By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why the trio of President Muhammadu Buhari, Ahmed Bola Tinibu, former governor of Lagos state and National leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC, and Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state and the party National Chairman were desperate to arm-twist voters to win the Osun state , Thursday , September 27 re-run governorship election in the state. This is because losing the state to the Opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP would have amounted to a big blow to the party as Tinubu and Rauf Aregbesola, the state governor were ready to shed their last drop of blood to retain the state for the APC in order to have a strong bargaining power with Buhari if re-elected in the 2019 general elections.
The re-run governorship election which was between Senator Ademola Adeleke, of PDP and Gboyega Isiaka Oyetola, Tinubu ‘s first Cousin and APC governorship Candidate was tension soaked in the state. Investigation by the Magazine shows that all the APC Chieftains including some state governors relocated their office to Oshogbo, the state Capital on the orders of Buhari. The PDP were not left out as virtually all the Presidential Aspirants were in the state to register their presence and mobilise support for the party governorship Candidate, Adeleke.
When the governorship election was conducted on Saturday, September 22, 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, claimed there was no clear-cut winner between the duo, Adeleke and Oyetola, forcing the electoral umpire, to reschedule the election to a new date.
Despite the incumbency factor in the state, the Opposition PDP governorship Candidate , Adeleke , was said to have scored 254,696 votes as against Oyetola of the APC total votes of 254, 345 in the Saturday governorship election. This may have given the PDP Candidate an edge over his closest APC rival with 353 votes, a simple majority. Given the political conspiracy by the ruling APC to see that the Opposition PDP did not win the state, considered strategic for the party in 2019, the Commission may have refused to announce Adeleke as the winner.
Joseph Fuwape, a Professor and Vice Chancellor , Federal University of Akure. Ekiti state, who may have connived with the INEC officials to rub the PDP Candidate of victory , was said to have urged the party to seek redress in the Court if it had noticed errors in the results announced. True to the advice, Adeleke and the PDP had rejected the result and have headed to the Court to challenge the results.
The rerun election was said to have given Oyetola of the APC victory, as Fuwape, the INEC appointed Returning officer, had declared him the governor-elect after polling 255m505 votes as against the Adeleke, of the PDP’s 255,023 votes.
Prior to the rerun election which gave APC victory, Tinubu , the party National leader had boasted that Oyetola , the APC Candidate, will win the election. Aware that Iyiola Omisore, the Social Democratic Party , SDP, governorship Candidate in the election from the Ile- Ife axis ,where the re-run would be held in some wards, hold the key to whoever would emerge as the governor -elect of the state between the duo in the re-run election, President Muhammadu Buhari may have thrown cautions to the wind in the government ant-Corruption war to bow to presures from Tinubu and Oshiomhole, to approve the mouth watery offers which had been suggested should be given to the Ie-Ife born strong politician to dump Adeleke, the PDP Candidate and support the APC governorship Candidate. Part of the larges include a ticket to contest the Oyo South Senatorial Seat on the platform of APC and nomination of two Commissioners in the Oyetola Administration among others. His case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was also said to have been dropped , just as his alleged seized International Passport was returned to him including cash that runs into millions of naira was approved for him.
Based on the mouth watery offers to feather his nest, followed by a high level talks with the leaders of the party at Ie- Ife, comprising of Oshiomhole, Kayode Fayemi , governor-elect of Ekiti state, Lai Muhammed, minister of Information and Culture, Ibikunle Amosun, governor of Ogun state Abiola Ajimobi. Oyo, Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano and Muhammadu Badaru, governor of Jigawa state, he was forced to change his mind to throw his weight behind the APC governorship Candidate in the state .
It would be recalled that Omisore, the SDP , Candidate , in the Osun governorship had earlier met with Bukola Saraki, the Senate President and other leaders of of the PDP, including Femi Fani Kayode , former minister of Aviation and Ayo Adebanjo, an Afenifere , a Pan Yoruba Socio-Cultural Organisation in his Ife home, where he had assured them of his support for the PDP governorship Candidate. That was how far he could go.
He claimed that he was forced to dump Adeleke, the PDP Candidate because the party is not trustworthy, reliable and dependable in their dealings with people”. he cited the promise that was made to Yemi Ogunbiyi, an Advertising mogul which was never kept by the party in 2015. He fears that the party might not be able to keep to its promises to him if he throws his political weight in the Ife axis behind the PDP Candidate to win the election.
Omisore may not have been thinking of tomorrow but his immediate gains as he believes that the APC , being the ruling party at the state and the national level, would fulfill every promises made to him both in cash and kind, including nomination of two Commissioners in the Oyetola Administration in the state.
In spite of the fact that the APC may have succeeded in robbing the PDP of the acclaimed victory in the Osun re-run governorship election, many believe, both locally and internationally, that Nigerians are yet to witness mass protest of votes that would throw out the APC government in the February 16, 2019, Presidential election. The close votes in the Osun September 22, 2018, governorship election speaks volume , according to Teneo Intelligence, a New York based election analysis firm which had said that” if the Opposition PDP presidential Aspirants could unite, it may win the February 16, 2019, Presidential election, published in Bloomberg , a German based Newspaper.
Teneo Intelligence firm, which had been monitoring elections in Nigeria over the years declared that ”a close governorship election over the weekend in the APC stronghold in south western Nigeria, bodes badly the ruling party and signals its waning popularity’ in the region’. Malte Liewerscheidt, of the Teneo Intelligence firm stressed that the Osun state governorship election had already sent a clear cut message to the APC leadership that if the PDP could be united as the votes in the state was reasonably free and fair, Buhari and his APC are most likely to lose the 2019 general elections.
