The Convener of Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, yesterday congratulated Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.
According to Bakare, Atiku’s victory would make the 2019 election keen and interesting.
Bakare, Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly, spoke to journalists in Ikeja after making a speech on Nigeria’s 58th Independence anniversary in his church.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Atiku, a former vice-president, was declared winner at his party’s convention in Port-Harcourt early Sunday.
He polled 1,532 votes to defeat his closest rival, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State (693 votes) and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, among others, at the convention that started on Saturday.
Bakare said the emergence of Atiku was a welcome development, as it meant that the battle for the Presidency would be a tough contest between him and President Muhammadu Buhari.
The SNG convener said both the President, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, and Atiku were equal match and that Nigerians would decide between the two.
“I congratulate Atiku; he makes the issue in 2019 more robust.
“It is not going to be an Eaglet versus an Eagle, but an Eagle versus Eagle: an old eagle versus new eagle and probably both of them old eagles.
“I wish President Muhammadu Buhari the best in 2019.
“He has the power of incumbency and he will do his best to win the election; but Atiku is not going to take ‘No’ for an answer when the two forces collide in the election,” he said.
Bakare said Atiku, just like Buhari, has the experience, the exposure and the acceptance expected of the country’s president.
He, however, pointed out that having those qualities alone would not translate into victory for him, as the electorate would decide the parameters on which to elect the next president.
“I can’t say that Atiku will win or lose. You see, I am not advocating for him. Among all the aspirants who contested the PDP ticket with him, he is perhaps the most cosmopolitan; he is a Wazobia man.
“He was vice-president for eight years, and he inherited something from late Yar’Adua that he had held on to so effectively.
“He has been a businessman with business acumen and he has the exposure.
“But you see, that is not what qualifies you to win. A lot comes into play; so, again, I can not say whether he will win or lose,” Bakare said.
Bakare said for the PDP to win the 2019 elections, it would need to demonstrate to the electorate that it has become a regenerated party and that it will have to “show repentance for the years of the locust they engineered.”
He added that the opposition party must convince Nigerians that they would not return to corruption, which he said was the way of life during PDP’s (16-year) rule, in order to win the confidence of the electorate.
On the chances of APC, Bakare said though the government has been trying its best, it needs for them to do much more to win the next election.
He said the country was facing a lot of challenges which the government needed to offer solutions to, in order to fast track pace of development.
The cleric said that performance and policies, and not necessarily incumbency factor, would guarantee victory for the APC in 2019.
The SNG Convener said his comments about the Buhari administration should not be interpreted to mean he was attacking the government, but he was just raising issues that needed attention.
“I didn’t take any swipe at the administration of President Buhari.
“What I have always said is that despite the acclaimed progress in the country, Nigerians are not feeling the impact in their homes.
“That does not mean the government is not working. Look at the groaning of the people, the government still has to do a lot more before the 2019 elections.
“They have to work harder to assure Nigerians that they are really up to the task of listening to their yearnings and aspirations.
“The purpose of government is the welfare and security of the people. Take that from the equation, then governance means nothing,” he said.
In his speech on the Independence titled, The Road to 2019: Quo Basis Nigeria, Bakare said Nigeria has the potential to be great with the right leadership and positive attitude of followers.
He said 2019 presents another opportunity for citizens to realise the destiny of the country by participating in the process and voting right.
Bakare urged citizens to vote according to their conscience and elect leaders that mean well for the country.