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How Odegbami unlocked my reservoir of AFCON memories

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By Tunde Olusunle

Nigeria’s legendary footballer, Segun Odegbami, recently set my mind on football and sports recollections dating back to many decades. He was nicknamed “Mathematical” during his active playing years as a superstar in the Green Eagles as the nation’s senior football team was then known, by the broadcast legend, Ernest Okonkwo. Okonkwo was easily one of Africa’s most linguistically flowery football commentators ever. With him doing his shift on match days from the studios of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, (FRCN), you were well served listening to your transistor radio. Yes, you had a better package following the man generally adulated as the “golden voice of Africa” in his time, than contending with scrambled images on your television set. The Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA) wielded monopoly over audiovisual broadcast those good old days. Odegbami was attired “Mathematical” because of the pinpoint exactitude of his passes and his mostly unmissable goal-bound shots on the field of play.

A septuagenarian like most of his contemporaries in the 1980 Green Eagles squad who won the African Cup of Nations, (AFCON) trophy for the first time for Nigeria, Odegbami has been multitasking since retirement many years ago. He’s been a sports pundit, a newspaper columnist and broadcast medium proprietor. He is one member of the older generation of Nigerian soccer stars and athletes who has managed his post-playing career very well. He is never in the public sphere for “crowd funding” of anything whatsoever. Odegbami has been on the road in recent weeks in Cote D’Ivoire host country of the 34th edition of the AFCON. He is literally looking out for his football grandchildren metaphorically speaking, the current crop of Super Eagles as they seek to make Nigeria proud at the ongoing biennial football fiesta.

Tellingly, Odegbami has exceeded his primary schedule as a recorder of events on the month-long tournament trail and also an inspirer of his soccer successors. He has functioned as a veritable Nigerian diplomat in the course of the ongoing AFCON. At least in one instance he visited a secondary school in the host country which is heavily populated by young Nigerians. Odegbami admonished the youngsters in that engagement, to be focused on their education and to remain impeccable ambassadors of Nigeria their homeland. Relevant officials of state should follow Odegbami’s good works attentively. His generation of footballers were invested with the national honour of “Member of the Order of the Niger,” (MON) when they won the 1980 edition of the tournament hosted by Nigeria during the regime of President Shehu Usman Shagari. Forty-four years after that recognition, and indeed in acknowledgement of their continuing commitment to the national cause, that generation of Nigeria’s soccer stars eminently deserve honour upgrades.

Odegbami has tirelessly served us interesting snippets from his Ivorian tour, providing sights and sceneries we may not get to glimpse when the whistle is blown and fiesty duels on lush green turfs arrest our gaze. I happened on one of his jottings mid-last week, as he journeyed with select soccer buffs from Abidjan to Bouake. It was the day the Super Eagles played the Bafana Bafana of South Africa specifically on Wednesday February 7, 2024, in Boauke, one of the host cities of this year’s AFCON. Odegbami’s notes referenced a 15-minute stopover in Yamoussoukro, the administrative headquarters of Cote D’Ivoire, en route Bouake, by him and his fellow voyeurs. They left Abidjan earlier in the day, Bouake-bound. He was nostalgic about Nigeria “of the good old days, of the mid-1970s to the very early 1990s with well tarred, smooth and sweet roads in many parts of Nigeria, which invited motorists and bikers to test the speedometers of their vehicles!” Such super-poetic lines from Odegbami who studied engineering at The Polytechnic, Ibadan.

As an aide in the Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar government, I exercised oversight on sports on behalf of the President, along with other assignments. There was always a minister for sports, but Obasanjo always desired to have his “eyes” in sporting matters so he could be more directly involved. There was never competition for turfs between me and any minister or chief executive of any of the sporting bodies. We had mutual respect for ourselves and worked for the same goals. Musa Mohammed, (a retired army Colonel); Samaila Sambawa and Bala Kaoje (of blessed memory) were some of the ministers of sports I collaborated with. Top sports administrators with whom I worked included Thaddeus Daniel Hart, Amos Adamu, Patrick Ekeji, Habu Gumel, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Taiwo Ogunjobi (may his soul rest in peace), Fanny Amun, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Emmanuel Ikpeme and so on.

