By Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has intensified efforts to rally its governors behind its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whose electioneering formally begins today in Sokoto with a rally the party said marks the start of its move to grab power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
There have been media reports that Atiku’s bid to become Nigeria’s president might be much tougher than envisaged as some governors elected on the platform of the party have become hurdles standing imposingly between him and his aspiration.
According to the reports, the former vice-president’s travail is said to have started the moment he settled for former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, as his running mate.
Atiku is believed to have struck a deal with some prominent South-east politicians, amongst them, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, as likely running mate if they support him to emerge as the party’s candidate.
Atiku is, however, being accused of settling for Obi without consulting with South-east and South-south leaders of the party, thus fuelling intense mistrust amongst majority of them, who then chose to stay away from his presidential affair, because ‘he cannot be trusted.’
The governors are believed to be facing intense lobby from the president’s men and their colleagues in the APC, a development believed to have given rise to their recent meeting with Buhari at the Villa.
But speaking with THISDAY yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, insisted that there is no in-house fighting in the main opposition party, as the party is committed and united to assume leadership of the country in 2019.
Ologbondiyan said that the party has been carrying along all its stakeholders and that the governors have been part of all the major decisions on the presidential campaign.
Admitting that there were initial misgivings in some quarters, he, however, told THISDAY that everyone had been brought up to speed and all misunderstandings straightened out.
According to the party’s spokesman, “They are all in the realm of speculations and I want to say that one governor or the other is not in the party’s presidential plan is not correct. The Governor of Ebonyi State attended National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. So, how do you say some governors in the East are not in the support of our candidate?
“Enugu State governor travelled officially and the party is aware that he travelled. The position of the PDP is that there is no in-house fighting and all our governors are supporting our presidential candidate.”
Meanwhile, the main opposition party said that its North-west Presidential Zonal Rally billed for Sokoto, Sokoto State, today would focus on issues as well as address the concerns, plights, fears and aspirations of Nigerians in the geo-political zone, in line with the policy document of its presidential candidate.
Ologbondiyan, who is also the Director, Media and Publicity of the PDP Campaign Council in a statement yesterday said that the party would also use the rally to touch base with leaders in the geo-political zone on further consultations on the national consensus to rescue the nation from the misrule of the APC- led federal government.
According to him, “The campaign has revealed that the zone is hugely disappointed in President Muhammadu Buhari, who has failed to fulfill any of his 2015 campaign promises, even as it is piqued by his 2019 next level campaign mantra, which shows Mr. President’s lack of remorse for his failures.”
He said that the North-west bears heavy imprints of neglect by the Buhari’s administration, adding that the president and the APC cannot point to any key development project articulated and completed by it in the last three and half years, despite the huge resources it claims to have channelled to the zone.
Atiku Unveils National Competition on Policy Document
The former vice-president of Nigeria has unveiled a national competition that would allow Nigerians interrogate his policy document.
The competition, tagged ‘Voice of the People Competition,’ which kicked off yesterday, would end on December 24, 2018.
Atiku had during the unveiling of his policy document via a Facebook Live broadcast on November 19, said, “I want these policies to be our policies – yours and mine. I want to hear your ideas to get Nigeria working again. So I will give the opportunity to anyone in Nigeria to have their say on national television.”
In a statement yesterday, the campaign council boasted that this idea is the first time in the world that a presidential candidate would be calling for a national debate on his policy action plan.
The party added, “Atiku, as a candidate who keeps his campaign promises, will on Sunday 2nd December at 1pm launch a competition via a video broadcast on his Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/atiku.org) that will see six members of the Nigerian public given a one minute slot on national television to say what they think needs to be done to help get Nigeria working again.
“Contributors are to state their names and location and one winner will be announced from each of all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria who will have the opportunity to have their recording played in a national telecast between January 1 and 6, 2019. “Any Nigerian can enter the competition by simply recording a one minute video and posting it on their respective Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account by December 24.
‘’Competitors are requested to add to their post the hashtag, #LetsGetNigeriaWorkingAgain and the state where they reside. Interested individuals can post a video selfie or any other form of video – the only limit is your imagination.
“The judging panel, led by Senator Ben Murray Bruce, will review the entries and select one winner from each geo-political zone. One key criterion for the winners will be the number of engagements their entry generates.
“Contributors must be Nigerians and must agree to terms and conditions that their entry video can be used in any manner by the PDP Campaign Organisation in all media.”