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Obasanjo: Atiku wanted Ekwueme as president to resign after three years

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 …I can’t be blamed for non-completion of Ibadan-Ilorin expressway

By Fola Raheem

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has attributed the defeat of erstwhile Vice-President Alex Ekwueme during the 2003 presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the collapse of the alliance between him (Ekwueme) and former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

He also contended that he could not be blamed for the non-completion of Ibadan-Ilorin expressway project, which was awarded during his administration.

Obasanjo spoke on Thursday at Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan (UI) while reacting to some issues raised in the biography of a former governor of Oyo State, Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala, titled “Amazing Grace”, which was presented to the public.

He said, “Adebayo has exhibited extra courage to invite eyewitnesses and ‘ear witnesses’ of some of the events chronicled in the biography for confirmation or otherwise. It is both courageous and dangerous to do so.

“By inviting me to be here at the launch of this great intellectual work of yours, you are asking me to confirm all events itemised in the book and in which I am connected as correct which you may or may not know are not.

“Atiku did not back down as you claimed until Alex Ekwueme was defeated at the primary of the PDP in 2003 as Atiku’s agreement with Ekwueme was to be Ekwueme’s running mate and Ekwueme, as president, spending three years and resigning for Atiku to complete the fourth year and then for Atiku to contest election in his own right in 2007.

“It was after the result of the primary that Atiku backed down, if you put it that way, it was when there was no other choice.”

Obasanjo continued “I wonder how you come on page 390 of your book to blame or criticise me for dividing the Ibadan-Ilorin Road to three sections for reconstruction during my second tem so that it could be expeditiously completed. You had a full term plus one year from Governor Ladoja’s tenure as governor and even up till today, the roads are not completed and you believe honestly that in your biography.

“I should be blamed at least 13 years after I have left office. As an Ogbomoso man, I can understand how important that road is to you.

“But when I took the steps which I took for the road to be expeditiously handled, it was not for your interest as an Ogbomoso man but for the importance of the road for the economic life of Nigeria and it is tragic that the artery road remains in the sorry state it is today.”

In his remark, Akala recalled that his maternal grandmother popularly called “Iya Alaro” singlehandedly reconstructed his fractured life, saying “it was a miracle how grace took me to the top.”

Commenting on the public presentation of the book, Professor Oluyemi Fayomi from the Department of International Relations and Political Science, Leads City University, Ibadan, described Akala as one who is committed to human capital development, tasking Nigerian politicians to emulate his virtues.

Eminent personalities at the event included the Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, former military governor of Oyo State, Brigadier General Oladayo Popoola (rtd), Dr Saka Balogun, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), the Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State during 2019 elections, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, among others.

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APC Primaries: Osinbajo group dares Tinubu, says VP won’t step down

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Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

As TSG writes delegates, seeks support

APC Professionals to organize retreats for aspirants

Ahead of next week’s presidential convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, The Progressive Project TPP – an umbrella organization of all pro-Yemi Osinbajo support groups, has dismissed speculations that the vice president was considering stepping down for a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The group noted that as the APC prepares for its presidential primaries, paid agents and loyalists of some aspirants have intensified the spread of falsehoods against the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Director of Operations at The Progressive Project TPP, Alhaji Usman Aliyu Usman noted on Sunday that “some paid agents and other supporters who feel threatened by the candidature of Professor Osinbajo seem determined for a gutter fight which Osinbajo supporters cannot join”.

Part of the statement reads; “One of our visible supporters, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, a two-term Senator who represented Osun Central Senatorial District between 2011 to 2019 made some weighty statements about the APC presidential primaries on Saturday and by Sunday, really baseless and mischievous anti-Osinbajo statements began circulating.

“Unfortunately, one of these came from Mr. Daniel Bwala, an aide to Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege who currently appears to moonlight as spokesman for the Bola Tinubu campaign.

“Specifically, without any proof, Mr. Bwala started circulating a video clip with claims that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is ‘allegedly planning to step down for Asiwaju’; Mr. Bwala had no evidence and he ought to know better than going to town with such.”

“Without doubt, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is still riding high in the race and our decision not to interfere in some camps’ deliberate spread of illusion and untruths is only motivated by our genuine confidence in our candidate’s prospects.

“As stated long ago, no group linked to TPP will join any individual or group in playing gutter politics or smearing others but we need to unequivocally state that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not contemplating any measure of capitulation to any candidate.

“While we are sworn to total allegiance to the Constitution, patriotic values and the spirit of good sportsmanship, we denounce the misleading information and unbecoming tricks that some supporters in other presidential candidates’ camps embrace so eagerly.

“We denounce too, the baseless ad unhelpful information being randomly disseminated by the likes of Mr. Bwala.

“In the interest of the nation and its democracy, TPP appeals to all aspirants and supporters at all levels to learn from the focused and principled campaign methods of Professor Osinbajo and his supporters whose collective determination towards actualizing Nigeria’s enduring greatness is a cause that genuinely deserves the support of all patriots.

“We categorically debunk the spate of falsehoods against PYO’s candidature and we urge all Nigerian patriots to look forward to join us in the forthcoming celebrations on the day after APC presidential primaries,’ the TPP official stated.

Meanwhile, the Tinubu Support Group TSG has appealed to delegates to consider the future of the nation and elect the former Lagos governor as presidential candidate of the party.

Head, Media and Publicity of the TSG, Tosin Adeyanju in an open letter to delegates said “it is an incontrovertible fact that Asiwaju Tinubu has the mental capacity, the political sagacity and the economic ingenuity required to steer the Nigerian ship to the promised land”.

