When President Jonathan came to town

Syn 2

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

LAST Saturday, September 20, 2015 political movement was activated at the nation’s commercial capital, Lagos, as adherents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West trooped out in large numbers to receive President Goodluck Jonathan at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) for a Southwest Sensitization and Unity rally.
A mammoth crowd of supporters across the six states of the South West geopolitical zone had defied the early morning downpour to express support for the president’s re-election bid in 2015. They were buoyed by the party leadership’s adoption of Jonathan as the PDP’s presumptive presidential candidate.
As expected, there was lockdown on citizen’s movement as some roads leading to the TBS and on other locations where the president was being expected were blocked.
The Lagos Bus Transit Service (LAGBUS), had early on Saturday morning, tweeted: “President Goodluck Jonathan is expected in Lagos this afternoon. As a result, roads around TBS and CMS area have been closed.” Other roads on Lagos Island, including Adeniji Adele road, were also cordoned off.
One of such locations that witnessed airtight security was the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, venue of the president’s first public appearance last Saturday.
Visiting the collapsed guesthouse of the church in company of the state’s Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, Jonathan had vowed to investigate the cause of the tragedy, which left at least 115 dead.

Syn 3 “My coming here is to express my personal condolences to Prophet Joshua, the Synagogue of All Nations and of course the bereaved families,” Jonathan said during the visit.
The president, who arrived by helicopter at the sprawling church compound in Ikotun, said he would hold talks with the construction industry and state governors on how to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
“We will work with the people to ensure that such an incident does not happen again,” he said.
Jonathan said he deeply regretted that scores of South Africans had died in the tragedy, and that he had already expressed his sympathies with President Jacob Zuma.
After a private meeting of the church leaders with Jonathan, which lasted a few minutes, the president hopped into his chopper, flew over Lagos skyline and alighted at the palace of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Akiolu I.
For this visit, the president’s delegation was boosted by his advance party team, which was led by Vice President, Namadi Sambo, top government officials and PDP stalwarts including PDP Deputy National Chairman, Uche Secondus; Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; PDP chieftain and member Board of Trustees, Chief Ola Bode George; Chief of Staff to the President, Gen. Jones Arogbofa; Special Adviser to the President on Interparty Affairs, Sen. Ben Obi; and Group Managing Director, Energy Group, Jimoh Ibrahim.
President Jonathan, who expressed gratitude to the Oba and his Council of Chiefs for the warm reception always accorded him each time he visited, said royal fathers are custodians of the nation, as such he could not be in Lagos without paying homage to the Oba to receive royal blessings and prayers.

Syn 1 He noted that Lagos is key to the economy of Nigeria and gave assurance that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that nothing negative happens to the state. He said this informed the reason the Federal Government rose to the challenge against the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in partnership with the governor, Babatunde Fashola.
“We thank you for the service you have been rendering right from when you were in service as a police officer and now as the Oba of Lagos. We assure you that we will continue to do our best in infrastructure development of the country and maintenance of peace and security in the country.
“We are here for the PDP Southwest Unity rally. We are not here for campaign but we will still come. Before we go, we need your royal prayers and blessings because you (traditional rulers) are the owners of the land,” he said.
While responding, Oba Akiolu, ‎who noted that leadership is given to anybody by God, prayed that God will be with President Jonathan and protect him to realise his vision for the country. He appealed for free and credible elections in Lagos and Nigeria next year.
“I have special love for Mr. President. God has put you in that position, He will be with you, God will not abandon you. On the current security challenges, I know God will bring it to an end. I urge you to continue doing whatever you have in mind for Lagos, not minding politics,” he said.

Syn 4 After the exchange of courtesies and pleasantries, it was time for the president and his entourage to leave for the day’s biggest assignment. And at exactly 1:15pm, the president’s motorcade made a grand entry into the bowl of TBS to kick off proceedings at the rally, where Fuji maestro, Abass Akande, popularly known as Obesere, kept thousands of rain-soaked party faithful entertained.
It was especially an opportunity for the many gubernatorial candidates in Lagos State to sell themselves to supporters ahead of the party’s primaries. They took turns hounding the opposition and throwing support for the adoption of the president as the party’s sole presidential candidate.
Aspirants from other states in the Southwest were also represented but were not as vocal as the agents of the gubernatorial aspirants in Lagos. Of the pack, it was supporters of the Minister of state for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro that stole the show and overwhelmed the rally.