I was the singular accredited bearer of the President’s goodwill messages to Nigerian players and sportsmen during such competitions. They were typically delivered in their dressing rooms to boost their morale before they charged to the field. Through me, Obasanjo also sent personalised messages to footballers and athletes who excelled and were recognised in various ways by international sporting bodies. Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha and Vincent Enyeama should have copies of such correspondences in their files. I could make phone calls to the President from anywhere in the world and get him to speak with our representatives and to inspire them. Such was the kind of interest we ignited in Obasanjo for sports, away from misconceptions on the streets.

I remember attending four editions of AFCON in Tunisia, Egypt, Ghana and South Africa, variously. Top Nigerian officials were quartered in Monastir, a two and half hour drive from Tunis, the Tunisian capital, during the 2004 edition of the biennial. The Super Eagles played their first two games at the *Stade Mustapha Ben Jannet Stadium* in Monastir narrowly losing the first by a lone goal to Morocco. They thereafter unleashed unfeeling venom on *Bafana Bafana* of South Africa which they whitewashed by four goals to nil in the second group game. Nigeria’s last group game was against neighbouring Benin Republic played in Stade Taieb El Mhiri in Sfax, which Nigeria won by two goals to one thus qualifying for the quarter finals. There were those days of rest for players and officials after each game which we invested in sightseeing and in addition for me, souvenir assemblage. It was so very delightful driving through the Tunisian countryside taking in the therapeutic breeze all the way to Tunis. I won’t forget those stops we made to refresh and “stretched leg” as we would put it in Nigerian pidgin, like Odegbami, Mitchell Obi and Emmanuel Ayanbunmi did in Yamoussoukro en route Bouake the other day.

Egypt hosted the succeeding edition of AFCON and Nigeria devoured Senegal, Ghana and Zimbabwe very decisively. The Eagles aggregated all nine points from the three games in their pouch even as the stingy Super Eagles defence line conceded just one goal in a three-game run. All of Nigeria’s games in the group stages were played at the Port Said Stadium, Cairo. We stayed at *The Marriot* in the Egyptian capital. I was joined by my very good friend, Gbenga Ayeni, who flew in from Connecticut just to savour the carnival ambience of the tournament. Other friends like Ogirri Ajene, former deputy governor of Benue State, and Olu Barnabas, both sadly departed, jetted in from New Delhi and Abuja, just to catch the AFCON fun. We visited the great Sphinx of Giza, the pyramids of Djoser and the Egyptian Museum among other sites. Such is the overwhelming allure of the AFCON.

Obasanjo left office May 29, 2007 as did us his lieutenants. I had developed such an addiction for the AFCON that I paid my way to Ghana for the 2008 edition of the contest. I was in the company of two friends, Femi Ajisafe and Bankole Osuntola. The Super Eagles were domiciled in the twin-city Takoradi-Secondi where they played Cote D’Ivoire, Mali and Benin Republic in that order. Nigeria had a bitter start to the competition falling to a one nil defeat to our erstwhile football nemesis and hosts of the ongoing AFCON, Cote D’Ivoire, before grinding out a draw with Mali and thereafter, beating our Beninoise neighbours. I recall meeting a sulking Vincent Enyeama in the Nigerian team bus after the Nigeria-Cote D’Ivoire game, ranting and cursing about being overlooked in favour of his backup, Austin Ejide for the game the Eagles lost.

My friends and I relocated to Accra the Ghanaian capital after Nigeria’s group games, enjoying the refreshing coastline breeze as we drove through villages and communities. As we drove by Winneba town, I promptly remembered how one of my cheeky university classmates twisted the surname of another mate of ours, investing him with Winneba as alias! So here was Winneba after all, a historic fishing port in South Ghana, two hours away from Cape Coast. Ghana was renowned for export quality fabrics, a particular variety branded Akosombo by its ears. My team and I didn’t miss the opportunity of an exploratory excursion in the Accra open market. Shopping out there is much like doing so in any Nigerian market.

