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MC OLUOMO HIJACKED LAGOS NURTW FROM ME, SNATCHED MY SECOND WIFE –ADESHINA, LAGOS CARETAKER CHAIRMAN

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Newly appointed Caretaker Committee Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Lagos State, Fatai Adeshina, aka Akeweje.

The newly appointed Caretaker Committee Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Lagos State, Fatai Adeshina, aka Akeweje, tells KAYODE OYERO his grouse with his predecessor and now Chairman of the Parks Management Committee in Lagos, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, and the lingering crisis in the state branch of the union

Can you give an insight into your background as a transport unionist?

I am from Osun State and a core member of the NURTW. I am about 62 years old. When I started as a commercial driver in Lagos, MC Oluomo was a motor boy. I started in Lagos as early as 1979. I was a molue driver with one man called Baba Ise Oluwa. I plied the Agege to Idumota route. I have many of MC Oluomo’s photos as a lad. I have known him for close to 40 years. There was a man called Alhaji Basiru Daniel. He was the one who helped MC Oluomo. The man took notice of him because of his hustling spirit despite having some physical challenges. The man brought him into his house and trained him to become a transport unionist. He was a letter delivery person for the man.

MC Oluomo’s struggles started with the union in the days of (Saka) Saula. Saula was gruesomely murdered. After his assassination, a man called Rafiu Akanni Olorunwa was brought to become the chairman, but MC Oluomo also picked a fight with Olorunwa. Olorunwa acted as the chairman for three years. MC Oluomo was involved in a brawl with Olorunwa and there was a shootout at Bourdillon such that (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu sternly rebuked both of them for shooting at his house as though it was the garage of a union.

The union was dissolved thereafter and (Tajudeen) Agbede became the Lagos chairman of the NURTW. He was there for eight years and after his tenure, a vacancy was advertised for the post of the state chairman of the union. They said anyone was free to obtain the form for the chairmanship seat and I purchased one and I contested the seat. I contested the seat of the Lagos State chairman of the NURTW.

When was that precisely?

That was in 2019.

What happened next?

Some days to the D-day when they were supposed to announce me as the NURTW chairman for Lagos, the chief of staff to the governor called me and told me that he and the governor had endorsed my candidacy, but Tinubu said they should give it to MC Oluomo. I told him there was no problem. He asked me what I wanted to do next and I told him that I was okay with anything the government wanted. He asked whether I wanted the deputy or treasurer position, and I said any of both was fine. He drafted a list of the state executive members to be announced and showed me that I was penned for the deputy chairman position. I agreed with the plan. However, on the day we were to be sworn in, my name was cancelled with a pen, not that they drafted a fresh list. I was not offered any position. MC Oluomo took away my job, hijacked my branch and my unit despite meeting me on this job.

What is the name of your park?

Odo Olowo Branch ‘C’ in Oshodi.

When did MC Oluomo take away your job as you alleged?

When he took over as the NURTW chairman in Lagos. The worst thing he did to me that made me part ways with him was that after his inauguration, I bought a foreign used car for N13m and took it to him as a gift. I added N10m to the car gift, but he rejected them. I begged him but he refused to make peace. I am not MC Oluomo’s peer and he knows this, but I prostrated before him to make peace. He told me he would look at what he would do, but the more I begged him, the more his mind was made up. I left his house that day and returned to him around 8pm the following day, but he warned me not to come to his residence at night. He said anything could happen to me if I did. I stopped going to his house after that incident.

Did your paths cross afterwards?

Yes, there was a lady called Ronke Oshodi Oke, a popular actress. She was a friend to my second wife. Though they met outside my residence, Ronke started visiting my home at one point. So, I challenged her and warned her not to ever step into my house again.

Is there any reason for your action?

