Nigeria’s Democracy in Danger, Duke Warns


• Reaffirms readiness to face Buhari in 2019

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

Former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke Saturday in Enugu said he was not deterred by the apparent determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to clamp down on perceived opponents ahead of the 2019 general election, vowing to sustain his ambition of seeking for the presidency.

Duke who spoke at a dinner and award ceremony organised by the Law Students Association of the University of Nigeria (UNN) in Enugu expressed dismay that the nation’s democracy was under threat.

He was also concerned at the alarm raised by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo of plot to arrest him based on trumped-up charges by the Buhari administration, and hoped that it was false.

According to him, “should such alarm turn out to be true, then any gains made since the nation’s return to democratic rule 19 years ago would have been totally destroyed.”

On his presidential aspiration which he formally declared at the event, amid large ovation, the former governor said he was tired of complaining, adding “it has come to a point that if you run, you may not win but if you don’t run at all, it means you will never win. It’s therefore better to run and that’s what we must do.”

He said the nation needs a leader imbued with demonstrable strategies to steer the ship and rescue it from sinking.
On whether he would prosecute his presidential project on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Duke said though he still remained in the party, there was an ongoing amalgamation of various political parties which he said would ultimately shape the coming elections.

He disclosed that there was no going back on his presidential aspiration whether on the platform of the PDP or not.

“I am in the PDP at the moment, but there is an evolving amalgamation of various political parties but I don’t want to pre-empt them; I don’t know what shape or form it will take. Whether in the PDP or not, regardless of what it is; I am going to run,” he stated.
THISDAY checks revealed that the former governor was a leading member of the ‘Coalition for Nigeria’ Movement and may likely eventually pitch tent with the movement’s adopted political party, African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The PDP has since last year, zoned its 2019 presidential ticket to the north.

The former governor however chided the youth for paying attention to frivolities like acquiring numerous SIM cards, instead of getting Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and urged them to take advantage of the recent “Not-too-young-to run” Act to get actively involved in the political processes.

Regardless, he applauded Buhari for declaring June 12 as Democracy Day and recognising the presumed winner of the 1993 election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, posthumously; his running mate, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe and frontline legal activist in the battle for the revalidation of that election; Chief Gani Fahewimi.

Duke however, urged the federal government to release the full result of the election conducted 25 years ago which was adjudged the freest, fairest and most peaceful in the nation’s history.