By Ibrahim Dankwambo
My dear compatriots, let me start by saying that contesting in the primaries for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) was an experience of a lifetime for me and I must add this: I am grateful to Almighty God for making me a Nigerian!
Nigeria is real, Nigeria is one and Nigeria is united!
To Tede and Idere in Oyo State, Igumale and Lessel in Benue or Atiku Abubakar’s hometown of Jada in Adamawa State, Isan and Iyin in Ekiti, Igan-Okoto and Ofada in Ogun, Dass in Bauchi, Wurno in Sokoto, Itu and Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom, Abonema in Rivers, Ekinrin-Adde and Iyamoye in Kogi State, Fugar in Edo State and to all the small towns in Nigeria, the statement our party made from our convention is that the people of Nigeria are not forgotten; that Nigeria is not just Abuja or Port Harcourt, not just Lagos or Calabar, not just Maiduguri, Damaturu, Jos or Lokoja; that our country is much more than Ibadan, Abeokuta, Uyo, Kaduna, Sokoto, Ilorin, Kano, Yola, Benin, Jalingo, Owerri, Enugu, Umuahia, Abalaliki or any such big towns and capital cities. Nigeria is an aggregation of all towns and villages, cities and hamlets. Nigeria encompasses us all, however remote our places of origin may be.
On my part, serving my community, my state and the great people of Nigeria has been a joy and a privilege for which I have been grateful every single day of my life. Right from my days as a student leader, down through my professional life both in the private sector and in public service, I have been shaped by experiences that prepared me for service to the people.
I have heeded all calls with humility and with every sense of responsibility. I have always devoted my entire being to the work at hand and my entire life to the service of Nigeria. That was the spirit that informed my participation in the presidential ticket exercise.
As a party, the PDP was in power for years. We made our share of mistakes. But we were succeeded, it has turned out, by a band with no standards, a group of accusers without ideas. They are adept at only one change: a change of the subject once service to the people is in discussion. With the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as our party’s flagbearer, the real change for the better is now around the corner and the future we have always dreamt of is rapidly emerging.
My humble plea is that, the same unity, commitment and sense of purpose that saw us through to his victory at the convention should be intensified to carry our great party to glorious victory in next year’s elections. We are not in this simply for the desire to clinch power for its sake; neither is it for intimidation of opponents or suppression of political adversaries. We are in this for the progress and prosperity of Nigeria.
Our country faces many challenges that test the quality of its leadership. But only in challenges does a good leadership find opportunities. That is the test the current leadership has failed. And that is the test Turaki Atiku will not fail.
For years, the Nigerian people have been hopeless, hungry and thirsty. They are hungry and thirsty not only for food and water, but also for education, for better housing, for power, for security, and for an enabling environment to productively realise their possibilities.
PDP is returning to assuage the people’s thirst.
We are here to put an end to the peoples’ hunger.
The dryness of a season provides the opportunity to make a balm and the process of making the balm has just begun with Atiku’s nomination!
The people of Nigeria will rule.
The PDP, with Atiku at the helm, will lead.
APC has proven incapable of running Nigeria.
Nigerians have been poorly served by a leadership that has not only created wedge between compatriots, broken their spirit of brotherhood, the people have been subjected to the worst kind of insensitivity and psychological trauma by those in whom they entrusted their sovereignty. The result is that our people have never been as divided as they are today along the lines of tribal, religious, political and other primordial divisions.
The end has come to all that!
Grinding poverty must come to a halt soon!
Injustice in whatever form must come to its end!
Economic mismanagement must come to its end!
The end has come to empty promises and brazen impunity!
The Nigerian people will rule!
I believe that the hallmark of quality leadership is in its ability to surmount challenges and solve problems, rather than engaging in blame game and reveling in the grandiloquence of empty rhetoric or the promise of change that is meaningless even to its protagonist. The hallmark of good leadership is in concrete action on behalf of the people and not in a body language that says nothing other than confounding the masses.
Enough is enough!
Enough of weakness arrogantly dressed up as introspection!
Enough of cluelessness sold as thoughtfulness!
Enough of mediocrity paraded as integrity!
What is beneath Nigeria is beneath Nigeria!
The current leadership is weak, de-energized, incompetent and far beneath Nigeria. It is time to move forward and in the right direction!
The end must be put to the phenomenon of showmanship as statesmanship, deception of the masses as fight against corruption and incompetence compounded with ignorance as old-age wisdom.
Nigeria’s problems are many and real. Such can be solved only by able, prepared hands, critical thinkers and people with strong character.
Let all hands be on the plough to make Nigeria a super power it ought to be.
We must remain committed to the principle of inclusive and integral development. I trust that Atiku Abubakar and the PDP will put in place a governance structure that will foster the spirit of co-operation, consensus and unity in a nation of diverse ethnic groups, cultures and religions like ours. He will turn our diversity into our abiding core strength. This is not only desirable, it is required to establish, nurture and sustain a strong and effective democratic government.
The PDP’s symbol was not lightly picked and should never be viewed lightly. Ours is an umbrella under which peoples from all walks of life, irrespective of ethnic affiliation, economic status, educational background, religious leaning, age or sex, can take refuge and make sense of existence.
Nigeria is a blessed country. Our abundant resources must, however, be properly harnessed by a visionary leadership to make Nigeria a great and prosperous nation.
Atiku has what it takes to provide that leadership.
Unlike the present leadership, he will leverage on his democratic governance experience to work harmoniously with the other organs of government to effectively harness the unique skills and abilities, the personal qualities and motivations of all Nigerians to unleash their creative and productive energies to make this country great.
A leader who wants to achieve results must be visionary, demonstrate a high degree of rational judgement and maintain a high sense of responsibility to the people. Like the good shepherd, he must be trustworthy, lead by example and forsake all other interests for the common good.
With Atiku Abubakar, the ship of the Nigerian state is sure to anchor at the harbour of peace, progress, unity and prosperity.
The APC has been a night we have only endured so far, a lie we have lived for so long. The jinx of poor leadership over Nigeria must now be broken.
As the prospect of a new daylight beckons, we must all go back and begin the work of re-building Nigeria.
Nigeria, which has been the footsoldier in the battle for the liberation of Africa and its peoples, the foremost combatant in keeping the continent’s peace, must cease to be a sad footnote to its story of progress.
I am convinced that with Nigerians’ support and patriotism, Atiku Abubakar will be the president who makes Nigeria the strong leg on which Africa, indeed the Black race stands.
Under his leadership and under the canopy of the PDP, we shall all together rebuild the crumbling Nigerian house.
•Dr. Dankwambo is the governor of Gombe State.