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2023 Presidential Election, How the Candidates Stand




By Tunji Light Ariyomo

This is the second presidential election since 2003 whereby I have played no role. Other than my occasional biased group chats and Facebook posts, by commission or omission, neither myself nor anyone from my camp was involved for or against any of the candidates in the current election cycle.

Dr. Michael Omotosho, my aburo Tope Jesse, etc, were all spectators except my daughter, Bar. (Mrs) Yeyeoba Odunola Sandra Ogunmola, who decided to ‘elope’ with Sowore. Our typical boots on the ground were not laced in any unit, ward, or anywhere in Ondo State and nationally. Like millions of Nigerians, we merely watched from the sideline, and the experience though unusual has been an interesting one.

D-Day is this week. We have had an extraordinary experience wherein the public speeches of the principal political actors in a government formed by the ruling party, have strongly supported the candidate of the ruling party – whereas their body language and faux pas have been precariously against that candidate.

For instance, how does triggering intense public anger and hatred against the ruling party weeks and days before an election translate to a popular vote for that party? They have simply been removing specks from the candidate’s eyes with fingers smeared with pepper paste!

Yet, there are developments to celebrate in this election cycle. One such is the possibility of a truly pan-Nigerian candidate. The man Peter Obi, warts and all, captured the imagination of the ordinary Nigerian better than any other candidate in this election.

I constantly do grassroots opinion sampling weeks to general elections. He has polled better with ordinary Nigerians in many parts of Southern Nigeria and the North Central where he currently enjoys fever-pitch support among the mekunus.

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What I do not know is the capacity of his handlers and troops to convert such unprecedented goodwill to election victory and hold their ground or manage rapidly evolving and erratic activities on D-Day to translate his popularity into an election triumph.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is a veteran of the game. Suave, urbane, and experienced with a network of supporters across the country. He is a formidable candidate. If the North-South rotation was to be respected, he ordinarily should not be contesting.

But he knows this is his best chance, especially with a politician of the status of Muhamadu Buhari off the ballot. Unknown to many, one major clog that obstructed an Atiku presidency since 2007 had been Buhari.

Buhari’s godlike popularity in the North automatically made an Atiku only a second choice. Atiku is also aware that beyond 2023, he is unlikely to be in the reckoning due to age as well as the need to contend with emerging northern stars like Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso, Nasir El Rufai, etc.

So, in realistic terms, this is his only chance, his last chance, and his best chance. The North has the number and the coordination and can always forge alliances leveraging the perennial divisions, selfishness, and incoherence in the South.

Bar the support of Northern governors who have displayed resolute support for the APC candidate and potential surprises from the NNPP, Atiku could expectedly enjoy a commanding lead in the North whilst his foot soldiers in the South can always anchor their message on the twin issues of economy and insecurity. The recent actions and policies of the national government on fuel and Naira scarcity (aka Naira redesign) are unanticipated boons for Atiku. It would take an act of God to stop him.

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In contrast, if there is any politician that has sacrificed more, built bridges better, and supported other politicians across the country among the presidential candidates, he is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT).

Like Atiku, age is no longer on his side and this is his best chance, his only chance, and his last chance, all things being equal. If the presidential election contest was based solely on the merit of preparation or a referendum on the most prepared and the most hardworking, he probably would simply await coronation or be rivaled only by Atiku who share a similar pedigree.

If there was honour among politicians, reciprocity would have mattered such that rather than what appear to be tactical blockades and hurdles strewn his paths by the very people he assisted to office in the past, his strides to victory would have been unassailable.

As a Yoruba, he is second only to M.K.O Abiola in building deliberate bridges of political collaboration across Nigeria. If he was from Northern Nigeria, he would unlikely be confronting the present level of intense resistance.

Although his party controls more states in the North than any other political party, the apparent perfidy from within remains an issue.

If he wins on Saturday, it would mean that the heavens had indeed ordained him for that position as he would have scaled unimaginable treachery to emerge victorious against the most vicious barricades and huddles ever mounted by friends and foes alike against any presidential candidate in the history of Nigeria.
Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso is the most educated among all the presidential candidates.

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Even as I was concluding that my non-participation this time was ordained or a divine arrangement, he was the only one among the current presidential candidates that personally invited me for a private talk.

You cannot interact with Kwankwanso without noticing his simplicity and genuine concern for the nation. Nevertheless, there were only two reasons why I could not join Dr. Kwankwanso: I could not shake the nagging feeling that I was not to play any role in this election, that I needed time off politics; and the fact that I was very conscious of having to jump from one political party to another.

Perhaps I am too idealistic to be a typical politician or perhaps the environment did not align enough. Yet, it must be said that Dr. Kwankwanso is beloved by a massive talakawa base in the North with a corresponding presence in Sabos across the country. In a truly free and fair election, he could hold a commanding presence in places like Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, and parts of Kaduna.

He was able to plant his party, the NNPP, in practically every local government across the country within a short time. His erudition, experience, and passion for Nigeria are unmistakable. Nigeria would be lucky to have such a man as its leader.

