Alhaji Bawa Yakubu, Lokoja
Residents of the capital city of Lokoja, trooped out in their hundreds to cheer up the PDP campaign rallies, marking its grand finale on Thurs – 31st Jan, 2019. Sizeable number of spectators on roadsides, who jubilantly cheered the long motorcade and some road displays, have attested to the fulfilment of their expectations.
If anything at all, one can confirm that the electorates are no more keen on any dialogue with the ruling APC government; but a definite demand for their outright quits from the saddle of power. Buoyed by this resolve, the body language of the main Opposition Party, no longer leaves any one in doubt, as regards its readiness to reclaim victory on 16th Feb, 2019 general elections, some 2 weeks away.
Wednesday- 30th Jan, 2019, witnessed the party’s earlier visits to Budan and Agbaja villages – headquarters of the Kakanda and Oworo wards respectively; where large numbers of excited party faithfuls, thronged out in their hundreds, to first converge on their District heads’ palaces, to pay the traditional homage before moving to their respective village squares for the campaign proper.
In Kakanda ward,The PDP Youth leader’s message revealed that, it’s now sacrosanct for any average Kakanda person, to support and vote for Sen Dino Melaye, on account of his provision of beneficial dividends of democracy to their community in his current tenure. He said, Dino Melaye has further impacted positively on the economic betterment of their people, through the construction of 3 culverts and bridges and grading of their only road that links them to Lokoja town- which serves as both the LGA and state capital.
This in turn, has reduced the usual high cost of transportation by 65%. He further revealed that, prior to the provision of this infrastructure, a journey from Budan to Lokoja, cost on the average, #1,800 per passenger, but today, by Dino’s prompt intervention, it has scaled down to #800. Other party leaders in their contributions, tried to justify why their community would continue to thank and appreciate Sen Dino, for his responsible leadership, sense of direction and prompt attention he has always paid to his constituencies, unlike his failed, irresponsible predecessor- Senator Smart Adeyemi, who had playfully frittered away his 8 years mandate, on an all time zero score, with the Kakanda ward and Lokoja -2 constituency in general.
The campaign in Agbaja; the headquarters of Oworo ward, had no significant difference with the Budan rally. The joyous crowd chanted slogans of ‘Nigeria, sai Atiku !’; ‘Kogi West, sai Dino !’; ‘Lokoja/Kogi, sai – Shaba !’ and ‘Lokoja-2, sai Principal !’.The party Leader in the ward – Chief Gabriel Agoyi, explained extensively why the Oworos have no choice, but to vote Sen Dino Melaye for his second term in the senate. According to him, Dino had wisely decided to grade down their initial hilly and impassable roads, between the Felele settlement and Agbaja, which has subsequently eased the commuters’ hardship, especially, during rainy seasons. Dino also provided the community with a functional transformer to alleviate their epileptic light condition and hence, they have vowed to reciprocate him by overwhelmingly casting their votes for him and all other PDP candidates from the presidential to the State House of Assembly elections.
To underscore the seriousness PDP attaches to its resolve to push ahead, for the eventual dethronement of the drably APC governments, the PDP painstakingly navigated through the all dusty, rustic terrains and the wholesomely, hectic day- long journeys into the hinterlands of the Kupa and Eggan districts to present its charge.
Kupa district is politically made up of 2 wards; namely Kupa South and Kupa North, headquartered in Abugi and Mammi respectively; while the Eggan district is made up of a ward – Eggan and its headquarters is the Eggan village. Leading traditional rulers of these wards visited, gave their blessings and prayed for the smooth sail of our campaign trails and peaceful elections ahead. They further cautioned against hate speeches and rival clashes during and after the elections for the peace to reign.
Various speakers; including some selected party Executives at the campaign squares noted that, the 3 wards- (KKE),have been designated as traditional homes to the PDP from the inception of the current democratic dispensation. As such, regardless of any condition and situation, they will as usual, maintain their favourable voting pattern for the PDP. They were however, quick to warn about the need to, not only vote for our preferred candidates, but also put in place adequate security measures, in order to defend & protect our votes after they have been counted.
It would be recalled that PDP undertook its campaign tours of Kupa north, Kupa south and Eggan wards respectively, immediately after the resumption from the abrupt 2 days recess, for the need to show the opposition’s solidarity with the nation’s judiciary, which once again, came under the Buhari’s reactionary hammer, orchestrated and executed by his usual spineless presidency cabal.