“Patrick Henry famously declared that ‘I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past’. It is with the declaration of Patrick Henry in mind that I am writing to you all on why the choice of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the answer to a new Nigeria we have long desired. My letter to you all is to seek your vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in this forthcoming convention.

“Hence, I am appealing to all you, our dear party delegates to vote for Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu as the party presidential candidate. The future of this country and that of our children has made Asiwaju the right choice for a time like this when our country needs a tested turnaround.

“As a pro-democracy leader from the NADECO days, Senator in the third republic, two-time Governor of Lagos State and founding member of APC, Asiwaju is the most experienced and most qualified to be the next President of Nigeria”, he stated.

In a related development, the APC Professionals Forum has taken its quest for professionals and technocrats in the party to be given more roles to the leadership of the party.

A delegation led by the acting Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Dr Nkem Okeke which met the National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore, was emphatic that the party has an untapped pool of professionals that could easily add value to the party’s operations at all levels.

He said: “The narrative has to change to include this untapped pool of party members who have shown more than a passing interest in politics and governance in country.

“We have quite a number, not only in our midst but also within the rank and file, that are prepared for responsibilities so we crave the indulgence of the National Working Committee (NWC) to also look in the direction of professionals who are registered APC members.

“As a registered think-tank in the party, it falls within our mandate to contribute our quota to strengthening APC. We have therefore being holding consultations with registered professionals bodies in order to woo interested professionals into the party as well as to synergize with them in order to enhance professionalism in governance.

“And while the party is in the midst of electing candidates that will fly our flag in the various elections in 2023, we are hoping to organize conferences, retreats and symposia in partnership with the new APC leadership as part of preparations for the next general elections.”

Responding, Senator Omisore welcomed the idea behind the formation of APC Professionals Forum and promised to support its initiatives.

“We are prepared to work with you and have no problem including professionals in the activities of the party ahead of the next election,” he said.

The delegation which also included the National Coordinator of the forum, Hon. Akeem Akintayo also met the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Abubakar Kyari, National Vice Chairman (South), Victor Giadom as well as National Organizing Secretary, Alhaji Sulaiman Argungu and his deputy, Nze Chidi Duru.

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Obaseki, Orbih factions hold parallel primaries in Edo

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Chief Dan Orbih and Godwin Obaseki

THERE was confusion in the 18 local government areas of Edo State as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders held parallel House of Assembly and House of Representatives primaries, which were monitored by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials.

The parallel primaries resulted from the supremacy battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the PDP National Vice Chairman, Southsouth, Chief Dan Orbih, a former Edo PDP Chairman, who is an ally of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.

Winners from Obaseki and Orbih’s factions called for unity and peace ahead of the 2023 polls, with the primary elections of both factions having security operatives in attendance to prevent the breakdown of law and order.

Our reporter observed that Orbih’s faction had ballot papers with PDP’s logo on them. Obaseki’s faction recorded the votes on pieces of paper. An associate of Orbih, who craved anonymity, said the governor’s faction might face litigation.

A former member of Edo House of Assembly, Mr. Blessing Agbebaku, emerged winner to represent Owan West in the Assembly, as he was declared winner by the electoral officer, Bashir Ekeinde, with 34 votes.

In the other primary for Owan West Assembly, the INEC’s representative, Don Itukudo, declared Frank Unuigboje winner, scoring 32 votes to defect his opponent, Ilakhe Izirein, who polled two.

A former Edo Commissioner for Education, Jimoh Ijegbai, who won PDP’s ticket for Owan federal constituency, declared that the party in the Southsouth state remained one big family

In Egor constituency, Henry Okhuarobo elected as the House of Assembly candidate. Osawaru won in Ikpoba-Okha constituency. Jude Ise-Idehen emerged victorious for Egor/Ikpoba-Okha federal constituency.

The Speaker of Edo House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun, won as the candidate for Esan West/Esan Central/Igueben federal constituency.

A former Speaker, Kabiru Adjoto, was the winner for Akoko-Edo federal constituency. An ex-Deputy Speaker of the state’s Assembly, Yekini Idaiye and the incumbent Commissioner for Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, Donald Okogbe, won as candidates for Akoko-Edo constituencies I and II.

Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Andrew Emwanta, denied knowledge of parallel primaries in the state, especially in his Egor local council.

Orbih GSM’s line was not available at press time when The Nation tried to contact him to get his reaction.

An ally of his, who spoke in confidence through the phone, described Obaseki and his associates as jokers, declaring that the national leadership of PDP and the courts would take the final decisions on the “illegal” parallel primaries by the governor’s faction.

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Fayose’s son, aide, others win Ekiti tickets

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FORMER Governor Ayodele Fayose’s son, Joju, and his longstanding media aide Lere Olayinka are among those declared winners of yesterday’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives primary in Ekiti State.

Joju, who won the party’s ticket for the Ekiti Central Federal Constituency I comprising Ado and Irepodun/Ifelodun, polled 69 votes to defeat Deji Adeosun.

Olayinka emerged the flagbearer for the Ekiti Central Federal Constituency II, comprising Ijero, Ekiti West and Efon local government areas.

He got 54 votes to defeat his main challenger, Mr. Victor  Babafemi, who scored 45 votes for the position.

Former governorship aspirant under, Otunba Yinka Akerele won the party’s ticket for the Ekiti North Federal Constituency II. He emerged unopposed.

In Ekiti North Federal Constituency II, Babatunde Ajayi polled 63 votes to defeat Fayose backed aspirant, Funmi Ogun, who had 33 votes.

The primary election was conducted at Ido Ekiti in Ido Osi Local Government Area.

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