Yes, Ronke was an associate of MC Oluomo and I know what Oluomo is capable of doing. When I challenged Ronke, she told me that she came to see her boss, adding that my second wife was her boss. I told her not to come to my house anymore, because MC Oluomo and I did not belong to the same camp. My second wife and Ronke knelt and apologised, but after five days, I met Ronke in my house again. I was furious and I accused her of trying to carry out a mission in my house. I sent the two of them out of my house that day. To my surprise, Ronke took my second wife, who I sent packing, to MC Oluomo.

How did you know this?

Some concerned close allies at MC’s hotel in Oshodi phoned me that they saw my second wife at MC’s place. They asked whether MC and I had settled our issues, but I said we were yet to resolve our differences. They told me that MC had asked them to give my second wife a room in his hotel. She was there for one month and seven days in his hotel.

You mean your wife?

Yes, my second wife, Queen B. She stayed in his hotel for one month and seven days before he bought her a house. Unionists in the state know this story very well.

When exactly did this happen?

It happened about a year after MC Oluomo became the NURTW chairman in Lagos.

Did you finally reconcile with your second wife?

No, they are still in love and she is still with him till date. I was not worried that she left because I considered her as the death that wanted to kill me. If I was blind or had any health challenge, I wouldn’t be concerned about what they did. What if I was poisoned? She was my second wife and we ate together, slept together and woke up together. I thank God that something more dangerous did not happen.

MC Oluomo has since been threatening to kill me. I have been booed and assaulted many times on the streets of Lagos by hoodlums. I once attended a party at Onikan. (Sule) Malaika was the artiste who performed. As I was about to leave the party around 8pm, I was assaulted. Some boys pelted me with bottles of Hennessey drink and other items. A particular lady at the party warned me not to go yet that the boys had a mission. Before she finished speaking, one of the boys named Afeez brought out a knife and threatened to slaughter me. One of those at the party, however, called some soldiers and I was rescued. I have been together with Oluomo for over 27 years and I know some of the pranks he plays.

Do you still receive death threats at the moment?

Yes. Some people still call to tell me not to leave the house that some people want to kill me, but I am not bothered.

What have you been doing since your park was taken away from you as you alleged?

I haven’t been working. I had 11 buses but they were all sent away from parks in the state. I later sold the vehicles when area boys kept vandalising them.

In all honesty, what will you say was the offence you committed against MC Oluomo?

I did not offend him in any way. What I think is that he had an eye on my then second wife, because MC Oluomo had since reconciled with some of his arch-rivals like Kunle Poly, but he has refused to make peace with me.

Do you still hear from her?

No, we stopped talking.

Did you have kids together?

No, there was nothing like that.

Do you have any wife at the moment?

Yes, my first wife is still with me and my children are grown up.

The national leadership of the NURTW in April appointed you as the chairman of the caretaker committee for Lagos following the suspension of the union by the state government. Have you assumed the role?

We have yet to occupy the state secretariat of the union in the Abattoir area of Agege as MC Oluomo and his men have yet to vacate the property. The office is the bone of contention now. MC Oluomo said he won’t vacate the NURTW office after his suspension. He has converted the building into that of the Park Management Committee and branded it as the park management office. He removed the NURTW logo from the place and on our vehicles. He also hired Oodua People Congress members to man the place with a standing order that any union member found around the place should be gunned down. I was in the office of the director of the DSS (Department of State Services) on Wednesday and he said what MC Oluomo did was not proper. It is not proper to defect from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party and now convert all APC offices and vehicles to those of the PDP. It is just like mounting the PDP flag at the APC secretariat. That can’t work.

What was your mission at the office of the DSS?

I was invited concerning the planned protest of May 19, 2022, which was not allowed. The Commissioner of Police also invited me. I met with the two of them on Wednesday and they told me to tell my followers to be patient for them to resolve the matter, because this is the period of elections. I know that they are deceiving us.

What was the goal of your protest?

We want our office back. MC Oluomo and his people should not be occupying our office; they should be in Alausa as members of the Parks Management Committee. Ondo State has a parks management system and does not use the union’s office. Oyo State has a parks management system and does not operate from the union’s office. What is MC Oluomo still doing in our office in Lagos?

