Political Campaigns: How PDP Made A Difference In Akure
EXCEPT for a terse statement by Vice-President Namadi Sambo describing President Goodluck Jonathan as a well-read candidate contesting election with some candidates “who are struggling to bring out their school certificates,” the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akure, Ondo State capital, was entirely issue-based unlike those before it that were full of mud-slinging and character assassination.
Although the PDP could not be said to be the only culprit in this act of narrowing down the very serious business of soliciting for votes to personality clashes, which greatly reduced the value of the campaigns, equally guilty is the party’s main challenger, the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The Akure outing was an example of what a party desirous of convincing the electorate for another mandate should use a campaign platform to do; showcase what it has done in the past to develop the land and its people and enumerate what it plans to do with a fresh term of office.
Another factor that stood the Akure campaign out was the manner the occasion was packaged with all the allures of a first class event where no effort is spared in making the invited personalities and political figure as comfortable as possible while the aesthetics of the whole scene was discernible to all present.
The Ondo Director-General of the Jonathan Campaign, Tokunbo Modupe, a very successful entrepreneur and event promoter, who few hours before the outing told The Guardian that the state was going to witness a grand campaign, actually did a marvelous job with the seamless organisation where every little detail was taken into consideration.
The tone of the well-planned campaign with the trappings of modernity in the use of current technology and breathtaking construction of the canopies was set by the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who welcomed the dignitaries to Akure.
The governor who dwelt on the virtues of an average Ondo State citizen in their principled stand over the years against military dictatorship and other anti-democratic forces and showcased their exploits in the field of education in Nigeria said the people of the state were proud of their resolve to support Jonathan for a second term of office.
He thanked the president for “expanding access to education in the establishment of more tertiary institutions in the country, with Ondo as a beneficiary of a new Polytechnic at Ile-Oluji, and the expansion of opportunities for Nigerians in the transportation sector, which manifested in the revival of the railway system and provision of adequate healthcare delivery.”
The governor who expressed delight at the massive turn-out of supporters of the PDP and a cross section of non-partisan people that were mobilised from various sectors of the societies, told the visitors that “Ondo is a PDP state and we promise to deliver this state to the president on march 28 and return all the candidates of the party from the National to the State Assemblies.”
The Deputy Director-General of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organization in the southern states, former Anambra state governor Peter Obi, who has a sizable number of admirers in Ondo that he cultivated during the two occasions he had visited the state as a governor, described the president as “the best thing to have happened to Nigeria.”
In his address to the enthusiastic crowd who came from the 18 local councils of the state, the national campaign DG and former PDP chairman, Ahmadu Alli who was introduced as the pioneer head of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and former Education Minister and an example of the party’s commitment to youth development, said he was now sure that Jonathan would win the votes of the South West geo-political zone.
Speaking smattering Yoruba to the delight of the crowd, Alli thanked the leadership of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation who at a meeting with Jonathan the previous evening in the Akure home of Chief Reuben Fasoranti, its octogenarian leaders, endorsed the PDP candidate for the 2015 presidential contest.
He said, “I want to, on behalf of the Jonathan campaign organisation and the entire PDP family, thank Chief Fasoranti and the Afenifere for accepting us yesterday. I also thank Gani Adams whom I met this morning and who also accepted us. With the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and Afenifere on our side, the whole of the South West is for us.”
Special Adviser to the president on Niger Delta Affairs and Chairman of Federal Government Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku who hailed from the Ijaw-speaking rverine area of the state, dwelt on the renewed strength of the PDP in Ondo with the merging of the party and the previously ruling Labour Party (LP) saying the victory of Jonathan is assured in the election.
According to him, “in those days, the LP and the PDP used to slog it out but now the LP has fused into the PDP and we now have a super mega party that is too formidable to beat by any opponent. In the coming election, we will vote and vote and vote for the president and all our candidates.”
The Chief of Staff (COS) to the president, Brigadier-General Jones Arogbofa (rtd), reeled out what he called the dividends of Jonathan’s presidency to Ondo State in the last six years.
He listed these to include 589 different projects embarked upon by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of which the state is a member by virtue of its oil-producing status, the presidential approval for the establishment of the College of Medical Technology for the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and of course the establishment of the Ile-Oluji Federal Polytechnic.
Arogbofa also mentioned the rehabilitation of the Ipele-Idoani road, the construction of the 2/60 133/33 KVA substation in Ose and other electricity projects, the numerous Sure-P projects in human and infrastructural developments, which he said were part of the administration’s Transformation Agenda which he said targeted at taking Nigeria to the next level.
He said despite being the president of the largest and most powerful black nation in the world, “President Jonathan is so humble and so committed to the advancement of humanity that we can’t but allow him to continue in office for us to continue to reap the fruits of his good works.”
A chieftain of the party and candidate in the 2012 governorship election in the state, Chief Olusola Oke who was initially against the defection of Mimiko to the party, assured the crowd in his address that the PDP was now a formidable platform with focus on winning the state for Jonathan.
Apparently referring to the issues that had divided the leadership of the party in the past, Oke who got a loud ovation from the crowd said “I have spoken with Mr. President and he has promised us that in the next dispensation, Ondo State is going to be given the right attention. I have worked with the President for many years. He is going to promote us and elevate us and he is going to strengthen our party in Ondo State.”
It was however the Vice-President that illuminated the minds of the crowd with the successes of the Jonathan administration particularly in the power sector when, as the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Power Reform, he reeled out the achievements of government in the sector as he addressed the people.
Sambo, who started his speech by saying the Nigerian public is in the dark about how much efforts the government has put in place to lighten up Nigeria, said “I was watching television this morning and was surprised how less our people know about our efforts in the power sector. One respondent said our generation capacity has not increased. This is a lie.
“When we came in, only 2000 megawatts was being generated in the country, but now it has been more than doubled and has reached 4,500 megawatts. We have also constructed 3,500 kilometers of transmission lines, a great improvement over what we had before.
“As I am talking to you, the Zungeru and Mambilla Hydro power stations, with total installed capacity to produce 4,000 megawatts have been approved by the Federal Government.
“In the road infrastructure sector, this administration inherited only 5,000 kilometers of paved roads across the country but with massive investment in that sector, we now have 25,000 kilometers of paved roads in Nigeria, while in the rail sector, 3,500 kilometers of rail lines have been refurbished.”
The climax of the campaign was the speech of the president who focused on his blueprint for the growth of Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as the panacea to reduce unemployment and develop the national economy.
He recounted how, as a Deputy-Governor of Bayelsa State, he was drawn to go on vacation to Malaysia to see what the Asian country did to turn the palm seedlings it took from Nigeria in the sixties, to a great foreign exchange earner.
According to him, “I was surprised when I got there to find out that all the industries processing palm products in Malaysia are small holdings, in fact family-owned small concerns that litter the entire country. That is the way to grow the economy; focus on small entrepreneurs.
“It was because of this that we set up the YouWin programme where small scale industries are getting support in grants to our youths and I am happy to tell you that a new crop of industrialists are already being groomed by this initiative.”
The president also appealed to the gladiators in the PDP leadership tussle in the state to sheath their sword and work in harmony to win the state because failing to do so might give undue advantage to the opposition “the result of which none of us will be happy about.”
With the massive crowd that attended the rally, if the presidential advice is heeded, victory for the PDP would be an easy venture.
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