By Saturday this week, the ball shall be in the court of Nigerians. Hopefully, by mid-day on Sunday, we should have an idea of who is forming the next government. May the forces align to give the best to the Nigerian nation.

Tunji Ariyomo is based in Abuja and is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.

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Principal Reasons Why Lagos Must Return Sanwo-Olu and Avoid Being in Opposition At This Time




By Tunji Light Ariyomo
Does it make sense to have a Lagosian as President and then have Lagos in the opposition? Let’s look at the facts of our history. 
1. In 1983, Lagos Light Rail project was cancelled because the ruling federal military government was in opposition to the development agenda of the previous UPN government in Lagos State.
2. In year 2000, Lagos independent power project was frustrated because the PDP as the ruling party in Abuja was in opposition to the development agenda of the AD-led administration  in Lagos.
3. From 2004, Lagos’ allocations were seized for years because the PDP-led federal government in Abuja was in opposition to the development agendas of the AD-led Lagos State Government.
For the first time in history, Lagos will be having a Lagosian as President and Commander in Chief. E je ka jogunomi – ceasefire – at least for the next 4 years. Let Lagos that formed the fulcrum of opposition-led efforts to install a progressive coalition government in Abuja also be a beneficiary of that labour.
We want to see a federal-state jointly sponsored 4th and 5th mainland bridges with several in-city train and tram services in Lagos in the next 4 years. We want to see a spatial redesign of the entire Lagos State to give comfort to inhabitants and become the best mega city in Africa and a global tourism destination of choice.
We want to see Lagos excluded from the national grid, ring-fenced as a mega electricity cluster and powered by arrays of private-sector-led independent power projects that are completely outside the menace and wilful limitations that national centralisation of power administration has imposed upon Nigeria.
Lagos population is in excess of 22 million. To be a first world state, Lagos requires a minimum of 20 world class tertiary health facilities (teaching hospitals) properly spatially distributed at a ratio of 1:1,100,000 inhabitants with at least a thousand primary and secondary healthcare facilities or hybrids therefrom with a target physician density of 50:10,000 or less. If Lagos sees this ambition as being too loud in view of the abysmal gap of Nigeria national healthcare, the Lagos government can aim at just half of the above suggestion for a start as a revolutionary intervention in healthcare over the next 4 years leveraging the avowed eagerness of the private sector to invest in healthcare.
The list of the great things we want to see in Lagos State are limitless. But the structure of our federation has guaranteed that those things can only materialize if the federal government concurs with Lagos State.
Gentlemen and ladies, I am a stakeholder in Lagos. Like millions of others, I pay most of my property taxes to Lagos State than to any other state in Nigeria. The prospect of a redeveloped, rebranded and replanned Lagos where the health sector, education sector, security architecture, and social amenities can serve as 21st century inspirations to the black race excites me. We must therefore take advantage and fully exploit the inherent advantages offered by the tenancy of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Aso Rock in the next 4 years. We must leave no stone unturned to elect Babajide Sanwo-Olu. He is my candidate as
Governor of Lagos State on Saturday. Vote for him. May mercy and favour be the lot of all those who shun divisive politics and envy-inspired hatred to harken to this message.

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Nigerians stay awake! Obasanjo and ‘owners of Nigeria’ plotting another June 12 – Louis Odion




By Louis Odion, FNGE

One read with bewilderment, even a sense of dark foreboding, the statement by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday calling for the cancellation“of all elections that do not pass the credibility and transparency test” during the Saturday (February 25) presidential elections.

We have always known Chief Obasanjo to harbour anti-democratic proclivities. But never did one anticipate this effrontery, this in-your-face audacity by the General and his co-travellers to seek to re-enact the perfidious circus that eventuated in the June 12 annulment of 1993, thereby plunging the country into needless catastrophe yet again.

There is clearly no basis — whether legal or moral — to cancel an election which, on the whole, has been adjudged by the Commonwealth Observer Group as a significant improvement on all previous elections.

Nothing perhaps readily exemplifies this than the outcome of the presidential election in Lagos where the ruling party, APC, lost to Labour Party the home base of its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the first in the last 24 years!

Of course, the “feat” has since been celebrated with wild jubilation in social media as proof of “transparency and credibility” of the Saturday elections. But the song of celebration echoed by Obasanjo and his cohorts seems to change only where APC won! Note, on the same day that Labour won Lagos, opposition PDP also won the following key states namely Katsina (home of President Muhammadu Buhari); Plateau (home of DG of APC Campaign, Governor Solomon Lalong who also lost his senatorial election); Nasarawa (home of APC National Chairman, Senator Adamu); Kaduna (home of Governor El Rufai, Special Adviser to APC Campaign) and Kano (home of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, another Special Adviser to the APC Campaign whose son also lost House of Reps bid).

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So, considering this overwhelming backdrop, what else could still be driving the cry of “massive rigging” and call for outright cancellation of results if not perfidy and pure treason? Just how possible is it to nurture democracy without democrats?

