National Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has said Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), gubernatorial candidate for the 16th November election in Kogi State, Musa Wada, is not a walk over.
This is even as the Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has said nothing will be taken for granted, noting that he has been fully prepared even before the last February general elections.
The duo spoke to State House Correspondents at the weekend, after Oshiomhole had presented to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bello, as the candidate of the APC.
According to Oshiomhole, who expressed confidence that Bello will win the election landslide, affirmed that it would be unhelpful to talk about the ruling party walking over the PDP candidate.
“We have also seen the candidate nominated by the PDP, we want to make sure when we go to the field of play, the people will have no problems voting for our candidate in Kogi state as their preferred candidate,” Oshiomhole said.
When asked whether with the PDP candidate, the election would be walk over for the APC, the ruling party national chairman said: “We don’t want to talk about walk over. These use of words are unhelpful. We are in a democracy, we believe we will defeat him, we are not going to walk over him, we will contest with him and we will defeat him clearly and squarely.”
On efforts on ground to reconcile party members aggrieved over the outcome of the primaries, Oshiomhole said: “Well, we did a lot on Thursday, we invited all those who participated in the primaries or who expressed interest, about 16 of them including the winner, Governor Yahaya Bello. We talked on all the issues and reminded ourselves that even if you have 16 angels on parade, only one of them will win. That does not mean the rest of them are not responsible or are not capable, it just means that the system can only produce one person of the office at any point in time.
“They all spoke their minds and they all pledged to work for the party and to ensure that victory is ours. Because, think about it no matter your disappointment it is still better that it is your party man that is the Governor than for the opposition being the governor of your state. I was very happy with the maturity and sense of commitment exhibited by all those who participated.”
The party chairman said President Buhari has accepted to host the aspirants to appreciate them for showing maturity to accept the outcome of the primaries.
“We have also agreed with Mr. President at a later date to bring those aspirants for him to appreciate them for showing interest in our party. I mean, even showing interest alone implied a vote of confidence in the party. They could have decided to go and contest on another platform, so for choosing to offer themselves on the platform of the APC for me is a vote of confidence and we also need to appreciate them.”
On issue of salaries, Oshiomhole said as an ambassador of labour unions, he can confirm that Bello has cleared salary arrears including the ones inherited from two previous administrations.
He said: “Looking at the issues he inherited in Kogi State, especially none payment of salaries, on Thursday, he was able to announce that even the salary of August has been paid before the 29th August. He said he has paid August salaries, find out how many governors have done same, that I can confirm as labour ambassador.
That means that the arrears left behind by his two predecessors he has cleared them along with pension, even at a time of huge financial challenges.
“So I believe he has acquitted himself because like every first time governor, there must be things in his heart he will like to pursue. I think for the people of Kogi state, rather than try to experiment with new hands, they say a bird at hand is worth two in the bush.
“I think Governor Bello has shown that he has capacity and going forward he would have learnt couple of lessons in his first term. I have passed through that process and I know that your second term is always the time you want to do those legacy project you will like to be remembered for. Because, the only benefits in this business is that when I leave, what would I be remembered for? The things that will drive Governor Yahaya Bello second term is what will be at the heart of our campaign.”
On his part, Bello said he had been preparing for the gubernatorial election even before the last general election, saying that he would not take anything for granted.
He said: “As regards level of preparedness, I am not just preparing now, I have been ready for this election even before the last general election that produced Mr. President, the National Assembly and the state houses of assembly. So, we are well prepared for the election.
“As for victory, I think by the grace of God it is assured. Like the chairman has said, we are not going to take anything for granted. Whether the candidate of the opposition party is strong or not, we will approach the election with all seriousness and ensure that it is conducted freely and fairly and we will become victorious by the grace of God. On November 17th we will be announced the winner.”
On the allegation by the PDP that he sent gunmen to disrupt the party’s primaries in Lokoja, Bello maintained rather than accuse him, the PDP should look inwards.
He explained: “If you monitor all the activities of the PDP in Kogi state, as the ones I know of right from the award congresses to the local government congresses, to the state congresses, it has always been marred or characterized by violence, guns, maiming of each other and all kinds of attacks.
“So, the outcome of that of the last primaries they conducted shouldn’t take anyone by surprise.
“We have a larger number of delegates in Kogi state. We started our exercise early enough and finished early enough in peace. I am not a member of PDP, I wouldn’t go in there and conduct it for them.
“So, it is their character, it is their stock in trade and that is what they are known for and so should rather look inward rather than pointing accusing fingers outside.
“You see, when you have a cancer and you don’t treat it but rather you are treating malaria, you will never get rid of cancer. So, that the problem the PDP has, they have cancer and should treat the cancer and shouldn’t look outside.”
On whether his sour relationship with Labour leaders would not affect his chances, Bello said: “Well, it is not a battle we are going into, we are going into a contest. One, I know is going to be free and fair and I am going to win that election by the grace of God.
“The APC under the leadership of the national chairman, we are going to campaign vigorously well and we shall become victorious.
“The people who have decided to become rebellious to bring down the institution of higher learning at certain point in time have today seen the benefits of telling them to please give peace a chance.
“They have given peace a chance and you can see the last strike, Kogi State didn’t go on strike. We have very stable educational system in Kogi State.
“As per all the labour leaders in Kogi State, we are moving on harmoniously. You can confirm from the various chapters. If not because they are not politicians, labour leaders would have taken the fore front to campaign for my re-election.”