Text Message War: Labour Party Surrenders

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Labour Party has backed down on its electronic text message war with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and has canvassed support for ACN in its bid to sweep the polls in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria.

In the last one week, Labour Party had been engaging the ACN in a bitter text message war, calling on Lagosians to vote out the party in the elections except Fashola, which it said it supported his re-election.

In a volte face on Thursday, the Labour Party, which usually sent its acerbic messages under Lagos Voters apologised to former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for casting aspersions on him and called on Lagosians to vote massively for the ACN.

In one of the text messages, the party said: “We are sorry for our previous messages. We just discovered Obasanjo gave N3 billion to our leaders in Labour to destabilise Lagos for PDP. Please, vote ACN.”

In another text message, the party said: “Our story on oath taking actually came from Obasanjo but we found out it really happened between Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Isiaka. Our apologies to Tinubu on this.”

The Labour Party ceased sending further text messages to Lagosians after it had apologised to Tinubu and drummed support for the ACN. But this morning, it sent yet another text that read: ‘‘politics fuuny sef. Obasanjo dat made his daughter a senator is sponsoring campaign against Remi Tinubu. Bill Clinton was a president yet his wife later became a senator in America and wise people voted for her. Yeye people talk yeye talk. Only quality people recognise excellence. Vote wisely, vote ACN.’’

It was not clear as we were going to press, whether more texts will come on the phones.

Earlier yesterday, Governor Babatunde Fashola’s campaign organisation replied the numerous text messages sent by the Labour Party. The governor’s reply to the text messages to Lagosians sent under BRV Text read: “I, Gov. Fashola (SAN), reject the impression of me created by the opposition-sponsored SMS messages. I am not a duplicitous person and I stand solidly by my mentor and hero of democracy, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Remember, a vote for PDP or Labour Party is a vote against me. Please, vote only for ACN candidates. Thank you, BRF.”

Corroborating the text message that Obasanjo gave leaders of the Labour Party N3 billion to destabilise Lagos, Tinubu had recently at ACN campaign rally in Agege alleged that leaders of the Labour Party collected N3 billion from the PDP, which was the reason they pitched their tent with President Goodluck Jonathan.

Earlier this week, politicians in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, embarked on a last ditch effort to woo voters through disparaging electronic text messages against their opponents.

The unsolicited text messages flooded phones used by subscribers of major telecom service providers such as Globacom, MTN, Airtel and Etisalat.

One of such messages sent by the Labour Party, LP, reads: “6.1 million Lagosians will vote to end Tinubu’s oppression. Vote Labour.”

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ACN swiftly countered the Labour Party text message with a message detailing some of Remi Tinubu’s public-spirited programme. Remi is vying for Lagos Central Senatorial seat. The message says: “Why D Lies? Oluremi Tinubu, OON, a committed educationist, from Spelling Bee to One-Day Gov Program. Raising Future Leaders – So Why the Lies. Vote Oluremi 4 Senate 2011.” The message was sent through Glo.

Another message by Remi Tinubu’s campaigners also sent through Glo reads: “What’s the Fuss about Oluremi Tinubu? Is Hillary Clinton not the face of America today? Can’t Oluremi give effective representation? You be the judge.”

Joining the political campaign fray is the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. Fashola’s message reads: “BRF Gov. I urge Lagosians to vote ACN at ALL levels. Any contrary msg (message) is from anti-Lagos elements. Vote wisely. Vote ACN! BRF.”

On Tuesday Lagosians received a message contriving a conflict between Fashola and his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The message, described as satanic by ACN spokesman, Joe Ugbokwe, emanated from the Labour Party, as the sponsors “Lagos Voters” are the same group rallying votes for the Labour Senatorial Candidate, Dapo Durosinmi Etti.

According to the message: “Fashola says No to Tinubu’s juju oath swearing. Let us all pray for Fashola’s protection from the Evil Tinubu godfather.”

Reacting to what has was escribed as a grossly libelous statement, the ACN, through its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe described the text as the handiwork of saboteurs, saying he also received the text on Tuesday morning and asked the public to disregard it.

He described it as diabolical.

“Please in the name of God, ignore this Satanic verse that is coming from our enemies, traitors, thieves, vote robbers, rabble rousers, and charlatans.

After a fence-mending meeting with party stalwarts Tuesday at the Mainland Hotel in Ebute Meta, Governor Fashola also commented on the text message.“You just saw our meeting; there is no rift in our party; those are the agents of destabilisation and I will ignore it and I will want to urge everyone to be vigilant. This is the destabilisation and the trait and character of PDP posing as Labour Party.”

—Kazeem Ugbodaga