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The Osun State Governorship Election

PDP commends Appeal Court over ruling on Adeleke’s candidacy

The people of the State of Osun (as the government under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola liked to be called during the turbulent years of the President Jonathan administration) went to the polls last week to elect a governor in an off-cycle election. From the outset, it was clear that the two major political parties were going into the elections internally divided and that this would affect the outcome of the elections. To be sure it did. That is because, egos, big egos, not issues of development or allocation of resources, were involved and the gladiators were not ready to deploy common sense in the fight for victory. In a sense, it was a repeat of the battle over the governorship seat that was fought, won, and lost in 2018. Popular opinion is that Senator Ademola Adeleke won that election through the APC machinery was used to wrest power from him, using the judiciary. Whether this is true or not is no longer important. Or is it?
The very robust dancing Senator Adeleke, barring last-minute APC-government magic will soon occupy Government House in Oshogbo! Incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola is yet to congratulate the winner, an indication that there might be a battle ahead. But Oyetola should let sleeping dogs lie and allow the people of Osun enjoy democracy dividends. If as incumbent governor he could not impress the people enough to win outright despite all resources at his disposal, then he is the architect of his misfortune. How could any sensible governor refuse to pay the entitlements of pensioners in four years till the eve of elections? It is callous, inhumane, and repulsive to natural justice to deny workers their emoluments. It is worse when dealing with retirees! Leaving men and women who have spent their youthful energy in service of the state to languish in their vulnerable age is a curse on any leadership! Already, Senator Adeleke has claimed that ‘the reason the state government is owing (sic) salaries and cannot pay pensioners is that a lot of the state’s money is taken to Lagos State. The battle line is drawn – the ubiquitous Lagos Machine has been called out again!

READ ALSO:Elections In Anambra, Ekiti And Osun Proof Of My Irreversible Commitment To Credible Polls – Buhari

The swift congratulatory message from Mr President has calmed nerves somewhat, though it may not be the end of the matter. A President ought to be a father to the nation, taking the right steps, saying the right things, and setting the proper examples for the rest of us to follow. Yet, there are worries whether Adeleke’s opponent within PDP could upset things in court or whether APC has withdrawn to the war situation room to map out an expulsion strategy!
Former godfathers, new godfathers, and godsons all fought for space and ascendancy before, during and after the elections. The biggest godfather of them all was Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who indeed is the strongest godfather around in the old tradition still showing strength, brain, and some brawn, even if physically feeble. The glee with which netizens celebrated Tinubu’s loss is a study in politics of hate speech! But alas, no mortal power lasts forever! One of the mortal combatants, Rauf Aregbesola, did not bother to show up in the state for the elections, having boycotted the mega rally that preceded the elections. APC bigwigs led by the party’s presidential flag bearer invaded the state with cash and physical presence.
The PDP hierarchy was also on the ground led by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar its Presidential candidate for 2023 and some PDP governors. Some aggrieved notables in the PDP family, especially Governor Nyesom Wike were missing in action. INEC itself was prepared having learnt some lessons from the Anambra and Ekiti off-cycle elections. Security agencies were effectively on the ground. If reports by election monitors are used to judge the elections, chances of rigging the election were minimal because the security agencies elected to be neutral as they were constitutionally mandated to be. But vote buying by both political parties went on, somewhat coded. Of course, we know that often the federal authorities usually deploy their might to influence the election outcome in different ways.
At the close of polling, INEC announced PDP as the winner with 403,371 votes as against APC’s 375,027 votes. It is instructive that in a state that has a population of 3,416,959, (2006 census), only 403,371 of the 1.95million registered persons voted for the governor. Adeleke won in 17 out of 30 local government areas in the state. With this victory, the dancing governor is set to dance his way into State House Oshogbo. As he will soon find out, democracy is not all about winning elections. It is about ensuring that voters enjoy the dividends of democracy. Indeed, were we in a sane clime, the dismal performance of the Buhari administration would be eternal baggage for all APC candidates, especially at the national level. With the dollar exchanging at N620 and petrol price up to N185 per litre, APC would be singing its Nunc Dimittis to power at the federal level. Yet we are in an unusual climate.
The PDP victory in Osun should not be attributed to an Atiku magic or a resurgence of PDP power. It is also not an indication that the APC cannot win other elections. The Nigerian political situation is too fluid to fall into one smooth categorization. Some noses have been bloodied in and outside Osun. All those virulent and toxic posts on social media heated up the polity. It was meant to be a fight-to-finish. But sanity prevailed perhaps because for the man in Aso rock, there is nothing personal at stake and he thought it was time he left a legacy, no matter how late in the day. If this will be the pattern of elections to come, then the citizenry would have more faith in the electioneering process.

VISIT US: @theharmattan1

As for Senator Adeleke, he must know that becoming governor goes beyond showing dancing skills. It is now the turn of the electorate to dance to his music. The music must be sweet to the feet and ears of the Osun people. He must hit the ground running. He must put a credible cabinet in place, men, and women with proven competence whose loyalty will be to the people of Osun, no matter their religious or ethnic affiliations. Good governance must be Number 1 on the State agenda. He could be sent out of Government House in 2027 if all he can do is dance. Already, it has been alleged that he never moved any motion, nor did he sponsor any bill in his years in the Senate. Certainly, he needs all his skills to govern well, especially with a House of Assembly whose members may be loyal to godfathers inside or outside the State of Osun. In all, the interest of the people must be placed above every other interest. That is the only way the people can really say they won the election of July 17 2023! Congratulations Sir, Your Excellency Senator Ademola Adeleke!

