Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday expressed confidence that with the multiple endorsement of his party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, by a coalition of Pan-Nigerian political and socio-cultural groups, victory in the impending February 16 election is on the horizon.
Saraki also referred to the results of scientific polls by a couple of credible polling agencies and institutions, including the London Economist Intelligence Unit and the William and Associates team, saying it has become obvious that Atiku is coasting home to victory.
The Senate president spoke while reacting to the joint endorsement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and said it was an incontrovertible validation of the results of the scientific polls tipping Atiku to win.
Saraki, who is also the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, in a statement in Ilorin, Kwara State, stated that Atiku’s victory is now unstoppable.
He added that with the latest developments, Nigerians have taken a position that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim of integrity and anti-corruption stance is nothing but an election gimmick.
He further stated that the three major pillars of Buhari’s 2015 electioneering, including economy, security, and anti corruption, which the president is still touting, have collapsed in the face of the realities on the ground.
He said the president had mismanaged the economy, worsened insecurity across the nation and encouraged and nurtured corruption from within his government.
Saying Atiku would win the election in a free and fair contest based on the scientific forecasts by the two groups, Saraki urged Nigerians to take a cue from the gale of endorsements and predictions by credible groups in favour of Atiku and vote wisely.
He said: “The endorsements are like tonic to the works of the campaign organisations to intensify our efforts as it is a testament that we are employing the right approach and techniques to market our candidates to Nigerians.
“We have been able to change the narratives. We have debunked a lot of lies and rumours being peddled around against our candidate and Nigerians are much more informed now.
“The ruling party knows that they could no longer deceive Nigerians because we have allowed the people know that they are all pretenders with their claims of credibility and anti-corruption posture.”
The Senate president said the fact that Nigerians expressed favourable opinions while the credible agencies were conducting their research showed that the PDP candidate would defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate next week Saturday.
Leading socio-political organisations in the country, including NEF, PANDEF, Afenifere, MBF and Ohanaeze had on Sunday endorsed Atiku.
The leaders, who spoke on behalf of their groups were, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief John Nwodo and Dr. Bitrus Pogu. They urged Nigerians to vote for Atiku because he would bring the change desired by the country.
Before the endorsements, a field work conducted by the Pollster, Williams and Associates, revealed that Atiku will defeat Buhari in the February 16 presidential election.
The agency had, in a similar fieldwork in 2015, predicted the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential election, using same methodology it employed now.
Similarly, a forecast by the Economist Intelligence Unit in Africa had revealed that Buhari would be defeated by Atiku, when they clash at the presidential poll next week.
Atiku: Security Agencies Have No Business in Electoral Process
Meanwhile, Atiku has warned security agencies against interfering in the electoral process, saying they have no business in the electoral process.
The former vice president, who gave the warning while speaking at the presidential campaign of the party in Jalingo, Taraba State, said security agencies’ role in the country’s electoral process is to maintain law and order.
Atiku stated: “Our security services have no business in interfering with our political process; that is not your work. Your work is to make sure that there is peace, law and order. It is not your business, it is not your business to interfere in our political process; this is not your constitutional responsibility at all.
“Your constitutional responsibility is to make sure that we are all safe. Any government that draws the security agencies, the police, the army, the civil defence, that government is doing more harm to your career; is doing more harm to your patriotism and more harm to yourself.
“Don’t accept that; don’t get involved; allow us to choose the leaders we want to choose and to elect the people we want to elect; it is not your business whom we elect at all. So, I want to caution the security services not to get involved because there are many of us who are also security officers; so don’t come and tell us bullshit.”
The former vice president stressed that having recognised security as the number one problem of the state, he will make sure that the issue of insecurity in Taraba, North-east and in the whole Nigeria is addressed.
Atiku also promised to complete the Mambilla Hydro Electric Power, adding that all the federal roads would be taken care of.
According to him, “Taraba is one of the most endowed states in this country, we are going to exploit the natural resources, which is in abundance in Taraba, so that you can have prosperity; so that we can bring employment; so that we can create jobs for our teaming men and women.”
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said that the party would continue to insist that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct free, fair, credible and transparent election.
He said, “We believe that if INEC can conduct free and fair elections, the entire country will be peaceful. And that is why we will continue to hammer that the mandate of INEC is to conduct free and fair election.”
Secondus therefore warned the security agencies against taking side with the ruling party and create crisis in the country.
“As for our security agencies, we have seen police being reformed; we have seen the DSS being reformed. There are good people there and by the special grace of God, they will not defend an individual. But they will defend the constitution of our country. They are supposed to protect lives and property.
‘’We believe that if they take sides, that will cause crisis. And so, they must be neutral. We also advise our well-trained and esteemed Generals in the military that they are too quick. Recently, they started posting people here and there. This is a country they have signed to protect, not to protect an individual. A tree does not make forest and nobody is God to Nigeria,” Secondus noted.
He called on the federal government to tackle the issue of Boko Haram in Borno, rather than using military to terrorise regions that it doesn’t like.
On his part, Taraba State Governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku, assured the party that the state would be delivered to PDP in all the elections.