromised.

THE NATION NEWSPAPER

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