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EXCLUSIVE: Lagos LG Polls: APC Explains Why Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode Shunned Election

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Lagos LG Polls

…You Deployed Violence, Victimization, Rigging To Win- PDP Accuses Ruling Party

…Councillorship Seats Won By Opposition Shows Process Was Free, Fair- APC Reacts

Last Saturday’s local government election in Lagos witnessed a poor turnout of voters in almost all voting centres across the 57 councils, while major stakeholders from the two main political parties in the State were conspicuously missing at the polls.

In a handful of voting centres monitored by our correspondent, only a few voters turned out to participate in the exercise, a development the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) attributed to voters opting to jettison their civic responsibilities for intangible reasons.

From Orile, Mile 2, Isolo, Ikorodu, Ikeja, Ojokoro and a few others, the ad-hoc officers of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) had practically nothing to do as only a few voters turned out to cast their votes.

At the end of the voting and counting process, the APC polled a total of 584, 619 votes as against Peoples Democratic Party, its closest challenger which polled 80,719 votes.

This figure is a far cry of the 739,445 votes the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu polled to beat PDP’s Dr. Jimi Agbaje, who scored 206,141 to finish second.

In April 2021, the party said it registered at least 2.5 million members in the State across the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas (LCDAs), suggesting that only about 25 percent of APC faithful participated in last Saturday’s council polls.

On Election Day, three former governors of the State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode shunned the exercise, raising eyebrows among stakeholders in the party.

Journalists and party faithful who had besieged the polling centres of the trio at unit 047 unit, ward 3, Sunday Adigun Street, Alausa; Unit 002 State Junior Grammar School, Eric Moore and Ward A5 polling unit 033, Ogunmodede College, Papa, Epe area, respectively, were left disappointed after waiting in vain for them to come out to vote.

Asked why the ex-governors decided not to be part of the election in their various wards, Publicity Secretary of the APC, Seye Oladejo in an interview with Thepledge said, “Well, I think the former governors you referred to might be in a better position to address that question but at their level of politics, participating in the electoral process goes beyond casting their votes on that day.

“For someone like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is a national leader and the de-facto leader of APC in Lagos, it was a measure of his confidence in the ability of his men to deliver on the D-Day whether he was there or not. But be that as it may, participating at their level goes beyond just casting their votes, it extends to organising the party properly for the elections and once you put your house together, I’m not too sure that those of them will be the ones running around on the day of the election to deliver for the party. So, it’s really a non-issue for us.”

Speaking on the voter apathy that overshadowed the election, Oladejo said the low turnout of voters was worrisome and a cause for concern for the party.

Offering explanation as to what led to voters shunning the exercise, Oladejo said youths who should be more interested in the governance at the grassroots prefer to take to other pleasures rather than be part of the electioneering process.

“On that day, a lot of people stayed at home, youngsters were playing soccer on the streets, some were watching Big Brother Nigeria, Olympic Games and the rest of it, while an election that could be a determinant of what the future holds was taking place. For me, that was not good enough.

“So for us to get a better turn out in future, everybody has a stake, a role, the media, security agencies, NGOs and the umpire all have a role to play to ensure that we have reasonable number of people in the electoral process.”

He also blamed the low turnout on the weak opposition parties in the State as well as the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic that has affected every sector not only in Nigeria but across the world.

“It is also imperative to note that we had a very weak opposition that is not bringing anything to the table. It was even virtually impossible for them to print posters and banners and to reach out. On the day of the election, you will find out that in most of the polling units, they could not even mobilize enough people to be their agents. So, in such a no-contest, what was the motivation for people to desperately want to come out and inconvenience themselves for something that was actually a no-contest.”

Oladejo however urged the youths to see elections as a way of influencing positive change which they grave for rather than shy away from it.

Oladejo also deflated claims by the PDP that the election was flawed with irregularities, adding that the fact that the ruling party lost two councillorship seats in the exercise to the PDP and also to Young People’s Party was a proof that not only was the election free and fair, but that the umpire was also unbiased.