Have you written to the Lagos State Government?

Yes, the government has been informed. I have written about 10 letters to the state government demanding the return of our office. The last letter was the one I notified the government that my members would protest. Lagos would have been loud if the security agencies had allowed us to go ahead with the protest on Thursday. Even if Tinubu held a rally, he could not have garnered the number of people that would come out for our protest.

How many are your members, including those who didn’t move with MC Oluomo and are still with the NURTW in the state?

We have more than 5,000 members. They are all my followers. All my supporters have not been working since the crisis started; only MC Oluomo’s boys have been collecting tolls. Aside from money, he knows I have the crowd and I have the character.

Who do you think is behind MC Oluomo?

It is the government. You know if the government backs you, it is like you have the support of God. Sanwo-Olu is the leader of the state today. In fact, he presents the staff of office to monarchs. The same governor who banned us has the authority to say no to park managers and tell the NURTW to resume. However, if one has the support of those in government, it is not a licence for highhandedness. For instance, if a benefactor buys me a commercial vehicle, the person has done well by providing something for me to earn a living. That the driver decided to use the vehicle for kidnapping is another thing entirely and the donor of the bus should not be blamed. That one has the support of people in government is not a licence to misbehave.

Are you afraid for your safety?

I am going back to meet with the director of the DSS and the police commissioner. I have been receiving death threats from MC Oluomo’s boys.

What channel of communication are they using?

They have been calling my phone to deliver the death threats. I have the voice notes.

Have you taken any legal action to retrieve the NURTW office in Agege?

Yes, we have taken the matter to court. Femi Falani (SAN) is our lawyer. We want to recover our office. MC Oluomo should vacate our office. Aside from that, the NURTW is registered with the Federal Government through the Nigeria Labour Congress. The state has no right to ban the union, because we didn’t cause any trouble in the state before we were suspended.

Are you involved in politics?

I am not a politician; I am a core unionist but I vote during elections. I am a confirmed member of the APC.

PUNCH

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WHY 2023 ISN’T ALL ABOUT ATIKU, TINUBU ALONE — IKEYINA, SDP CHIEFTAIN

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Ebenezer Ikeyina, a Social Democratic Party chieftain.

Senator Ebenezer Ikeyina, a Social Democratic Party, SDP, chieftain, in this interview, speaks about the reason President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor should come from the South, why the President’s successor should have courage, capacity, empathy, among other issues. Excerpts:

You are a very strong advocate of a president of South-East extraction, is that the reason you threw your hat into the ring?

Beyond regional sentiments my love for a united Nigeria is what inspired me to take the decision. It is true that the South-East region has been greatly marginalized and for us to have unity in the country where the citizens will live in peace, have a sense of belonging, we need to address some of the burning issues. We cannot pretend that there is no problem when the problem is glaring at us straight in the face. We used to have a Nigeria where you had a Fulani man as a mayor in Enugu. We want to get to the level where as a graduate you have a job offer before you write your final exams in the university. At that time companies go to the university to seek graduates, join their workforce, but now, a graduate would have left school for ten years he or she is still unemployed and even when the person tries to start something on his or her own the infrastructure is not on ground to enable that to happen. There is need to have all these issues addressed. We cannot be servicing our debts with 80 percent of our revenue and we sit down and say all is well. The killings across the country are frightening. We need to be concerned. It is true that I have been advocating for a president of South-East extraction because if there is no equity, fairness and justice there is bound to be strive. If you have three major tribes in Nigeria and two, Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba have all tested power at the highest political level in the country, while not the third one which is the Igbo nation. My party decided to elect me as the party’s flag bearer in rancor free primaries. They elected me not on the basis of ethnic or religious leanings, but on the basis of capacity. My party has a national outlook, the chairman of our great party, Chief Supo Sonibare is not from South-East and we have other members of our party spread across Nigeria.

