Saturday, 28 June 2014

Jonathan, PDP, APC change focus to Osun

Leon Usigbe of "Nigerian Tribune" writes on the thinking of President Goodluck Jonathan and the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over Osun State, following the party’s victory in last Saturday’s Ekiti State governorship election. ALARM bells are tolling in the camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the loss of Ekiti State to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last weekend’s governorship election in the state. The incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was seen as one of the leading lights among the party’s state chief executives and actually prides himself as one governor who had been able to bring immense development to the state within the resources available to him in the last few years. His rejection at the poll by his people despite what he sees as a satisfactory performance, will, therefore, continue to confound him. But not so with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP hierarchy who, for some reason, were confident from the very start that Ekiti would fall back to the hands of the party. With 2015 general elections beckoning, the president was intent on winning Ekiti State and he indicated in the run-up to the election that APC might make all the noise but when the time came, “they will know who is in charge.” That disposition played out just before and after the conduct of the exercise. He ensured a massive deployment of troops to monitor the election. Ekiti people attest to the fact that the huge presence of security personnel was beneficial to the election which has been adjudged by local and international observers as free, fair and credible. Jonathan felt vindicated by the outcome of the election in more than one way. First was the wisdom in his avowed commitment to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country as previously exemplified by governorship elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra states which were devoid of manipulation to favour any political party. The will of the people was acknowledged to have prevailed in all. Jonathan also felt vindicated because his initial confidence in the wide acceptance of the PDP was not misplaced. What he probably did not expect was the landslide nature of Ayo Fayose’s victory at the poll which brought to him in clear terms, the fact that the PDP, which had been written off in the South-West by many pundits, was, in fact, waxing stronger in the region. Therefore, the president and the ruling party’s hierarchy, led by the national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, thought it was imperative to pop champagne to the unexpected demolition of the APC in Ekiti State with an eye for Osun State in August and the entire geopolitical zone in 2015. Mu’azu led the members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) to the Presidential Villa last Sunday to celebrate the victory with President Jonathan, who reminded them that Ekiti had always been a PDP state and he was poised to ensure that the success recorded in that state was replicated in others. “We have shown clearly that Ekiti is a PDP state. I am happy that Ekiti has made it very clear that the present administration stands for free and fair elections. We believe that we will even do more in other states. I thank God for the Ekiti election. It has been adjudged to be free, fair and credible by both local and international observers. It was peaceful and when the result was announced, nobody has been killed and no house has been burnt down,”he said. Jonathan tried to downplay his elation over the Ekiti victory, only saying that he was not necessarily happy because his party won but that the election passed off peacefully without major incidents and adjudged as free and fair. He said: “Yes, as a leader of the party, I’m supposed to be happy. But it is beyond that. I was told that there may be crisis in Ekiti, because the report I got before the election, the feeling is that yes, one party might win or lose, but there will be fire and brimstone. I have to commend the Nigerian police and other security agencies. And today, Ekiti is in a peaceful state.” The president has left no one in doubt as to how much he wants Osun State retrieved from the grip of the APC and with Ekiti State now in the bag, his attention is fully focused on the August election. He is mobilising the party machinery behind the idea and it is not unlikely that the state will have a full dose of the medicine administered to Ekiti in terms of troops deployment to fend off the machinations of politicians with perceived negative intentions. With Mu’azu at the helm of the party’s affairs, Jonathan believes more electoral successes are a foregone conclusion. “You (Mu’azu) coming to have such an interaction with me and the vice president is quite unique. It has never happened. It shows clearly that the Game Changer (nickname for Mu’azu) will change so many games.” APC leaders are alarmed as could be seen from the rushed attempt by Senator Bola Tinubu; the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, to conscript former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, into the APC army to roll back PDP’s possible incursions into the state come August. Immediately the Ekiti election results were announced, jolted by the outcome, they bolted to Okuku, Oyinlola’s hometown to try to convince him to formally defect to the APC as a deliberate strategy to shore up the party’s chances in the governorship election. “The APC knows that you are the National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in the face of the law. But we want you to be a part of our new movement,” Odigie-Oyegun pleaded with him. Whether this will work is a matter of mere conjecture but for now, it seems that the former governor has decided to bide with the PDP and judging by what he told the APC leaders, his focus is on his fight to reclaim his national secretary position in the ruling party. Jonathan and the PDP may not care much about what the APC is doing now because they have momentum on their side. The president believes the PDP is the best vehicle for election victory in the country, especially as it has retained its colour, motto and emblem over time and all it needs to do is to “work hard and sell our programmes and manifestos to Nigerians so that they accept us for what we are and we have always said that we will not disappoint Nigerians.” But the incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola, warned Jonathan and his security forces on Tuesday not to take Osun for Ekiti. “We are ready to co-operate with the security agents before and during the governorship election. Any security officer who, however, misbehaves will know that we are children of Oduduwa,” he said.

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