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.
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.
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.
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.
AIYEDATIWA: THE NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
By Adeboro Onibalusi
In the dynamic landscape of Ondo State politics, a new era has dawned with the emergence of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa as the beacon of progress and transformation.
Following the unfortunate passing of his predecessor, Governor Akeredolu, Aiyedatiwa swiftly stepped into the leadership role, bringing with him a renewed sense of purpose and vision for the state.
Since assuming office, Governor Aiyedatiwa has embarked on a mission to unite stakeholders across Ondo State, recognizing the invaluable contributions each person brings to the table in his quest to move the state forward.
His commitment to inclusive governance is evident in his unwavering outreach efforts, ensuring that every voice is heard and every perspective considered in the journey towards the development of our beloved sunshine state.
One of Governor Aiyedatiwa’s most commendable achievements has been his steadfast dedication to the welfare of civil servants. Through prompt payment of salaries and allowances, he has demonstrated a profound understanding of the importance of ensuring the well-being of those who tirelessly serve the state.
This unprecedented commitment to the workforce not only fosters a culture of productivity and loyalty but also sets a standard of excellence for governance.
Furthermore, Governor Aiyedatiwa’s proactive approach to infrastructure development has been nothing short of remarkable. By mobilizing contractors back to project sites, he his accelerating the pace of development, laying the groundwork for a prosperous future for Ondo State. His strategic investments in key sectors such as education, underscore his unwavering commitment to building a resilient and sustainable state for generations to come.
Moreover, Governor Aiyedatiwa’s dedication to the advancement of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a testament to his unwavering loyalty to the party and its ideals.
His efforts to reward party executives at all levels reflect his recognition of their invaluable contributions to the party’s success and his commitment to fostering unity and cohesion within the APC family.
As we look towards the future, Governor Aiyedatiwa’s leadership offers a beacon of hope and promise for Ondo State. His visionary leadership, coupled with his unparalleled dedication to the people, positions him as the transformative force that our state needs at this critical juncture. Let us rally behind Governor Aiyedatiwa as he leads us towards a brighter, more prosperous future for Ondo State. Together, let us embrace the dawn of a new era under the stewardship of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the new sheriff in town. With the slogan ‘Odatiwa, Odi rorun’ resounding across the state, it’s imperative that we support a renewal of his mandate come the April 2024 APC primaries. This will ensure the entrenchment of progressive continuity, securing our collective journey towards sustained growth and development.
Signed: Hon Adeboro Onibalusi, APC stalwart (Akoko North West) Ondo state
VACCUM IN THE OTHER ROOM AT ALAGBAKA: WHERE IS MRS AYEDATIWA?
By Sola Ajisafe, Esq
” Aponle o si fun Oba ti ko ni Olori” – (Yoruba proverb populaised by Miliki master, Chief Ebenezer Obey).
There have been arguments that the Nigerian Constitution never provided for the place of a First Lady in anyway. It had equally been argued that aside from being a constitutional aberration, it was seen as a way to eat into our commonwealth by the occupiers of our seat of powers.
Honestly, I do not know when it started but I am aware that even under the parliamentary democracy and so soon after, under the jackboots, spouses of our Chief Executives played vital roles in the administration of government and government business in Nigeria. Even if it’s from the “Ooza room”. Victa icta (whichever way), they add value by providing stability to the system.
This does not in anyway presurppose it’s constitutionality or neither did it make it a wrong. It had become a convention. Under our laws, conventions are aptly recognized.
In our system, we have seen Chief Executives who kept their wives out of the political radar. One of such was, Pa Adekumle Ajasin of old Ondo State, Chief Bola Ige of old Oyo State, Chief Bisi Akande of Osun State and of recent Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State. There are many others too. It’s a personal decision. For instance, if I become the Governor or President today, my wife will remain in her post as Mrs Ajisafe and her duty as a trained nurse. It’s that simple.
Contrarywise, our Ondo State under Chief Ade Adefarati gave some leverage to his wife. This position was taken to a higher level with the coming of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko whose wife emplaced the Gbebiro ( Keep the Family intact) programme and further up the ante, our own Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu ( Digital Mama).
More than anyone, Betty Akeredolu bested everyone with her many iconic ideas and efforts to assisting her husband and our people one way or the other. Take for instance BEMORE, BRECAN, FOWOSO, and all her legislative activities for the women and the girl child in Ondo State. It had never been that good or loud.
Whatever anyone may wish to say, there were high points for the Akeredolu administration and the people of Ondo State particularly the families that benefitted from it. In this wise, Lucky as Akeredolu’s successor must ensure that some of these important programmes do not die or get extinguished at the exit from government of the Akeredolus. At least, he had made promises to that extent about Aketi’s legacies. He may not be able to carry all those programes but the one like BEMORE and FOWOSO must be sustained. The best perons to do it is Mrs Oluwaseun Ayedatiwa.
