Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Policemen attached to the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were yesterday forced to fire multiple gun shots to scare away thugs, who had invaded the party secretariat, and clashed with supporters of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The supporters of Atiku, one of the presidential aspirants in the PDP, were seen around the secretariat as early as 9a.m. carrying banners and posters with Atiku’s pictures and the banners of the PDP.
Though, the former vice president later arrived at the party secretariat around 12 noon and was cheerfully welcomed by hundreds of his supporters.
Atiku, while receiving his expression of interest and nomination forms last week, had urged his supporters to overwhelm the party secretariat while submitting his forms until they are forced to give him the PDP ticket.
Trouble, however, started when some thugs with APC posters invaded the Atiku supporters on the Michael Okpara Street, opposite the party secretariat.
According to an eyewitness who does not want his name in print, “The APC supporters started singing songs against the supporters of the former vice president. After which the supporters of Atiku retaliated, a fight broke out.”
The thugs were seen using heavy sticks on themselves and in the process a man was beaten to stupor. They also chased themselves down to the main gate of the secretariat directly facing Skye Bank.
When the fight became free for all, the Atiku supporters ran for safety, and subsequently forced the gate of the secretariat opened to seek refuge.
This, however, led to stampede as many women were trampled on and in the process sustained minor injuries.
To arrest the situation, therefore, the police on duty fired multiple gunshots to disperse the thugs.
Meanwhile, Atiku while submitting his forms said that he would not be seeking nomination if the country was working.
He noted that it weighs deeply in his heart that Nigeria has become the world headquarters for extreme poverty according to the World Economic Forum and the World Poverty Clock.
Atiku said he was also not happy that there had been so much killings and terror across the country, that the Global Terrorism Index rates Nigeria as more terrorised today than she was in 2015.
He stated, “This is a sober moment for me. Today marks the beginning of my journey, our journey together, to get Nigeria working again.
“I am very sad that 11 million Nigerians have become unemployed since May 29, 2015. And this does not include the millions more who never had a job since leaving school. I have created thousands of jobs in my private businesses and I know how to lead a government that would do the same for Nigeria.
“I ask all PDP delegates and indeed all Nigerians to join me at this sober moment to spare a thought for our country and to consider working with me to get Nigeria working again. This is a step into our future.
“Let us work together to create the right conditions for investments to flow in and flourish to create jobs for our people. Let’s work together to send poverty packing. Let us, together, reduce corruption so that our resources will be deployed to our national priorities. Let us work together to fight all types of terrorism and other crimes. Let’s work together to restructure Nigeria for better governance and to unite our people.”
He added that tursday marked his first step to lead the efforts to move the people from extreme poverty to prosperity, from joblessness to employment, from senseless killings and fear to security, from so much division to being united around a shared vision and values, and from global irrelevance to a shining place in the comity of nations.
PDP BoT Bans Members from Campaigning
The Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP has banned its members from campaigning for any presidential aspirants on the platform of the party.
The BoT Chairman, Senator Jibril Walid, while briefing journalists after the meeting held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, also said that the board was working to ensure that it reduces the increasing number of presidential aspirants but noted that it would not force any aspirant to step down.
He stated, “If you are a member of BoT, you remain as a member of BoT and conscience of the party. They should not move about with any aspirant. If we are really conscience of the party, we should not move about with aspirants.
“That was what happened during the last national convention when we elected the National Chairman. Some of us went and pitch camp with aspirants, taking them all over the place.
“This time, we will not allow that to happen. Anyone of us who move about with any aspirant should resign from the BoT. We are the one that will settle the complain. But if we are involved it will not be fair. So we have told the members not to campaign with the aspirants; we are also the delegates.”
Walid also revealed that the BoT also deliberated on the current situation in the party as regards the increasing number of aspirants, while recommending that the situation should be well managed in order to avoid crisis.
He said: “The presidential aspirants are 13, we are trying our best to ensure that the number is reduced. But we are not forcing anybody. More consultations are going among the elders.
“We are going to bring out a committee that will be best for Nigerians. We are forming a committee to meet with the aspirants. After that we will decide on what to do. We have decided to form a special committee to advice the NWC.”
The BoT insisted that there should be free and fair elections during the forthcoming primary and there should be no impunity, and no godfatherism.
The board also appointed former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, as substantive secretary of the BoT.