KorobucciByVPUN8CMAEz--m
The rally, which was a colourful display of music, dance and politicking, was dominated by supporters of Obanikoro, popularly known as Koro by admirers. His banners and supporters, clad in different costumes could be seen conspicuously everywhere across the rally. A creative highlight of the Minister’s presence at the rally was a group of young stuntmen, skaters and young ladies who were all over the place dressed in t-shirts with the inscriptions; #Korolette, #Korobucci.

Syn 6 Before now, the minister, who was the party’s governorship candidate in 2007, had only made a feigned interest in running again for office, but all doubts were dispelled at the weekend as towering posters littered TBS and its environs welcoming the president to Lagos. The subtle declaration of his intention was his imposing image on the posters, with the rider: “Dream Team: Jonathan+Obanikoro=Winning Together.”
And there was more. The minister’s mobilization at the rally took many Lagosians by surprise, not leaving out many of those who had earlier signified interest to run for governorship ticket in the party.
Other aspirants, which included Jimi Agbaje, Babatunde Gbadamosi, Ade Dosunmu, and Deji Doherty, all made an impressive showing with their throng of supporters, but their efforts were glaringly overshadowed by the Obanikoro buzz, which ringed loudly at the square.
For special effect, the minister’s buzz took several sobriquets that appealed to various segments of the society, such as: Korolette, Koro Bucci, Koro for Better Lagos, Lagos can be greater, Jonathan+Koro=Winning Together, Koronated, among many others.
And it was to a rousing applause when firing the first salvo, the minister, who spoke on behalf of the body of Southwest ministers, flanked by Minister of State for the FCT, Mrs. Olajumoke Akinjide; Minister of State for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye; Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina; Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson; and Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Jeilili Adesiyan, assured Jonathan of their unalloyed loyalty and further promised to mobilise for him (Jonathan) when the campaign gathers steam.
Obanikoro explained that the president has done well and therefore deserves a second term to continue with his Transformation Agenda. “The party in the west has resolved to “work for the re-election of President Jonathan and we are committed in working for him so that he can continue with the good works he has started not only in the south west but in the country. With all the good things he has done, he deserves a second term.”

Syn 7Responding, Jonathan expressed gratitude to the members of the PDP in the region for giving him the right of first refusal as the party’s sole candidate for next year’s presidential polls.
He said: “Let me sincerely thank the leaders of our party; from the chairman, committee members, our governors, our National Assembly members, our Board of Trustees members, and all members of the party for giving me the right of first refusal of the presidential ticket.
“There are no dictators in the PDP. There is no one that is so powerful to determine who becomes councillor, local government chairman, state House of Assembly member, House of Representatives member, senator, governor, and even president, in the PDP. The decision is by the people, for the people, and that is why the PDP will continue to do new things and give right leadership,” he said.
The Lagos chairman of the party, PDP, Tunji Shelle, however, said the party would not adopt candidates for the various positions including governorship in the 2015 elections.
Speaking against the backdrop of the party’s adoption of President Jonathan as its sole candidate for the 2015 presidential poll, Shelle said the president’s emergence as a consensus candidate was different from the situation in Lagos State.
“The president is going for a second term and the party decided to let him continue and finish the good job he is doing. In Lagos State, it is different. The PDP is not the party in power; therefore, all aspirants must go for primaries, as it is the tradition of the party.
“There is no preferred aspirant. The candidate that would emerge would be decided by the party delegates,” he said.

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Posers over death at PDP rally in Mushin

• Group seeks investigation, as Jimi Agbaje denies knowledge of incident
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Confusions have continued to trail the death of a 39-year-old commercial bus driver and father of three, Adesoji Adeboye, after he was allegedly hit by a gun shot on Monday, August 25, 2014 at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s rally held in Mushin, Lagos.
But a member of the deceased’s family, Mrs. Shade Afolabi, said they (family) were aggrieved that some respected people are not being truthful about what really happened.
She said: “Though supporters are claiming that he (Adeboye) was shot in Mushin but I don’t understand why someone who was shot in Mushin would be taken to Ketu for treatment where he finally died.
“It is even unfortunate that no one from the party has deemed it fit to visit the family, particularly his aged mother and wife.”
According to her, on the day of the incident, Adeboye was called by his boss, Mr. Kunle Oduyale, to go and convey some party members said to be Agbaje’s supporters from the Lagos end of the old toll gate, opposite Motorways Plaza at about 6am to a political rally scheduled to be held in Epe.
“When he was called, they said the rally would take place in Epe but I don’t know why it was held in Mushin. Later in the evening, his (Adeboye’s) bloodstained bus was spotted at the tollgate and he laid in a pool of blood beside the bus close to FERMA yard.”

