How We’ll Retain Kogi, By PDP
• APC Govs Drill Sylva, Audu In Bauchi
• Osinbajo, Tinubu Absent As Audu Gets Flag
IF the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost out at the last general election, it refused to betray that fact during its first rally as the new opposition, yesterday, in Kogi State.
Being the only PDP state remaining in the North Central geopolitical zone, the national leadership of the party had gathered in Okene, Kogi Central, to drum up support for its candidate, Governor Idris Wada, ahead of the November 21 election.
Addressing the multitude of party faithful, PDP stalwarts upheld Wada as a man of the people, denouncing his rival in speeches laden with innuendos and invectives.
If the venom that characterised the rally was anything to go by, the party might have suggested it is ready to defend contested territories with the entire arsenal at its disposal, notwithstanding the fact that the federal might it romanced, few months ago, has eloped.
Meanwhile, determined to leave nothing to chance and win the governorship elections coming up in Kogi and Bayelsa States, governors elected on the platform of the APC, last week, summoned Timipre Sylva and Prince Abubakar Audu to a strategic meeting in Bauchi.
A source within the Bauchi State Government House, who spoke to The Guardian, said the meeting of the APC governors was summoned to get a firsthand account from the party’s candidates for the Kogi and Bayelsa States’ governorship elections.
He said that Audu and Sylva were asked “probing questions about their preparedness, challenges, prospects and some allegations trailing their candidacies,” adding that the candidates lamented that they had been shouldering the funding of their campaigns individually.
“The governors assured the two candidates that the party would reach out to them and reminded them that no stones should be left unturned in delivering the two states to the APC.
“For Kogi, the governors said it is a must win, as that was going to be the first test of the APC’s popularity after the March 28 election,” the source said.
He said while Sylva was taken to task over the level of fence-mending he has embarked upon to calm frayed nerves after the primary, Audu was challenged on giving appropriate responses to media attacks from his rivals.
The source said that on the campaign flag-off for the governorship candidates, the governors pledged to turn up at the rallies to give moral and psychological support to them, even as they commended senators for confirming President Muhammadu Buhari’s minister-nominees.
“There is a message from the headquarters of our party,” Acting National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Sekundus, told the crowd that gathered to witness receipt of the party’s flag by Governor Idris Wada at the Civic Centre, Okene, Kogi State, yesterday.
“And that message is that you need to make a choice between the devil and the man that is serving you now, who is like an angel.
You need to make a choice between a man that is standing trial with EFCC and the man who has governed you, who is like an angel. You need to make a choice between the man who took your money, N11bn that is standing trial today in the EFCC and the angel, Wada, who is governing Kogi State with the fear of God. Do you need somebody who will continue to dethrone your majesties and high chiefs? Our opponent, if you give him the opportunity, he has no respect for elders. He has no respect for women. He has no respect for youths. He is very, very arrogant.”
In attendance were: Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, who is also Chairman PDP Governor’s Forum; his Gombe State counterpart, Ibrahim Dankwambo; former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam; Taraba State’s Darius Ishaku; deputy governors of Ebonyi and Cross River States, Kelechi Igwe and Ivara Esu. Also at the event were 10 serving senators; and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Wada, according to Mimiko, performed creditably in the last few years and deserves re-election, rather than risk lives in vote for “an emperor”. He warned the Kogi electorate not to give its mandate to “an octopus”, who would decimate the people and lord himself over them.He, however, noted that Wada is a man of integrity who has respect for traditional institution, youths, and women, saying the governor is the only candidate that is truly committed to power rotation in the state.
Also, the former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali, advised people in Kogi Central to vote for Wada “in whom the power shift agenda can be realised.”
Former governor of the state, Ibrahim Idris, asked the people to be steadfast and vote for the PDP, saying the party alone can secure their future. According to him, there is no alternative to the PDP in Kogi.
At moments during the rally, the police were forced to use tear gas in order to restrain the surging crowd.
Wada, who earlier had visited the Ohinohi of Ebiraland, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, to pay homage, said he was seeking re-election in order to consolidate the projects he started for the development of the state.
Meanwhile, the Igbo community in Kogi State has expressed support for the candidacy of Idris Wada in the forthcoming election.
President General of Ndigbo in the 19 northern states, Chief Joseph Enyeama, noted that the state witnessed peaceful coexistence with other tribes during Wada’s administration, and that the governor’s master plan would take Kogi to the next level.
Amid the PDP’s high hopes, the Prince Audu Campaign Organisation has chided it for “encouraging lies on some online media platforms against the person of the APC governorship candidate in Kogi, Prince Audu”, saying the claim that President Buhari has not endorsed Audu was a figment of PDP’s imagination.
In a statement signed by its Head of Media, Dr. Tom Ohikere, and made available to The Guardian, the campaign organisation said had the “Special Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina, not swiftly debunked the lies, the PDP and its outgoing Governor Wada, would have exulted in their deceitful rumour”.
Part of the statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a false and malicious misinformation making the rounds in some online media purporting that President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the removal of his pictures from all campaign and promotional materials of the APC governorship candidate in Kogi State.
To claim that President Buhari has not endorsed the nomination of Prince Abubakar Audu as the governorship candidate of change-bringing APC in Kogi is not only malicious but goes to show how impunity and imposition have twisted the mind of PDP, else they should have known that the APC is a party governed by rules and procedures.
“The irrefutable truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari is in total support of Kogi APC and its governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu. At the fullness of time, Mr. President would visit Kogi to not only thank the people for voting for him and the APC in the last election, but also to ask them to repeat the choice on November 21, 2015. Kogi cannot afford to oppose the federal government or deny the state easy access to the presidency, which is controlled by the APC.”
The APC governorship campaign organisation said: “The questions we have been asking, which the PDP and Capt. Idris Wada have failed to answer are: has there been a failure of governance in Kogi State in the past four years? Have there been increase in poverty, sickness and disease in Kogi State within the past four years? Have civil servants and teachers continued to be owed salaries for many months?”
“Falsehood cannot stop the march for freedom that has started in Kogi State. Prince Abubakar Audu represents the change Kogi people have been yearning for and Kogi people have resolved that never again would they be deceived by those who misapply their commonwealth and mortgage their future.”
Also, the APC, at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja, Kogi State, yesterday, presented its flag to Abubakar Audu, amid huge crowd of supporters.
However, the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, and National Leader, Bola Tinubu, did not show up. Those in attendance included: Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum and Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha; Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom; Alhaji Tanko Al-makura of Nasarawa State; and Adamawa State deputy governor, Martins Babale.