Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign kicked off yesterday at the Shehu Kangiwa Square, Sokoto, with the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker Yakubu Dogara and others calling on Nigerians, particularly those in the North-west to vote out the All Progressives Congress (APC), which they said was responsible for the pervasive hunger and poverty in the country.
In the rally moderated by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, and Senator Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, top leaders of the party took their turn to address the crowd, tasking the people to vote out the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which they said had brought hunger and poverty to the country, especially in the North-west geo-political zone.
Atiku described Buhari as incompetent in handling the country’s affair, saying the task of making Nigeria work again is a collective effort of all Nigerians and asked them to vote out Buhari in 2019.
The former vice-president, who said if given the opportunity, he would turn around the fortune of the country, said he has what it takes to move Nigeria forward.
He decried the worsening security situation in the North, adding that in 2015, there were no security challenges in the North-west.
Atiku said one of his major tasks if voted into power in 2019 would be to over haul the security architecture of the country.
Atiku, the traditional title holder of Waziri Adamawa, further explained that Nigeria’s economy is in a sorry state and promised to tackle it headlong, adding that youth unemployment is another bane of the country, promising to create jobs for the teeming youths and improve on power supply.
Others who spoke at the rally include, former governors, Sule Lamido, (Jigawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Rabiu Kwankwaso, (Kano); and Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna).
Others include Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Darius Ishaku (Taraba); former vice-president, Namadi Sambo; and Uche Secondus, the PDP national chairman and others.
Welcomed to the rally with thundering ovation by the crowd, former President Jonathan said only the PDP and Atiku can make Nigerians eat well three times daily, asking the people to vote for the party.
Arguingthat the North-west is the most populous part of Nigeria, Jonathan said it is the region’s time to ‘’show Nigeria the way.’’
He added, “We have seen four presidents, from Obasanjo to our late brother, Yar’Adua, to me; and to the current president. You have seen how the various presidents and the various parties have worked, and one thing that is very clear is that PDP is still the number one party.
“There is something that all of us need as human beings, everybody eats, everybody, every day must eat, and if you cannot eat well, then you are not happy. PDP is the only party that can make sure all of us eat very well, in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening.”
He advised the huge crowd not to vote wrongly; else their children and grandchildren will not forgive them.
According to the former president, “Let us not make any mistakes, those of us that are adults, old enough to vote, if we vote wrongly, our children and grandchildren will not forgive us. Today, our country has a lot of challenges; look at all the presidential candidates, all of them are good people, but among all, we have seen that it is only Atiku that can deliver.
“If you have a soccer match, you go with your best 11, you don’t manage, if you have a wrestling or a boxing tournament, you go with your best, you don’t manage.
“Atiku is experienced enough; he has demonstrated clearly from his personal life and his business life that he has that capacity to bring this country to one, and make our economy grow, so that all of us will have food to eat.”
On his part, Saraki said Nigerians have tried Buhari and he has failed the country, asking the people of the North-west to be ready to cast their votes for the PDP presidential candidate.
He said, “Today is a great day, today we are making history. As the Director-General of the campaign, when we said we wanted to come to the North-west, they said it was a no-go area for PDP, but today, North-west is PDP.
“Today, North-west is speaking for PDP, because they told us it was a no go area. Alhamdulillah Robilalamin (Glory be to God) that today, you have shown you are ready to go PDP. And for years, North-west leads the country and today, North-west says it is time to vote for PDP.”
Saraki added that Atiku would be voted for because he understands how to make the country better.
According to him, “The man that can bring food to the table, the man that can fight security, the man that can unite Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.
‘’It is about food, security and we will vote Atiku Abubakar because he understands it, he knows how to make good choice, he knows how to make things work, he knows how to unite Nigerians, that’s why we will vote him.
“We have tried this one (Buhari), but he has failed. North-west has spoken and the entire Nigerians will speak.”
While also addressing the rally, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Dogara, said Nigeria is not safer today than it was in 2015, saying the nation’s economy has since deteriorated, asking the people to kick out the Buhari administration.
The Sokoto State Governor, Tambuwal, who is also the Coordinator of the presidential campaign in the North-west zone, urged the people of the zone to vote the former vice president for a better and greater Nigeria.
Most of the governors, who addressed the people in Hausa and partly in English, reiterated the same message, asking the people to vote Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP and vote out hunger, as represented by Buhari-led administration.
The National Chairman of the party, Secondus, declared that the mission to rescue Nigerian has begun in Sokoto.
He said that the PDP has chosen a credible and experienced candidate in persons of Atiku and Obi to lead the rescue mission, noting that Atiku has what it takes to turn the economy around, create jobs and unite the country.
Secondus, again, warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies not to undermine the country by attempting to rig the election.
The national chairman later presented the party’s flag to the presidential candidate and the governorship candidates from the zone.
Meanwhile, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) said last night that the mammoth crowd of supporters that received PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku at the North-west presidential zonal rally in Sokoto, was a clear demonstration that Nigerians across the board have reached a consensus to vote Atiku in as the next president of our country.
In a statement signed by the council spokesman, Ologbondiyan, the campaign council appreciated and commended the courage and show of patriotism by the people of the North-west ‘’in rejecting President Buhari and sectional politics’’ to support Atiku, in keeping with the collective quest to unify the nation and revamp the nation’s ailing economy.
It said, ‘’Atiku Abubakar’s acceptance by the North-west establishes the common feeling among Nigerians that he embodies a practical solution to the myriad of problems brought upon our nation by Muhammadu Buhari’s incompetent, divisive, repressive and insensitive administration.
‘’The massive reception expresses the confidence of the North-west in Atiku Abubakar’s proven pro-poor stance; his standing affinity with the down-trodden and his demonstrated competence, capacity and political will to revamp our economy, end starvation, sectional acrimony, human rights abuse and humongous corruption, which the Buhari administration has unleashed on our nation in the last three and half years.’’
The PDP campaign council, therefore, urged the people of the North-West and Nigerians in general, to continue to stand in unity in their resolution to vote for Atiku as the next president and free the nation from the clutches of his misrule.