• Atiku, Saraki berates FG for denying senator use of Eagle Square Bafarawa kicks against consensus candidate

Deji Elumoye and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The race to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket was heated up  wednesday as former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, formally declared his intention to run for the presidency ahead of 2019 general election.

This is coming as a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, have both described the denial of Kwankwaso the use of the Eagle Square for the declaration of his presidential ambition as “unfortunate.”

Kwankwaso said his determination to vie for the office of the president on the platform of PDP was to offer a paradigm shift in leadership, adding that the narrative of poverty, insecurity and hopelessness must change to turn to a new dawn of confidence in building a well-restructured Nigeria.

The declaration that later took place at Chida Hotel in Abuja, was initially scheduled to take place at Eagle Square, which was later sealed off by the police, after the sum of N2, 217, 600 was paid to Integrated Facility Services Limited on August 17, 2018. His attempt to make use of the old parade ground at Area 10 Abuja did not also yield fruit.

However, while addressing his supporters in Abuja, Kwankwaso said: “To live is to witness changes because change is an inseparable part of life. Come May 2019, the narrative of helplessness, buck passing, division, poverty, insecurity and hopelessness must change, and a new dawn of confidence in building a one well-restructured Nigeria must be achieved.”

“I will provide a leadership where everybody is free and equal; where Nigerians see themselves as Nigerians first and as Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa, ljaw, lbibio, Fulani, among others as second; where elites are self-assured and self-assertive; where they are confident and competent, and where they want to do what is right no matter whose ox is gored.”

Meanwhile, Atiku and Saraki, have both described the denial of Kwankwaso use of the Eagle Square for the declaration of his presidential ambition as “unfortunate.”

Kwankwaso had Tuesday said he was informed that he cannot use Eagle Square and the Abuja International Conference for his presidential declaration.

In a tweet yesterday, Atiku condemned the “last-minute cancellation” of the approval granted to Kwankwaso.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari used the same premises for his presidential declaration in 2014 during a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration “without hindrance.”

Atiku wrote: “The last minute cancellation of an approval granted @RMKwankwaso is unfortunate.
“On October 15, 2014, under the @officialPDPNig led administration, then presidential aspirant; @MBuhari, declared for president at Eagle Square with no hindrance whatsoever. This was a work day.”
On his part, Saraki condemned the refusal to allow Kwankwaso the use Eagle Square.
He said the move sends a wrong message about the country’s democracy.

In statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki the development connotes intolerance in the country’s politics.

“The refusal to allow senator Kwankwaso to utilise the Eagle Square for his presidential declaration, despite an earlier approval, sends a wrong message about our democracy, particularly the tolerance level in our politics,” he said.
“That square belongs to all Nigerians because it was built with public funds. We hope this is not what we will be seeing as we approach the 2019 general election.”

In another development, a former Governor of Sokoto State and one of the aspirants on the platform of PDP, Attahiru Bafarawa, after picking his forms, said the swelling numbers of aspirant was encouraging, stressing that it shows that the party is accepted by Nigerians.

According to him, “Honestly speaking, this is giving us encouragement. This shows that our party is democratic, and is a popular party acceptable by Nigerians. That’s why people are aspiring, and more are interested in joining the party unlike other parties that are not democratic run as a one-man show.”

Also, Bafarawa vehemently opposed the issue of consensus candidate, saying those talking about consensus candidates are not interested in democracy, adding that any aspirant that wishes to withdraw from the race is welcomed.