The beginning of a new beginning
THE last elections, particularly the presidential election won by the candidate of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari; were a watershed in the annals of democratic elections in Nigeria.
The election of Alhaji Buhari as president is the culmination of the struggle for the enthronement of a people-driven democratic governance in this country. It is also the fulfillment of the prophetic insight of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who in 1983, predicted that the progressive elements in the North and South would come together for the liberation of this country.
Indeed, the progressives have always wanted to come together, but their march had always been stopped by cruel fate.
The coming together of the progressives under the United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA) in the First Republic was cut short by military rule in 1966. The Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) was also brought to an end by the military in 1983.
The progressive tendency of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) produced the Chief Moshood Abiola’s presidential election of 1993. It was also brought to an abrupt end by the military after the election was annulled.
The APC, however, is an idea which time has come and there can be no stopping the match of history. It is significant that Chief Awolowo was instrumental to the formation of UPGA and PPA. Awoists formed the bulk of SDP in the South West. Also, the dominant party in the South West that became a major partner in APC was an offshoot of Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
It is greatly significant how the election went in Osun. Your enthusiastic response, determination, orderly procession and conduct, peaceful disposition and commitment to the defence of democracy all shone through.
We saw the various categories of people, young, old, men, women, the aged and the physically challenged, all trooped to the various polling stations to perform their civic duties.
Because of vehicular restriction, many had to trek long distances to get to their polling stations, in order to vote. You all willingly sacrificed a whole day to be able to cast your votes to elect the president and federal lawmakers, in order to help shape the direction of the governance of our nation in the next four years.
You voted and stood by your votes until they were counted and defended the integrity of the election. Your enthusiasm did not wane, even where voting started late and continued till the next day.
The pattern of the election was consistent with what obtained since our coming to office, first, during the 2011 general elections and second, in last year’s governorship election.
In 2011, you enthusiastically supported our candidates. Then, our presidential candidate won convincingly in Osun. You did the same this time again. This is in spite of the divisive campaign of ethnicity, religion and regionalism embarked upon by our opponents.
You have demonstrated the same consistency in your support of the progressive cause since the days of the Action Group and have been passionate about us as you were about Chief Obafemi Awolowo. You have our profound gratitude for this uncommon love and support you have shown us.
There were reports of pockets of violence and attempted manipulation of votes in some parts of the state. These are the handiwork of agents of destabilisation and political brigandage.
The security agencies are looking into this and will stop at nothing in order to bring the perpetrators to book. Popular participation and freedom of choice are the essence of democracy and are guaranteed by the constitution and protected by our law.
We affirm every man’s right to have these. However, criminality, disruption of voting, political violence and denial of other citizens their right to political choice will not be tolerated.
You have my assurance that whoever wants to disrupt the peace of Osun will have the mighty force of the law to contend with. We shall defend democracy and the right of all to participate in politics and freely make a choice. In spite of the efforts of these outlaws, however, you refused to be provoked and you let peace reign.
Local and international observers noted your commitment to peace and determination to deepen democracy. I am very proud of you. Indeed, we are well pleased with the exercise in Osun and especially, the mammoth support we have received from voters all over the country that led to the election of our presidential candidate.
Given what we witnessed on Saturday, we have a measure of assurance that political power is now returning to the people through the democratic process.
We must build on this; defend and guide it jealously. We should now gird our loins and give total support to the government of the people in order to have the life more abundant that we all earnestly hope for. I must express my profound gratitude to all the people who voted for our candidates in the other elections into the National Assembly.
The officers, so elected, will, in the best tradition of progressive leadership, provide the best representation to their constituencies.
We want to assure you all, however, that irrespective of the political party you voted for, our mandate to govern covers every inch of our soil and covers all the people, irrespective of ideological and political affiliation, ethnic and religious identity and colour of skin.
We shall continue to serve to the best of our ability, to provide leadership, defend your interest with all our might and bring life more abundant to you all.
I will like to thank all the people who made the elections a huge success in our state, beginning with all the political parties, women and their groups, market women, traders, artisans, workers, civil servants, teachers, students, transporters, drivers, commercial motorcyclists, employers of labour, the organised private sector, business community, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, youth organisations, traditional rulers, community leaders, religious leaders, security agencies, the international community, Nigerians in the Diaspora, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all people of goodwill.
I must not fail to commend the leadership of the legacy parties, especially my mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the master-mind and chief strategist of this great victory of the progressives; Chief Bisi Akande, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Chief Ogbonaya Onu, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, my colleagues in the Progressive Governors Forum and a host of other leaders too numerous to mention.
I thank you all. •Ogbeni Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun and the South West Coordinator of Buhari-Osinbajo Presidential Campaign, delivered this as broadcast to the people of the state, on the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, on Wednesday, April 1, 2015.
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