By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Mr. John Yakubu, the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the Edo State governorship election was recently on the spot after he was lampooned as a disadvantage to the PDP ticket at a rally of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Governor Oshiomhole had during the campaign stop particularly accused Yakubu, a former chairman of Esan North East Local government area of being a serial loser who would not bring any benefit to the PDP ticket. On the sideline of an interaction between political editors and the PDP leadership in Benin, Yakubu was put to task on the tag put on him.
Challenged on the circumstances that led to his failure to take the helms at the Esan North East council for the second time in 2013, Yakubu said:
“In spite of the fact that the governor appointed the officials, who conducted that poll, I defeated his party. Even when issues over that election got to the court, the presiding judge did mention that it was shameful for the chairman of the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, Solomon Ogor, to have released results that were not collated. While we were still at the collation centre in Uromi with the state Commissioner of Police, the Returning Officer and the media, the Comrade …invited Ogor and wrote the results for him. Someone had to call my attention, while we were still at the collation centre that Edo Broadcasting Service was announcing results.”
On the comments by Governor Oshiomhole that he is a serial election loser, he said the misunderstanding between the two of them arose from his refusal to give consent for the compulsory deduction of his local government funds by the state authorities.
“At a particular meeting, the governor directed the 18 local government chairmen in the state to release 10 per cent of their allocations to him. But I said that I have to consult my people back home before I can cede even a kobo to him. Before the end of that meeting, a memo came out from nowhere and our names were on it. The memo was passed to us but when it got to me, I said that it was impossible for me to sit down at the meeting and cede funds belonging to my local government to anybody and I passed it to the next person.
“The other council chairmen signed but I refused because there is no law that says that I should release my local government’s fund to the state. In fact, there is a provision in the law, which says that the state should give the local governments 10 per cent from the Internally Generated Revenue of the state. I insisted that I won’t give out money that came from Abuja and meant for my people until I consult them.
After the governor had taken N.5 billion (500 million) from the councils, I wrote a petition to the State House of Assembly and what was Oshiomhole’s defence: ‘The council chairmen signed for the deduction of 10 per cent from their allocation but that the chairman of Esan North-East Local Government Area did not sign and for that reason, his council’s money was not taken.”
“When my council’s money was withheld for about five months, a commissioner in the Oshiomhole government, advised me to decamp to the ruling party in the state, so that the money could be released. Fortunately for me, we had a meeting with the governor that day and I confronted him with his commissioner’s proposal. In the presence of the 18 council chairmen and their deputies, the governor said: ‘Yakubu, I have a machine gun in my hand and I will fire you from a distance.’”
In the face of what he describes as the attack on his person, he further asserted that the PDP ticket would respond with their policies and plans for the state. “While the governor continues to take his time to talk about me, we will keep educating the people of Edo Sate why the local governments are suffering. The councils are not doing anything not because they don’t have money but because the …took the money from them.
“He is doing this despite the fact that the state Assembly passed a resolution directing that he should stop the deduction and refund the N500 million he collected. The papers are there to verify this. So, it is unfortunate for the governor to talk about John Yakubu not winning elections.” Concluding, he posited that even if the election were between him and the outgoing governor, that he, Yakubu would triumph.
“But I can assure you that if I have an election today with Governor Oshiomhole in Edo State, I am quite sure that I will defeat him.” Unfortunately for him, that is a boast that cannot be tested given that Oshiomhole has himself paid his dues and is exiting after two terms.