The hub of the 14 days long campaigns, was what culminated into the much talked about political carnival of sort, when the PDP leaders, chieftains and sundry supporters, stormed the ancient capital city of Lokoja and literally forced the arrogant APC government to scurried into its political cocoon. To give the event its deserved compliment, the PDP strategists have copiously mapped out a new model of campaign Grand finales, whereby, designated ward centres in each of the 5 wards of Lokoja- 1 constituency, would play host to the visiting campaign team. This, they reasoned, could prove more efficacious in driving home our campaign messages to the voting populace, who are more resident at the various wards, instead of the usual centralized open air rally at a designated point for the entire constituency.
Thus, the Grand finale road shows, laced with drumming, dances, songs & slogans of ‘Atikulated’, ‘Dino’, ‘Original next level’ and ‘sai Babadoko – Gurza’, began from Ward E; with a stopover rally at Kabawa. This populated suburb Lokoja, used to be the home base of late Architect Buba Jibril; a three (3) times elected member to the green chamber of the National Assembly, Abuja. The choice of this space, was informed by the need to woo into the PDP, last vestiges of Buba Jibril’s undecided adherents; who were yet to come on board the PDP, unlike many of their colleagues that had a few months past, defected to our party, shortly after the demise of their leader last year. The trick has eventually gained traction for the party, as the PDP amassed a sizeable number of these defectors to its fold after the mini rally in the street. They all pledged to work for the victory of all the PDP candidates in the elections.
Ward D was the next point of the campaign, where large number of party supporters turned out in their droves, to receive one of their own – Hon Suleiman Babadoko, who is from the ward and seeking election into the State House of Assembly, for a second term. He was once elected to the house on the platform of the PDP in 2011. The large crowd assured the campaign team of their readiness to vote out Buhari in favor of Atiku, as any vote for Buhari, will indirectly consolidate the continued misrule and looting of our dear state by Gov Yahaya Bello – an undisguised Buhari’s purposeless surrogate, he’d unjustly foisted on the innocent people of Kogi State in 2015.
Next was ward c, a small, but very influential ward, where the eminent Maigari of Lokoja and Chair, Lokoja LGA traditional council of chiefs resides. After a homage was paid to His Royal Majesty; Alhaji (Dr) Mohammed Kabir Maikarfi, the third, who instantly blessed the team and prayed God for continued peace and understanding amongst the political class, the campaign trail then headed for Makera open space; the venue of the stopover rally. At Makera, the joy of the residents can not be overemphasized, especially, as Party leaders, like elsewhere, also took their turns to address them. They too, gave their commitment & assurance of support for all the party’s candidates.
Ward B; a renowned PDP stronghold in Lokoja- 1 constituency, which serve as a country home to many notable PDP stakeholders in Lokoja politics, staged a rousing and triumphant rally to usher in the campaign contingents. The cantonment centre (Open Space) – the venue of the stopover rally, has been a traditional polling unit of the PDP, in the past 20 years, as it has consistently won all its elections for the PDP.
Ward leaders who spoke at the occasion, have repeatedly informed the party leaders to go and sleep, as the ward has been and would ever, remain a ‘ no – go’ area for any party, other than ‘our own’ PDP. Barr Shaba Ibrahim; the party’s candidate for the House of Reps, who though, hails from Koton Karfe, was born in the Cantonment quarters, which is the largest voting population of the ward. His campaign here, as also a ‘son of the soil’ was considered ‘needless’, for he will certainly enjoy the normal home base supports and votes, to the chagrin of his rivals. This pattern will, as promised, also replicate for all other candidates of the party for the 2019 elections. By so doing, it will despatch a strong signal to the Lugard House tyrannical administration and ‘possessed’ army of occupation that, their stolen time is up.. Shaba, in trying to substantiate the above claim, partly addressed the teaming gathering in the Nupe language, where charged that, on no account, must his people succumb to APC’s baseless intimidation.They must remain firm and resolute on their choices and vote likewise for the PDP. On the perennial concern about security, he assured that there shall be adequate arrangements on their part, to guarantee the safety of electorates and security of their votes before, during and after the elections.
Speaking in the same vein, Hon Suleiman Babadoko; a house of Assembly candidate for Lokoja- 1, cautioned those hoping to brew subterfuge, in order to thwart our much cherished democracy, to quickly understand that, modern day politics does not give room for any act of brigandage and associated electoral criminality in any society. In any case, he warned vehemently, that since no single individual has the monopoly of violence, they will deploy all their powers, within the ambit of the law, to respond in full measure for measure, to protect the electorates and their votes, so that their votes must count. Anything to the contrary by the ruling APC and their hired miscreants as alleged, would be unconditionally resisted by force of the people, using possible lawful means available; damning any consequence whatsoever, by whosoever.
The last bus stop of our township rally was in Ward A of Lokoja metropolis.The ward is unarguably, the largest and most populous in the entire Lokoja LGA. This is the only ward that mostly provide residence for most strangers that settle in Lokoja town, dating back to more than one hundred years or more.