 Ekiti election

Your party is not as popular as the two major political parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC); how do you want to achieve that under the party?

How do you measure popularity? SDP may not be popular in the context of being in control of states. SDP is a known party and I can tell you that Nigerians are tired of the parties that you referred to as popular; they want a party that is populated by men and women who are concerned about the plight of Nigerians, the party that will present a candidate with courage, capacity and empathy. President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor should have courage, capacity and empathy. He should be worried about the killings across the country and should be ready and courageous to stop them. SDP is a party that has national outlook and it is prepared to address the challenges confronting Nigeria with all sense of commitment.

Can you face the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP, who has been in the race so many times, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the APC?

What I will tell you is that it is not about what some people will call a popular politician. At the state that we are in now, in this country, Nigerians are tired of these recycled politicians. They want to see real change. They want to see the killings stopped, they want to see their children go to school and they want improvements in the economy. We cannot be servicing our debts with 80 percent of our revenue and we are still talking about gurus in the contest, people who are used to the game of politicking, people who have been in government before. We should be talking about people who have the capacity to do the job. The ordinary Nigerian should be concerned about the capacity of candidates to positively affect their lives. We should be concerned about candidates who understand roadmaps to tackle the country’s multifaceted socio-economic challenges. Nigerians must not just be content with the assumption that a politician means well. The demand this time must be meaning well and being able to do well. People have made a lot of promises in the past that they did not fulfill. We should be concerned about visionary leaders. Nigeria at the moment needs a courageous leader. This involves the ability to make the best decisions in the interest of the country without fear or favour, not a leader who will look at his people before making decisions at the expense of the nation or other regions. I can emerge the president of Nigeria with the support of Nigerians. It doesn’t matter who is contesting in the race, what matters is whether Nigerians are behind you and I will conveniently tell you that in the 2023 general elections there will be lots of surprises because people reject the statuesque. The voters are wiser now, they will reject money bags and vote for the candidate that will lead them to the Nigeria of their dreams.

Do you have the capacity and courage as you just mentioned considering the fact that you have never been a governor before nor held any executive political office where Nigerians can assess your performance?

You don’t have to be a governor to be seen as competent and courageous. We have governors who have been president of this country but we have not really seen that level of change that we desire. I have been a Senator of the federal Republic of Nigeria. I know my contributions in the senate at that time. I have held leadership positions of my association, the Surveyors association at national and continental levels and I know the impact that I have made. I have held so many other leadership positions and my legacy is still there. I am a selfless Nigerian and a nationalist. I believe in one great and united Nigeria. I am concerned about the state of the nation. We are really drifting as a nation too fast which is the reason I am an advocate of a restructured Nigeria. People need to have a sense of belonging.

There is speculation that some of you from the South joined the race banking on the support from the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum which has told its people not to vote for presidential candidates from the North, did you join the race because of the group’s support?

There is no right thinking Nigerian who will not support power shift in this country. It has been guiding our peaceful co-existence, harmony and unity as a nation. We cannot shift the goal post at the middle of the game. No peace loving Nigerian will want a Northerner to succeed Buhari.

We must do everything in our power to sustain the unity of this country. The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum under the leadership of Chief Edwin Clark has done the right thing by the decision they have taken. It has encouraged some of us to still believe that there are people who are committed to ensuring that Nigeria remains a united indivisible nation. We need to have Nigeria before we talk about a President of Nigeria.

You have at different fora expressed support for true federalism, if elected president how do you intend to make it happen?

