May 18, 2024

Akpakomiza: The Man Edo People Want As Governor

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By Sebastine Ebhuomhan

Congratulations to the lawmaker of Edo Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly of the Federal Republic, Distinguished Senator Monday Okpebholo, on his indelible, populist and overwhelming nomination by the All Progressives Congress (APC) of Edo State as the party’s candidate in the state governorship election of September 21st, 2024.

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The triumph of Okpebholo alias ‘Akpakomiza’ over threats, forces, and tribulations remarkably underline a lesson in decision, diligence, courage, focus, hope, and doggedness, needed to effectively steer Edo State, Nigeria’s Heartbeat and cosmopolitan melting point, to greatness.

In a fierce contest that transcended a second, conclusive poll on Thursday, February 22nd 2024, Akpakomiza emerged the most tested and trusted aspirant of 12 contestants with a total of 12, 433 votes. The lawmaker of Ovia South West/Ovia North East Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, alias Denco, with 6,541 votes, came a distant second.

According to the result declared by the Returning Officer and ratified by the Chairman of the Revised APC Edo Gubernatorial Election Committee, the Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Bassey Otu, Prince Clement Agba scored 2,732 votes; Hon. Anamero Dekeri 2,562 votes; Dr. Afolabi Umakhihe 2,117 votes; Gen. Charles Airhiavbere 1,181 votes; Dr. Blessing Agbonmere 731 votes; Mr. Gideon Ikhine 720 votes; Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor 634 votes; Chief Lucky Imasuen 493 votes; Col. David Imuse 423 votes; and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu 378 votes. Understandably, some aspirants such as Ize-Iyamu and Imasuen stepped down before the election and directed their supporters to nominate Akpakomiza.

Free, Fair Election: no Victor, no Vanquished

After the controversial election of Saturday, the 17th, which the leadership of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) led by the National Chairman, Alhaji Umar Ganduje and National Secretary, Senator Bashiru Suraju commendably declared inconclusive and subsequently cancelled, a lot was expected of the second poll. Held freely, fairly and credibly without any sprinkle of violence that marred the first poll, the rerun fulfilled President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s directive for a level playing ground just as the result aligned with the call, expectation and votes of the majority people for a capable governor of Esan Extraction with an Edo Agenda. Following his nomination, Akpakomiza has the requisite popularity, acceptance and vision to win the forthcoming governorship election and steer Edo State on the path of unity, development and greatness.

Attempts have been made to ridicule the entire primary process. As leaders downplayed the daylight robbery that almost denied Akpakomiza the ticket, and instead, focused on reconciliation, dark forces began a criminal alignment. Last week, the second-placed Denco and his supporters stormed APC National Headquarters with protests demanding to be allocated the victory of a free, fair election, which popularity, acceptance, surveys, debates, commentaries and other indices poignantly indicated an Akpakomiza victory. As a fellow aspirant and a US-based blogger damaged Denco’s aspiration with a criminal allegation that haunted his past, the open campaign and imposition of his name by the former two-term governor, State APC leader and Edo North Senator Comrade Adams Oshiomhole under whose government the allegation sprang up, was at variance and shocking to observers. Oshiomhole’s alleged overbearing insistence exhumed old distrust that he hates Esan people. Whether that is true or not is debatable. But Okpebholo affirmed Oshiomhole as his leader.

But Nigerians must commend APC NWC for upholding justice and cancelling Oshiomhole’s friend, Governor Hope Uzodimma’s allocated result to Denco, which is ‘the basis’ of the loser’s unfounded protest. Legally, it is baseless because the Supreme Court established in AGI V PDP & ORS (2016) that a political party is responsible for its affairs. Moreover, according to Soviet statesman, Joseph Stalin, “The tasks of the party are… to be cautious and not allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to have others pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them.”

The mobilization of organized thugs to the collation centre to abort vote count when it became clear Senator Monday Okpebholo was winning, the assault on the Returning Officer, Dr. Stanley Ugboaja and his co-officials, the vandalism and looting of Edo APC secretariat, the harassment of party leaders by these politicians, and the destruction of journalists’ tools demand more than mere apologies. Yet, APC’s apology to Edo journalists’ union, whose members were brutalized, and Comrade Tony Kabaka’s apology represent good starting points for true reconciliation.

It’s not the Voting that’s Democracy; It’s the Counting

“It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting,” insists Tom Stoppard, an award-winning Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter, noted for thematic bravery, verbal brilliance, ingenious action, and structural skill. In Jumpers, a 1972 play, Stoppard emphasized that the democratic process extends far beyond the act of voting; it lies in the meticulous process of tallying votes and respecting the collective decision. His view underscores the discontent of George Benard Shaw’s ‘Maxims for Revolutionists’ in Man and Superman, where “Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”

According to the Socratic Method, when the notion of counting votes is juxtaposed with the concept of “quantum democracy,” a hypothetical idea inspired by the principles of quantum mechanics, individuals’ voting choices exist in a superposition of myriad possibilities until they are counted, at which point they converge into the collective will of the people. The hard-earned nomination of Akpakomiza after many obstacles represents the collective will of APC members and Edo State people.

