Party begins presidential campaign in Sokoto
• We’ll cast ballots for restructuring, Yoruba leaders vow
• Police speak tough on weapons at rallies
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) began its presidential campaign in Sokoto yesterday with a promise that Nigerians would get a better deal if they vote for its candidate former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. National Chairman Uche Secondus described the huge crowd at the Atiku/Obi Northwest Presidential Campaign as a sign the party would sweep the polls in next year’s general elections. It was also evidence that the region has spoken its mind, he said.
Insisting the PDP has the best candidate, Secondus said Atiku has all it takes to boost the nation’s economy, provide food, combat insecurity and solve many of the challenges facing the country.
Speaking in the Fulfulde and Hausa languages, Atiku told cheering supporters that having climbed to success from a humble beginning, he could replicate the pattern for Nigerians. He told the crowd he currently had 1,000 cows and urged the people not to be fooled by those who claim to have only 150 cattle, a veiled reference to President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking re-election.
Also in a statement by his media office yesterday, Atiku condemned the killing of 50 policemen by bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State and called for a seven-day mourning in honour of the personnel. He sought the declaration of a state of emergency “not in Borno or Zamfara, but in financing the military and security services.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan maintained that the PDP “is still the number one party in Nigeria.” He urged Nigerians to cast their votes for Atiku, saying the candidate has experience and capacity to tackle the country’s problems.
Others who took turns to explain why Atiku is the candidate of choice included Senate President Bukola Saraki; former National Chairman Ahmed Makarfi; Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal; Board of Trustees Chairman Wali Jibrin; former Governors of Jigawa State Saminu Turaki and Sule Lamido; and former Niger State Governor Aliyu Babangida.
This came as Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris declared a ban on the possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons at political rallies. He also urged politicians to shun hate speech.He gave the warning in Ibadan, Oyo State, during an interactive session with political parties on security arrangements put in place for campaigns.
Represented by Deputy Inspector General of Police Agboola Oshodi-Glover, the IGP said the police would not fold their hands and watch any person or group breach the law. Some stakeholders in the southwest meanwhile have declared that Yoruba votes in the elections must be cast only for the candidate with a focus on restructuring.
Atiku has repeatedly said he would execute this agenda once he is elected.One after the other, speakers at a colloquium held at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, yesterday, warned that the Yoruba nation must unite and not allow an opportunity to achieve the goal slip by.
A former PDP Deputy National Chairman Bode George, who organised the event, said: “The Yoruba people will never negotiate on the purity of restructuring. This federation, as presently constituted, is skewed and disproportionately unfair in the distribution of the national wealth. We insist on a balanced, equitable expanse where every section of the Nigerian society will be free and unhindered in the cultivation of their natural resources.”
Also, a Second Republic senator, Prof. Seth Akintoye, noted that the elections would afford the Yoruba a chance to redefine their destiny. According to him, “Many may not think or feel so, but the Yoruba civilisation is endangered. It is endangered to the extent that the country to which we belong is endangered. It is not part of the Yoruba to surrender to failure or poverty. But at present, we are going through a degree of poverty, hopelessness and failure that we have never seen before. The onus is on us to fight until we achieve success and overcome.”
The forum tagged, ‘Southwest Yesterday, Today and the Challenges of 2019’ was attended by Yoruba leaders including Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee on the 2014 National Conference Femi Okorohunmu; former Minister of Transportation Ebenezer Babatope; Senate Minority Leader Biodun Olujimi; Lagos State PDP Governorship Candidate Jimi Agbaje; and former Lagos State Deputy Governor Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele.
Similarly, urging the people to push for change, the national convener of Brighter and Better Nigeria, Prophet Isa El-Buba, regretted that the current administration is steeped in untruth. According to him, it is the “most corrupt government we have ever had.”
El-Buba, who is also General Overseer of the Evangelical Bible Outreach Ministry, told The Guardian in Jos, Plateau State, it was time the president resigned. “I am not contending with the government in terms of going to fight with the government. No. All I am saying is, if you are not competent to lead us, give way and we will get in the right people. That is all I am saying.”