From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Socio–economic activities were grounded in Asaba when the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, stormed the Delta State capital for campaigns, yesterday.
Atiku was in the home state of his running mate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa alongside members of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council with Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State as chairman.
Massive crowd streamed through the streets leading to the Stephen Keshi Stadium where the rally held.
The rally witnessed the defection of the state secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Nick Ovuakporie, the Director of Campaign for the state All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Wilson Okpepigho, Labour Party House of Assembly candidate for Ndokwa East, Philip Ogboma and their supporters.
This was even as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in the South-South, endorsed Atiku as the preferred candidate for students in the region.
Addressing supporters, the former vice president restated his commitment to implement his five point agenda of restoring unity, addressing insecurity, devolving power to component units, investing in education and revamping the economy, if elected.
Atiku said he was not in the state to campaign but to show appreciation for the support Delta has given him in his political career since 1999.
“I have received support from Delta in my political career since 1999 and the state has never failed me. I shall not betray the trust of Deltans and indeed that of Niger Deltans. It is because of your support for us that we decided to take Okowa as vice. As you know, VP is a stepping stone, and so you need to support us.”
Atiku said if elected, there would be no strike in the nation’s tertiary institutions during his administration, adding that Niger Delta states would benefit immensely from resource control or restructuring which his administration would implement.
The former vice president declared that the APC-led Federal Government has divided Nigerians along ethnic, religious and regional lines, noting that the present administration has brought insecurity to the country.
According to him, his administration will restore the nation’s unity, tackle insecurity headlong and revive the economy.
Receiving those who defected from other parties to the PDP, national chairman of the party, Iyiorcha Ayu stated that Okowa was chosen as running mate because of his administration’s performance as governor in the last seven and half years.
Ayu thanked Deltans for trooping out en-masse to welcome the PDP presidential campaign train and urged them to translate the turn out into votes during the general elections.
Vice presidential candidate of the party, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who was elated about the large turn out, encouraged party faithful to embark on door to door campaign to ensure emphatic victory for the PDP.
Okowa declared that the party has already won the election but that the margin victory was important, hence party faithful needed to work extra hard.
He thanked Atiku for choosing a Deltan as vice presidential candidate, and urged the people of the state to reciprocate the gesture.
Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel told the crowd that all Interesting Oil Companies (IOCs) that left the Niger Delta region would return if the Atiku-Okowa ticket is elected.
Udom said Niger Deltans were delighted to have one of their own as vice presidential candidate, declaring that the oil rich region would deliver over five million votes for the PDP in the February 25 presidential election.
Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, urged Niger Deltans to reject APC for failing to manage the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) which were instituted by the previous PDP federal administrations.
Other speakers at the rally including Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State; Delta State governorship candidate of the PDP, Sheriff Oborevwori; Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, former governor of the state, Emmanuel Uduaghan, thanked Atiku for choosing Okowa as running mate, pledging to reciprocate the gesture by mobilising massive votes for the party.