As the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress took their presidential campaigns to Osun State last week, Yinka Kolawole examines the messages of the parties’ candidates
The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate for next month’s general election and incumbent president, Dr. GoodLuck Jonathan, and his main opponent, the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, launched their campaigns in Osogbo, the state capital last week.
At separate rallies in the town, Jonathan and Buhari told the people of the state what they intended to do if elected on February 14.
President Jonathan and his campaign team, in their speeches, identified several achievements of his administration, pledging to do more if re-elected next month.
Addressing a large crowd of supporters at the Freedom Park, Railway Station, Osogbo, venue of the campaign, Jonathan said, “I would create opportunities for all Nigerians – youths, women inclusive. We keep promises, as all that we have promised the youths, we have honoured.”
Pledging to create two million jobs yearly for the next four years, if re-elected, the president said estimates showed that about 1.8 million Nigerians were added to unemployment market yearly. He said the YouWin programme was part of the efforts initiated by his administration to reduce unemployment. The president said under the programme, grants had been given to many youths to create industries in the three circles done so far.
Still on the achievements of his administration, Jonathan said that the government had successively revamped the mass transit system, saying this can be seen in the rail transport system that has resumed operation after being moribund for over 30 years. With the reactivation of the railway system, he said one “can move across the perimeter of this country cheaply.”
The president said the building of dams in Ilesa and Ile-Ife were on-going, as parts of his administration’s plan to make life more meaningful for the people through the provision of potable water.
On the agricultural sector, Jonathan stressed the efforts of his administration to encourage farming by helping farmers get fertilisers and other farm inputs with ease. He added that the federal government was now building silos in the state to meet the increasing yields in maize and cassava.
He said his administration had contributed to the development of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, and the state tertiary institutions through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). He added that the Universal Basic Education Board had also been used to equip the secondary schools while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had been used in the health sector to equip the rural health centres in all the local government areas.
The president said there were challenges, but the government was doing its best. He pledged to end insurgency in the country, stressing that his administration has stepped up action against the terrorists.
In his remarks, Vice President Namadi Sambo decried the allegation that reduction in allocation from the Federal Allocation for belonging to an opposition party was responsible for Osun State’s inability to pay workers’ salaries. Sambo called on the people of Osun State to get themselves out of the shackles by voting for a man that is thoroughly educated in this modern age, as opposed to someone who does not have a certificate.
The vice president said that the administration of Jonathan had built 12 additional universities to cater for the needs of the youths seeking admission, while in the power sector, power generation was improved to 4,500 megawatts from the 2,000 megawatts inherited by the government.
Director-general of the Jonathan campaign organisation, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, added that all allocations from the Federation Account to the states, including Osun, were being paid regularly.
The presidential candidate of APC, Buhari, while campaigning in Osogbo last week, promised to fight corruption, insecurity and unemployment if voted into power in the Feburay14 presidential election. Buhari, who spoke solemnly during his campaign at the state stadium, Osogbo, also contended that all shades of insecurity, corruption, and unemployment would be tackled to pave way for the development of the country.
He stressed that agriculture and mining would be given serious attention by his administration, while promising that jobless persons shall be increasingly engaged as part of efforts to achieve full employment.
“If am voted into power, I would secure this country from circles of unpatriotic leaders.”
Also speaking, the national chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, noted that Buhari was a man courageous and principled to fight insecurity in the land.
Odigie-Oyegun noted that bad governance would be eradicated the moment APC emerged victorious next month. He urged the people of the state to vote for the party’s candidate in order to come out of bad governance.
In his remarks, the governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, promised that the state would vote massively for Buhari in the next election, saying the party is fully in control of the state.
Aregbesola equally stressed that the situation in the country today was pathetic and worrisome, noting that PDP has ruled for 16 years with very little to show Nigerians.
However, many in the state decried the restriction of movement in the capital as a result of the Jonathan campaign rally. Residents had a harrowing day as they could not easily access their destinations due to the blockage of major roads in Osogbo. Olaiya, Oke-Fia, Jaleyemi Junction, Oja-Oba, Orisunmibare, and Old Garage roads, all in Osogbo, were blocked for hours because of the president’s visit.
The Peoples Welfare League, a pressure group in Osun State, condemned the restriction of vehicular movement in Osogbo during the campaign rally. Coordinator of PWL, Abiodun Agboola, said it was an assault on the people’s right to movement.
Many residents of the state had to walk from their houses to their various destinations as security operatives manned major roads in Osogbo, barring vehicular movement on the roads for hours. Even the roads that do not link to the president’s commuting routs were also blocked. This resulted in a heavy traffic jam on suburb roads in the city, as commuters had to divert to available routes.
PWL saw this as a clear infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Osogbo. They said the freedom of movement of the people, as guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was trampled upon by the president and his campaign team.
Section 40 of the constitution says, “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.”
PWL believed the president, his campaign team and the security officers had flagrantly disrespected the people and the constitution. The group said, in a statement, “We do not believe that a president that wants the people’s votes for re-election would subject the entire people of Osogbo to pain and trauma just because he wants to pass through a road leading to his campaign ground. It is uncalled for and an abuse of office.
“We also condemn the over-zealousness of the security officers who would go the extra-mile on the directive of their superior officers. The blockage of roads for a president’s visit should not be happening in a democratic setting.”