When the 9th National Assembly takes off in June, some of the notable names that will be missing on Senators list are Bukola Saraki, the current Senate President; Abiola Ajimobi, current governor of Oyo State ; Godswill Akpabio,erstwhile Minority Leader of the Red Chambers and former governor of Akwa Ibom State; popular human rights activist Shehu Sani; and the Chairman,Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream); Tayo Alasoadura following their defeat in last weekend’s election. How did it happen? Those who defeated them spoke to correspondents Abdulgafar ALABELEWE, Bassey ANTHONY; Damisi OJO, Akure; Yinka ADENIRAN, Ibadan and Adekunle JIMOH, Ilorin
The National Assembly election is only a week old today, but the Senator elect for Kwara Central,Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe is already taking stock of his victory over Senate President Bukola Saraki. Oloriegbe, a former World Health Organisation (WHO) consultant, thanked God and the people for making his victory possible.
Saraki’s cup is full – Oloriegbe
“My reaction is that of gratitude to the Almighty God. He who gives power to who He wishes and takes power from He wishes,” he said in an interview in Ilorin.
He said the people went a step further to demonstrate that they meant business with to the slogan “O to ge”.
The people, according to him, decided to “walk the talk because the talk has been enough is enough (“O to ge”) and the voice was loud.
“This voice was demonstrated at the polls by voting out those that they considered were not delivering the dividends of democracy in the real sense of it. Those they considered as selfish, self-centred and those that used our commonwealth for self.
“Those that have not provided Kwarans good education, healthcare, good roads, potable water. Those that have been cutting the people’s salaries. These are all the issues and more. Lack of job opportunities for the youth.
“The other reaction is to look at the enormity of the current situation and the expectations of the people from us for the true change to happen in the state. But on that one, my belief is that we have good intention and our belief is that the people are still with us and they should be patient with us to start together with them to correct the wrongs on the past.”
On the description of the voting pattern in the state as a revolution,Oloriegbe said: “ It is a combination of so many factors. It is not only about the revolution. Yes, there was that revolutionary movement of ‘O to ge’.
“Kwara central people had made request to opposition parties to present candidates that are credible and have track records of performance for them to vote.
“O to ge came up, but going back into history, 2015 people were in despair against the candidates presented by the opposition party against the status quo.
“Then, if you go back to 2011 when I was the candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), if you look at the performance when my current opponent, Senator Bukola Saraki, was a sitting governor, people voted massively for me.
“The supposed winning by him then came from Asa local government area of the state, where the voters’ turnout was claimed to be over 80 percent as compared to the Ilorin metropolis where the voters’ turnout was put at about 40 percent.
“That was a reflection of what should have been. In my view, I think the two factors came together. But far and above all those factors and human conjectures, it is God’s time that has come.
“As we all know, in life nobody will live in perpetuity. It is only God.”
Asked what had changed between the previous elections when Saraki had defeated him and now for the people to go for him this time around,the senator-elect said: “There are several things that have probably changed. But there are certain things that have not changed.
“Even in 2011 when he said he defeated me and I accepted the verdict but then at the tribunal, we proved that there were a lot of irregularities in that election. But through the use of the federal might, we were not able to get anywhere.
“That was unfair. Now we have not used any federal might, we have ensured a level-playing ground. Apart from that, INEC is now stronger and more transparent. The use of the card readers has prevented many politicians to manipulate the elections. With card readers, there cannot be over-voting again.
“What has changed again is that the cup of the Saraki dynasty is full beyond what the people can tolerate.
“People have become intolerable of the bad governance they have been experiencing in the last eight years.
“Eight years ago, when he left as governor for the Senate, things were not as bad as they are now. Salaries of workers were paid then but now they are not paid.
“The current Abdulfatah Ahmed administration, which Saraki installed, has not performed at all. Of course, we cannot totally remove his attitude to the APC government, a platform that he used to get the Senate Presidency.
“He worked against that party to become a minority in the National Assembly, minority in terms of leaders and not in terms of membership; that is particularly important for us, especially Ilorin people as he cannot handle trust.
“He used his position to work against Buhari. Buhari, in Ilorin, is a friend by virtue of his friendship and relationship with the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon. Ilorin people see the sincerity and credibility of Buhari.”