Aside from the fact of balancing of the home front and consistent maintanance of the emotional and mental health of our Governor, the presence of his wife would provide a soothing balm to him when he needs it. Our Governor is still very young, smart, able and agile. He needs all the support and encouragement. Everyone needs it.
It is almost two months since our new mint Governor, Hon. Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa was sworn in as the Governor of our State, yet no one has set eyes on his wife. Curiously, when he was made the Deputy Governor and on the occasion of the much talked about Aketi prophesy, she was delectable beside her husband and regal in her gait.
Some minders of the Governor had said at various times that she was in Lagos and that she is in ” her husband’s house”. Yet there are others who believed the innocent woman is barred from coming near the seat of power for obvious reasons by her husband. Others are even of the view that the woman is afraid of coming near her husband at Alagbaka due to a history of unbelievable cruelty against her by her husband. This was made known sometime last year. Both parties denied it. However, the extremely beautiful woman with so much promise has not been seen near her hubby for a long time. What is the issue? We need an answer because we deserve one.
This culture of ” old age bachelor” life is not what our Governor needs at this crucial time. Our Governor needs both physical, mental and emotional balance in Alagbaka.
I hate to say this, but it is the truth, if it is a fear of the unknown that is making the beautiful wife of our Governor to stay abroad very far away from his spouse at the seat of power in Alagbaka, women groups and the people need to assuage her fears. That she is safe because she is now the mother of the State. No be by age but na favour she get from Baba God.
Also, if it is a form of punishment by her husband for any act that may have brought him to opprobrium at any point in time, I join every man of good faith to plead for forgiveness for the ” Mother of the State”. To err is human but to forgive is divine.
I strongly feel that for the physical health, safety and emotional balance of our Governor in the few months remaining for him in Alagbaka, it is important that his wife must return to take good care of him and to provide the motherly cover for the rest of us as our First Lady.
This is an iredissible minimum that we demand from our Governor. It’s nothing too hard to achieve.
Simply, where is Mrs Ayedatiwa?
Insecurity: Family seeks help after falling victim to repeated kidnapping attempts
A young couple, Adepounda Mayowa Adewale, a 37-year-old and his wife, Adepounda Yetunde Oluwakemi, 33, have cried out for help for fear of their dear lives.
The couple are seeking help and running for their lives following repeated kidnapping attempts targeting their family.
The wife has been abducted on two different occasions by daredevil kidnappers terrorising the people. On both occassions, she had regained her freedom after the family paid huge sums of money for ransom.
However, in recent times, the family has observed that the entire family, including the husband ans their children, Adepounda Oluwasemilore Love, aged 9, and Adepounda Daniel Akorede, aged 6, have been targeted by the deadly kidnappers.
According to the family, the kidnappers have made several attempts to abduct the family for a third time, with the dastardly hope of extracting another huge ransom.
Aware of the family’s relative affluence, as the husband sells phones at ‘Computer Village’ in Lagos State and the wife works in ‘Akute’ in Ogun State, the criminals see them as lucrative targets.
Despite the family’s efforts to seek assistance from the police, their attempts have been unsuccessful in ensuring their safety.
In a harrowing turn of events, it took the intervention of passers-by in their neighborhood to thwart the latest kidnapping attempt.
Tragically, one of the bystanders was shot by gunmen during the rescue and later succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.
Faced with serious threat to their lives and the inability to find refuge through official channels, Adepounda Mayowa Adewale are appealing to the general public and well-meaning Nigerians for assistance.
Their plea for help underscores the gravity of their situation and the urgent need for support to ensure the safety and security of their young family.
The Adepounda family is often forced to flee their homes due to dire circumstances beyond their control, seeking refuge and protection.
Consequently, they’ve been fleeing from one location to another to ensure their safety.
The experience of the Adepounda family is a tip of the everyday experience of the average Nigerian famy.
It will be recalled that some yet-to-be-identified gunmen, numbering nine, had attacked motorists along the highway in December, 2023, abducting seven passengers, killing one and injuring another.
One of the victims who narrated her ordeal to newsmen said, the gunmen, ambushed their Toyota Hiace bus with registration number, SUL 388 ZY while they were travelling to Lagos from Akure.
The victim, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said she was travelling with her family along the highway when the gunmen stopped their vehicle amidst sporadic gun shots.
The Adepounda family is constantly living in fear for their dear lives.
On many occasions, a series of reports have been to police as a way of protecting themselves, but the family seems to have lost hope in security agencies, hence their cry for help.
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