Jimi-Agbaje

Jimi Agbaje

In another account, some relatives of the deceased said Adeboye was shot in the leg during a local government tour by a PDP governorship aspirant, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, in the Mushin area of the state.
In yet another rumour, it was speculated that Jimi Agbaje was attacked by some suspected thugs loyal to other aspirants.
Chairman of the party in Mushin local council, Tunde Fabiyi, while confirming the incident of Adeboye’s death to The Guardian, said the bullet that hit one of Agbaje’s supporters was from the rifle of one of the policemen attached to the politician, who wanted to scare thugs away from his boss.
“Yes, it was true a PDP supporter was shot, but the way it happened was not as it is being painted by the social media. What really happened was that Agbaje was besieged by some young men, who wanted to collect money from him after the rally but in a bid to disperse the crowd, a shot was fired by one of Agbaje’s security operatives, which incidentally hit one of those who came with the politician,” he said.
A revised account of the incident was immediately released in a statement by a group of professional entertainers leading the agitation for Jimi Agbaje, with the name ‘For New Lagos’ (#4NL).
According to the statement signed by the group’s media secretary, Femi Branch, the Mushin tour was one of the most peaceful ever undertaken by Agbaje and the people of Mushin showed him (Agbaje) so much love and a wonderful reception.
“The incident that happened was a result of an accidental discharge from a gun held by one of the team’s own security operatives, who shot himself in the foot while trying to board their vehicle to depart from the venue. Mushin loves Jimi Agbaje and can’t wait to receive him again when he comes visiting.”

Shelle

Tunji Shelle, Lagos PDP Chairman

However, the governorship aspirant, who is at the centre of the confusion surrounding the incident, has denied being attacked in Mushin and also denied any knowledge of an alleged shooting of Adeboye at the rally.
According to him, contrary to rumours that thugs invaded the rally and he was attacked and almost shot, nothing of such happened in Mushin or in any other local governments he has toured. He added that everywhere he went, mammoth crowds received him and his entourage with warmth, love and jubilation.
However, an Executive Director of a concerned group –– Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative –– Mr. Nelson Ekujumi, has petitioned the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, urging him, the state’s Ministry of Justice and the Commissioner of Police to investigate the murder of Adesoji Adeboye by suspected supporters of Agbaje.

Ikorodu intensifies lobby to produce Fashola’s successor

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
The prelude to the 2015 governorship contest in Lagos State is getting interesting by the day, especially in the rank of All Progressives Congress (APC). Apart from the party’s decision to zone the governorship position to Lagos East senatorial district and its preference for a Christian candidate, different issues have been shaping the contest in the state with less than eight months to the 2015 elections.
Of the major divisions in Lagos East, the most dominant area canvassing for grassroots mobilization to produce Governor Fashola’s successor is the Ikorodu Division.
Already, a number of community-based pressure groups from the division have started networking with the APC and other political parties to pick a credible candidate for the position, which they said, had not been occupied by an Ikorodu indigene before.
The major groups that are championing Ikorodu’s agitation for governorship candidacy in 2015 include Ikorodu Division Solution Alliance (IDSA), Eminent Persons of Ikorodu Division (EPID) as well as Ikorodu Division Resource Group (IDGR) among others. Each of the groups has been working at different levels to realise the division’s dream to produce the next governor of Lagos.

Governor Babatunde Fashola

Governor Babatunde Fashola

This agitation came to the fore recently when the IDSA staged a rally from one end of Ikorodu to the other. The rationale behind Ikorodu’s quest for governorship slot had to do with what an IDSA leader, Hon. Said Ibikunle, described as the outright exclusion of the division from the state’s politics of governorship candidacy, particularly since the transition to civil rule in 1999.

The group’s political calculation, actually, goes beyond the 1999 democratic transition. The state has five administrative divisions, which are Badagry, Epe, Ikeja, Ikorodu and Lagos Island. Of the five divisions, the group said only Ikorodu and Badagry have been technically excluded from contesting the governorship office from the Second Republic to the Fourth Republic.

Ibikunle argued that the Ikeja Division had produced the state’s civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande between 1979 and 1983 as well as its third civilian governor, Sen. Bola Tinubu between 1999 and 2007. Also, it cited the case of Epe Division, which it said, produced the state’s second civilian governor, Sir Michael Otedola, who ruled between January 1992 and November 1993. Likewise, the group pointed out the emergence of Fashola in 2007, who it said, came from the Lagos Island Division.

