Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole is said to have piled pressure on Africa’s richest man and biggest rice merchant in Nigeria, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to make available bags of rice as well as cash with which to “buy” votes from the electorate.
The action is in a desperate bid to swing victory in favour of his All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the September 28 governorship election in Edo State,
The APC candidate, Mr Godwin Obaseki, is said to have business links with Alhaji Dangote and has been instrumental to Dangote’s friendship with Oshiomhole as well as to plans by Dangote to invest in the State.
Sources close to the development said that Dangote had reluctantly succumbed to Oshiomhole’s substantial pressure and would, in the next few days, donate to the APC tens of thousands bags of rice, which would be distributed to bribe Edo electorate ahead of the election.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Pay (PDP) in Edo said it was not worried that the development could undermine the integrity of the electoral process and set the State on a retrogressive course because it believes the people now know better.
PDP’s Publicity Secretary, Mr Chris Nehikhare, when contacted, said “if the feelers are true, then we owe it a duty to counsel Edo people not to sell their birthright for a mess of porridge. We encourage them to collect the rice from APC but vote for their conscience.
“Thousands of Edo electorate who had already seen the light in the SIMPLE agenda of the PDP candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, should remain focused on the promises and prospects of a greater and glorious Edo State, which Ize-Iyamu represents and exemplifies.
“They should collect the rice because there is hunger in the land, which was caused by the directionless leadership of the APC-led Federal Government that has plunged the nation into avoidable economic recession, and go ahead to use their vote to punish the APC by rejecting it at the poll.”
Reports have it that a 50 kilogramme bag of rice, which is the commonest staple food in Nigeria, has gone out of the reach of the ordinary man, with the price rising from about N8,000 to about N22,000 since the APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over power.
Meanwhile, sources said that Dangote had expressed reservation about investing more money as requested by Oshiomhole into the Edo APC governorship project.
Dangote was said to have told Oshiomhole that intelligence reports at his disposal indicated that the PDP is by far the favourite party among the Edo electorate.
But Oshiomhole, according to credible information, pleaded with Dangote to avail the APC and its candidate of his critical contribution as it would go a long way in helping to redirect the minds of the “hungry” people to vote for Obaseki.
The business mogul was said to have shifted ground after placing it on record that Oshiomhole is the problem with the APC and its governorship candidate in the State.
It was learnt that Oshiomhole disagreed with the suggestion that he is the problem, explaining that the problem is the transferred anger and aggression by the people due to the inability of the Federal Government to arrest the growing hunger in the country.
He was said to have assured Dangote that he knows how to “get” Edo voters as he has set a machinery in motion to make sure that the APC wins.