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.
COURTESY, THE NATION