Ganiyu Solomon

Ganiyu Solomon

Jimi Agbaje

Jimi Agbaje

For the 2015 contest, though the state’s ruling party has already zoned the governorship slot to the Lagos East senatorial district, the Ikorodu groups are agitating against perceived scheming to favour candidates from Epe division, which had once produced Sir Otedola.

The group’s chairman, Mr. Japheth Odesanya, said: “By this argument, we are all Lagos residents deserving equal access to all offices, the governorship position should be zoned to Lagos East. The Ikorodu Division, being the most populous and the standing division in Lagos, comprising Imota, Isiu, Ijede, Igbogbo, Bayeku, Egbin, Owutu and Ishawo among others should produce the next governor.

“The agitation of the people of Ikorodu Division is legitimate, timely and rooted in due principle of equity, justice and fair play. This is a clarion call to all well-meaning people of Ikorodu Division and lovers of democracy and justice to stand up and be counted globally.”

Already, the quest has gained the support of chieftains, elders and traditional rulers from all communities that make up the Ikorodu Division. The monarchs from the division have subtly dissociated themselves from the standpoint of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu that all the traditional rulers in the state are in support of the ambition of former Lagos State Accountant-General, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

Rather than supporting Ambode’s governorship ambition, the Ikorodu monarchs are now looking inwards for a credible indigene from the division to contest the 2015 race irrespective of their political affiliations. This is following the Odofin of Ikorodu, Chief Kabiru Sotobi’s recent declaration calling on all eminent indigenes of Ikorodu to join the governorship contest.

Sotobi made it known that the traditional rulers and elders would support the candidacy of any Ikorodu indigene irrespective of his political affiliations. “We want the Ikorodu Division to produce the next governor. The eminent personalities in Ikorodu are not doing this alone. If the PDP decides to have its candidate from Ikorodu, we will support him. If the APC decides to have candidate from Ikorodu, we will support him. If it is Labour Party, we will support him.”

Adesegun Ogunlewe

Adesegun Ogunlewe

Abike Dabiri

Abike Dabiri

As a result, some aspirants from the divisions have started indicating interest in the race. They include Senator Ganiyu Solomon; former Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe; Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA) candidate in the 2007 governorship election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; and Abike Dabiri-Erewa, among others.

Another pressure group, Ikorodu Division Resource Group (IDGR) lamented that Ikorodu had suffered outright neglect and marginalization under different political dispensation since the country’s return to civil rule in May 29, 1999.

In a communiqué issued by the group and signed by its chairman, Chief Babatunde Benson (SAN) and Secretariat Coordinator, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, it resolved that the group should request for letters of intent from persons interested in the 2015 governorship race from all political parties.

The communiqué explained that the effort “is directed towards all registered political parties in the state to ensure that an indigene of Ikorodu Division is presented as a gubernatorial candidate for 2015 governorship election by his political party.”

Disturbed by what the group described as the politics of exclusion, the communiqué emphasised the groups’ observation that for too long, Ikorodu Division has been at the tail end of political benefits of dividend of democracy.

 

The return of ‘Koro’

Ko si Koro, ko si ibo

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Tuesday’s clearance of Senator Musiliu Olatunde Ishola Obanikoro and nine other President Jonathan’s ministerial nominees by the Senate has established the reemergence of Obanikoro into Lagos politics.

   As expected, the former High Commissioner to Ghana got a soft landing from his colleagues as he enjoyed the ‘bow and go’ treatment, but was after briefing his audience and the nation on some details about his life.

   Obanikoro narrated his humble beginnings: From being a newspaper vendor in the streets of Lagos, to an apoti trader and a former cleaner, to his rise as a council chairman, commissioner, promotion to the Senate, an ambassador and now, a minister.

   No doubt, the listing of Obanikoro as a ministerial nominee didn’t come as good news to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Lagos State, who have been forced to return to its strategy room for a proper analysis of the implications of a ‘Koro, as the minister-designate is called, coming onboard the federal cabinet, a year to the general elections.

   For the Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Obanikoro’s new national assignment is an acknowledgment of his previous excellent services to the nation.

  In a statement, PDP stated that it is very proud of the former Ambassador and Senator.