It’s a surprise Shehu Sani got up to 70,000 votes, says Uba Sani
Kaduna Central Senator-elect, Malam Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC),who defeated incumbent Senator Shehu Sani, also spoke on his own triumph at the polls.
Sani came a distant third in the race with 70,613 votes.
Second was Lawal Adamu of the PDP who had 195,497 votes. Uba Sani recorded 355,242 votes.
Aiming a dig at Shehu,the senator-elect said: “It is even a surprise to me that Shehu Sani got up the 70,000 votes that he got. I didn’t even expect him to get more than half of what he got. So, I congratulate him for even getting 70,000 votes.”
They used to be in the same party,APC,until Shehu fell out with Governor Nasir El-Rufai apparently because of Shehu’s ambition to succeed the former.
A parting of ways between the governor and Shehu soon came when El-Rufai vehemently refused to give the senator another chance to contest on the platform of the APC.
He accused Shehu of working against the interest of the people by voting in the Senate against the approval of a $350million World Bank loan for the state.
Shehu moved on and berthed in the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
Uba Sani believes that Shehu’s constituents have repaid him back for abandoning them.
“Defeating an incumbent like Senator Shehu Sani is as easy as anything because, right from the very moment he was elected, he abandoned the principles of the APC,” he told The Nation.
He added: “The principles of the APC require that you are close to the people, but he abandoned the very people that elected him.
“Kaduna central zone is a very important one, where you have a lot of elite and highly educated people, who know what is going on in the National Assembly.
“So, if you don’t constantly come back to tell them what you are doing, ask about their problems and go back to the assembly to make a case for them, and promote the development of their constituency, they will vote you out.
“An instance is the issue of the $350million World Bank loan the Kaduna State government requested for. Shehu Sani rejected it. He might have take n it as a joke, and I saw his explanation for rejecting the loan, but that was a major mistake he made. You don’t toy with the interest of your people; we are talking about nine million people of Kaduna State.
“When you look at the template we submitted to the World Bank, we are supposed to build over 1,000 schools, primary and secondary schools and enhance our healthcare. We are building infrastructure in Kaduna, and someone sat there saying, I am going to block this loan, simply because he didn’t want Governor Nasir El-Rufai to achieve anything.
“For me, it is not about El-Rufai, it is about nine million people of Kaduna State, and that singular act made us to be able to defeat the incumbent. He committed a lot of unfortunate errors.
“I also challenge you to go to his constituency office, you will see it taken over by dust, because he has not opened it in the last two years. You cannot do that in Kaduna central, and that is why we found it very easy to defeat the incumbent.”
Uba Sani also said that the party on which platform he(Shehu Sani)contested –PRP- has no structure to win an election.
His words: ” I don’t think the PRP has any structure on ground to win an election. In fact, he (Shehu) should be worried that it is so bad that he even lost in his polling unit; APC which is my party is a very popular one in Kaduna central zone, Kaduna State and Nigeria as a whole.
“The truth of the matter is that, we never regarded PRP as our challenger in this contest and of course, you know that the major reason why he was rejected is that, he abandoned his people. “Take for example the situation in Birnin Gwari, the road from Kaduna to Birnin Gwari, which is a federal one, and as a senator for almost four years, he never for one day made a case for the government to do anything on the road until recently when Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai reached out to the federal government, which has made a commitment to fixing the road.
“So, for me, the people of Birnin Gwari rejected him because he abandoned them; he never for one day stood up on the floor of the National Assembly to move a motion on the security challenges in Birnin Gwari.
Read also: Horror moments for Saraki, Southwest politician
Why Ajimobi fell- Balogun
The senator-elect for Oyo South District, Dr Kola Balogun,sees the hand of God in his election.
“My victory is absolutely by God’s mercy,” Balogun told The Nation in Ibadan.
He said: “My victory is absolutely by God’s mercy.
“And talking about political factors, I will say that through my interaction with the people of the district, I discovered that they were tired of government policies and programmes, particularly at the local level.