“It’s not a hitch (losing two councillorship seats); it’s only a confirmation of the fairness of the process that the umpire was fair and unbiased. It’s an expression of the will of the people and the result is also a reflection of the strength of all the gladiators and all the parties that participated.

“So contrary to what some sore losers want people to believe, it showed that democracy was truly in action and it reflected the people’s will during the election and that is a welcomed development. It is also good for our democracy to have a very strong opposition that will not just throw in the towel. We are happy to have those who councilors on board,” he said.

But the PDP accused the APC of deploying violence, victimization and malpractices to win the elections, a situation, Taofik Gani, Publicity Secretary of the PDP said was an overkill.

“The election was supposed to be as free as possible, but it yet ended up to be an overkill on the side of the APC. The same way they are in control and they could have gone ahead to win, because they have the resources. For them to now introduce violence, victimization and blatant rigging on that day was just an over kill. For us, it has come and gone, we don’t waste our time on such issues, we will prepare better for coming elections.”

On the next move for the PDP after coming out of the election with just one councillorship seat, Gani said, “As a party we do not have that position (to challenge the results), but as individuals those who contested, they are at liberty. If they are so convinced that they can have their mandate back.

“We are looking for better days to come. We know that without an iota of doubt, we need to get more united, stronger, and then let the confidence people have in us be shown at the ballot points. It’s not just to call ourselves a political party and we don’t win. It gives resentment and frustration to people who are your voters. We are worried as well, we are concerned, but we hope it gets better.”

Responding to allegations of malpractice, Chairman of LASIEC, Retired Justice Ayotunde Phillip, denounced as untrue, reports of malpractices, said to had allegedly characterised the poll, saying such reports were based on mere rumours, as nothing of such was reported to her office.

Recall that several videos went viral online shortly after the election suggesting that some officials of the Commission had been recruited by the ruling party to compromise the election.

But Phillips while presenting Certificates of Return to the winners on Tuesday described the election as ‘pretty good’, though with few pockets of hitches, adding that the exercise was peaceful and without any major uprising and rioting.

“A lot of these things are just hearsays and rumours. Nothing has been reported to me. It is until the matter is reported to me officially in writing before I can take action. I have received no such report up to this minute that I am talking to you. So, a lot of these things are just rumours and trouble-making and fishing for unnecessary information. I am not aware,” she said.

On voter apathy, Phillips urged political parties to re-sensitise their followers to be participating in elections.

“All of them have large followers, both on social media and in the real life. They are the representative of the grassroots, so, they know how to reach them (voters) most. The bulk of the job really lies with them not with us,” she said.

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It’s Impossible For FG To Borrow N1.1trn To Meet ASUU’s Demand, Says Umahi

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Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State says the Nigerian government cannot borrow N1.1 trillion to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who have been on strike for over five months.

The Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum said this on Wednesday when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Police Trust Fund led by Dr. Ben Akabueze, in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital.

“There is no way Nigeria will go and borrow N1.1tn to meet ASUU’s demand, it’s quite unreasonable. Are their demands genuine? Yes. But we can start little by little,” the governor said.

“There must be a commitment on the side of both parties that look, ‘ASUU is not asking for this to take to their houses’ so to say. It’s asking for it for our children, to better the infrastructure, to better the lecturers and the students. Yes, but we can start with a fraction of that and then have a programme that will run on the platform of sincerity to address all the lots.”

He also called on varsities lecturers to show some level of understanding so the strike can end.

“So, it is important for ASUU to show some understanding and for those who are negotiating on the side of government to also show some understanding,” he added.

“Let’s meet ourselves halfway and then open the schools to save the fate of our children.”

The governor, who equally faulted the poor maintenance culture in the country, added that there is a need to work on it.

“But let me also say that most of the time, our people have a low appetite for maintenance of public works,” Umahi said.

“No matter how much you deploy to these universities unless the users and the industry regulators begin to treat public infrastructure as their own in the various universities, it will continue to go bad.

