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AYU SHOULD RESIGN IN INTEREST OF PEACE – FORMER PDP SPOKESPERSON

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Former PDP Spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, who is the House of Representatives candidate for Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 2

A former spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, who is the House of Representatives candidate for Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 2 tells ABIODUN NEJO that the downward trend in all sectors witnessed in the country under the All Progressives Congress has made the PDP the beautiful bride in the 2023 elections.

With the start of campaigns, what is your advice to party leaders?

Elections should not turn to war. It is a contest and I see everybody participating in the contest as winners because it is participation first. Then if you win, you accept, if you don’t, you also accept. I believe that in Ekiti, we are educated and enlightened; therefore, there should not be character assassination and abuses. The campaign should be purely based on issues.

What issues do you think the politicians should come up with?

We should be talking about good governance, we should be talking about what the political parties did, what the candidates did, what you feel that you can do, what ought to have been done and what was not done. For instance, in my federal constituency, the APC is the party representing it at present; we should be able to tell how well we have fared in the last four years under the party. We should be able to question what the lawmaker or her party was able to bring back to the people. As a person who had also been part of a government; I should be able to say what I was able to do when I was in government. This election in my constituency, in my opinion, is between two political parties, the PDP and APC. The APC candidate was Chief of Staff to the Ekiti State Governor for close to four years. He should be able to tell his achievements as former CoS. Those are the things that I believe we should be talking about.

But do you believe Nigerians look at this while voting? What advice do you have for voters on what to consider before voting?

The electorate should consider antecedents; they should look at political parties and their records, also the candidates and their antecedents. The PDP was in government for 16 years; by the time it left in 2015, a bag of rice was N7,000; a litre of petrol was N87; a dollar was N197; over $2bn was left in the Excess Crude Account. We now have another party, the APC, that has been in government since 2015. Today, a bag of rice is over N30,000;  a dollar now exchanges for N735; there is nothing in the ECA now, and a litre of petrol is now N180. We should be able to place the two parties side by side.

When the PDP was in government, Ekiti had a Central Bank, Federal High Court, Appeal Court, Federal University etc. So, we should be able to ask what Ekiti State has benefited from the APC government since 2015. As I speak, all the federal roads in the state have collapsed. My attention was just called to the road between Itawure and my hometown, Okemesi. That road is now bad because traffic was diverted to it. People now pass through the road to different places because the road from Itawure to Aramoko – Igede has collapsed, the one from Ilawe has collapsed, likewise, the one from Akure to Ado Ekiti has collapsed, and the one from Ikole to Ado has collapsed, and we have a government headed by the APC in the state.

In 2018, when the PDP left the government in the state, the road linking Ado Ekiti to Igede to Aramoko to Itawure was motorable, and the road to Ijero was motorable; sadly, these roads are no longer motorable. These issues are what I believe the electorate should begin to ask. On insecurity, people can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed.

I am contesting on the platform of the PDP, my number one opponent is the APC candidate. He resigned as CoS to Governor Kayode Fayemi in April, so, he should be able to explain the failure that is associated with the government. We should be able to ask how the PDP did it then and ensure that the PDP comes back at the federal level and National Assembly to be able to restore Nigeria to what it was in 2015.

But the PDP is riddled with crisis, a number of your party leaders and governors are insisting that PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu must go and this is causing ripples. Do you think the PDP can make any headway without resolving the issue?

Political parties are about crisis and crisis resolution. I read that the APC National Chairman, Adamu wrote a letter to the party presidential candidate, complaining about the membership of the campaign council. You are also aware that people, including top APC members like former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal are raising issues within the same APC, criticising the Muslim-Muslim ticket. There are issues in all political parties. I read recently that the African Democratic Congress presidential candidate was suspended from the party.

All that is happening in the PDP is the normal conflict and I can assure you that we’re resolving it. As I speak, the gladiators are talking. It is about people protecting their interests. Politics is about interest. The moment people are assured that their interests (group interest, state interest, regional interest) are adequately taken care of, all these issues will fizzle out and I can assure you that the one in the PDP will fizzle out. We’ve had greater issues before.

What is your view about Ayu, should he remain or go?

There are two sides to a coin. If you ask me, I will tell you that in the interest of balancing he should go. But nobody is saying Ayu should be removed, saying somebody should resign is different from saying he should be removed. Resign in the interest of balance, unity, and the interest of peace in the party. If I were to be in his shoes, I will weigh my options and ask myself – if I resign, will it increase the chances of the party in the election? If my resignation will enhance the chances of the party in the election, I will not wait a second before resigning. For instance, if people say if I drop my House of Representatives ticket, it will be easier to win the presidential election, then I will drop it.

Some people are saying the 2023 general elections will be a three-horse race between Tinubu of the APC, Atiku of the PDP and Obi of the Labour Party. Do you think the PDP has a bright chance?

The PDP is the only alternative to the APC. If you do not like the APC, the only alternative is the PDP. I don’t want to subscribe to the idea of a three-horse race. Former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, is also in the race and he is not a pushover. The next President of the country will be produced by either the PDP or APC.

