Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The South, Middle Belt Leaders on Monday met with three presidential aspirants – Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Mr Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; and Dr Johnson Edosomwan of the Nigeria Democratic Congress Party, NDCP -over their 2019 presidential ambition.
The meeting held at the Asokoro, Abuja residence of elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, saw the two aspirants explaining to the leaders why they think they are the best candidates for the nation’s number one seat.
Those at the meeting with the three aspirants include leader of Yoruba socio-cultural forum, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo and Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd), who represented the Middle Belt, former Governor of Rivers State, Major General Zamani Lekwot (rtd), and former Governor of Kwara State, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among others.
On his part, former Kano State governor, Senator Kwankwaso, expressed his determination to address burning issues plaguing the nation which he enumerated to include security challenge, poor infrastructures and parlous economy.
He said, “There are issues in this election. The economy is in the front burner. Same is security challenge. Boko Haram is still a huge problem in the North East and we also have kidnapping. Infrastructure is a huge problem and unfortunately, those who fly presidential jets and choppers don’t know what people who ply the roads feel.”
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the closed door meeting with the leaders, Senator Kwankwaso said his meeting with the leaders was fruitful.
He however said he made no commitment on the burning agitation for restructuring of the country.
According to him: “We shall put everything on the table. In a presidential system, the president can’t do it alone. I must take other arms along. Restructuring means so many things to so many people. It is power devolution to some people, to some it means resource control. Others view it as parliamentary system. But everything shall be discussed. The people I met are our fathers and from our discussions, I know they meant well for this country. All of us are stakeholders. “
SDP presidential aspirant, Donald Duke, in his presentation before the leaders said the present skewed political architecture needed to be reviewed to accommodate aggrieved ethnic groups in the country
“We have a challenge of building a federal state from a unitary system. In an ideal state, we need to design a system that can accommodate everyone. We need to appreciate that we must run a federation that encompasses the various ethnic groups. We need to create a nation state where every Nigerian is given equal opportunity,” Duke further explained.
The NDCP aspirant, Dr Edosomwan, on his part, told the leaders that he was committed towards ensuring that all the wrongs in the society were corrected once he assumes office as Nigerian President .
“I’m a committed realist and will do everything possible to put the nation on the right track if I emerge as President in 2019”.
The leaders had in the last two weeks interfaced with some other presidential aspirants that include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Senate President Bukola Saraki and former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido.