…Please reject Obaseki, he’s a dictator, Tinubu begs voters,
…Edo people’re determined to end godfatherism – Obaseki
…Leave Obaseki alone, face APC’s political woes, PDP tells Tinubu;
…Lagos APC chair carpets PDP, Obaseki over rigging allegation;
…Peaceful elections, test of your integrity – Gen. Abdulsalami;
…We’re committed to peace, Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, others assure Nigerians;
…Peace Accord is an exchange of vows -Bishop Kukah;
…Your choice would be upheld, INEC assures voters;
…We shall be fair to all but firm – IGP
By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Gabriel Enogholase, Omeiza Ajayi, Dirisu Yakubu & Ozioruva Aliu
NATIONAL Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State were literally at each other’s throats yesterday over who Edo voters should elect on September 19.
Describing himself as the leader of all democrats in Nigeria, Tinubu in a sponsored broadcast on TVC, urged Edo voters and democrats not to vote for Obaseki, who is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate because ‘’he is not a democrat.’’
Tinubu’s plea elicited immediate response from Obaseki and the PDP. While Obaseki said Edo people would not allow Tinubu extend his godfatherism to Edo State because they are determined to end godfatherism, the PDP urged the former Lagos State governor to leave Obaseki alone and face APC’s political woes.
The exchanges came on a day that all stakeholders – the candidates, parties, the electoral umpire, and security agencies signed an accord pledging to uphold peace at the Saturday poll. The peace deal was brokered by the retired General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre in Benin-City, Edo State.
Reject Obaseki, he is a dictator – Tinubu
Tinubu, who was among APC leaders who campaigned for Obaseki when he was elected for a first term under the party in 2016, said Obaseki is not a democrat and should be voted out in the Saturday governorship poll.
Obaseki dumped the APC for the PDP shortly before his disqualification for the APC primaries following his deep-seated feud with then APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
In the four minutes 47 seconds broadcast aired on Tuesday, Tinubu said Obaseki did not partake in the struggle for Nigeria’s democracy.
“I want to appeal as a committed democrat and a leader of all democrats to our conscience and commitment to democracy, on the forthcoming election in Edo State, to reject Godwin Obaseki,” he said.
He continued: “I have suffered with many others to bring about this democratic regime, that we are enjoying today in the country. Then, Godwin Obaseki didn’t participate in any aspect of the struggle to enshrine democracy in the country. Therefore, he could not understand the value and the pains associated with this democratic struggle.”
He accused Obaseki of going against the ideals of democracy by “preventing” some state lawmakers from being sworn in when the House of assembly was in crisis. “He demonstrated the act of dictatorship, lack of respect for rule of law, lack of respect for you the people who voted for those legislators prevented from being sworn-in,” the APC national leader said.
“Today, he now comes back as a democrat wanting you to vote for him. Please, I appeal to you, reject him. Like he rejected the 14 members, you should reject him at the polls.”
You can’t extend your political empire to Edo, Obaseki tells Tinubu
In a quick counter, Obaseki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie urged Tinubu to perish the quest of extending his godfatherism to Edo State because ‘’Edo people are committed to ending godfatherism in the state.’’
He said: “It has become obvious that the spirited fight which Edo people have put up against godfatherism has sent tremors beyond the shores of Edo to the likes of Tinubu, who has for years sustained a stranglehold on Lagos and other states in South Western Nigeria, hence this desperate, last ditch effort to rescue the unproductive political instrument, now popularly referred to as godfatherism, with which he has feathered his nest and built his political empire at the expense of the people.”
Stressing that Edo people were committed to ending godfatherism in the state, he said: “Tinubu knows clearly that come September 19, when godfatherism would have been dismantled in Edo State, the people of Lagos may just have found the recipe and formula for removing the choke-hold placed on their collective destinies for decades by Tinubu, hence the inciting television broadcast.
“He should take note that Edo people do not yield their will, liberty and power of choice to oppressive figures because they are perceived to have economic and political means.
“Like one of the great sons of Edo, former Governor and former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, recently said, our people do not give in to ‘primitive loyalties.’ We always chase noble causes and a little study of our history, should show Tinubu the indomitable spirit of the Edo person. “Edo stands in the heart of the old Midwestern Region, which was the only region created through plebiscite, which underscores our capacity to determine our destiny as a people.
“The blood which ran in the veins of the leaders of that time is still the same that runs in the vein of the leaders of Edo State today. We call on all Edo people, friends of Nigeria and all lovers of democracy to disregard all the comments by Tinubu, as the allegations about the Edo State House of Assembly and other claims in the broadcast are completely false.”
Leave Obaseki, face political woes of APC, PDP tells Tinubu
Speaking in similar manner, the PDP said it is amused by Tinubu’s plea to Edo voters to reject Governor Obaseki, and described as pathetic his claim of being the leader of all democrats in Nigeria.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said it is 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 read: “It smacks of unpardonable hypocrisy that an individual who claims to be a democrat will at the same time choose 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, 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.
“Furthermore, without conceding to Asiwaju’s jejune argument, we ask, what contribution to democracy did he find in President Muhammadu Buhari when he presented him, then as General Buhari, to Nigerians ahead of the 2015 presidential election?’’
Edo people should ignore conspiracies of little men – George
Also, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, said Obaseki is a good man with a kind heart who has devoted the last four years to the service of the good people of Edo State, with total selflessness and sacrifice and deserves a second term.
Speaking against the background of Tinubu’s broadcast, George said: “Godwin Obaseki is humble, a democrat, a bridge-builder, a go-getter who is not deterred by the tantrums and the shenanigans of little men who go about trying to distort his image and his incredible achievements in Edo.”
He said the people of Edo State believe in his hard work and observable developments which he has achieved.’’