It has not happened because the political office holders don’t have the political will to make it happen, and that is why I said that Buhari’s successor should be courageous and have empathy. My dream is to have a restructured Nigeria where every state will grow at its own pace. There is no state in this country that doesn’t have the mineral resources that can sustain it, if we have true federalism this entire rancor that we witness across the country will stop. Oil is not the only mineral resource that we have. We had the era of the ground pyramid, we had palm oil plantations, just name them. Let us go back to the period. Again we have state and local government police to fight insecurity. You cannot have a federal government controlled police defeat insurgency. Fighting insecurity should be localized. If you have traditional rulers, the locals as stakeholders in the fight against insecurity you will get positive results. Of course the use of technology is also necessary but intelligence is key in the fight against insurgence. If you create jobs for young people they will be too busy to consider getting involved in crime. Restructuring will open the economy and states will be buoyant enough to take care of their people. SDP as a party has been singing restructuring for years and when we get into power we will restructure Nigeria.

VANGUARD

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PETER OBI’S MOVEMENT BIGGER THAN ENDSARS – ABURE, LP CHAIR

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Embattled National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure

Embattled National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure, shares his views with ADEBAYO FOLORUNSHO-FRANCIS on the lingering feud in the party, Peter Obi’s candidacy and other issues

Why is it difficult to resolve the issue of the Labour Party chairmanship tussle between you and the factional leader, Callistus Okafor?

It is only in Nigeria here you find that somebody can just wake up and say he is a party national chairman. Callistus Okafor is just somebody who wanted attention, and unfortunately, he is getting it. Was there an election or convention that produced him as the national chairman?

But Okafor said the constitution states that when a party chairman dies or gives up his position, the deputy immediately assumes the post.

Which constitution is he talking about? Somebody can wake up and say anything. It is left for us to find out from INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) and other bodies. People who are hungry shouldn’t just wake up to present another presidential candidate because an election is coming and claim that he is the chairman of the party. Since he said the issue is in court, there is no problem. There are several cases in court; how many do you see being advertised on the pages of newspapers? When we had our presidential primary, it wasn’t hidden; it was clear. Pat Utomi and others were there. You saw what played out before we arrived at the decision we took.

The factional chairman (Okafor) also warned that Peter Obi was sitting on a keg of gun powder by accepting to be your presidential candidate. What is your reaction?

If we are sitting on a keg of gun powder as he claimed, why can’t he just wait for it to explode? The truth is that Okafor just wants food to eat. His case is not a threat to us at all. We will meet in court as he said. It is not a difficult task for anyone to find out who the chairman of the Labour Party is from the Independent National Electoral Commission. I don’t think that at this time of our development, when we want to get it right politically that we should be promoting what will bring down the momentum of the people. This country is dying and it is on the brink of collapse. I think we need to show enough patriotism to prevent it from collapsing.

Recently, Peter Obi has come under fire for travelling to Egypt when he ought to be campaigning for your Ekiti governorship candidate. How do you react to that?

It is a normal thing for people in opposition to find something negative to talk about a candidate or party. What’s their business with him travelling to Egypt? It is because they are already afraid of Peter Obi. That’s why they are always looking for excuses to attack him. Is it a few days before the election that electioneering campaigns are done? People who want to win an election already know how to go about it. The truth is that there is no amount of negative report that will bring down Peter Obi’s presidential train. It is clear that he is ahead of other candidates. His track record is clear.

When you put him on a scale with other presidential candidates, it is very obvious that he stands out. Compare him with Atiku (Abubakar), and the difference is clear. That is because we knew Atiku when he was in Customs and later became the Vice President. When Peter Obi was also governor of Anambra State, we knew what happened. We know what both of them did in their private lives and in public offices. Is it (Bola) Tinubu that we want to talk about? It is clear Obi is way ahead. If he is going to Egypt for a meeting and that is his priority, what’s their problem?

Don’t you think Obi’s presence in Ekiti State would have boosted the chances of your candidate in the state?

Not really. Even the President cannot be expected to do everything on his own. There should be division of labour. There are leaders in Ekiti State who have been working hard. The people already know their candidates and where they are heading. Nigerians are suffering and they are tired. The people have made up their minds as to where they want to go. If they like, let them bring 100 bullion vans of money. The popular reggae icon, Bob Marley, said ‘you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time.’