The 2013 AFCON very competently hosted by South Africa was no less memorable. It was a dutifully planned excursion with friends, even as we made all our travel plans by ourselves. Femi Ajisafe was also on the train, as was our departed compatriot, the well-known media practitioner, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo. The Super Eagles played Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia in stadiums in Nelspruit and Rustenburg. My friends and I stayed in the highbrow Sandton district, in Johannesburg from where we coordinated our shuttles. I won’t forget those South African highway watering holes, like the Ivorian variants of Odegbami and company. You can actually make a mobile picnic of your trips to match venues if you had your drinks, sandwiches and confectionery properly packed in your van. South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup three years earlier so the country was very well prepared for the AFCON. The “rest areas” on the beltways were complete with bathrooms, mini-marts and fuel stations. In my team, I was the earliest and regular visitor to South Africa previously. To this extent I was in a position to advise on places of interest.

Soweto, a regular fixture since my days as a literature student in secondary school had forever been one destination I loved to visit. It seized my fancy since my earliest visit in 2004 with its many tourist attractions. The primordial private residence of Nelson Mandela, 8115 Vilakazi Street, Soweto which was once petrol-bombed by apartheid agents; *Bishop Desmond Tutu’s iconic house* and the *Hector Pieterson Museum and Library* have always fascinated me. I also relished visits to Pretoria the South African capital with its several sights and sounds. The Nigerian team tethered unconvincingly in the group stages of the 2013 AFCON, such that many fans and supporters like my friends and I who paid our ways considered it wasteful to continue to pickup avoidable bills away from home.

We all returned home because of the dodgy outings of our team in the opening stages of the contest. Somehow, the Super Eagles reinvented themselves. They suddenly became favourites for the trophy after brushing aside opposition from revered opponents like the Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire. … My return to Johannesburg for the finals was on the prodding of Enyinnaya Abaribe who was senate committee chairman on communications and who offered to underwrite my accommodation bills. My brother Bimbo Daramola then a parliamentarian substantially defrayed the cost of my return ticket. Nigeria nicked a one nil victory over the Stallions of Burkina Faso* in the finals to win the AFCON cup for the third time that February 2013. That finale in the calabash-shaped FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, also featured Nigeria’s afrobeats music star, D’Banj. So much for AFCON reminiscences prodded by the one and only Mathematical Odegbami himself!

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA).

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Opinion

Disability is not a barrier

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Throughout history, individuals with disabilities have faced various challenges and prejudices in their daily lives. However, it is important to recognize that disability is not a barrier to success or personal fulfillment. With the right support and mindset, individuals with disabilities can achieve their goals and make significant contributions to society.

A prevalent misjudgment about disability is that it limits a person’s abilities and potential. In reality, many with disabilities have demonstrated excellence in myriad pursuits, including education, career, and personal relationships. For example, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, despite being diagnosed with ALS at a young age, made groundbreaking contributions to the field of theoretical physics. His feats proved disability does not equate to incapacity.

Let’s get back to our clime, our own Hon. Arome Ibrahim made outstanding impacts as Disability Commission Chairman. His disabled condition did not impair his competent discharge of duties. He showed the world disability imposes no barriers and cannot equate to ineptness.

Moreover, societal attitudes toward disability considerably influence the opportunities available to the disabled. When society focuses on accommodating and empowering the disabled rather than dismissing them as inferior or helpless, it cultivates greater inclusion and accessibility. By promoting a culture of diversity and acceptance, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals, regardless of their abilities.

The resilience and resolve exhibited by many with disabilities also warrants recognition. Despite myriad obstacles, they frequently demonstrate extraordinary perseverance and valor in pursuing their ambitions and goals. Such tenacity serves as a powerful reminder that with the proper support and mindset, no limits exist regardless of one’s physical or cognitive constraints.