Lagos APC chair carpets PDP, Obaseki over rigging allegation
However, the Lagos State chapter of the APC defended Tinubu, chiding Obaseki and PDP for ‘’chasing shadows with their baseless allegations’’ against APC Tinubu.
Lagos State Chairman of APC, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, said Obaseki is the architect of his imminent defeat in Saturday’s governorship election.
The PDP and Obaseki had alleged that the APC and Asiwaju Tinubu were planning to rig the election and that the party had sourced N300 million from local councils in the state for the purpose.
Reacting to the allegation, Balogun said: “The latest untruth of the PDP and Obaseki is the evil lie that All Progressives Congress and our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, plan to rig the election and buying votes with N300 million allegedly polled from local councils in Lagos State.
‘’One must say that Obaseki has a fertile if wild and paranoid imagination. Had he better used that imagination to govern wisely instead of governing as if he were a conquering invader, then he would not be in the pitiable circumstance he now finds himself. Obaseki has always been his own and his state’s worst enemy.
“Ordinarily, we would not dignify Obaseki’s desperation with a response, we know the poor man is losing his already feint grip on reality. His brain now walks the halls of fantasy land where he goes about scaring himself with images that exist only in his guilty mind. His allegation is a pure malicious lie and after he loses his immunity as governor he will be asked to pay for this slander.
“In making this allegation, Obaseki engages in a misdirection classic to people of his mendacious and mean ilk. The very wrong which he falsely attributes to others is the very thing he has in his dark heart to do himself. Obaseki plans on stealing money from Edo’s public purse to fund his own ambitions.
“The electorate is wise to his ways and in fact the electorate in its collective wisdom is much wiser than Obaseki. They will not be fooled by his false allegations. The lie about rigging is Obaseki’s and his cohorts’ desperate heave to gain public sympathy.
“Obaseki says our national leader has no business in Edo, someone should remind Obaseki that he once begged Asiwaju and others to help him in Edo.’’
We’re committed to peace, Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, others assure Nigerians
Meanwhile, Governor Obaseki of the PDP and his arch rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC have expressed their commitment to the conduct of a peaceful exercise.
Both men made the pledge, yesterday, alongside candidates of 12 other political parties during the signing of a Peace Accord organized by National Peace Committee.
Speaking after signing the accord, Obaseki said as a candidate and governor of the state, he has no choice but to ensure peace in Edo.
He said: “I want to say on behalf of myself as a candidate and my party, the PDP that we are fully committed to ensuring that we have peaceful election. I have no choice because in addition to being the candidate, I am also the Governor and Chief Security Officer of the state. I want to again commit publicly that I will live by the letters and spirit of the accord that we have just signed.”
Obaseki urged the peace committee not to limit its work to the signing of the accord but also reach out to some unnamed political leaders who are not contesting in the elections but who have a role to play in ensuring peace.
On his part, Pastor Ize-Iyamu said he would never do anything to compromise the peaceful coexistence of the people.
He said: “Let me thank His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II because what we are witnessing today was actually initiated by him about two weeks ago. He called us to the palace and spoke to us on the need for peace and we had promised him then just as we are promising now that we will ensure that throughout this election, the campaigns and election itself, that there will be peace.
“Let me reaffirm our commitment to what has been signed and to assure Nigerians and particularly the people in Edo State that we will talk to all our supporters, we will conduct ourselves peacefully and we will do all our best to ensure that the election is peaceful.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, said the signing of the accord is of great national and international significance, urging participants to live true to the contents.
Gen Abubakar in his address urged commitment on the part of the contestants, saying they would be putting their integrity on the line should they default.
He said since 1999, every election has been associated with violence, hence the setting up of the National Peace Committee to help reverse the trend.
“We as a people should aspire to see a Nigeria where people will feel safe to come out of their homes to cast their votes without any fear and need for police deployment. Edo State deserves peace”, he said.
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the accord is a commitment to a free, fair, credible and safe election, assuring the people that their choice would be upheld.
Yakubu said: “We welcome this initiative. Our preparations, deployment plans, new innovations in result management, the safety of personnel, security of materials and, above all, the credibility of elections are all negatively affected by violence or malpractices. Even worse, the health of all those involved is jeopardised by any disruption that will make the observance of health protocols in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic impossible. It is, therefore, important for everyone to maintain the peace.
“I wish to assure you of INEC’s commitment to credible elections. The votes will count. The people of Edo State will determine who becomes their next governor. Their choice will be upheld. Let me also reassure you and the voters in Edo State of the Commission’s neutrality.”
The Inspector General of Police IGP Mohammed Adamu on his part said nothing would stop the police from ensuring the conduct of a safe election in the state, adding that his men would be fair to all but firm.
Represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police DIG in charge of Research and Planning, Adeleye Oyebade, the police boss said: “We are here to achieve a hitch-free, free, fair, credible and safe election. Nothing will stop us from achieving that. We are going to be fair but firm.”
He urged the people to come out en mass and vote, assuring them of their safety.
The Oba who was represented by the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri and the Oliha of Benin, Chief Edionwe Oliha, tasked the contestants, particularly Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu on the need to ensure the conduct of a peaceful election.
Chief Edebiri said the Oba is grateful to the organizers and thankful to everyone who is interested in the peace of the state.
On fears of a possible bloodshed, Chief Edebiri said: “I want to publicly announce to you that election in Edo State has never produced such scenario that people are predicting”.
He disclosed that the great-grandfathers of Governor Obaseki and Pastor Ize-Iyamu had ruled Benin before in peace and tranquility and that the people do not expect anything less from their descendants at this time.
The Peace Accord is on the prevention of violence and acceptance of election results. It was signed by the chairmen and governorship candidates of the 14 political parties taking part in the election.