Therefore, the secretly planned Abuja and Benin protests intended to endanger public peace, further destroy properties, and kill citizens stand condemned, if it’s true. In a statement signed for Edo APC’s State Working Committee by the Publicity Secretary, Prince Peter Uwadiae-Igbinigie, copied to the Inspector-General of Police and the National Security Adviser, the party listed Hon. Dennis Idahosa, Hon. Billy Osawaru, Dr. Pius Odubu, Dr. Samson Osagie, Mr. Benson Edosomwan and Hon. Pius Alile as ringleaders of donors who donated into the accounts of Osawaru’s Fidelity Bank Account 4020020605 and Osagie’s GTBank Account 0028045688; for which over N20m was allegedly raised. No member is bigger than a political party. Anti-party is punishable in a democracy. Nonetheless, subversion against the state.

Edo Governorship: The State of Other Parties

That Edo APC is challenged by a post-primary election crisis is arguable. What is not arguable, however, is that APC-rival political parties are challenged by more severe crises. All is not well with the state-ruling People’s Democratic Party. The PDP is fighting litigations on all fronts before, during, and after its parallel primaries that produced two candidates: Dr. Asue Ighodalo and Edo deputy governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu. For example, two of such cases: FHC/ABJ/CS/195/2024 and FHC/ABJ/CS/196/2024 are challenging Ighodalo’s emergence through alleged “defective” delegates’ list. Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has adjourned hearing of the cases to March 14th, 2024.

It was learnt that the PDP NWC suddenly brought forward the presentation of its Certificate of Return to avoid a violent clash by factions. In spite of the rescheduling, Shaibu still stormed Abuja after the presentation. “Today is the day set aside for the collection of certificate of return for the winner of the primary. I understand someone came yesterday and was given. Well, the court will decide…” He threatened. “The option for PDP is not to go and argue against my candidacy. If they do that, PDP will lose Edo State. Edo people do not want Asue Ighodalo to be the governor of Edo State because he is not a homeboy they know.”

As for the Labour Party (LP), after a vote-buying “dollarized gubernatorial primary election” bazaar that allegedly produced a winner at $1,000 USD per delegate and legal threats by some losers, the ball is now in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s court to decide the real candidate of the party between ex-Nigerian Bar Association President, Olumide Akpata and Barrister Anderson Asemota whose name Alhaji Lamidi Apapa forwarded to INEC before Akpata won the Barrister Julius Abure-organized primary.

Who is Monday Okpebholo, Edo People’s Choice for Governor?

Monday Okpebholo, was born on August 29th 1970 to the family of late Chief and Mrs. Peter Okpebholo of Udomi Community in Uwesan-Irrua, Esan Central Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo State. Nick-named Akpakomiza immediately after birth, which translates in simple English to ‘unruffled countenance’, his father hailed from Udomi Community in Uwesan-Irrua, Esan Central LGA while his mother was a native of Ikekiala Community in Eguare-Uromi, Esan North East.

Akpakomiza attended Udomi Community Primary School and Ujabhole Community Secondary School respectively in Uwesan-Irrua, Esan Central. Following the untimely death of his only sister from the complications of contaminated stream water, he relocated to Jos, Plateau State, to live with his elder brother. There, he completed his secondary school education.

After his Senior School Certificate Exam in Jos, Akpakomiza got a salary job with a firm that trades in books and computers, where his smartness in salesmanship endeared him to individuals, corporate organizations, government agencies and European missionaries in Jos and beyond. One of such big companies was Nasco. Through exceptional success in the sales of computers, he established his own firm, Chapman Computers Limited, which soon became a household name in Plateau State. He later established Interweb Satcom Limited, a giant player in broadband sales and development.

Today, both companies are competitors of global industry players from Europe and America, trading digital hardware products.

Despite his business success, through which he met his mentor and hero, the late Iyasele of Esan Land, Chief Anthony Anenih, Akpakomiza went back to school. He obtained a degree in Business Administration from the University of Abuja, where he is currently pursuing a Masters’ degree in Policy and Leadership Studies. He focused his credence, politics and service on human and infrastructural development.

Akpakomiza, the Best Candidate

Akpakomiza’s acknowledged contributions to the development of Esan Land resulted in his resounding election on February 25th 2023 into the Senate, where he chairs the Senate Committee on Public Procurement. Before then, however, when insecurity and deaths inflicted by bandits, kidnappers etc. forced Edo Central leaders to create Esan Security Network, Atanakpa, and when PDP’s Asue Ighodalo was yet to retrace the path to his ancestral home or find an interpreter to assist in translating his English, Akpakomiza joined other 177 leaders to provide vision, direction, personnel and logistics to secure Esan Land.

His love, passion and desire to change Edo State narrative from widespread insecurity, educational rot, glorified healthcare, agricultural decline, dilapidated roads, and infrastructural decay, propelled him to join the marathon to Dennis Osadebey Avenue.

Senator Okpebholo is married; with children. Where knowledge, experience, education, leadership and competence call, he leads. Vote for Akpakomiza!

Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is an award-winning journalist and media consultant from Edo State, writing from Abuja. He can be reached on: usie007@yahoo.com or 08037204620.

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