Do you see the popularity of Peter Obi as a threat to your party?

Not at all. He is not a threat to the PDP.

Don’t you think the crisis will affect the chances of Ekiti PDP candidates in the National and State Assemblies elections?

Some of us are talking to one another; even we are talking to those who left for the Social Democratic Party. A lot of them have returned in principle and openly. As it is, one vote is important in any election.

How is your chance in the election, especially contesting against a former CoS to the governor?

The fact that I am contesting against a former CoS gives me a very good chance because people will now ask – as a former CoS, what has he done? How many people did he affect positively? It makes it easier for people to ask questions. It is glaring that between the two of us, I am more preferred. Put us on a scale of popularity, a scale of acceptability, and a scale of relationship with the people, I am far ahead of my closest contender, the APC candidate.  Don’t forget that the election is coming up alongside that of the President, and Nigerians are tired of the APC. Even if it is to return us to how we were pre-2015, Nigeria will not mind. Nigerians will not mind returning to when a bag of rice was N7,000. Nigerians want a genuine change and the PDP will provide the change.

Again, there are fundamental issues in our federal constituency which I have assured our people that I would address when elected. For instance, Ijero Local Government, with many towns and villages, and one of the biggest in Ekiti State, has 12 wards. How come it has only one state constituency, meaning only one House of Assembly member? Was it like that before? What went wrong? That must be addressed and it is one of the issues I will spearhead.

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BABA-AHMED HAILS SHETTIMA’S ‘IMPROVED DRESS SENSE’

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LP Vice Presidential Candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed and APC Vice Presidential Candidate of Senator Kashim Shettima

The vice presidential candidate of Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed, has sarcastically applauded his counterpart in the ruling All Progressives Congress, Senator Kashim Shettima, over his “improved dress sense” to public functions.

The APC vice presidential candidate, who stood in for his principal, Bola Tinubu, was mocked on August 22 for dressing in an oversized suit-and-sneakers combo at the Nigeria Bar Association conference in Lagos.

The development led to a backlash, especially on Twitter where #ShettimaChallenge trended with tweeps making different posts mimicking the senator’s dress sense.

Although Shettima defended his position saying that he deliberately wore the sneakers to shame his critics, his excuse was not enough to dissuade social media critics from dragging him on the blue bird app.

But in a conference held in Abuja on Thursday, Baba-Ahmed, a running mate to the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, observed that Shettima had seemingly improved in his dressing lately.

While accusing him of having a penchant for belittling his political opponents urged the former governor to improve on his public composure and discipline.

He said, “We congratulate Mr. Shettima on having improved his dressing, but equally remind him that he needs to improve on his public composure and discipline in communication.

“Shettima is called upon to speak kindly and more responsibly about all personalities if only to uphold long-established standards. Little wonder he has consistently put to shame the noble heritage of the great Bornu Empire, in his unguarded and uncultured public pronouncements, which expose his intellectual laziness and discomfort with empirical facts and arguments.

“Regular insults which have now become his trademark, have not spared the current Vice President whom he directed to go and sell ice cream, nor the former vice president whom he described as a pure water seller, a noble venture which serves the populace better than a certain white substance.

“It is pertinent to recall how Mr. Shettima at a recent public event belittled Atiku Abubakar’s educational qualification as well as the modest lifestyle of Peter Obi. Clearly Mr. Shettima is out of touch with reality and cannot understand that people like Peter Obi who have reached the heights in business and material achievement have long transcended the need for ostentatious display of wealth.”

A livid Baba-Ahmed stated that the ruling party’s strategy against Obi now appeared clearly centered on promoting falsehood, in addition to derogatory personal attacks, because they can find no contentious points of negativity to push.

The LP vice presidential candidate did not also spare the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, who he described as introducing unethical standard into his campaign.

He stated, “It is important to underline that oaths of office do not expire with tenure, and hence the comment that the Northern electorate do not need a Yoruba or Igbo leader is greatly at variance with the oaths of office taken in 1999 and 2003 respectively, and the Peace Accord of 2022.

“This is to call upon the owner of the statement to respectfully retract same in order to be readmitted to the honour list of esteemed presidential candidates. Truth of the matter is that every Nigerian from anywhere needs a credible and competent president.”

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‘APC PLANS TO DISUNITE NIGERIANS WITH MUSLIM/MUSLIM TICKET’

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Senator Walid Jibrin, a former Board of Trustees Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party

A former Board of Trustees Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Walid Jibrin, has accused the All Progressives Congress of planning to disunite Nigerians with its Muslim/Muslim Ticket ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Jibrin who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential and governorship campaign council in Nasarawa State made the accusation in the Awe Local Government Area of the state during his party’s zonal campaign rally on Thursday.

Our correspondent reports that the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, a Muslim, had picked the former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, who is also a Muslim as his running mate ahead of the poll.

The development caused discontent along religious lines as many Christian faithful protested what they referred to as an attempt to “Islamise” the country.

