By Chinelo Obogo, Joe Effiong, Uyo and John Adams, Minna
Atiku Abubakar has said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would take back the nation to its glorious days from the current labyrinth of problems and restore unity to the country.
Speaking during the flag off of his presidential campaigns at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, yesterday, he called on Nigerians to vote for him and the party, promising that PDP would rescue Nigeria from hunger, poverty, insecurity, unemployment and disunity.
The former vice president said he took the launch of the campaigns to Akwa Ibom to celebrate the achievements of the Akwa Ibom PDP, stressing that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration brought change as they promised in a negative way.
“Nigeria wants to be like Akwa Ibom. You know why, because since 1999, you have not changed party, but you can see the development that is taking place here in Akwa Ibom. You can see the prosperity that is taking place in Akwa Ibom, you can see the security that is available in Akwa Ibom. So, the rest of Nigeria would like to be like Akwa Ibom.
“We want to dedicate the launching of this campaign to the achievements of the Akwa Ibom PDP for good governance. When PDP came to power in 1999, we met Nigeria in a state of poverty, insecurity, hunger, lack of education. We lifted Nigeria from the bottom to the top. We became the biggest economy in Africa, we had peace, we had progress. But when Nigeria said they wanted change, they voted for change in 2015. What we have seen is poverty, insecurity, lack of jobs and disunity. Our children are no longer going to school. Is that what we want to continue in?
“So, today, we have inaugurated the flag off of our campaign to rescue Nigeria. To rescue Nigeria from hunger, to rescue Nigeria from poverty, and also bring back the unity that we require in this country.
“I want to appeal to all Nigerians, I am standing in Akwa Ibom today to ask them to vote for PDP. If you vote for PDP, it would be a return to prosperity, it would be a return to unity, it would be a return to your safety. There would be no more hunger, there would be security. I swear, If you vote for PDP, you will not be out of school, you will get jobs, there will be security, there will be unity.”
His running mate and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, said the problem of Nigeria has been looking for a rescuer, noting the PDP has offered to rescue the country and prepared to make Nigeria a nation where people can trust each other. He said “This campaign is a very serious business. There is a great problem in Nigeria and we have been looking for a rescuer. PDP has offered to rescueNigeria. We believe that PDP is the only party prepared to rescue Nigeria. We want a nation where people can once again trust each other, we are ready to take the bull by the horn,” he said.
•Wike, other govs, Obasanjo, Jonathan absent
However, Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Samuel Ortom of Benue, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, boycotted the flag off.
Also, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan who were reportedly invited by the DG of Atiku’s Campaign Council were a no-show.
Some members of the PDP National Working Committee including the National Vice Chairman (South South), Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman (South West), Taofeek Arapaja and National Woman Leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe, were also absent.
Wike and his supporters have over the past few weeks demanded resignation of the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, after Atiku emerged presidential candidate of the party. They argued that northerners cannot hold the two most important posts in the main opposition party citing a statement Ayu made in October 2021 where he said he would vacate the chairmanship seat if the north produced the presidential candidate and if the party wanted him to leave. Ayu has, however, insisted he would be in office till the end of his four-year tenure.
Regardless of the boycott, Governor Emmanuel has said the campaign would restore hope and faith in the common dreams of the people.
The Akwa Ibom Governor, who alleged poverty had reached misery indices, called on Nigerias to checkmate hardship caused by the APC led government.
“The campaigns to restore Nigeria, revitalise the gains and growth of our prosperity, even the parts of our unity that has been fractured, restore hope and faith in our common dreams and aspirations begins today. Poverty today has gotten to misery indices. When PDP handed over power, the exchange rate was N186 to a dollar. Today, the exchange rate is almost N800 to a dollar. When PDP handed over power, Nigeria had the largest economy in the entire Africa, today, all those indices have been battered. Today, we want to flag off the hope for Nigeria, we want to flag off the rescue mission to Nigeria, we want to flag off the restoration mood to Nigeria. We want to tell Nigerians, the ship is beginning to sail today, we want to tell Nigerians, the train is moving today.
Ayu commended the people for the support, saying the crowd showed that PDP’s train was more than a party.
“It is important that those who have not joined the PDP train to come on board. We know the problem of Nigerians. Nigerians are not interested in our individual problems. Nigerians are hungry and suffering from all kinds of illness. Nigerians cannot sleep in peace because of insecurity. Let us all join hands together because we have the solutions. We will restore the economy of Nigeria to its glory. You have already witnessed from all our governors. All our PDP governors have done well and we want all these people to join hands with our incoming president to redeem Nigeria. Nigeria, PDP would not disappoint you.”
Director General, PDP Presidential Campaign Management Committee, Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal flayed the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket and assured that Atiku and Okowa would rescue Nigeria from its problems.
•We‘ll deploy technology to ensure victory –Obaseki
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said PDP would deploy technology to ensure victory at the polls.
The governor who convened the PDP South-South Zonal Meeting at the Ibom Hall in Uyo, said the waters have been tested in Edo and Osun states, where the party leveraged technology to ensure victory in the governorship elections.
He said the meeting was held to discuss issues affecting the party ahead of the launch of the PDP presidential campaign for the February 23, 2023 election in the South-South region, noting, “This will be a very different election as we have seen in the past. This zone will make the difference. Our election in Edo redefined the face of election in this republic. This will be a technical election as we used technology to win our election in Edo State. We repeated the same in Osun State and now can tell how elections are being run with the new Electoral Act. In this zone, we have the skills and knowledge in supporting one another in running and winning elections. Election is not won on election day but a battle for election at the polling unit level.”
•Youths hold 1m-man march, ground Minna For Atiku/Kantigi
Meanwhile, the presidential bid of Atiku has received a major boost as youths staged a one million-man solidarity walk in Minna, to drum support for him and the governorship candidate, Alhaji Isah Liman Kantigi.
No fewer than 52 youth groups from the 25 local government areas under the auspices of “Liman Kantigi Youths movement for 2023” converged on the popular city gate in Minna as early as 7am where they began the walk through Tunga-Bosso road to the Ahmadu Bahago Roundabout.
Vehicular and human traffic were brought to a standstill for hours as the state chairman, Tanko Beji, the Deputy Governorship candidate, Samuel Gomna and the party Youths Leader, Mallam Mohammed Vatsa, led the peaceful walk.
The party National Assembly candidates from the state, the House of Assembly candidates, local government chairmen of the party and local government chairmanship aspirants also participated in the carnival-like rally.