What is the Labour Party doing differently to ensure Obi wins the 2023 presidential election?

Obviously, everybody has come to a realisation that our party is not the Labour Party of yesterday. We’re building on that momentum and expanding our horizons. You know people have been clamouring for an alternative to the APC and the PDP over the years and that is the opportunity we have provided for Nigeria. That was also why we sought the best candidate. By the time we come up with our vice presidential candidate, it will shock Nigerians because we are going to get somebody with the same credentials as Peter Obi. That will put an end to the whole of the APC and PDP. Quite frankly, we need to change those who have mismanaged this economy.

Nigeria just finished celebrating June 12 Democracy Day. In all honesty, has the country fared well?

I gave a historical perspective of June 12 and what it symbolises during the last commemoration. I said that was an election that brought all Nigerians together because it gave hope and became a symbol of the democratic struggle of the country. It has become a symbol of good governance in Nigeria. But unfortunately, the Moshood Abiola family ended up paying the ultimate price. Abiola died in the struggle, and his wife, Kudirat was also killed in the process. Their businesses, including newspapers like Concord and Abiola Group of Companies went down the drain as a result of that struggle. While we can say that Nigeria has attained democracy and people now enjoy the freedom of speech, all these are dividends of June 12. The 1999 Constitution is clear that the principal purpose of government is to provide security and welfare for the citizens. Section 2 harps on the fact that the national resources of the country must be managed in such a way that it gives maximum welfare to the people of Nigeria.

As we speak, Nigerians are not even asking for welfare. All they are asking is for the Federal Government to secure their lives. This is because people are killed on a daily basis in this country. The government has failed us. Over 100 million Nigerians are living below  the poverty line. Inflation is in double digit; people’s salaries cannot take them home. Poor people have no food, no shelter and no water. So, yes, we have to have democracy but it is not yet Uhuru for Nigeria; there is more to be done. Those who have not yet taken their PVCs are urged to do so.

There is a perceived assumption that Peter Obi is a social media president who may lose at the poll when the actual voting process begins. What’s your take on this perception?

If you look at the EndSARS protest, you cannot underestimate what the social media can do, especially with the younger generation. It is very clear that the people of Nigeria are tired. The truth is that a mind that is equipped is one that will be able to effect changes. Our youths have taken the election and collection of PVCs up as a challenge to actualise the changes. My party office here is already filled up with people registering for PVCs. The same thing is also evident across the federation. It is a very powerful movement that is good for us. It is even good that the opponents are underrating us and they will see the result in February 2023.

This movement is more than EndSARS, I can assure you. You can see how people are moving around, struggling to get their PVCs. If you visit INEC office in Abuja, the unprecedented crowd there now will send a signal. Go to Lagos, Warri, Imo and even Sokoto in the North, you will be shocked to see the crowd. But it is always good for your opponents to believe you are not on the ground. Technology has broken all barriers. What we actually need now to mobilise Nigerians are smartphones and social media. In the past, these were absent. People had to be in different wards to canvass for votes. Now, you can canvass on your phones. Was the success of the EndSARS process not attributed to the social media? They had to bring in the military to kill people before they could have their way. If not for the use of brute force by the military to break up that movement, you can be sure that something would have come out of it. This is why it is good for us to be underrated over our presence on social media at this moment.

Is Peter Obi not feeling threatened by the incursion of Atiku and Tinubu in the North and South-West zones where they rely heavily for votes?

If you look at the mood of the people, you will discover that it has ruled out the option of APC and PDP, irrespective of whoever they feature as their presidential candidates or running mates. The people, especially from the South-East, South-South and even the South-West, have made up their minds to do away with them. I don’t think they are a serious threat to us. I must admit that we may have one or two challenges in the North. However, from the statistics and polling that we have done, we don’t see it as a threat. We have had a president from the North for eight years, how has he impacted on the region?

What exactly do you mean by impact on the region?

