- 4.3 million PVCs yet to be collected in the zone
- PDP campaign train hits Ibadan Monday
By Samuel Ogundipe, Lagos and Adeola
President Goodluck Jonathan, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 14, 2015 presidential election, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, General Muhammadu Buhari, are poised for a fierce battle for the 6,270,736 voters in the six states of the South-west.
The figure represents the number of voters who have collected their Permanent Voters’ Card by the weekend. But the number could rise as the collection of the PVCs continues.
A total of 4, 331, 428 PVCs are yet to be collected in the six states of the South-west by the weekend.
The breakdown of the PVCs already collected and the balance to be distributed state by state in the South-west is as follows:
Osun: 992, 310 PVCs collected, 413, 837 yet to be distributed; Ekiti: 481, 198 collected, 250, 968 yet to be distributed; Ondo: 824, 715 collected, 478, 522 yet to be distributed; Oyo: 1,141,405 collected, 843,965 yet to be distributed; Ogun: 672, 017 collected, 503, 227 yet to be distributed, and Lagos: 2, 159, 091 collected, 1, 840, 909 yet to be collected.
In the meantime, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ordered the decentralisation of on-going distribution of PVCs to ward levels, in order to enhance access by persons yet to collect their cards.
The South-west has the second highest figure of registered voters who have collected their PVCs, trailing the North-west which has a total of 12,013, 961 voters.
The battle for the South-west has begun already as President Jonathan’s campaign train hits Ibadan, capital of Oyo State and the political capital of the old Western region, on Monday.
Of the six states in the zone, four namely Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun are under APC’s control while the PDP now has Ekiti, which it won in the June 21, 2014 governorship poll, and Ondo, which it inherited following the defection of Labour Party’s Governor Olusegun Mimiko to the party in October last year.
For the APC, the stakes in the coming elections become higher because the zone is where its National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu holds sway and his nominee and Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State during his regime as Lagos State governor, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is Buhari’s running mate.
Also, the PDP gladiators in the zone would go all out for APC to increase its fortune in the South-west and demonstrate they could win massively for the party and President Jonathan despite the belligerent posture of former President Olusegun Obasanjo towards PDP.
The PDP campaign train is expected to land in Ibadan on Monday, January 12 in continuation of its nationwide campaigns. It will move to Abeokuta, Ogun State, on the same day.
This will be President Jonathan’s third campaign stop since the official kick-off in Lagos on Thursday and the first Southeast stop at Enugu on Friday.
Jonathan kicked-off his reelection campaign at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos on Thursday, outlining three major issues he said his reelection team would focus on.
Speaking before the multitude who gathered at the heart of Lagos for the campaign launch, President Jonathan took a highly-defensive tone in recapping his four years in office.
“I’m going to address the young people first because this election is about the youth,” he said to a cheerful audience.
“It’s in your interest to vote for a young person so as to remain relevant,” he said.
After speaking directly to the youth, especially the first -time voters, about the need for them to vote in the coming elections, President Jonathan outlined the three major issues before he began lobbing a barrage of attacks against his political adversaries.
The three major issues he addressed were: Insecurity, Corruption and Perception.
On the state of insecurity, Jonathan said the blame should go to the country’s past leaders who failed to procure adequate defence facilities for the country during their various tenures, adding that even if the country had all the financial means to purchase arms, it will take a while to integrate them.
“No country equips armed forces overnight because it’s a very stressful task.”
“They instigated crisis and now they’re telling us they want to take over power? Ask them what they mean,” he said in an apparent jibe at the opposition.
On corruption, the president started by highlighting his efforts towards a better electoral process.
“Before now, people vote themselves into office. No one talked about voters card. We were the one who said every person must vote. Which is why we’re now talking about voters card.”
He accused the opposition of wanting to “to take us to the old days where ballot boxes will be in South Africa and results will be announced here.”
He said, unlike previous governments that fought anti-graft wars at press conferences, he’s taking a quiet approach towards eliminating corruption.
“We’re shooting armed robbers every day, yet we still have armed robbers amongst us. The best way to fight corruption is to prevent people from touching the money in the first place. We’re putting the mechanisms in place, so relevant agencies will address the issues of corruption when the time comes.”
He then sighted areas where he’d eliminated corruption to include the distribution of fertilizers to farmers across the country.
“Before now, the federal and state governments had spent a lot of money on fertilizers, but only a paltry 10% got to the farmers.”
Today, there’s no corruption in the fertilizers distribution because we called on young Nigerians to devise a means of removing corruption and they came up with a mobile phone system that will enable farmers to get their fertilizers.”
He said throwing people in jail for corruption is antithetical to the democratic system Nigeria practices.
“They say we should just throw people in jail without recourse to the Constitution. Any country that does not obey the rule of law is a jungle,” he said.
On perception, the president said the fact that he’s mild towards his critics does not make him a weak leader.
“They say the only way to show authority is by throwing people in jail for 300 years.”
“Only a few days ago, someone said in Port Harcourt that he would throw people in jail. Well, I am not going to just throw anyone in jail. I have no enemies to fight,” he said.
The president struck a more direct tone when he accused some in the opposition of wanting to leave women behind in governance.
“Someone who said he will prioritise the issues of women if he’s elected, no single woman in his cabinet when he was the head of state in 1982-83. They want women to go back to the kitchen– cabinet–and die there,” the president said in an apparent jibe at General Muhammadu Buhari his main challenger in the upcoming elections who once led the country.
The President also chastised the opposition for accepting the endorsement of Mr. Henry Okah, the jailed ex militant leader, whom he accused of plotting to assassinate him in 2010.
“On October 1st, 2010, Henry Okah was procured by some powerful individuals to assassinate me. From prison, we’re told Okah is endorsing some politicians.”
The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, a notorious militant group that operates mainly in the South-South, recently released a statement endorsing General Buhari against the president who’s also from the oil-rich region.
Jonathan wrapped up his speech with an appeal for voters to elect individuals who promise to wholeheartedly legislate the recommendations of the National Conference committees. He also said that he decided to wait until the next assembly because the current one is too polarised.
“I decided that the National Conference adoption will be presented to the next National Assembly because the current one is too politicized to do anything good with it.”
He therefore urged voters to “vote for candidates that will make the documents become law, because it was recommended by brilliant Nigerians from all over the country.”