“There is so much poverty, there is the inability of the government to develop the local economy, pay salaries promptly, pay serious attention to the entitlements of pensioners, ensure that collapsing infrastructure are attended to, revamp the education sector, inability to pay teachers’ salaries, provide teaching aids, affordable healthcare, develop agriculture, which is one of what we can leverage on to provide employment for our youths, inability to assist market men and women with low interest loans and inability of the government to provide security. All these produced hopelessness.
“But we presented better alternatives which people embraced. We also leveraged on my track record. They also saw my sincerity of purpose during my interaction with them. They saw that I could represent them well.”
On how he feels after defeating the incumbent, Sen. Soji Akanbi and the APC candidate, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Balogun said: “I give all the glory to God. It is not by my power. I thank God and I feel fulfilled. I also thank the good people of Oyo South Senatorial District for their tremendous show of support. I reassure them that I will not disappoint them.”
I knew God was going help me defeat Akpabio, says Ekpenyong
Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, who defeated Senator Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom Northwest also attributes his victory to God.
Ekpenyong, deputy governor of the state between 1999 and 2007, said his own political sagacity also went a long way to give him victory.
“It was just like what happened to Jehoshaphat in the Bible when he was accosted by people with chariots and weapons and he called upon the name of the Lord and the enemies vanished,” he said in Uyo.
“I knew I was going to beat him because I was backed up by the blood of Jesus Christ.
“God led me to the political battle field with prayers as my only weapon of war. I made several supplications to God asking Him to let His will be done in the election.
“I’m glad God gave me victory; it shows that there is always victory in humility. I told God to come and set His people free the way He set the Israelites free from the hands of pharoah.”
On his mission in the Senate, Ekpeyong said:“Since the war ended, our people are yet to be rehabilitated and reintegrated. There is no reconstruction and we are still having the relics of war.
“We need reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration. Governments have come and gone, yet no action.
“We need someone to bring it to the front burner. My primary responsibility is to ensure that there will be good laws and resolutions that will positively change the fortunes of the people of Akwa Ibom north west senatorial district. My victory is from God”.
He said he supported and worked for Senator Godswill Akpabio’s reelection until he dumped the PDP for APC in August 2018.
According to him, “In 2007 when I laboured for power shift to our senatorial district, Akpabio contested and won as governor; I supported him.
“When he wanted to go for a second term, he took me to the then President Jonathan and I knelt down and begged Jonathan to allow him contest a second term as governor.
“I didn’t do it for a fee but I showed humility in service.
“In 2015, Akpabio went to the Senate, I supported him. Even in 2018 when he declared for reelection, I supported him wholeheartedly until he left PDP for APC and the PDP fielded me to contest against him. It is just a change of baton.
“My name is Christopher and I am a cross bearer, I bear the cross of my people “.
Akinyelure: my victory is of God
Mr.Ayo Akinyelure (PDP) is returning to the Senate for a second time after defeating Mr.Tayo Alasoadura (APC) and former Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Zenith Labour Party in the contest for the Ondo Central District ticket.
Incidentally, it was Alasoadura who defeated Akinyelure in 2015.Akinyelure,like Ekpeyong and Balogun, attributed his victory to God.
He was also full of praises for his constituents for reposing confidence in him.
“My people had resolved to pay me back for the good work I delivered to Ondo Central during my stewardship in the 7th Assembly as the senator that represented the district,” he said.
“During that period, I was able to add value to the citizenry of the district by providing employment for over 550 graduates in various federal ministries and parastatals and many empowerment programmes designed to raise my people.”
Recalling his defeat by Alasoadura in 2015,the senator-elect said:”When I was defeated in 2015 election by Senator Alasoadura, I was the first to congratulate him and accepted the verdict of my people.
“The incumbent came second in the just concluded election,and has congratulated me.”
This developnent,he said, demonstrated the spirit of sportsmanship.
However, he said he was still expecting a congratulatory message from former Governor Mimiko.
He said:”He should remember that one good turn deserves another. We all stood by him when the whole Ondo State decided to vote him twice as governor of the state.
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“Ondo State belongs all of us and therefore, any one of us is qualified at one time or the other to be chosen by the majority of the people of Ondo State, particularly Ondo Central to represent their interest.
“It is,therefore, my turn now, and they have resolved to re-elect me to the Senate as a ranking senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”