For purposes of structuring and ease of reaching out in the campaign, the ward has been split into 4 units; namely- Cinema Open space; Army Barracks; Lokon goma unit and the Adankolo St Luke’s primary School field.
At the Cinema open space, which was the first port of call, the PDP apex leader in the Fed constituency – Distinguished Sen Tunde Ogbeha, formally welcomed into the party’s fold, some 8 young ladies, who had decided to call it quits with the APC in ward A. Ogbeha, who had admonished the ladies to remain steadfast with the PDP, further assured, that they have nothing to lose in their new membership of PDP. He later appreciated them and advise that they go out and mobilise votes for their new party, so that we can take over power in the state and end the poverty and hunger in the society.
At the open space in the Mammy market of the Army Barrack, party members had gathered earlier in their large number to receive the campaign team, which arrived at about 4.15 pm. Most of the audience here were soldiers’ spouses and their children, as well as retired officers and their families. It’s safe to say that, the barrack voting unit, is the most secured of all voting centres in the state capital, for obvious reason of the military personnel presence.
The ward Party Chair – Mr Abioye, had barely offered the opening prayer, when the DG of the Senator Dino Melaye campaign Organization; Barr Chief Shola Ojo, conveyed his Principal’s glad tidings to the predominantly women gathering. Ojo urged the party members to eschew any fear in exercising their franchise to vote Dino Melaye, who, he said, went through series of torments and persecutions, on account of his refusal to ally his life philosophy with the greedy and oppressive elite in power, since 2015, despite the fact that, as an individual, Dino can be said to be of average livelihood and comfort in our contemporary society. Therefore, electorates must strive to vindicate Senator Dino Melaye and put those self-centered elite to a big shame.
In his own contribution, the party Leader; Senator Tunde Ogbeha, passionately solicited for votes for all the PDP candidates for the 2019 elections; as according to the Leader, people have tested both the PDP and the APC, but in just barely 4 years rule, most Nigerians are today clamouring for a genuine change in the country, to stave off the inexplicable mass poverty, hunger, squalor and wanton killings of innocent and defenceless populace, on no just cause. He therefore, implored all the PDP supporters to get their PVCs handy before the 16th Feb and bid the poverty-infested government of APC, a big bye bye to politics. The Youths, speaking through their ward party Youth leader, promised to embark on a house-to-house sensitisation of the electorate, a week to the elections, with the ballot paper samples to educate them on the exact way to vote and avid an invalid vote, which seldom affect the PDP’s votes count.
At the Lokongoma centre, the party rather paid the traditional ward head a homage for his blessing and goodwill. Reason being that, politically, the ward head of Lokongoma exerts a considerable influence on his subjects and may swing votes to any direction of his pleasure, as attested to in several elections in the past.
The St Luke’s primary school, Adankolo, was the venue, the pompfilled campaigns terminated around 5.46 pm. Before the arrival of the team, people had assembled in a large number, chanting Dino!, Dino! Dino! amidst heavy musical renditions, provided by 2 mobile ‘propaganda’ vehicles, fitted with mighty Public Address systems and giant loudspeakers, to thrill the huge crowd, while some bevy of young, cute girls, mostly campaigners from Koton Karfe, volunteered to gyrate, with elegant dance steps to the carefully edited sensations.. The scene was, to say the least, exhilarating to behold.
As usual, opening prayer was offered, whilst the business of the day commenced. In summary, candidates of the party took their turn to deliver their campaign messages to the party supporters, urging them to come out with their PVCs and vote en masse for all the contestants on our party’s platform. Based on previous experience with last year’s House of Reps bye- election, party supporters recalled with nostalgic laments, how dangerous weapons; including firearms were freely used by some State Government-sponsored thugs, aided by the Nigerian police, to scare away voters, whereby, ballot box snatching and stuffing became the order the day.
It was in this sinister mode, the APC with alleged connivance with the INEC officials, coasted home to the pyrrhic victory. Without much a do, the contestants and party leaders, promptly counseled the teeming crowd to discountenance any fear factor in them and remain undaunted in their determination to vote the PDP candidates all through. Their safety has been assured, as no stone would be left unturned to even up with any such act of primitive cowardice displayed last year. These crucial elections are a different ball game, as the destiny of majority of Nigerians, hang precariously on its credible outcome, they maintained.
The offering of the closing prayer by an elder from the community; Mallam Umar Ishaq, brought to a fruitful end, the two weeks long grassroot campaign tours of the Kogi West Senatorial District, by the PDP, SDMCO and the rest PDP candidates for the 2019 elections.
Alhaji Bawa Yakubu Lokoja; Director, INFORMATION, MEDIA AND PUBLICITY(SDMCO).
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