Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale and Victoria Yesin in Abuja
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday expressed confidence that the party would win the forthcoming general elections, giving assurances that the main opposition party would enthrone the best fiscal responsibility practices in the country when it assumes power.
Speaking at the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, in Abuja, Atiku also said President Muhammadu Buhari should sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 into law without further delay, explaining that the president’s immediate assent is necessary because elections are governed by laws and that good laws are required to ensure credible elections.
Atiku, who also spoke yesterday at the 83rd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party held at its National Secretariat in Abuja, promised not to disappoint the people if elected as president next year.
The vice presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi; Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Ahmed Abdulfatah (Kwara), and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Senate President Bukola Saraki; Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; and former governors of Benue and Niger States, Gabriel Suswam and Babangida Aliyu, were among many others at the meeting.
The NEC meeting was the first to be held after the party’s convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where Atiku emerged as the party’s candidate.
He stated, “That is a turning point for democracy and for PDP in this country. What we need do is to build on that momentum. Again, earlier on this morning, I had the opportunity to be invited by the National Working Committee (NWC), for the first time in the history of this party, the NWC rendered to me the details income and expenditure of all the money realised in this convention. I have never seen such a fiscal responsibility by any political party.
“I said to them, that has posed a very big challenge should we win and we must win the presidential election. We will have to enthrone the best fiscal responsibility this country has ever known or ever seen, simply because our party has given us that leadership.”
The former vice president said he believed that with the genuine support of everyone, the governors and members of the National Assembly, party leaders and party supporters, the election is for the party to win.
Atiku said that signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law was necessary because elections were governed by laws and that good laws were required to ensure credible elections.
He stressed, “We are facing an APC government that is desperate to cling to power at all costs, which means that this will be a tough presidential election.
“I called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law the Electoral Act Amendment bill for free and fair election.”
Also, the Senate president and Campaign Director-General, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said despite the fact that Nigerians are in full support of the party, the party must stay strong because it is not going to be easy.
He said what the country needs now is someone that understands what it takes to bring food to the table, and a man that understands what it takes to unite Nigeria and provide security.
Saraki said, “Let the man that does not have it leave the place and let the man that has it come in and do it. It depends on Nigerians to decide what to do. It is not about sentiment, it is about who can do it.”
On his part, the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, urged the party members to remain resolute in order to achieve the historic agenda of rescuing the country from the hands of the APC.
He explained that the party would come up with a pragmatic campaign structure that would devolve powers to the grassroots, where the polling takes place, stressing that it is not going to be business as usual because the emphasis is at the polling unit.
Secondus lamented that the state of affairs of the country is getting worse by the day, noting that the APC government has continued to show that it lacks the wherewithal to manage the affairs of the country.
He said, “The consequences of rigging 2019 election may be terrible for our dear country. So, we call on all Nigerians and the international community to add their voices to the agitation towards ensuring that the APC, federal government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct free and fair transparent election in 2019.
On his part, the Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Jubrin Walid, said after the National Campaign Council and National Advisory Council has been approved, it is the duty of all members to give total support and maximum cooperation that would lead to the emergence of Atiku as the president.
The BoT chairman urged the party to avoid any form of impunity as the campaign kicks off, and embrace collective decision that involves everybody, adding that the party should never leave anyone aggrieved.
Members of the 154 presidential campaign council include, Atiku, Peter Obi, Secondus, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, Kola Ologbondiyan, Adolphus Wabara, Tom Ikimi, Attahiru Bafarawa.
Others include, Peter Odili, Sule Lamido, Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Ayo Fayose, Walid Jibril, Achike Udenwa, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, among others.
Electoral Bill Receiving Due Attention, Says Presidency
Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday assured Nigerians that the amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 transmitted to the president for assent by the National Assembly on November 7 was receiving due attention.
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said the bill is before Buhari for necessary action.
He said government appreciates the concern of the citizenry on the need for the president to assent to the bill.
Commenting on the call by former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, on the president to without further delay endorse the bill, Enang said the frontline lawyer by the call was exercising his right as a citizen of the country.
He said, “We appreciate the activism of the senior lawyer, which is within his right as a citizen and conscience of the nation.”
Agbakoba, the Convener of Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM, had in a two- page letter to Buhari on Wednesday asked the president to endorse the bill as a show of his commitment to transparent electoral process.
He expressed concern that the bill was yet to be signed into law less than three months to the general election.
Agbakoba, therefore, stressed the need for Buhari to sign the bill without any further delay and cited diverse implications his refusal to endorse it would have on the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible and transparent elections.
Buhari had thrice this year refused assent to the bill, forcing the National Assembly to rework the bill before transmitting a cleaner copy to the executive earlier this month for the president’s assent, which would lapse by December 6.