Disability should not be seen as an impediment to success or happiness. By challenging stereotypes, promoting inclusivity, and embracing diversity, we can empower individuals with disabilities to achieve their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. It is crucial for society to recognize and celebrate the unique abilities and contributions of individuals with disabilities, as their experiences and perspectives enrich our collective human experience. By fostering a more inclusive and supportive society, we can create a world where disability is truly not a barrier.

Courtesy: Kogi State Community Advocacy Group On Disability Inclusion

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Edo 2024: Can Tinubu bell the ‘cats’ in APC’s primary fiasco?

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Gov Hope Uzodinma
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By Ehichioya Ezomon

“Even among thieves there’s honour,”is the sentiment that “criminals have a code of conduct among themselves.” According to grammarist.com, “some aspects of this code of conduct may be to not steal from each other, or to not testify against a fellow criminal to the police.”
Is there such a “code of conduct” among politicians? It’s doubtful, as among politicians – like among dogs – the first to die becomes the meat for the rest of the pack. If there’s really honour among politicians, heads would’ve rolled since the evening of Saturday, February 17 over the botched governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, to choose a candidate for the September 21 governorship poll.
It’s such a messy affair that President Bola Tinubu’s invited to step in. So, will Tinubu prove the doubting Thomas wrong – coupled with his preachment of equity, fairplay and rule of law – by summoning the political will and courage, cancel the charade of a primary election, and save the APC from a second defeat in four years in Edo State?
Perhaps, the President has shown some spine, as the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) has declared the primaries “inconclusive” after meeting and briefing Tinubu about the chaotic outcome of the exercise, and “the President expressed concerns at the turn of events, and directed the NWC to ensure that the exercise was concluded,” as first reported by The Nation on February 21.
Hence their tails tucked in-between their legs, the Abdullahi Ganduje-led NWC, after an emergency meeting on February 20, scheduled the completion of the primaries for Thursday, February 22, going by a statement by the national publicity secretary of the APC, Mr Felix Morka, fielding questions from reporters after the NWC meeting.
Morka said: “At its emergency meeting held today, Tuesday, February 20, 2024, to consider the report on the Edo State Governorship Primary Election, the National Working Committee (NWC) deliberated on the report and resolved that the Edo State Governorship Primary Election has not been completed, and has now fixed Thursday, February 22, 2024, for the completion of the Primary Election Process.”
Dr Ganduje and his team didn’t have to await Tinubu’s directive on what to do to rectify the controversial primaries. In a best case scenario, the APC leadership would’ve acted swiftly, called for calm, and given the assurance to members, particularly in Edo State, that it’d look into the primary misadventure through the primary election appeals committee instituted ahead of the exercise by the NWC. 
And in a worst case scenario, the party would’ve dismissed the conflicting declarations made – with four aspirants laying claim to winning the primaries – dissolved the Governor Hope Uzodimma-led primary election committee, and fixed a new date for a re-run or fresh primary poll within days, to meet the February 24 deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But what did Nigerians – particularly the shocked and distrust members of the APC in Edo State – see and hear from the leadership of the party? A congratulatory message in the night of February 17 from the national chairman, Ganduje, “to the winner of the primaries,” and solicitation for the “defeated aspirants” to “bury the hatchet” and work for party unity to win the Edo governorship.
As of Sunday, February 18, four aspirants claimed that they won the primaries – supervised by Governor Uzodimma, Cross River State Governor Bassey Otu, and five other members of the APC Edo Governorship Primary Election – to choose a candidate for the September 21 election. 
The primary election claimants include Hon. Dennis Idahosa, a member representing Ovia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, who’s declared as the winner by the Uzodimma committee; and Senator Monday Okpebholo (APC, Edo Central), who’s declared the winner by the NWC-appointed state chief collation and returning officer, Dr Stanley Ugboajah.
