Edo: Campaigns Stir Old Emotions
THE people of Edo State claim that the 2015 political campaigns resonate what happened in the build up to the 1979 general elections when the presidency was keenly contested by the duo of Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Both candidates were said to have visited every hamlet identifiable in the Nigerian map.
In Edo, the All Progressives Congress (APC), a product of merger of three legacy parties, has been grappling with series of crises; hence, the PDP has been preparing big time for the 2015 election. With the defection of bigwigs like the former South-South leader of the ACN, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from Edo South, Chief Tom Ikimi (Edo Central), Alhaji Usman Shagadi (Edo North) and their numerous supporters, the APC has actually depleted in numerical strength, and that has made the campaigns for next month’s elections very intriguing.
The two parties have been traversing the state wooing voters; and the PDP is recording success in invoking dislike for the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), who, in 1984, jailed the most popular elected governor of the then Bendel State (now Edo and Delta), Professor Ambrose Alli. He was jailed for 60 years, with an option of N983,000 fine, which he could not pay.
Alli was eventually bailed out by the Esama of Benin, Sir Gabriel Igbinedion but he died shortly after because of ailments he developed while in prison.
In Igueben in Edo central, the elders, leaders, youths and women of Esanland who are members of the PDP vowed to avenge the death of their kinsman, late Alli.
In an emotion laden voice, first daughter of late Alli, Ms Rosemary Alli, told the crowd that Buhari’s military regime jailed her father “despite the pleas from family and associates for his release” and urged all Nigerians, children and relatives of all political detainees under Buhari to cast their votes for President Jonathan and shun Buhari and his APC. “Please, I have come to beg you people to please give your votes to President Jonathan en masse because Buhari did havoc to my daddy.
“He killed my daddy; he put my daddy in detention for good one year without any reason. Let them write to say that my father did not know anything about the N983, 000, they said no. They wanted to jail my daddy at all cost. For that reason, I am begging you people as long the children of political detainees live, Buhari will never rule this country. Please I want you to use this opportunity to vote for other PDP candidates.”
The state chairman of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih said, “My coming here is to greet you, urge you, plead with you and ask you to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians to re-elect Mr. President Goodkluck Ebele Jonathan.
The party has also taken its campaign train to several other villages across Esanland.
In Edo North, the party’s House of Representatives candidate for Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency, Oladele-Bankole Balogun, has taken his campaign to more than 15 towns and villages that make up the oldest and largest local government in Nigeria.
In Edo South, the PDP has been in several villages that make up the seven local governments, with its senatorial candidate, Pharmacist Mathew Uroghide, leading the train. Uroghide told The Guardian that he must visit the people wherever they are to solicit their votes.
The APC, on its part, has not left anything to chance despite being the party in power, as it sells its candidates to the electorate.
The governor, his deputy, Pius Odubu, and the party chairman, Anselm Ojezua, have been moving around the three senatorial districts wooing traditional rulers with the successes of the party in the state in the last six years as campaign issues.
For instance, traditional rulers in Etsako land, made up of three local government councils, have thrown their weight behind the candidates of the APC, saying their support is based on the need to continue the developmental projects in the state.
The endorsement came when Oshiomhole visited the traditional rulers during his campaign tour of the area.
The party’s candidates are Messrs. Francis Alimikhena, Senate Edo North; Philip Shaibu, House of Representatives; Damian Lawani, Gani Audu, Yakubu Gowon and Kingsley Ughabi, House of Assembly candidates.
At the palace of the Okumagbe of Weppa Wanno in Etsako East Local Government Area, HRH, Dr. Egabor JP, Omoaze 1, he said, “our community and, indeed, the entire kingdom is proud and have accepted your leadership, which is development-oriented. I must thank you most sincerely for the autonomy granted the College of Agriculture, Agenebode.
At Ogbona in Etsako Central Local Government Area, The Ogieavianwu of Avianwu, HRH Jackson Etokhana, said, “As you are here today in my kingdom, I want to assure you our comrade governor that Afemai has never disappointed and on this matter we will not disappoint you.”
Oshiomhole was also at the Palace of Ogieneni of Uzairue Kingdom, HRH Alhaji Kadiri Omoigbai where he presented APC candidates for the February elections.
At the various palaces visited, Oshiomhole thanked the royal fathers for their support and presented the candidates for the various positions to the royal fathers.
For “failing” to fulfill various promises and instead giving national honours to government officials, who presided over failed government policies Oshiomhole on Monday said Nigerians should vote out the present administration and vote in the government they love. “February 14 is lovers day and Nigerians will vote in Buhari, who they love.”