APC leaders meet Buhari as Obasanjo, others hail Edo poll
• Stakeholders disagree on why APC lost Edo State
• Uzodimma denies spending N3b on election
Following the defeat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Edo State Governorship Election on Saturday, the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, and Chairman of the Edo State Governorship Election Campaign Council, Abdullahi Ganduje, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While the APC stalwarts met with the President, more reactions greeted the governorship polls, most of them hailing the victory of the incumbent Governor of the state, Mr Godwin Obaseki. The comments came from a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and a former Governor of Kano State, Musa Kwankwaso
The meeting with Buhari held behind closed doors and journalists, who waited to hear from the APC top brass the reasons for and the outcome of their meeting were disappointed as the party chiefs departed the Villa via another route, ostensibly to avoid reporters.
Obasanjo, in his reaction, urged Obaseki to be magnanimous in victory in the interest of the state and country.
He said the governor’s success was a proof that the people of the state valued his leadership and appreciated the efforts made on their behalf.
“I salute you and all those who worked for your re-election,” Obasanjo stated in a congratulatory letter, a copy of which was made available, yesterday, to newsmen by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi.
He added, “I urge you, therefore, to reciprocate their trust by doing everything you can to strengthen their faith in democracy and in its ability to bring about improved material conditions and better service delivery. I also count on your support of well-meaning Nigerians like me in our quest for national peace, stability and economic development and trust that you will play an active and visible role in our pursuit of these noble and desirable objectives.”
Kwankwaso, in a statement by his Principal Private Secretary, Muhammad Ali, congratulated the Edo people for their “foresight in re-electing their hardworking and effective governor.”
On the conduct of the election, he said the advisory of United States and United Kingdom to election riggers and promoters of election violence was very effective.
He added that the party’s victory was facilitated by the outstanding commitment, resilience, courage and the doggedness of the Chairman of its Campaign Council, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
AS Nigerians hail the election, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has dismissed reports that he rejected the outcome of the election.
In a statement issued on Monday by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, Uzodimma, also dismissed an allegation that he spent N3 billion to support the campaign of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The statement read: “There is fake report trending on the social media, which claims that Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has rejected the recently announced Edo State Governorship Election result.
“There are yet others where the writers in their imagination are feeding the public with questionable amount of money the governor allegedly spent on the election in Edo.
“In one of the reports, it was claimed Governor Uzodimma spent N3 billion, while a fake Reuters report claims that he spent $5 million on Edo governorship election.”
According to Uzodimma, the election provided an opportunity for his opponents to peddle lies against him.
Uzodimma said he was only the chairman of the campaign council.
MEANWHILE, as all sides to the governorship election, including INEC, political parties and other stakeholders engage in a post mortem of the exercise, the APC has started agonizing its sacking from the entire South-South geopolitical zone.
The APC Governorship Campaign Council, headed by Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, did not release any statement as its immediate reaction to the stunning defeat.
But speaking on a television programme yesterday, a prominent member of the campaign council traced the party’s loss to unexpected developments in the country, particularly in Edo State days to the election.
Governor El Rufai of Kaduna State, who alluded to an opinion poll that predicted victory for his party, maintained that voters changed their minds less than 21 days to the election.
While remarking that it was not in the character of President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy the famed ‘federal might’ to steal elections for his party, the Kaduna State governor denied any extraneous influence on the outcome of the poll.
He stated: “Three weeks ago, the polls clearly showed the APC was going to win. But the results came out differently from what we expected. The election was decent. We were worried about violence, but there was none at all.”
Extolling the benefits of bi-partisan democratic elections, El Rufai affirmed that going to election presents two options, win or lose, stressing: “Obaseki has won and that is it. You have to go into elections knowing you can lose.”
Checks by The Guardian revealed that internal misgivings within the APC campaign council, particularly the video message by one of the party’s national leaders, who is not a member of the campaign council few days to the election, has been blamed for the huge loss.
A chieftain of the party confided in The Guardian that the video clip and apprehension by APC governors that the immediate past national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, could use the victory to enhance his plot to return to office did the damage.
The chieftain said: “With due respect, how would anybody contemplate airing such video message after our rivals are accusing us of godfatherism? Somebody wanted to claim credit for victory and ended up causing division. None of our governors agreed to show up for the grand finale of the campaign or even release funds for logistic support.”
The chieftain noted that unlike four years ago, APC did not go into the election battle as a united family, remarking that the various factions and interests in the party worked at across purposes.
But dismissing insinuations that Oshiomhole was staging a comeback plot for the office of national chairman, co-convener of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), Henry Idahagbon, told The Guardian the former chairman had returned to the state to enjoy his retirement.
Idahagbon, who is a former Attorney General of Edo State, said that those who blame APC’s defeat on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s contribution to the campaign effort were being mischievous.
A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), blamed APC’s loss on the international entry visa denial or threat of same by the United States and United Kingdom.
In a statement signed by its Chairman of Board, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Chinwe Umeche, Intersociety stated: “In the Edo State governorship polls, the hands of the ‘polls rigging doyens’ were tied, especially when their attempts to use compromised and asymmetrically composed security agencies in the country to intimidate and scare away ‘independent voters’ failed woefully.
“With US and UK entry visa ban starring on their faces like ‘Trojan Virus’, they were forced to yield and in the end, it was 307, 995 ‘living votes’ for Godwin Obaseki and 223,619 votes for Osagie Ize-Iyamu.”