‘Airhiavbere should respect party discipline & people’s mandate’


Abubakar Yesufu, a  former president, Students Union, University of Benin; chairman, League of Patriotic Lawyers and one of the 22 lawyers the late Gani Fawehinmi led to defend MKO Abiola’s Concorde Newspapers in the celebrated case between Supreme Court judges and the media house, opens  up on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s re-election, the case filed by General Airhiavbere of  the PDP against the result of the poll, Boko-Haram and the CBN’s  bid to introduce  N5, 000 note. Excerpt:

Oshiomhole was re-elected overwhelmingly by the people of Edo State, but the PDP candidate, General Airhiavbere, has gone to the tribunal contesting the eligibility of the Comrade-governor. What is your take on this?

First, the league tries as much as possible to distance itself from partisan politics. Second, the case is subjudice and there is a limit to which we can comment on this. We have since advised and written to General Airhiavbere as an officer and a gentleman to withdraw this petition. Oshiomhole’s overwhelming victory was altogether not unexpected. The comrade’s service delivery was unparalleled.

A visit to Edo State before the election would reveal the developments, from road construction to rehabilitation of dilapidated schools, from youth empowerment to robust and economic growth, were all just too visible to ignore by Edo discerning voters. I last saw caterpillar/bulldozers during the days of Gwarto, Mother Cat, Niger Cat when these construction giants held sway in the  then Bendel State. The comrade-governor re-ignited these and other projects reminiscent of Ogbemudia’s days.

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Abubakar Yesufu

Suffice to say that these developments were not just confined to Benin City, the state capital,  but also replicated across the three  senatorial districts. Third, the comrade-governor had a lot of fiery foot-soldiers like Charles Idahosa that took the campaign beyond the state to even Edo in Diaspora, conscientizing and sensitizing them. The General really had no chance.

Advice to  Airhiavbere
Since the party chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, deputy governorship candidate Abulagba and other respected party chieftains advised against this case; he should do the needful by adhering to party discipline. He ran a good campaign. He must also respect the wish of his party and the will of the people. Afterall, he did not run as an independent candidate.

On Oshiomhole’s qualification canvassed by  Airhiavbere
I think the General is mistaken. Oshiomhole’s humble beginning cannot be a plank for disqualification. The General should be a good student of history. The comrade-governor has never denied his humble background. History is replete with men of humble beginnings.

Harry Truman, a  former president of the United States, had a very humble beginning. He indeed took over from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Truman was born into a farming family in Missouri; after high school, Truman was employed in a few odd jobs, before returning to labour on the family farm. College was not on the cards for Henry, he could not afford to attend any school except West point, they even turned him down because of his poor eyesight.

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Truman then became the only president to serve after 1897, who did not have a college degree. He was elected as a county judge in 1934 and rose to be a senator, then V.P to F.D.R. When F.D.R. died, he became the president. History is  replete with  examples of men of humble beginnings.

Henn Ford 1863-1947, Ronald Reagan 1911-2004, Andrew Carnage 1835-1919, Booker T. Washington 1856-1915, Milton S. Hensley 1857-1945 all had very humble and sometimes obscure beginnings. Their beginnings did not obscure their greatness or contributions  to society. The Nigerian constitution says all you require is school certificate or its equivalent. Oshiomhole’s qualification transcends this.

On N5, 000 bank note
Governor Lamido Sanusi has not convinced Nigerians what this bill is out to cure. The 40 billion cost of production is senseless. Is this policy out to cure our hyper inflation exhibited by the high interest rate, improper banking discipline, unemployment, corruption or what? Issues like this should be discussed before a decision is taken. This policy reversal or a somersault would have been avoided.

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The introduction of the N5, 000 would strengthen corruption; right from 1973, when the naira was re-denominated to reflect higher value, it has often led to regime of increased and sustained poor fiscal financing. Sanusi should concentrate on how to bring down this double digit interest rate, retrenchment of bank workers without terminal benefits, etc.

On Edo after Oshiomhole
It is too early to comment on this. We are only advising the comrade-governor to sustain the developments he has commenced. One thing, however, is certain: We shall no longer tolerate mediocrity at Osadebey Avenue (Government House).

On Boko-Haram
The Federal Government must initiate sustained process of dialogue with the group. The present crop of elites the government is engaging to dialogue on behalf of Boko-Haram brought all the misgovernance to the North. Dialogue should be with the leaders not those that brought this anomaly.

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