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2023: You Need Wike For Your Rescue Mission, Mimiko Tells PDP

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…Says Rivers Gov Has Been The Party’s Solid Rock

Olusegun Mimiko says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) needs Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike for its rescue mission in the next general elections.

The former Ondo State governor spoke on Wednesday at the flag-off ceremony for the construction of the Azikiwe -Iloabuchi Road in Mile 2 Diobu, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“Your Excellency, our Party, the PDP, a Party for which you have laboured so much, seems saddled with the historical duty of forging this unity, a unity premised on truth, equity, and justice, a unity upon which rescuing Nigeria from the far from satisfactory performance of the past seven years will be built,” he said during the event.

“It is a mission that must be accomplished. A mission for which you are specially positioned and favoured to play a major role. A mission that must be subscribed to by all lovers of our country.”

He explained that when some forces tried to destroy the PDP, Wike was a bulwark that resisted such attempts.

“Beyond the self-evident physical transformation, you (Wike) have stood as a bulwark against those sworn to emasculate the main opposition party, all in their bid to force a one-party State down the throats of Nigerians,” Mimiko added.

“You were at one point virtually a one-man countervailing force, defending and protecting our dear PDP. You have also, through bold legal challenges, deepened the national consciousness on the defects in the running of our defective federal system.”

Mimiko’s comment came amid speculations that the Rivers Governor may dump the PDP following a fallout with the party after its presidential primary.

Wike lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the exercise, a development that has since caused a rift between him and Adama-born politician.

The PDP is making reconciliatory moves but Wike’s recent invitation of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos (a state governed by the leading All Progressives Congress, APC) to commission a project has generated further speculations that he may leave the PDP.

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Real Madrid Beat Frankfurt 2-0, Clinch UEFA Super Cup

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Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

While Frankfurt were dangerous, particularly in the first half, Madrid’s experience and individual quality saw them through, as it did so often in their victorious 2021-22 Champions League campaign.

Frankfurt had the best of the early stages, with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois forced into a stunning anticipation save when one-on-one with Daichi Kamada in the 14th minute.

Madrid almost got their first, when Benzema released Vinicius to curl past Kevin Trapp in the penalty box, only for Tuta to clear the ball off the line.

With Madrid dominating possession, Frankfurt mounted several counter-attacks until Madrid launched a counter of their own in the 37th minute.

A diving Trapp got his fingertips to a goal-bound shot by Vinicius, pushing the ball out for a corner.

From the ensuing play, Benzema linked with Casemiro just next to the right post.

The Brazilian sucked in several Frankfurt defenders and a diving Trapp, before heading back to an unmarked Alaba who scored from close range.

After the goal, Madrid stepped it up a gear and should have gone 2-0 up, with Benzema uncharacteristically dragging the ball wide with the goal begging in the 41st minute.

Vinicius, Benzema Connect
Madrid’s quality became more obvious in the second half, with Trapp saving a deflected Vinicius shot in the 54th minute and Casemiro hitting the crossbar with 61 minutes gone.

Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff had a chance saved just minutes later before Vinicius and Benzema combined to put Madrid 2-0 up.

Vinicius skated down the left before slicing the ball back seemingly unsighted for the Frenchman to hammer home from the edge of the box.

Frankfurt fought hard in the closing stages but Madrid were able to dominate the game to win their fifth Super Cup from eight attempts.

The clash, in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium, was the first time these two sides had met in a European decider since 1960 when Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four goals to Ferenc Puskas and three to Alfredo di Stefano in the European Cup final.

The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the competition in the past 10 years.

Only city rivals Atletico Madrid have won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition.

In the 10 years before, Champions League and Europa League participants won five Super Cups each.

Frankfurt joined Hamburg (1977 and 1983), Dortmund (1997), and Bremen (1992) as losing Super Cup finalists from Germany, with only Bayern Munich (2013 and 2020) having won the showpiece event.

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