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Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has finally approved the use of Adokiye  Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, for the presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to hold on February 11 this year.

Governor Wike explained that the stadium approval granted at no cost to the Presidential Campaign Council PCC of PDP in the state, would be accessible to the council 48 hours to the February 11th, 2023 presidential campaign. He disclosed this yesterday while speaking at the campaign flag-off rally by the Rivers State PDP Campaign Council in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state.

The governor said the Director-General of the PCC in Rivers State, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, has no right to want to take possession of the stadium one month before the date of the stipulated event.

He warned Sekibo not to provoke the Rivers State Government by desperately wanting to take possession of the state-owned stadium weeks to the campaign, or else the approval will be cancelled.

Wike, however, said by the approval he signed, Sekibo and his group can only begin to access the stadium two days before the event to verify and put in place what they required for their rally.

“Let me also use this opportunity to warn Abiye Sekibo, we have made approval for your presidential candidate to use Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, February 11th, you have no right to begin to go to the stadium now.

We cannot give you access to the stadium now. We can only give you access to the stadium two days to the occasion for you to prepare.

“Nobody gave you one month. So, if you dare it again, to go and force yourself into the stadium, I will cancel the approval with immediate effect. Dare it again, I will cancel it. Heaven will not fall. In fact, if heaven falls now, we will be happy that it was in our time heaven came down.”

The governor wondered why Sekibo was acting against the approval given to him and said it appears that he is finding a reason to blame him in the event that the rally fails.

“I know you are not ready to do that rally. You are only looking for excuses. But you must do it. I know you are going to import people, no problems, go and import. We have given you the stadium.”

The governor also took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State for blaming the alleged crisis that greeted the campaign of its governorship candidate in Mile one Diobu, Port Harcourt on Thursday.

He stressed that APC became a victim to the brewing crisis between the two factions in Rumuwoji community because they did not address their demand adequately.

The governor wondered why APC did not encounter crisis with their rallies when they used the Tipper Park in Etche Local Government and the IYM secretariat in Ikwerre Local Government.

He asked them to stop complaining if they are not ready for the forthcoming general election because the PDP in the state is fully prepared for the election.

The governor mocked Senator Andrew Uchendu, because despite serving in several administrations, he failed to attract development projects to his Mgbuitanwo community. 

According to him, it was Senator Uchendu’s administration that contracted Julius Berger to construct internal roads, fitted with street lights in Mgbuitanwo.

The governor stressed that the APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, in collusion with the immediate past administration of governor Chibuike Amaechi, allegedly sold the state gas turbines and diverted $50 million from the state account.

He said the APC governorship is now facing criminal charges with the state government demanding from him to refund the  $50 million, which his administration needed for development projects.

“Go and bring our money back. We want to use the money to develop the people of Oyigbo, to develop the people of Rivers state.”

The governor further accused the APC governorship candidate of allegedly masterminding the killing of scores of persons in Abonnema by the military during the 2019 general election.


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•On character, competence, capacity he has no contest

With her appearances at the ObiDatti movement campaigns marked by trendy dance moves and crowd-moving eloquence, no one needs to be told that Aisha Yesufu means business in her quest for good governance.

As a civil rights activist, Yesufu’s support for any government, according to her, is usually based on competence with good governance as the end result. This explains her involvement in the ObiDatti campaign train. Her choice of candidate she noted, is based on the fact that she wants someone in “office who will not allow those that will use tear gas on us when we go out to protest”.

And so, for her, of all the presidential candidates contesting in this year election, “Peter Obi is the most competent of all the other ones”, she said, stressing that if Obi wasn’t, “I’ll definitely not be in his camp.”

During a time out with Charles Aniagolu on Arise TV’s Prime Time show, during the week, Yesufu declared that her focus wasn’t even about whether the person is going to win, “It’s about the most competent.

I would do whatever Nigeria needs to get out of the situation it is right now. It’s like every other thing I’ve always done. For me it’s all about what you are bringing in; you know your value. The biggest job I do very well on Peter Obi’s campaign is the fact that I criticise him and I check what he does. I’m sure that Nigerians have noticed in the past few months he has really come up. He is always learning and ready to learn and always willing to be criticised. So that’s the reason why we work so well together and we’re still working together”.

Surprisingly, she revealed that they sort of irritate each other sometimes adding however that “that’s the way it should be. I’m not there to do your excellency thing. You need to just get the work done, and that’s what I’m doing. The moment he gets into office by the grace of God, I’m on the streets making demands on him every day and if he doesn’t give us the things we need, we’ll be on the streets protesting”.

