I WILL BE OSUN GOV THIS YEAR â€“ AREGBESOLA
The governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Osun State in 2007, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, has declared that there would be no governorship election in the state in 2011. He insisted: 'I will be governor before the end of this year.' Aregbesola was addressing a rally in Iwo last Friday. RAZAQ BAMIDELE was at the rally, his report:
Iwo, Osun State, on Friday, September 24 witnessed a first class electioneering when Aregbesola stormed the town to address party supporters at a rally. The rally was organised to receive some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who defected into the ACN. The decampees were led by a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Gbadegesin Adedeji.
As early as 7am, party chieftains and supporters trooped to the Kajola junction in the heart of the town near the Coca Cola depot waving brooms, the symbol of the ACN.
Brandishing various placards, banners and distributing handbills with messages of hope, the youth and some women defied the day's downpour to dance round the town with talking drummers in toes singing praises of the party, its flagbearers as well as that of the decampees.
There was ecstasy when Aregbesola drove into the town around 2pm in a convoy of about a dozen vehicles. His first ports of call were the Central Mosque and the king's palace where he sought both spiritual and royal blessings before his convoy crawled to the venue of the rally.
At the rally ground, Aregbesola enthused that 'there will be no governorship election in Osun State in 2011. My mandate given to me by you, the good people of Osun State will be restored by the Appeal Court. I, Abdur-Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola will be governor by the grace of God before the end of November this year,' to which the crowd chorused 'Amin.'
He, however, reminded his audience that elections to other offices like the National and House of Assembly and local governments would hold. He therefore urged youths in the country to monitor the forthcoming voters' registration to forestall 'rigging before election.' He charged the youths to be vigilant and organize themselves to guide against manipulation of any form preparatory to the next year's election in the state:
'There is no controversy that the people of Iwo voted for me on April 14, 2007. But the votes were stolen by the PDP. Now, another election is coming. By the grace of Almighty Allah, there will not be governorship election in Osun State in 2011 as I will get my stolen mandate freely given to me by the good people of Osun State.
'Nonetheless, there will be election into the National Assembly; there will be election into the state House of Assembly; there will be election into the local government councils. The new leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is planning to conduct new voters register and all of us must come out en masse to register.
'I want to give two challenges to our youths. First, they must ensure that at each ward, anybody from the age of 18 must be encouraged and educated to register. Two, should form themselves into groups of 10 members each to monitor the voters registration in their respective wards. Don't engage in any manipulation and don't allow anybody to manipulate the process. We should ensure that we stop them before rigging us out before the election.'
Amid intermittent political sloganeering, he assured his supporters that their labour over the years would not be in vain as he would come out victorious at the Election Appeal Tribunal before the end of the year:
'I said by the grace of God, I, Rauf Aregbesola, will assume the mandate that the people of Osun freely gave to me on cApril 14, 2007. I don't believe the judges are delaying the ruling, I think they are taking their time. Victory is sweeter when it is delayed.' Speaking on behalf of the decampees, Adedeji said that they decided to pitch their tent with ACN because of their conviction that the party has the vision and capability of taking the country to the Promised Land.
According to him, no reasonable person would not like the good things in Lagos replicated in Osun State. He said that the decision to dump the PDP was freely chosen for the benefit of the generality of the good people of the state.
He expressed optimism that their new party would win all other elections in the state in 2011, enthusing that there would be no governorship election next year 'since we have voted a governor that has not utilized his mandate.'