The others are Hon. Anamero Dekeri, member representing Etsako Federal Constituency, pronounced the winner by local government returning officers; and Mr Clem Agba, former minister of state for Budget and National Planning, who claims that going by the turnout of voters, he won the majority of lawful votes of APC members, and has threatened legal action to affirm his “victory.”
Tension had enveloped the Edo political landscape when – on the eve of the primaries, two of the leading aspirants – former Secretary to the State Government and twice governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and former Deputy Governor Lucky Imasuen withdrew from the race, citing the APC leadership’s zoning of the governorship to Edo Central that’s been marginalised in the governance of the state since civilian democracy returned in Nigeria in 1999.
Amid reports that the primaries didn’t hold in virtually all 192 wards of the 18 local government areas of Edo State, results started flying on social media, and coming in droves from the local government collation agents and returning officers into the designated state collation centre in Benin City, capital city of Edo State.
But midway into the televised collation of the primary results, scores of armed political thugs invaded the centre – and in the presence of security operatives, and INEC officials – disrupted the proceedings, and beat up journalists, electoral officials and destroyed laptops and television cameras. 
Until that moment, it’s assumed that the primary election was one for all the aspirants. But the Uzodimma-headed committee, perhaps apprised in advance about the hoodlums’ attack, relocated to another venue, where it declared Hon. Idahosa as winner of the primaries, even as only eight of the 18 local government areas’ results had been collated.
Recall that stakeholders in Edo APC had protested Uzodimma’s appointment to head the primary election committee, alleging that he’d do a hatchet job for Senator and former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who’d openly canvassed – even in a viral video on social media on the eve of the primaries – for Idahosa’s candidacy.
So, Uzodimma, willy-nilly, proved the Edo APC stakeholders right by taking advantage of the mileu caused by the political thugs at the collation centre to announce Idahosa as “winner” of the primaries, despite Senator Okpebholo leading in the results of eight councils declared before the thugs struck.
Still, amid the uproar that greeted Uzodimma’s declaration of Idahosa as the “duly nominated candidate,” Mr Ganduje, in a rather fait accompli statement by his chief press secretary, Mr Edwin Olofu, congratulated the “winner,” and called on the “defeated aspirants” to support him for the unity of the APC.
“I want to congratulate the winner of the Edo State governorship election, I want to equally commend and appreciate Governor Hope Uzodimma’s election committee for their hard work and the transparent manner in which the primary election was conducted,” Ganduje said.
“At this point, I want to call on all the aspirants to bury the hatchet and work for the interest of the party so that our party will emerge victorious (on September 21),” Ganduje added.
Was Ganduje’s congratulatory message to Hon. Idahosa hasty, as alleged by aggrieved  supporters of the “defeated aspirants,” or played into a script written by Comrade Oshiomhole to smoothen the primary path for his “anointed candidate,” Idahosa?
As seen in a trending video 24 hours to the election, as first reported by THISDAY, Oshiomhole claimed that President Tinubu had adopted Idahosa as the APC governorship candidate, a claim debunked by the deputy chairman of the Edo State APC gubernatorial primaries committee and Cross River Governor Otu.
Sen. Otu “categorically dismissed the rumour that President Tinubu has anointed a particular aspirant for the Edo APC gubernatorial primaries,” and “urged party faithful to disregard the lie and vote for their choice candidate.” 
“This perhaps fuelled counter-narrative on the eve of the primaries, that the Presidency had settled for an aspirant from Edo Central, to be anointed for equity, justice and fairplay, and that Senator Monday Okpebholo is the anointed candidate,” THISDAY reports.
.The same narrative of endorsement led to the withdrawal of Pastor Ize-Iyamu from the race, “with a directive to his supporters to cast their votes for Okpebholo,” and the subsequent withdrawal by former Mr Imasuen, citing the reported APC zoning of the governorship to Edo Central.
In the interim, the national publicity secretary of the APC, Mr Felix Morka, defended Uzodimma’s declaration, and dismissed the affirmation by the chief returning officer, saying the NWC had empowered Uzodimma to make the final return on the primaries. 