Asked whether her being in the campaign train of Peter Obi will give him votes, she said, “I hope so, and I believe so. I’ve seen a lot of people who say to me that wherever you are we’ll go. That gives them confidence but puts a lot of pressure on me. But I think I do bring a lot of value to it. Beyond that, Peter Obi is such an easy sell, honestly. It’s not really about even bringing anybody, it’s just about the fact that he is good. He is competent, he cares, he is passionate about Nigeria, he is patriotic, and he wants to serve. And those are the qualities that make him competent.”

She however pointed out that it is not possible for every Nigerian to believe Obi is competent, stressing that “the good thing is that many more Nigerians believe he is. I would say in my own opinion, 80-90% of Nigerians believe that. When it comes to issues of competence, character, capacity, there’s no contest; Peter Obi has it”.

For the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaigner, the number one campaigner for Peter Obi is President Buhari. According to her, Buhari “has given Nigeria so much bad governance that people have gotten sense. So, they know it is no longer about, ‘is he a northerner, or Muslim? But people are looking for one who is competent. We’ve had the corruption, the insecurity that has increased over time under Buhari which have ensured that people no longer look the way they would have four years ago but now focused on who would come in and make their life better.

“The beauty about the ObiDatti movement is that a lot of people who are in other parties especially the so called two major parties, who say they are  PDP or APC, when it comes to presidential candidate, they’re going with Peter Obi”.

Presently, Aisha Yesufu has been accused by people in the opposition camps of abandoning her activism and suddenly engaging in partisan politics but she explained that she has always been into partisan politics and so didn’t start with peter Obi. “I’ve always been into partisan politics right from 2015. I supported Muhammadu Buhari in February 2015 and a lot of people in his camp were happy. But that didn’t stop me from holding him accountable and criticising him and saying the fact that we had an issue, we had a government at that time that was failing: unprecedented failure. “Unfortunately for us, we brought in someone that we thought at least would do better but ended up worse.

They are actually making the last administration (President Jonathan’s) to look as if it was good; even though it’s better than this one, it was never good at that time. It’s also the reason  we are saying to Nigerians today that if they vote anyhow, it will get to a time when people would actually say Buhari’s tenure was actually good. I voted for Buhari reluctantly because I knew the two candidates, I didn’t know the other participants during the 2015 election”.

In 2019 she recalled, “I was on the campaign train of Dr Oby Ezekwesili. That’s why I’m surprised that you people are talking as if this the first time I’m into partisan politics”.

On whether her activism is only inclined towards politics, Yesufu said “I don’t have a career in activism. I’ve never been paid a dime in activism even my own NGO is self-funded. I’ve never called myself an activist and I don’t still see myself as an activist. I’m a trader and I build houses and I sell houses…so I’m an active citizen; one who got tired of just sitting down and watching the country being run by all sorts of charlatans. And we got to a place where we couldn’t even recognize our country anymore and I decided to no longer be a passive citizen.

“Just to let people know, on my 40th birthday, I realised that I was also a problem of Nigeria; my silence was a problem and I decided I would no longer be silent. I said if God gives me another 40 years, I will devote it to Nigeria and we’re on the ninth year.

“What is happening in Nigeria today is phenomenal. For the first time Nigerian youths are saying they want to be in charge. I’m so proud of what they are doing”.

Regarding the level of acceptance the ObiDatti candidacy has received from the north, she said Obi’s running mate, Sen. Yusuf Ahmed Datti has been doing a great job though not very vocal about it. She further disclosed that some Islamic groups endorsed Peter Obi during the week.

 ”We’ve reached a place where people have realised that this is not about religion but competence,” she intoned.

Reacting to the allegations of drug dealing, money laundering and corruption that the APC and PDP are levelling against each other’s presidential candidates, Yesufu said “they are saying the fact about each other, and I think Nigerians should listen to them, believe them and don’t make excuses for them”, emphasising that this is not time for us to be led by such characters.

 ”For us at the campaign, we focus on the issues; the insecurity, out-of-school children, economy, unemployment etc.

 ”There are so many issues and we don’t want to be carried away. Nigerians must never forget that where we are now is as a result of bad governance both from PDP and APC. And now, APC has thrown the country to where it is now.

