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Opposition in fresh offensive against Yar’Adua

By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor

THE push for electoral reforms   launched in Abuja on Thursday by some prominent politicians in the country is not all about reforms, according to indications.

Former Lagos governor, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu; one-time speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Na’Abba;  former national chairman of PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh; former Edo State governor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun;  and representatives of former military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari, among others, who met in the Federal Capital under the aegis of Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms, CODER, said they wanted to devise “appropriate institutional, legitimate, lawful and democratic means including media campaigns, town meetings and rallies”.

In doing that, they expect to sensitize and mobilise voters on the desirability of an acceptable electoral system capable of guaranteeing their choice in all elections.

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However, Sunday Vanguard gathered that the coalition whose members are drawn  from the ruling PDP and other parties is essentially to raise the tempo  of the opposition in the country and play the role of the opposition as in other democratic settings.

This, it was gathered, following concern shown by some western countries that the opposition in Nigeria is sterile and opposition politicians “do too much of talking without action”. The western countries, political sources in Abuja, said, have even threatened to halt their capacity building support for government with a view to strengthening credible opposition should the 2011 elections be considered less than democratic in content and form.

“That was why you saw those politicians spitting fire (see Story of The Week) last Thursday at Sheraton in Abuja.  Whereas the issues they placed on the table, majorly that votes must count would be seen as a measured attempt to recreate the opposition preparatory to the 2011 elections”, sources said.

It was gathered that a meeting which was scheduled between the opposition leadership in the country and President Obama of US could not take place because the Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello, blew the lid off the arrangement when he said the US was sponsoring some politicians to create disaffection in the country.  The meeting was immediately called off.

And whereas the Presidency immediately dissociated itself from the statement by Haliru, it has now been confirmed that Haliru was merely used as a window for ventilation.

Sunday Vanguard also learnt that one of the head starts which was created for the opposition was President  Obama’s “deliberate but unusual salvos  launched against the Nigerian government from Ghana, which all but described Nigeria as a basket case”.

Former Governor Tinubu, speaking ex tempore at Thursday’s meeting, expressed frustration at the way democracy was being practiced in Nigeria. Tinubu, said to be the major facilitator of CODER, said: “Yes, I had breakfast with President Barrack Obama of the United States of America but in another man’s country.  What type of country are we in that we have just refused to do the basic things.

“Last week, we heard one of them (an obvious reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo) in Imo State saying that ‘we allowed him (Governor Ohakim who recently defected from PPA to PDP ) to win because there was an agreement that he would return to the PDP.

These people do not even have shame any more. ‘We allowed him to win’; so what that means is that they can decide that you will not win.  In that case, what is the basis for your votes?  How would your votes count?  We have to defend our rights. If it is something we have to do with our blood so be it”

Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed that one of the conditions for the continued support of capacity building for pro-democracy activists is the ability of the opposition to be organised for effective take-over. Although, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, who spoke on behalf of the facilitators of CODER, and Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who chaired CODER’s Technical Committee, made it clear that the group was neither partisan nor does it constitute the opposition, “it’s main objective is to ensure that votes count”. Roll call at the meeting:

Mr. Abdulhakeen Abdulfatai, representing Fashola, Chief Abiodun Ogunleye, Alhaji Maina Waziri, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan, Hon. Wale Oshun, Hon Jumoke Okoya, Hon Kako Are, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola; Alhaji Iro Dan Musa, Mr Dele Alake, Mr Tunji Bello, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Senator Ganiu Solomon, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Alhaji Maina Waziri. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Mrs. Funmi Olayinka, Senator Tony Adefuye, Chief Henry Ajomale, Senator Bode Ola, Alhaji Lam Adesina, Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi, Alhaji Olatunji Hamzat, Rev. Tunji Adebiyi. Dr Stanley Macebuh, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, Chief Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Mr Emma Ezeazu. Alabo Idaminabo, Solomon Ewuga, Alhaji Suleiman Argungu, Innocent Chukwuma, Mike Igini, Comrade S.O.Z. Ejiofor.


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