   “We thank Mr. President for nominating Senator Musiliu Obanikoro as Minister. We particularly commend the president for allowing the state to have the benefit of the Southwest ministerial slot. Indeed, Senator Obanikoro is a tested and trusted public servant, whose ability to deliver is not in doubt,” statement reads.

   The PDP also commended the Senate for rising above partisan politics by confirming the nomination of Obanikoro and nine others as ministers. The party noted that all the Senators unanimously suspended further debates on the issue of defection in order to confirm the nominees, thereby putting national interest over partisan politics.

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While the APC vacillates on its choice of who succeeds Governor Babatunde Fashola, it is glaringly clear that the PDP would put its best foot forward and all indications point to Koro.

   Many who witnessed the feverish 2007 governorship campaign involving Fashola, Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje will not forget in a hurry the many violent scenes on the political fields across the state and would gladly not look forward to a repeat of such.

   Of the many Obanikoro’s catch-phrase campaign slogans, Ko si Koro, ko si ibo, meaning ‘No Koro, no vote,’ comes to mind.

   Tracing his long career in politics, which began in 1989 as a Caretaker Committee Chairman of Surulere Local Government under the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government, he was able to win Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s heart in 1999 because of his Lagos Island followership, when he was appointed Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture.

   He was elected Senator for Lagos Central in April 2003, running for the Alliance for Democracy (AD), but later defected to the PDP. According to an APC stalwart, one      reason he has not been able to come back to the progressives’ fold is that the manner in which he betrayed Asiwaju was drastic.   

   “He swore to Asiwaju even in Kabba, Mecca, that he will not go anywhere only for him to return to Nigeria and defect. It was a very difficult time for the party because that was the period former President Obasanjo seized Lagos council funds. Good for him that he has found a sort of solace in the PDP structure, from an ambassador to becoming a minister, but will he achieve his aim of ruling Lagos, it will be fight to finish,” said the stalwart.

   Another APC chieftain at the Acme Ikeja secretariat recalls that Obanikoro’s campaigns are always violent. “You recall the incident at Oregun during his 2007 campaign where several women were shot at. His coming as minister at this time is strategic. Already, there is a Lagosian in the cabinet in person of Aganga. We understand that the only reason they giving him the chance is strictly politics.”

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PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN, MUSILIU OBANIKORO (LEFT) AND DR. ADE DOSUNMU.

Feelers from party men confided in The Guardian that Obanikoro’s nomination has made APC edgy in Lagos, as this is happening at a time there are some restiveness in Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). FERMA has been hiring new recruits that are being drilled daily at their office at the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway old tollgate area in Lagos.

   First to sound a note of warning on this development was the chief security officer of the state, Governor Fashola, who told newsmen recently that he doesn’t know the purpose of such mass recruitment by a parastatal under the Ministry of Works.

   “If they are recruiting, what is the purpose? If they want to police federal highways, what is now the role of the FRSC? Have they appropriated funding for it because you can’t have an agency in a constitutional democracy without having appropriation for it in the budget? Or are you funding them with slush fund? Is it SURE-P money, meant for the development of Lagos State that is being used to do this?
   “Again, you ask yourself, ‘what is the need for such a task force?’ There are about 10,000 roads in the state, out of which 6,000 belong to the state government. A little over 3,000 belong to the local government. Less than 120 belong to the Federal Government. So what do you need such a large army for, unless there are some ulterior motives? I hope we are not going back to the days of machetes,” Fashola said.

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One of the theories flying around is that Chief Federick Faseun’s Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) is behind the FERMA-trainee project, considering his relationship with the Federal Government and the recent contract he won to police pipeline installations nationwide.

   “The impression is that already, foot soldiers are being created for Obanikoro to use to engage Lagos in the next election. It has forced the APC to start getting prepared; that with the emergence of Obanikoro, we should expect more violence, more of pedestrian talk and cheap propaganda,” a source said.

   The immediate hurdle to cross for the APC is the choice of a candidate on the basis of religion, which is a worry for party leaders. “If we choose a Christian candidate and Obanikoro enters the mosque, APC may kiss the election goodbye. On the issue of violence, we believe that the APC can take care of him.

   “What may not be so clear is whether a Muslim versus Christian ticket would be decisive in Lagos. Christians within the APC have been saying that they have been voting for all our Muslim candidates in Lagos over the years.

   “But in a year whereby you have a Jonathan also running as president, who is a Christian, there may be a way the Muslims may feel alienated in the state, having a Christian run at the centre and in Lagos,” another source concluded.