Morka said: “We wish to state categorically that only the Governor Hope Uzodinma-led Edo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee is duly authorized to undertake final collation and announcement of results of the Primary Election in the state. We urge all party members, officials in the state, and the general public to disregard the said announcement of results by these unauthorized persons.”
But a letter signed by the APC National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Mohammad Argungu, appointed Ugboajah as the State Chief Returning Officer, with 18 others as Local Government Area Returning Officers for each of the 18 local government areas of Edo State.
So, who had the authority, between Uzodimma and Ugboajah, to make pronouncement on the outcome of the primaries, as the two were on legitimate duty?
Nonetheless, the Edo chapter of the APC, via its publicity secretary, Prince Igbinigie, describing the conduct of Uzodimma as “most embarrassing, unfortunate and bizarre,” faulted the governor’s “usurpation” of the duties of the local government collation agents and the returning officers for the primaries.
Mr Igbinigie alleged that “upon learning that his preferred aspirant wasn’t winning, Uzodimma singlehandedly relocated the collation centre, and then unilaterally assumed the role of the state’s returning officers without recourse to inputs from the local government collation agents as well as the chief returning officer of the exercise.”
However, Igbinigie said after normalcy was restored at the “recognised collation centre,” with the local government area returning officers and representatives from INEC, the results were declared by Dr Ugboajah, “whose responsibility it is to carry out this function.” 
Reeling out the scores by 11 of the original 12 cleared aspirants for the primaries, with Sen. Okpebholo having 12,145 votes, and Hon. Idahosa getting 5,536 votes for the first and second positions, respectively, Igbinigie said: “Therefore, it is the desire of the state working committee to reiterate that Sen. Monday Okpebholo is the duly elected gubernatorial candidate of our great party for the September 2024 governorship election.” 
Meanwhile, one of the leading aspirants and court-removed former Governor Oserheimen Osunbor has appealed to President Tinubu to step in and arrest the primary crises allegedly instigated to divide the APC for the PDP to retain power in September. Prof. Osunbor asked Tinubu to:
(1) Cause an investigation to be instituted into the allegation that this sham of a primary election, and the crises it has generated, have been induced by gratification given and received by the principal actors to damage APC and pave the way for the emergence of the PDP candidate in the election.
(2) Order the cancellation of the primary election, which has produced two or four candidates, as it can’t stand the test of legal scrutiny but rather will jeopardize the chances of APC, as there’s been “a brazen disregard of the Party Guidelines, Party Constitution and the Electoral Act, which may prove fatal in the event of litigation.”
(3) Order another primary election to be conducted ahead of the 24th February deadline set by INEC. Different officers should be assigned to conduct the fresh primaries.
Declaring that, “I make this appeal as the most popular aspirant with name recognition and acceptability throughout the length and breadth of Edo State,” Osunbor, at a press conference on February 18 in Ekpoma, Esan West of Edo State, said registered members of the APC across the state came out to vote for their preferred candidate, but “to their disappointment, the election did not take place anywhere that I know of across the 18 local government areas of Edo State.”
“The party officials deployed from the Abuja office of the National Organising Secretary to conduct the elections at the various wards and local government areas of Edo State were kept in hotels in Benin,” Osunbor said, adding, “There is no record or video of any of them preforming their assigned roles in the election at their respective designated points.”
“What we saw on television was not result of election but allocation of votes by some persons in Benin to each of the aspirants. In the end, two candidates have been announced as winners, Sen. Monday Okpebholo and Hon. Denis Idahosa in a primary election that was never held or was not conducted in accordance with the law and guidelines. 
“This charade confirms the widespread suspicion that they are labouring to present a weak APC candidate that will be easily over-run and defeated by the presumed PDP candidate during the election. They are not working in the interest of APC but of PDP. We must avoid a repeat of the scenario which led to the defeat of APC in 2020.”
Also on February 18 in Abuja, after an emergency meeting, APC stakeholders rooting for Hon. Dekeri, called on Ganduje and President Tinubu to, “as a matter of honour, discard Governor Uzodimma’s infamous declaration of one Mr. Denis Idahosa, who didn’t win the primaries.” 