Check the statistics, you will discover that the number of out-of-school children is even higher now. Even the Almajiri children that you see protesting in Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto states, who have carried arms against the country were given birth to when Buhari was just made president. Today, they are on the streets fighting for justice. Of course, they are children that were not trained by the system and those the states have abandoned. Today, they have taken up arms against the country. It is not about where the president is coming from. The northerners have seen it. Giving a northerner the president or vice president position doesn’t mean it may impact the lives of the people. The 2023 election is all about who has the capacity, character, antecedent and competence to drive the process of development in the country. The northern region has huge natural resources that can even pay the country more than oil.

What sort of natural resources are we looking at?

I don’t want to go into details or enumerate what we have in the North. As we speak, I am aware that some of these resources are being exploited by private individuals. Those resources exploited by these individuals with the active collaboration of the government would have gone a long way in providing education, healthcare and other welfare arrangements for people in the North. It is not about whether Atiku’s people are from the North or Tinubu has a stronghold in the West. We have had the PDP for close to 20 years and we have had APC for eight years. We know their results. Obviously, the people are tired and are ready to do away with the two. And that’s the mood of the country. I am confident that Labour Party will do very well in the 2023 elections. I have no doubt about it.

You seem so confident about the chances of Obi even in the South-West. Do you think Labour Party can defeat Tinubu in his stronghold?

If you study the situation very well, you will discover that the youths are actually in the majority. Although it is not in my place to comment on aspirants’ age or health status, people generally believe that a younger person should rule as president. Definitely, we cannot be talking about somebody like Asiwaju, who is old and may not be able to cope with the challenges of governance. There is no sentiment about it. This is all about the lives of the people. It is obvious that Asiwaju can’t cope. The mood of the people even in the South-West is not different. We need a younger and more vibrant person to do the job. My advice to him would have been to support a younger person and occupy a seat in the background. He needs to emulate people like ex-President (Olusegun) Obasanjo and Abdulsalaam (Abubakar) by having some rest while playing with his grandchildren. Even people like the late Nelson Mandela had the opportunity for a second term but he concluded that age was not on his side and he needed to rest. The people respected his decision. We must learn to quit at the stage when the ovation is loudest.

Many APC supporters believe Nigeria stands to benefit more from Tinubu’s brain based on his wealth of experience, not his physical attributes. Do you have a contrary opinion?

The truth is that the brain cannot function without the body. There is no way a brain in a weak body can function effectively unless we want to deceive ourselves. The country is facing a lot of challenges; we cannot afford to have a sleeping president who will be moving from one hospital to another. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to comment on this because it is sensitive and touches on the life of somebody but the truth has to be told. The country is full of so many challenges. People get kidnapped every day, some die in road accidents, and others are killed. Nothing is done about it and we want to bring a president who will be running from one hospital to the other. I think this nation has gone beyond that. We cannot put the burden of over 200 million Nigerians on the shoulder of somebody who is already weak. This is about our lives and the future of this country. I want to assure you that we will win in Lagos and other states in South-West clearly. The Yoruba will not go with Asiwaju.

People from the South-East have intensified efforts towards getting their PVCs. What could be the reason for the current rush to get the voter cards?

The answer is clear. People are fed up and seriously planning to vote out the APC and PDP from governments at all levels. You are aware that we once had voter apathy at a stage. People were not interested in even going to pick up their PVCs because they saw no difference between Tinubu and Atiku. So, they concluded that it is better to stay back in their homes. Now that Labour Party has come on board and also has Peter Obi as its presidential candidate, the rush you are seeing now is because of the Labour Party resurgence and Obi. I can assure you that there won’t be voter apathy in 2023 as people will come out and vote massively  for Labour Party.

Don’t you think issues like monetising of the process or vote buying as witnessed in the past can edge out the likes of the Labour Party?