It would be recalled that Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun , Ekiti and Ondo. the six south western states of Nigeria, which are under the firm grip of Tinubu, was instrumental to the Buhari of the APC victory in the 2015 Presidential election, which was said to have marked the first transition of power from the then ruling PDP to the Opposition APC.
Given the alleged inconclusive governorship election in Osun state, where Omisore, a supposed political ally of Adeleke chickened out at the last minute to support the APC by urging his supporters to vote massively for Oyetola , the governorship Candidate,of the APC, political analysts believe that Uche Secondus , National Chairman of the PDP should have learnt his lessons that money would play a key role in the 2019 general elections in order to put his House in order to ensure that the party Presidential primaries on October 5 and 6, 2018, would be held under a peaceful atmosphere where losers will be happy to support the winner a in his electioneering Campaigns.
At the last count, no fewer than 12 Presidential Candidates and money bags, from the north west , north east and north central , geo-political Zones of the country were said to be jostling to be elected the party Presidential Candidate, to slug it out with Buhari, the sole Presidential Candidate of the APC in the 2019 general elections. They are Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and now Senate President, Senator David Mark, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Datti Baba-Ahmed. Others are Seminu Turaki, a senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Sule Lamido, Rabiu Kwankwaso, all former governors of Zamfara, Jigawa and Kano states respectively. Also on the PDP presidential ticket list were Commdore Jonah Jang, rtd, a former governor of Plateau state, Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambual, a former Speaker and governor of Sokoto state , Hassan Dankwanbo, governor of Gombe state and Ahmed Maikharfi, a former governor of Kaduna state, enator and a one- time interim Chairman of the party was said to have paid the non refundable N22 million to collect the party Presidential nomination form which was no tea party .
Former President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be at home with the large number of Presidential Aspirants paraded by the party in the 2019 general elections. He was said to have told those that care to listen that the ” more Presidential Aspirants the PDP has, the better for the party”. He noted that if they were only two Aspirants, for the party, the division between the two Camps will be so pronounced , not from the Candidates themselves, but their supporters who will be exchanging all kinds of bitterness and could go to any length to sink the party, if their Candidate fails to winthe party primaries.
Perhaps, to ensure a united front in facing the APC 75 year-old Buhari in the 2019 general elections, the Bayelsa state born former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, has advocated a level playing field for all the Aspirants during the primaries to avoid polarising the party. He noted that ”if the party’s Presidential Candidate emerges through a transparent process, there will not be any form of bickering and division in the party.”
Given that the party leadership, for now desire a united front in the 2019 general elections to face the ruling APC retired Army General and Presidential Candidate, Buhari, who is seeking re-election, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party was said to have started talks with the 12 Presidential Aspirants of the party to accept the outcome of the primary and work collectively for the party’s victory in the 2019 Presidential elections.
A source informed the Magazine that six of the 12 Presidential Aspirants attended a meeting organised by the NWC, which was held behind closed door at Hilton Hotel Abuja. The party Presidential Aspirants who were said to have attended the meeting were Saraki, Jang, Bafarawa , Maikharafi, Kwankwaso and Turaki .
A source told the Magazine that the meeting was said to have been initiated by the party NWC, ostensibly to prone down down the large number of Presidential Aspirants to a manageable figure but it was said to have been rejected outright by those present at the meeting. They may have spoken the mind of other Presidential Aspirants who were not the meeting. The message was clear: we want to go for the primaries to test our popularity with the party delegates. At present, there appear to be a crack on the party as one or two Presidential candidates were said to be opposed to the party national Convention holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, under the close watch of Nyesom Wike, the state governor, believed to be partisan. The most vocal among the group was Atiku, the Turaki of Adamawa, who was opposed to holding the party Convention in the Oil rich, Rivers state.
An aggrieved Wike was said to have threatened the party leadership of the dire consequences if the moles within the party succeed in changing the venue of the national Convention from Port Harcourt to another location , outside the state.
Wike may be holding the party to the juggler as one of the major financiers . He was sending a signal to the Secondus led NWC, that he may be forced to withdraw the state financial support to the party as he would not be seen carrying the state funds to another location to fund the party Convention. He was emphatic, ” Rivers people will teach the PDP a bitter lesson if the venue of the Nation Convention of the party was changed from Port Harcourt to another location. The governor said the era of sabotaging the state economy and taking the state for granted was over, insisting that Dankwanbo, the governor of Gombe state who called on him at Brick House, Port Harcourt to seek for his support is eminently qualified to seek the PDP Presidential ticket in the 2019 general elections.
Aware of the implication of Wike’s threat to the party leadership over pressures from alleged moles within the party to change the venue of the national Convention from PortHarcourt to another location, the NWC, appears to have rubber stamped the party Organising Committee’s recommendation to use the Oil Rivers state Capital for the Convention. The party was said to have taken the decision to use Port Harcourt for the Convention after a closed door meeting at Abuja, Friday, September 28, 2018. The decision to stick to Port Harcourt , may have calmed frayed nerves, in Rivers state, who were poised for war with the party .
Insiders told the Magazine that Wike heaved a sigh of relief when the party decision to stick to the PortHarcourt venue for the party Convention was Communicated to him as he was encouraged to go ahead with the previous arrangements made to host the delegates in the state. The Rivers state governor may have won the day but Atiku, may still have his reservations over the choice of Port Harcourt for the party, 2018 national Convention . He may have boxed himself to a corner as he may not have tinkered with the option of decamping to the APC in protest. He has no option but to stick to the party decision to head to Port Harcourt between October 5 and 6, 2018, for the party primaries and also find a way to make up with Wike, the state governor and the party leadership in the state. This is is the only way he could have a free mind to contest the primaries without being biased of being outsmarted if he loses .