Spokesman of the forum, Mr Emmanuel Godwin, said Uzodimma wasn’t the chief returning officer for the election, and accused the primary committee of “usurping the duties and responsibilities of local government returning officers in the Edo State primaries.”
Godwin said: “It is unfortunate that Hope Uzodimma, who is not the returning officer in whatever capacity, assumed the position and went ahead to announce Dennis Idahosa when the returning officers were still collating the results.
“We wish to therefore state categorically that the purported announcement is null and void and it should be disregarded in its entirety. Governor Uzodimma lacks the power to usurp duties and responsibilities of local government returning officers in the Edo State primaries.”
In the lead-up to the February 17 primary election Ganduje, and Uzodimma presented themselves as democrats, who wanted things done as laid out in the rulebook of the party. On February 15, at the national headquarters of the APC in Abuja, the former governor of Kano State, inaugurated the APC Edo Governorship Primary Election and Appeals Committees for the direct primary poll.
Specifically on the appeals committee, Ganduje, who vows to reclaim Edo State from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to expand the coast of the ruling APC in Nigeria, said: “It is a tradition for us to always constitute a body that will undertake an assignment so that at the end of it, we get good results.
“I will like to inform you that the composition of the two committees is a product of the National Working Committee (NWC) in accordance with the constitution of our party. Whatever you do, the contestants are free to appeal. That is why we have an appeals committee, which is like the Supreme Court.”
From hindsight, the Ganduje message was a double-edged sword: Members of the primary election committee should conduct a credible and transparent election acceptable to the aspirants, their supporters, and members of the APC; and whatever the outcome of the poll, the aspirants shouldn’t rock the boat, but appeal for a possible remedy.
Responding, Uzodimma thanked Ganduje and the NWC for the confidence reposed in the members, promised to discharge their assignment with utmost diligence, and stressed that, “Our prayers is that we work hard to justify this confidence reposed in us,” as “our party is a fantastic brand, very popular, and a good product.”
“It behooves on members of our committee to work in harmony with the party’s local leadership in Edo, to bring up a product that will look like our party and is easily marketable in Edo,” Uzodimma said, and urged the APC leadership to pray to God Almighty “to give us the wherewithal to carry out our assignment.”
In the end, did Ganduje and Uzodimma carry out the duty of producing a sellable, marketable and acceptable candidate in accordance with the dictates of the constitution of the APC? No, they did the opposite, in connivance with the local potentate, Comrade Oshiomhole who, from the get go, had primed Hon. Idahosa as his “anointed candidate” for the governorship. 
Pre-the primary election, the APC NWC sent officials to the wards and local government areas of Edo State, to authentic the number of actual and financial members of the party – a finding that revealed that only about 42,000 members were qualified to participate in the primaries.
Surprisingly, announcing the results several hours before the completion of collation, Governor Uzodimma ascribed 40,453 votes cast by the verified 42,000 members to Hon. Idahosa alone. Other aspirants’ scores were: Anamero Dekeri, 2,030 votes; Monday Okpebholo, 100; Clem Agba, 100; Osagie Ize-Iyamu, 2; Gideon Ikhine, 700; David Imuse, 400; Charles Airhiavbere, 162; Oserheimen Osunbor, 180; Blessing Agbomhere, 50; Ernest Umakhihe, 2; and Lucky Imasuen, 2 votes.
“This is to certify that Dennis Idahosa, having scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared winner of the primary election,” Uzodimma said.
In the results declared by Ugboajah, Sen. Okpebholo received 12,145 votes; Dennis Idahosa, 5,536; Afolabi Umakhihe, 2,090; Anamero Dekeri, 1,625; Charles Arhiavbere, 919; Gideon Ikhine, 902; Oserheimen Osunbor, 688; David Imuse, 507; Lucky Imasuen, 503; and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, 383 votes. Clem Agba’s name and score weren’t included.
“This is to certify that Monday Okpebholo has scored the highest votes, and declared winner of the APC governorship primary and thereby declared the candidate of the party,” Dr Ugboajah said.
And in the results announced on Saturday night by Mr Ojo Babatunde for the local government returning officers, Hon. Dekeri got 25,384 votes, while Idahosa received 14,127 votes. No votes were recorded for Okpebholo and nine other aspirants.
 