 ”We have the ruling party giving us someone that Buhari is more mentally and physically fit than. That’s the insult of the highest order and Nigerians shouldn’t take that lightly. We also have APC giving us what they want to give us. Its time for us to know that this is within our power, we have the power in this country and we must be the deciders of who gets elected, not parties

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Buhari Jika, a younger brother to the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria People Party in Bauchi State, Haliru Jika, and some of his relatives have dumped the party and joined the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in support of Governor Bala Mohammed’s second term bid.

Also, the Campaign Coordinator of former Governor Mohammed Abubakar, Auwalu Ganjuwa, and the state chairman of the Aspirants’ Forum, Abbas Barde, have also joined the PDP.

They announced their defection at the re-election campaign rally of Governor Mohammed on Friday evening at Kafin Madaki, headquarters of Ganjuwa Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

They explained that they were convinced by the governor’s developmental initiatives which were geared towards transforming the state.

How We Juggled Schooling With Our Royal Duties -Ondo Female Regents

They blamed the senator representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Halliru Jika, for not complementing the efforts of Governor Mohammed through facilitating intervention projects from the federal government to their zone.

According to the defectors, they remained resolute to mobilise support for the re-election bid of the incumbent governor to enable him consolidate on the provision of people’s oriented projects.

Receiving the defectors, Mohammed expressed appreciation on what he described as an attestation of the acceptance of his leadership style.

The PUNCH reports that the governor had, before the rally, inspected the ongoing construction of some strategic roads linking towns and villages across the local government area where he assured the people of speedy completion of the projects.

The projects include the road linking Gubi, Gidan Waya to Kamfanin Fulani as well as Soro, Ganjuwa to Miya.

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Barely a month to the presidential election, the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party is facing an uphill task to convince five of its elected governors to campaign for its flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Governors Nyesom Wike, Okezie Ikpeazu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Seyi Makinde and Samuel Ortom of Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Oyo and Benue states respectively, had renounced their membership of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in September 2022, demanding, among others, the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to pave the way for a southern successor.

Although the governors are believed to be working for two rival candidates, the intensity with which they attack the Ayu-led National Working Committee in the past few months appears to be waning.

The PUNCH gathered that the inability of the governors to agree on which particular candidate to support is partly responsible for the low spate activities in their ranks in recent times.

Our correspondent learnt that in Benue State, loyalists to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, were busy reaching out to party faithful in their strongholds to drum up support for him.

A former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, The PUNCH gathered, has been convening a series of stakeholders’ meetings in the Benue North-East Senatorial District, urging eligible voters to pitch tent with Atiku in spite of Governor Ortom’s opposition.

An associate of the governor, who pleaded anonymity, said Suswam and playwright, Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, had been doing a lot for Atiku since Ortom made his position clear that he was not going to support the PDP presidential standard bearer if Ayu failed to go.

“Suswam addressed stakeholders from Zone A recently and Iyorwuese has been talking with his kinsmen. They are doing it in such a way as not to offend Ortom. They are friends with the governor but they are also careful not to overdo things. As a result, there is a lack of statewide coordination,” he said.

He further noted that while Ortom had not openly endorsed a particular candidate, he had called on his foot soldiers to embrace Peter Obi of the Labour Party.

He continued, “Governor Ortom has already inaugurated an Obi team using his most trusted aides and allies. Former governorship aspirant, Prof Dennis Tyavyar, is chairman of the group. He was Commissioner for Education under Ortom before he stepped down to contest the governorship election.”

In Rivers State, a former PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, is leading the pro-Atiku support base. Alongside a former governor of the state, Celestine Omehia, ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, and an erstwhile federal lawmaker, Lee Maeba, Secondus is playing the good party man in defiance of Wike’s anti-Atiku’s posture.

Expectedly, Governors Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi are rooting for Obi, using their foot soldiers to avoid the wrath of the PDP for anti-party activities.

Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, the Director General of ‘House to House Campaign for Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa’ in Borno State, Mustapha Shehu, said the initiative would be replicated in the five states.

“The House to House campaign will definitely break not only the G-5 governors’ hold on their states, but will also pose a significant threat to incumbent non-PDP governors. The Borno House to House has proved to be a check on the Wike-sponsored PDP stalwarts, including some in the state Executive. It has also positioned Atiku as the candidate to beat in the state despite the APC governor and the APC presidential running mate, Kashim Shettima,” Shehu said.

Wike had promised to reveal the preferred presidential candidate of the aggrieved governors in January; a pledge that he is yet to fulfil.

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