Adibe Emenyonu reports that the campaign train of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, which recently berthed in Benin City, Edo State capital, was not without jibes and accusations against opposition politicians
As early as 7:30 am, the ever busy Uselu-Ugbowo-Lagos Road was choked up and traffic was grounded because of influx of vehicles and commuter who thronged the area to the University of Benin Sports Complex, venue of the rally held recently to host the APC’s Presidential flag bearer, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The sports complex was relatively filled to capacity as party loyalists and sympathisers trooped in to witness the campaign.
Also in attendance were Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; APC National Women Leader, Beta Edu; former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba; former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olanisakin; Senator Andy Uba, among others.
As usual, some of the party candidates vieing for various political offices and numerous supporters seized opportunity of the moment to showcase their programmes adorn in various fliers and leaflets.
From the schedule released by the party, the APC presidential candidate was supposed to pay a courtesy call on the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II. However, this visit was cancelled though no reason was offered while none was expected.
Speaking at the rally, Tinubu said it is time to eliminate darkness and make the economy of the country productive through massive industrialisation, promising to make Edo State a hub of industrial activities and an energy state.
He took a swipe on former President Olusegun Obasanjo, recallling how he brought Enron Power to generate electricity and solve the power problem in the commercial nerve centre of the country but the project was frustrated by the Obasanjo-led PDP government.
His words: “I brought Enron to solve electricity problem and help Lagos economy but Obasanjo and PDP frustrated it. They punished me and Lagos people and even began deducting our money. I created Local Governments in Lagos to accelerate development and create employment for our people but Obasanjo siezed our allocation and punished us for that. That was wickedness and such a man said he endorsed a man for you to vote as President. Can you follow such a man? Can Obasanjo recommend a leader for anyone in Nigeria? A man who does not know the way cannot show the way.”
Tinubu who told the crowd of supporters that Obasanjo is not qualified to recommend or endorse anyone as President of Nigeria because of his failures as president of Nigeria, also mocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, for engaging his boss, Obasanjo when he was vice president in in-fighting which resulted to under development of the country, accusing both of them spending the country’s money for their personal comfort.
According to him, “Obasanjo failed to develop the country when he had the opportunity, but rather was fighting his then Vice President, Atiku Abubakar”, while accusing each other of spending the country’s money for their personal comfort, noting that after spending $16billion on electricity, Obasanjo and the PDP government could not deliver electricity for Nigerians to make even popcorn.
On his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar, the former two-time Governor of Lagos said the PDP presidential candidate is not qualified to be President of Nigeria having indicted himself on his record as a civil servant.
“Atiku and Obasanjo accused themselves of using Nigeria’s money to buy cars for their comfort. Atiku was a customs officer who said he made money selling cars, that is smuggling. He didn’t even know that a civil servant can not do any other business apart from agriculture. That is enough to disqualify him and he is not fit to be president.”
Tinubu boasted to the people that prosperity and happiness have come. Apparently to curry the favour of Edo people, he played on the psychology of the people as he applauded the return of Benin artefacts by some Western nations but urged the countries to pay some money to Edo State having made huge money from the returned artefacts through tourism and exhibitions.
“Edo people, prosperity has come, happiness has come, hope is back in your homes, knowledge is back in your community. I am happy about the returned artefacts. They are bringing our artefacts. I support the Oba of Benin who said our heritage must come back but I disagree with the Europeans. They have used our artefacts for exhibitions and tourism for decades in their museums to make money. They should not just send them back without money. When I become President I will ask them to pay us restitution. I will contribute to the building of the museum in Benin.”
On his competence and readiness for the job, Tinubu told the mammoth crowd that his administration would focus on job creation through small scale industries, build a credible credit system for capital formation, bring multibillion dollar investments to Edo State and end estimated electricity billing.
“I will turn Edo State to energy State. I will convert Yahoo boys and make them useful by converting their talents and intellects to produce chips for industries. We can defeat poverty, ignorance and homelessness. We have the knowledge, we have the brain to do it. Trust me. I am an expert in finding the way where there is no way. I found a way to tame the Atlantic and turn it to money- making machine.”
He also spoke on his motivation to make life better for the poor and why opportunities must be created for young people to move up on socio-economic ladder.
“I believe the children of boli and groundnut sellers should become doctors, engineers, nurses etc. That was why I started the payment of WAEC fees for their children as governor in Lagos. If you want to become rich, elect me. If you say I should go and retire, it means you want to retire diamond and gold. Edo people, I am telling you like I say everywhere in Nigeria, elect me.”
Earlier in his address at the rally, former governor of Edo State and Deputy Director- General of the Tinubu-Shettima Campaign Council, Adams Oshiomhole, also said little about what his candidate will do for Nigerians if elected, but dwell more on criticizing political opponents.
According to him, come February 25, Edo people would use their PVC to appreciate Tinubu as a father of multi-party democracy in Nigeria.
“If you want to understand why Obasanjo failed to turn Nigeria into a one-party state, it was the resistance of Asíwájú and others.
“Obasanjo also wanted to take over Lagos. Asíwájú said you can’t do it. If you are a military general, I am a general of politics. He fought him to a standstill,” Oshiomhole said.
He charged the mammoth crowd at the rally to mobilise their relatives and friends back home to vote for the APC candidate.
The former governor of Edo State also threw jibes at presidential candidates of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and that of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, asking Edo people to reject them.
“Peter Obi is a joke,” he said, adding that Obi could not address the erosion problem while serving as governor in Anambra state.
Oshiomhole said Atiku cannot unite this country. “Someone who cannot unite his house, how can he unite Nigeria?”
He also had a jab for his successor, Godwin Obaseki, saying he has not fulfilled his campaign promises to the people of the state and recalled his warning to residents of the state not to vote for Obaseki in 2020.
“You know, the last time I told you to be careful about the governorship election,” Oshiomhole, a former national chairman of the APC, told party supporters at the rally.
“Did I not say so? Did I not say so? Where are we? Where are we? Where is the industrial parks? Where is the port? Where is the new housing estate? Where is the rice farm? Where is the mechanic village?”
Oshiomhole, who displayed great energy on the stage, jumped, sang, and praised the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.
Unable to stomach Oshiomhole’s tantrum, Obaseki, in a swift reaction, said his estranged godfather attempted to sell lies in a last-ditch effort to revive his dead political career.
The Edo governor in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media Project, Crusoe Osagie, declared: “The people are no longer swayed by empty rhetoric and concocted lies, which has over time been the bane of the poisonous politics that deprive the people of good governance while the political class fed fat from our collective patrimony. “Oshiomhole’s political career has ended and no matter how high he jumps on a stage or how low he goes to impassion the scanty crowd, the people see through his facade and recognise his ill-intentioned antics and lies. The former governor’s political career was effectively truncated at the polls in the 2020 governorship election in Edo State, which was a referendum on his style of politics.”