The action of the APC also forced some stakeholders of the Christian faith out of the party.

Senator Jibrin said, “That singular unpatriotic gesture, coming at a time of rising security challenges confronting the nation is never a welcome development.

“The apparent late excuses by Tinubu to justify what is clearly an anomaly, that his wife is a Pentecostal pastor, are lame and insulting to the sensibility of Nigerians.

“And with what the APC and its presidential candidate have done, it is obvious that Nigeria cannot be safe in the hands of the former governor of Lagos State whose decisions and actions could plunge the country into chaos.”

Jibrin, however, said the country will be safer in the hands of the PDP, adding that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the Nasarawa state governorship candidate, David Ombugadu, are men of high intellect and composure who would ensure steady growth and development of the nation.

He appealed to residents of the state to vote for all PDP candidates in the 2023 elections, promising that the party would tackle the numerous challenges confronting the nation by providing the dividends of democracy to the people.

On the current disagreement between the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, the former Board of Trustees Chairman said leaders of the party were making frantic efforts to settle the disputes before the commencement of the 2023 elections.

“What is happening now in the PDP is a family matter. Alhaji Atiku and Governor Wike are brothers. As leaders, we are making efforts to address the issues, and we are hopeful that they will be resolved before the February 2023 elections.

“I stepped down from my position as BoT chairman to allow peace to reign in the party and pave way for other party stakeholders who had never occupied my former position to do so.

“I am confident that the PDP will retake the presidency and win many states during the forthcoming elections, so I am urging our party members and supporters to remain resolute in the struggle,” Walid Jibrin added.

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NO GOV HAS POWER TO STOP OPPONENTS FROM CAMPAIGNING –IGP

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Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba

•Uzodimma, Anyim, others outline impediments to free, fair election

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has directed police commissioners in the 36 states to dismantle campaign bottlenecks put in place by governors to frustrate their opponents.

This is even as the IGP and the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, vowed to arrest and prosecute touts obstructing campaigns by opposition political parties and politicians indulging in vote-buying during the 2023 poll.

The IGP specifically noted that all commissioners of police must provide security for political parties embarking on electioneering in all the nook and cranny of any state.

Speaking at the 2022 political parties’ summit organised by the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), yesterday in Abuja, he said any commissioner who fails to carry out his responsibility within the ambit of the law and decide to dance to the tunes of governors would be removed.

Represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Dandaura Mustapha, he said: “We have been receiving a lot of complains from political parties. It is unfortunate of what is happening this period. All the political parties are complaining. It is not only APC or PDP or Labour Party or APGA. Unfortunately, some of our governors as stated by the IG during a meeting with the political parties that they are not helping matters.

“They have not laid a solid foundation, give other political parties access to campaign programmes. Some try to manipulate the campaign.

“Some even sponsor touts to pursue the opposition, remove their billboards and posters and destroy their offices.

“Based on this, the Inspector General of Police, has categorically directed all the commissioners of police that on no account should any serving or sitting governor stop other political parties from conducting their campaigns in all the nook and cranny of the state.

“This instruction was very clear both in writing and verbal. We have told all the commissioners of police. When it happens, the commissioners of police have been directed to arrest all the hoodlums no matter where they belong and whoever is sponsoring them we will arrest them and charge them to court.

“So, please, be rest assured that all political parties are free to go about your lawful businesses. You are free to go to any village conduct your campaign freely and we are going to give you enough security. We are encouraging all the aspirants that once you are threatened and you have no access to go round meet the commissioner of police in charge of that state.  They have been directed and warned to provide security for all the aspirants. No matter where they are going, they will attach security.”

EFCC chairman, who was represented by the Chief Superintendent in the Commission, Adukwu Michael, noted that the anti-graft agency had embarked on voters’ education and was working to ensure politicians do not spend beyond the stipulated amount.

“The Commission focus in election management is discouraging the use of money to influence the outcome of election.

“Electoral spending by politicians often lead to voter inducement and vote buying. Parties often induce vote with money because they lack proper and realistic policies to convince the electorate to vote them into power. Whenever one is induced to sell his vote, he automatic loses moral ground to challenge corrupt tendencies of those elected…

“We are working with INEC to determine and to enforce provisions of the Electoral Act as it relates to limit of campaign spending by different categories of office seekers. This is an intelligent driven exercise.”

Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, said political parties and their candidates must adhere to democratic norms and “collectively intervene to achieve the kind of credible elections that will further deepen democracy.”

The keynote speaker, Senator Pius Anyim, argued that political parties must adhere to the principles of social justice as a means of preventing crisis.

“The rumblings in the PDP and the APC are surely due to perceived social injustice in the management of the affairs of the parties,” he argued.

According to him, the pain of the G-5 governors in the PDP is simply the sidelining of a section of the country in the sharing of party structures.

He, however, called on IPAC to step forward in playing a role to stabilise the democratic environment by ensuring that parties take their rightful position as the bedrock of democracy in Nigeria.

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