* Dissenting group kicks

*      Aslem Ojezua accused of meddling



By Abavo Kingsley, Benin



Gov Obaseki

Gov Obaseki

A new executive of the All Progressives Congress [APC] Arewa Community, Edo State has emerged amidst protest and condemnation by dissenting members of the body.

The dissenting members described the election as illegal, unacceptable, null and void.

They raise the grouse that the State APC chairman, Aslem Ojezua presided over the process and conduct of that election. A right and responsibility he does not have because he is not a member of the group.

They said Ojezua’s role in emergence of the new executive was an aberration as it negates dictates of the group’s constitution, and resolve of all members in an enlarged meeting with leaders of Arewa community that the election should hold after the Ramadan fast period.

But some vested interests who harbour inordinate ambition manipulated the State party Chairman to endorse them and midwife their emergence as exco in an election which he has no constitutional authority, to superintend.

Also, the election lacked due process, the group protested.

Comrade Ibrahim Abdullahi who claimed to be an Acting Secretary General of the body spoke with journalists.

“The issue which we are raising is that the State Chairman of APC, Barr. Aslem Ojezua does not have the constitutional power or right to conduct an election for our community.

“Arewa is an autonomous community of its own. It has been in existence, in – fact it pre – dates the APC as a party. At a point, we were called Arewa ACN, Arewa AC, and at a time, we had some people; Arewa PDP.

“And all of these elections that were done for the officers of these organizations within this same period have never been conducted by the party State secretariat.

“The leaders of Arewa usually sit down and organize an election which follows due process. There must be screening of candidates, there must be time for election campaigns among the voters, and there must be criteria that must be used.

“In this case, we are hearing that Ojezua is conducting election for the Arewa community at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.

“We wish to state very categorically and emphatically that, that election is unacceptable, it is null and void,  abinitio and not tolerable to any Arewa person in Edo State.

Ibrahim called on members of APC, Arewa community to remain calm, shun all violence even in the face of provocation as everything is in control.

After the month of Ramadan, the acting exco would ensure that an election which will be free, fair, transparent and credible is conducted, he added.

“Election of Arewa community is not supposed to be conducted by non Arewa people. That is unacceptable. The nexus and the peculiar challenges of Arewa community are best known to Arewa people.

Ibrahim emphasized that the issue of election of Arewa community is an internal affair hence the State party Chairman should not in any way be involved.

“We have formulated these issues, we have presented them before him, and we have written four different letters to Aslem Ojezua, he has refused to heed the voice of reason.

“So, for us, we have decided that nobody will speak for us, we will speak for our ourselves because we take our destiny in our hands, we are enlightened, we are educated, we know what goes on around the world, what is obtainable everywhere else is what we will do. We will not be different because the world is a global village.

“Though there has been no crisis in the community before now, but there is possibility that Ojezua might have been bribed, or influenced by certain persons. And this could cause serious disaffection in the community”, he stated.

Former Senior Special Adviser to the governor on Arewa community affairs, Zakari  Hassan wondered why the State Party Chairman would ignore directive of leaders [Sariki] of the Arewa community across the State, to go preside over an election which he termed illegal.

According to him, the leaders had directed that the election should be put on hold until after the Ramadan fast period to create popular participation and foster more unity among the people.

Alhaji Shittu Usman who claimed to be the Acting Chairman of Arewa community in the State, and women leader, Alhaja Zule Yahaya spoke in the same vein saying the State party Chairman cannot preside over conduct of election for Arewa community.

Bamaiyi Samuel, Middle – belt Youths Chairman, who claimed to have bought form for the election complained that they have been short, changed.

“We are not happy with the situation. We just bought the form, within a week, they say it is election. No campaign, no information, no screening. If election is to be conducted, there are rules and regulations guiding the entire process.

“We are not happy, and we reject the purported election presided over by Ojezua.”

Alhaji Saliu Badamasi, chairman, Arewa Community, Edo State explained that under his leadership, Alhaji  Zakari  Alhassan and Alhaji Salabiu Aliu were nominated and appointed as Senior Special Adviser in the Adams Oshiomhole administration.

But their representation was not favourable to the Arewa community.

After their tenure expired, they met the State party chairman over the conduct of an election for the community APC and he obliged them.

Ojezua met with all the candidates and they all agreed with the laid down rules and regulations.

Seven persons picked the form to contest but on the day of the election, five presented themselves to be voted for, while two were absent.

Out of the five, three stepped down, and two went into the election which was well attended, and witnessed by the Police, SSS, and Nigeria Civil Defence Service Corps, and State APC leadership headed by Aslem Ojezua.

Therefore, it is surprising for dissenting Arewa members to now say, it was an illegal election, he said.

The winner of the election scored 678 defeating his contender who scored 48 ballots.

According to him, those protesting are the bad leaders the Arewa community is working against.

He debunked claim of the protesters that all Sariki gave the directive that the election should hold after Ramadan fast period.

All the traditional rulers are under the leadership of Sariki Hausawa of Benin, Aihaji Adamu Issa Adamu. He does not know anything about the group’s claim.

Badamasi stated that anyone not satisfied with the election should go to court.

Bama Muhammed Hassan the newly elected vice – chairman, Arewa community said in reaction that there was nothing wrong with the party State Chairman having played an observatory role in the election of APC Arewa Community.

Denying the allegation that Ojezua presided over conduct of the election, Bama said whoever is aggrieved should go to court to seek redress.

He added that the new exco would not join issues with the dissenting members as there was no basis in their agitation.

Aliu Mohammed, one of the leaders of APC Arewa Community in the State also reacted.He confirmed that the agitators were members of the exco whose tenure expired about three years ago. The community had two SSA in the administration of Adams Oshiomhole but they did not impact anyone with their representation in that government.

Rather, they brought shame upon the Arewa community in spite of about the 48 percent voting strength it possesses.

Hence, the community resolved that a new exco should be elected to correct past ills it suffered.

According to him, the community needs an exco that can be a bridge between it and government.

“Arewa needs a representation that has the capability to dialogue with government on burning issues towards forging solution, positively portray its image and influence dividends of democracy to the community, and her people, not incompetent and selfish lot”, he emphasized.