 

Professor Hope O. Eghagha, Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka Lagos

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Ondo Rep offers N50m scholarship to 1000 students

Ondo Rep offers N50m scholarship to 1000 students

A member of the House of Representatives from Ondo State, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has launched a N50 million scholarship scheme for 1000 indigent students, who are indigenes of Akoko area of the state.

The lawmaker, representing Akoko North-East/North-West Federal Constituency, said the scheme was to assist the indigent students who were in tertiary institutions across the country.

In a statement made available to our correspondent on Monday, Tunji-Ojo, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Niger-Delta Affairs, said the gesture was part of his efforts to contribute to the educational development of his constituency and state in general.

According to the statement, the registration for the scholarship scheme, which had commenced on Monday, was for indigent students who were from the Federal Constituency.

The statement read, “This is in fulfillment of my education support drive which has seen me facilitate several blocks of classrooms, computer sets, educational materials, free Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination forms and coaching for 2,000 students and other notable interventions in the education sector.

“The education support drive is to help reduce the burden of education on the parents and also ensure that no child is denied access to quality education.”

“The registration form is totally free and can be obtained from presidents of students’ bodies in each community in the Federal Constituency. This is to ensure that nobody is denied access to the form.”

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US WNBA’s Star Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence

US WNBA’s Star Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence

Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported Monday, amid talks between the U.S. and Russia that could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner, recognized as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, was returning to Russia, where she plays during the U.S. league’s offseason.

Lawyer Maria Blagovolina was quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying the appeal was filed, as was expected, but the grounds for it weren’t immediately clear.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Blagovolina and co-counsel Alexander Boykov said after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said that in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

Before her conviction, the U.S. State Department declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a charge that Russia has sharply rejected.

Reflecting the growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn’t elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “Merchant of Death.”

On Sunday, a senior Russian diplomat said talks about an exchange have been conducted.

“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and U.S. citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents,” Alexander Darchiev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s North America department, told state news agency Tass. “These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals.”

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China announces new drills as US delegation visits Taiwan

China announces new drills as US delegation visits Taiwan

China announced more military drills around Taiwan as the self-governing island’s president met with members of a new U.S. congressional delegation on Monday, threatening to renew tensions between Beijing and Washington after a similar recent visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China.

Pelosi was the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and her trip prompted nearly two weeks of threatening military exercises by China, which claims the island as its own. In those drills, Beijing fired missiles over the island and into the Taiwan Strait and sent warplanes and navy ships across the waterway’s midline, which has long been a buffer between the sides that split amid civil war in 1949.

The latest trip began Sunday with little notice ahead of time. The delegation was due to leave late Monday.

China accuses the U.S. of encouraging the island’s independence through the sale of weapons and engagement between U.S. politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island and maintains that the two sides should settle their dispute peacefully — but it is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against any attack.

“China will take resolute and strong measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Monday, after Beijing announced new drills in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan. “A handful of U.S. politicians, in collusion with the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, are trying to challenge the one-China principle, which is out of their depth and doomed to failure.”

The new exercises were intended to be “resolute response and solemn deterrent against collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan,” the Defense Ministry said earlier.

It was not clear if the new drills had already started since the ministry gave no details about where and when they would be conducted, in contrast to previous rounds.

The U.S. lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and legislators, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy on the island.

At their meeting, Tsai said her administration was working with allies to ensure stability in the Taiwan Strait and maintain the status quo — a reference to the island’s self-governance, separate from Beijing.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year has shown the threat that authoritarian nations pose to the global order,” Tsai said.

Markey responded by saying Washington and Taipei had a “moral obligation to do everything we can to prevent an unnecessary conflict and Taiwan has demonstrated incredible restraint and discretion during challenging times.”

The senator also highlighted legislation intended to boost political and economic ties with Taiwan, especially in the critical semiconductor industry. Taiwan is a crucial provider of computer chips for the global economy, including China’s high-tech sectors, and beyond the geopolitical risks of rising tensions in the region, an extended crisis in the Taiwan Strait could have major implications for international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing disruptions and uncertainty.

Markey is one of the few members of Congress still serving who voted for the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that ensured continued relations with the island following the switch of U.S. diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The other members of the delegation are Republican Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, a delegate from American Samoa, and Democrats John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal from California and Don Beyer from Virginia.

China says it wants to use peaceful means to bring Taiwan under its control, but its recent saber rattling has emphasized its threat to take the island by military force. The earlier drills appeared to be a rehearsal of a blockade or attack on Taiwan that would force the cancellation of commercial flights and disrupt shipping to Taiwan’s main ports as well as cargo passing through the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

The exercises prompted Taiwan to put its military on alert, but were met largely with defiance or apathy among the public used to living in China’s shadow.

The American “visit at this time is of great significance, because the Chinese military exercise is (intended) to deter U.S. congressmen from visiting Taiwan,” Lo Chih-cheng, the chair of the Taiwan legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, said after meeting with the U.S. lawmakers.

“Their visit this time proves that China cannot stop politicians from any country to visit Taiwan, and it also conveys an important message that the American people stand with the Taiwanese people,” Lo said.

A senior White House official on Asia policy said last week that China had used Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region.

“China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented,” Kurt Campbell, a deputy assistant to U.S. President Joe Biden, said on a call with reporters on Friday.

Campbell said the U.S. would send warships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks and is developing a roadmap for trade talks with Taiwan that he said the U.S. intends to announce in the coming days.

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