Nigerians have since realised that the money they are sharing with them was stolen. It is our common patrimony taken from the government purse for themselves and their children. That’s the same money they bring to buy votes. I can assure you that Nigerians will collect the money and do the right thing this time. We have seen that done in Edo. I have had the privilege of campaigning during the time of (Adams) Oshiomhole. I have seen people collect money from the PDP and voted against them in Edo. The same thing will play out in the 2023 general elections. The reason people collected money and do whatever they like is that they may not have seen any difference between Buhari and Atiku in 2019. Therefore, they will just take the money when given as if there is no difference. But those who see that Peter Obi is better and may change their lives will collect the money and still vote against them. Some may not even collect and do the right thing. Buying of votes will definitely end in the 2023 elections.

Are you sure that some Labour Party aspirants are not involved in vote buying?

 Nigerians have witnessed our party primaries. They can use that to benchmark this assumption. We have seen how money was spent in the PDP primary. We also saw a similar thing play out at the APC national conference. I am sure nobody saw that at the LP convention that produced Peter Obi. That should tell you that vote buying is not part of our agenda. The people have decided and I am sure they will do the right thing. The people have seen bad governance over these few years and learnt some lessons. At least, we have seen that Nigerians rushing to get their PVCs are not induced or given money. Immediately after LP announced Peter Obi as its presidential candidate, there was a rush for the collection of PVCs by a massive crowd. It is an indicator of the fact that the Labour Party won’t buy votes but Nigerians will do the right thing.

Will Peter Obi’s emergence somehow put an end to secessionist tension by IPOB in the South-East?

In a way, it will. It is not the first time we are seeing an uprising. You will recall that in the South-West, there was a similar thing when the people felt marginalised. Groups like OPC and others sprang up and agitated for rights to secede from Nigeria over the rising case of insecurity in the South-West. When Olusegun Obasanjo became the President, he almost ended it. In the Niger Delta, we had the Avengers also threatening to cause tension over secession. But when Goodluck Jonathan became President, it was also doused. I am sure if Obi becomes president, the agitation from the South-East will resolve itself. This is because part of the agitation was because they were denied the chance of producing a president and given no sense of belonging. If such an opportunity is eventually given, I am sure that they will gladly support one of their own and allow peace to return to the country.

But we must also note that the issue of insecurity is not limited to the South-East alone. There is Boko Haram, ISWAP, unknown gunmen and violence all over the country. I think all these are down to the problem of bad governance. If people are poor, have no jobs and are hungry, the obvious thing to do is to go into crime. That is what Peter Obi is out to correct. If you are to provide jobs, create an enabling environment, and take care of the vulnerable in society, I am sure this problem of insecurity will die naturally. Sadly, we have repeatedly endured a government that has no passion for its people. Otherwise, what is happening in this country can’t happen elsewhere, and the people will still remain together as one. Nigerians are just very peaceful and loving people.

PUNCH

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FIRST DAUGHTER MARRIAGE IN ELEME LAND (OSI-ECHI OSILA IN ELEME LAND)

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Marriage rites for an Eleme First Daughter like her birthday come with Joy and marked with far greater festivities.

By Emmanuel Obe

This is because she bears the title or pet name ‘Osila’.

Osila is always One in any family – ‘Osila bin nne’ that has female children and her birth is a reward to her parents especially, her father since it promises a return for his investment in the marriage between himself and his dear wife.

This reward is never a monetary reward but a blessing and pride to any family whose daughter overcomes the challenges of childhood, the temptations in single hood and graduates into marriage.

Mr. Emmanuel Obe explains that the first daughter is carried shoulder-high by a relative to the market (Echi) where she would purchase some items in the company of children and women who cheer her up singing and chanting in praise of her.

Remember the song, ‘So onwi nje, ame ka nee’ and the celebrated ‘Osila kasi Echi….’

Here are some beautiful pictures of Osi-echi Osila Ceremony among others.

Eleme is a tribe in Rivers State, Nigeria whose people make up the Eleme Local Government Area and plays host to multinational companies including a Onne Seaport.





Special regards to the Photographer.

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