If any of the three results declared by the different authorities of the APC Primary Election Committee for Edo 2024 governorship election are considered, only Dr Ugboajah’s declaration merits giving any probative value, having followed the prescribed process of collation and declaration of results.
Besides, no matter their level of popularity and reach in Edo State, no single aspirant among the 10 that made it to the fiercely-contested primary, could secure even 15,000 votes, talkless of outlandish votes in excess of 40,000 from less than 42,000 members that voted. It’s daylight robbery to claim as such!
As the National Leader of the APC – an appellation he’d styled himself for eight years under the Muhammadu Buhari administration (2015-2023) – President Tinubu should show true leadership and cancel the bogus primary election in Edo State, and call for re-run or fresh primaries before the INEC deadline of February 24. Nothing else will assuage the electoral heist perpetrated on February 17! Edo people are watching and waiting, and may not forget their deliberate disenfranchishment on September 21!

Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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Edo Guber: A time for reflection, decision-making for the PDP

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Politics, much like the tides, is a constantly evolving force. What was hailed as the prevailing political thinking yesterday may be discarded today, replaced by a new set of circumstances and dynamics.

In Edo State, this phenomenon is currently shaping the political landscape, particularly in the selection of a gubernatorial candidate for the upcoming 2024 elections.

In recent months, within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), there has been a general sentiment that the governorship should be allocated to Edo Central.

This argument had gained traction, with a degree of acceptance among party members. However, the political tides of Edo State have since rapidly shifted.

With the All Progressives Congress (APC) preparing for their gubernatorial primaries on Saturday, strong indications suggest that the party will nominate a candidate from Edo South. This strategic move takes into account the fact that Edo South is home to the majority of voters in the state. By fielding a candidate from the south, the APC hopes to garner massive support from the Edo South electorate, capitalizing on the principle of regional loyalty.
Politics is a majority game. Emotions and sentiments cannot guarantee victory.
Also the voting population in Edo is as follows ; Edo south.62% Edo central.13% while Edo north has 25%.

This poses a challenging predicament for the PDP. If they choose to adhere to their initial inclination and nominate a candidate from Edo Central, they risk losing the popular vote. Additionally, considering the federal might of the APC in the center, the PDP may face an uphill battle in a state that has traditionally leaned towards their party.

Consequently, the PDP finds itself at a crossroads. Should they mirror the APC’s strategy and select a candidate from Edo South, they stand a higher chance of securing electoral success by appealing to the region’s voters. However, this decision would deviate from their original plan and disrupt the delicate balance within the party.

As the political dynamics continue to shift, the PDP’s choice becomes crucial in determining their prospects in the 2024 elections in Edo State. They must weigh their commitment to Edo Central against the potential consequences of alienating voters from the south. Striking the right balance is imperative if they are to maintain a competitive edge against the APC and have a fighting chance at victory.

In this delicate balancing act, the PDP must consider various factors, including regional loyalty, the overall political climate, and the aspirations of their party members and stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to select a candidate who can unite the party, appeal to a broad spectrum of voters, and withstand the impending political storms that lie ahead.

As Edo State traverses this intricate web of political dynamics, it is essential for parties and candidates to recognize the importance of adaptability and responsiveness. The ability to adapt to evolving circumstances while staying true to their core principles will be crucial in gaining the trust and support of the electorates.

They must navigate the complex political currents in order to arrive at a candidate who can lead them to victory. The outcome of this delicate choice will determine not only the party’s fate but also the trajectory of governance in Edo State for years to come.

-Moses Ekunwe from iguben . writes from Benin city

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