For instance, results authenticated by INEC show that Obasanjo, the promoter-in-chief of the Labour Party candidate, could not deliver his polling unit in Abeokuta, Ogun State to his anointed as he only secured 9 votes to the 56 votes scored by the APC candidate. Part of the issue with Chief Obasanjo is indeed the lack of shame and comportment expected of his stature as former president. Otherwise, having openly expressed partisan interest in Peter Obi and proceeded to campaign vigorously for him and then getting beaten soundly in his own very polling unit in Abeokuta, he should know he had ipso facto forfeited the privilege to invoke the spirit of statesmanship to speak in the lofty terms he now aspires.

To be sure, one aligns oneself with competent opinion already offered by legal authorities that the INEC is in order thus far vis-a-vis the announcement of results, consistent with the extant provisions of the Electoral Act. In any case, the provisions of the law clearly avail anyone with contrary view to take advantage of the Election Petition Tribunal.

Inviting the cancellation of the results like Chief Obasanjo did is, therefore, akin to seeking to abort a pregnancy when the midwives already delivered the baby. A laughable exercise in futility indeed.

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With this, Chief Obasanjo appears to finally confirm wild speculations that started gaining traction in the last several weeks of a subterranean resolve by some anti-democratic forces to short-circuit the 2023 electoral exercise and foist another Interim National Government on Nigeria by any means possible.

They are the amorphous group of self-interested, self-styled “owners of Nigeria” who arrogate to themselves the prerogative to forever dictate the outcome of every electoral exercise in Nigeria, in utter contempt of the democratic yearning and aspirations of the rest of the populace.

The owl’s flight in daylight is ominous indeed. How ironic that Obasanjo, who had absented himself from the Council of State meeting held two weeks ago at the Presidential Villa, out of spite, is suddenly adopting a solicitous language in an open letter to the same President Buhari.

Symbolically, what Chief Obasanjo is offering President Buhari in the unsolicited epistle is a poisoned chalice indeed. With the Saturday polls already receiving plaudits from all and sundry as “one with little or no monetary inducement of voters”, Chief Obasanjo must be stung to the marrow by bitter jealousy.

Out of mortal envy, he would not want President Buhari to go down in history as organising polls better than his, thereby potentially displacing him as the new authentic “moral voice” of the African continent after iconic Nelson Mandela. For the better part of President Buhari’s two terms, Obasanjo did all within his power to undermine the latter.

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At international fora, he never let any opportunity pass without attempting to discredit the incumbent president who ironically is widely adjudged to have recorded more tangible achievements in office with lesser resources compared to the preceding 16 years of PDP profligacy of which Obasanjo had the distinction of squandering billions of dollars with nothing to show.

A classic example was the $16b splurged on phantom power projects that only generated more darkness for Nigerians by 2007 when Obasanjo’s tenure ended. Now that he has a sinister agenda, the Ota famous letter-writer is suddenly shouting “hosanna!” to the same President Buhari, in a shameless emotional blackmail.

Throughout his eight-year imperial reign, the name, Obasanjo, was of course a by-word for bare-faced electoral robbery and willful subversion of due process. Nigerians will indeed never forget how Obasanjo’s enforcer and INEC chair, Professor Maurice Iwu, had, for instance, appeared in Abuja in 2007 to declare PDP winner of Katsina elections while voting was still ongoing!

So indefensible was the process that eventually ushered in President Umar Yar’Adua that he was forthright enough to openly admit Obasanjo’s “electoral atrocities”, and thereafter sought atonement by instituting electoral reforms contained in the Justice Uwais Report.

Against this backcloth, it might not be out of place to now ask lovers of democracy in Nigerian to stay vigilant at this critical moment against the antics of Obasanjo and other so-called “owners of Nigeria” intent on derailing democracy with a view to sustaining their chokehold on the neck of the Nigerian nation.

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‘Asiwaju: The Leadership Secrets’ set for unveiling





A new book espousing the leadership secrets of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader and the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC is set to be unveiled.

The 200-page new book —Hardback and paperback— which basically covered the activities of Asiwaju Tinubu in the political space in the last 30 years, solely focused on his leadership style which has set him apart as an outstanding political figure.

Written by three seasoned media professionals, the well researched 14-chapter book threw light on the secrets of the enigmatic personality who commands huge influence and an enviable followership many years after leaving office as an elected Governor.

It squeezed the details of the qualities of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu captured with memorable pictures for pleasurable reading.

In the Foreword of the epic book, written by Mr. Babajide Kolade-Otitoju, the internationally recognized media personality, stated, “The book, ‘Asiwaju: The Leadership Secrets’, speaks glowingly about an enchanting personality that intrigues. A Colossus who has become the main issue of Nigerian politics.

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“To corroborate this statement, someone once said Asiwaju should be introduced into the Nigerian University curriculum for Political Science students to study. This is evident in the fact that, apart from being a political iroko, he is also a progressive who strongly believes in the manifest progress of a state/country “.

The new book, to be released soon on bookstores across the country and several online platforms, has been recommended for upcoming leaders in different areas of life.

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