•Urges Nigerians to keep hope alive, as he launches memoirs
•Ayu charges campaign council to right APC’s wrongs
•PDP’ll win in all zones, Okowa boasts
•Emmanuel: don’t mind doomsayers, winds can’t move rock
•Plot to scuttle Atiku’s presidential ambition exposed
•Wike, Makinde, Ortom, George, others absent
Chuks Okocha and Gabriel Emameh in Abuja
Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, said the leadership of the party had a responsibility to rescue and rebuild the country by arresting the current drift away from national values as the 2023 general election approached.
Atiku spoke in Abuja as he commenced his presidential campaign with the launch of his memoirs packaged in three different books. He, however, enjoined Nigerians to keep hope alive, saying help is on the way.
The event featured the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council.
In his own remarks, National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who was represented by Deputy National Chairman, Ambassador Iliya Umar Damagum, said the 2023 election presented another window of opportunities, not only for Nigerians but also for the party to take advantage of to rescue and restore the country.
Delta State Governor and vice presidential candidate of PDP, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, assured party members that PDP would win elections in the six geo-political zones of the country.
On his part, Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmnauel Udom, urged Nigerians to ignore those he described as “doomsayers”, as winds could not move the rock, which he said was PDP.
However, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, and Chief Bode George were pointedly absent at the official opening of the PDP campaign.
In his speech at the occasion, Atiku said as PDP members and citizens of Nigeria, “We have a duty to arrest the drift.”
The former vice president stated, “What is our task that we are gathered here today to undertake? It is beyond merely coming together to inaugurate Presidential Campaign Council. No!
“Our task today is to come together to rescue and rebuild our beloved country, Nigeria. That is the end goal. It is existential to us as a nation, and it is a task that history beckons upon us all to grasp with both hands and undertake with vigour and zeal.
“But, to rescue and rebuild our country, we must first takeover the mantle of leadership from the party that has driven us into this mess. To do this, we must all be united in purpose and come together to fight and win all the elections slated for next year.
“Every single person, who loves this country, as I do, is needed for the arduous tasks that face us ahead as a nation, and this includes every member of the PDP. And it is my fervent hope and prayer that every man and woman of goodwill will join hands with us to help rescue, rebuild and reposition our beloved country, Nigeria.
“So, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, and the distinguished members of our Presidential Campaign Council, it is in the light of all I have set out above that I want you to view today’s inauguration.”
According to him, “The tasks ahead may appear daunting; they may seem a load too heavy to bear, but, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, we must not, even for one minute, shirk in the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with to come together to rebuild this beloved country of ours.
“I wish to congratulate all the men and women nominated to serve in the Presidential Campaign Council. You have been selected from among the millions of our party members to join this esteemed council because of your past contributions to the party. Naturally, not all members of our party can be in the Presidential Campaign Council.
“But every single member of the PDP is an important member of the party and each one of you is still entrusted with the responsibility of leading our party to victory in next year’s elections. Those of you, who have not found yourselves in the Presidential Campaign Council are just as important as those who have, and we do not take your contributions for granted.”
Ayu charged members of the campaign council to put in their best in the discharge of the assignment of righting the wrongs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the polls. He said, “We can no longer stay by the side without blowing our whitelist. We have gone through a transparent primary. We know that PDP is more focused than ever.
“To you members of the campaign council, you were all selected because you have distinguished yourselves in your various capacities. Atiku has been tested. Nigerians have no doubt of his capacity to run the country. We have to rescue this country from the clutch of APC. God has provided Nigerians another opportunity to evaluate us and those that came after us. It is time to do the needful.”
Okowa stressed that from his own assessment, if elections were conducted today under the current circumstances, PDP would coast home to victory. He added that the party had presented to Nigerians the best presidential candidates to vote for, especially, at a time when country was in dire need of leadership.
The Delta State governor stated, “PDP gave Nigeria the best at a time the country is sick. We cannot try those, who are not yet experienced enough to heal the country or build bridges. There is no need for the on-job-trainees. We need competent and tried consultant.
“We must be proud as a party to present the best man for the job. We must ensure that this campaign is taken very seriously to our various wards and local governments across the country. I am very convinced that the PDP will win the South-east. We have been to the South-west, and what I saw there was impressive. The same in the north.
“PDP is the only party that is contesting very well in the six geo-political zones in the coming election. If elections were conducted today, the PDP will win.”
Okowa challenged other political parties to present their policy documents to Nigerians for proper scrutiny.
Emmanuel, in his acceptance speech as chairman of the campaign council, said, “Don’t mind the doomsayers. The wind cannot move the rock. PDP has all it requires to win the presidential election. Don’t mind the naysayers. The PDP is a solid rock.
“I want to assure you that as a campaign council, we have the seriousness, unity that is required. It is our duty to campaign, to carry and publicise the message on how to rescue and restore the hope of Nigerians. It is for Nigerians to vote and for the Almighty to give victory.
“I want to say here, don’t mind the doomsayers. I read everywhere all that those doomsayers were saying – PDP here, PDP there. But I want to assure you that PDP is a solid rock and we know that no matter the wind, it will not move the rock. So, irrespective of the wind that you see around the rock, it will not move the rock.
“The rock remains as solid as ever. Please, don’t mind the doomsayers. We want to assure you that we are campaigning to win. Nothing is acceptable to PDP outside victory for PDP, but this will also require that all of us must work.
“This time, there is no sitting in Abuja; everybody will have to work hard and carry the message home. PDP is not an Abuja party; you win from your unit, your ward and not by sitting in Abuja. The campaign council will take the message to the unit.”
Director General of the campaign and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, in his inaugural speech, charged INEC to be fair and unbiased in the management of elections in 2023.
Tambuwal said, “It is with humility and sense of purpose that I stand before you as the DG campaign, which will serve as the vehicle that will deliver the PDP and its presidential flag bearer and his running mate to the Villa, come May 29, 2023 by the Grace of God.
“Our Chairman has spoken, all of us are going to hit the ground running and we shall work collectively as a family and expeditiously to ensure the victory of our party.
“The PDP and our candidate is the party to beat in this election, it is only for us to work and with God on our side, we shall deliver this victory to our party and to Nigerians. We have the support of Nigerians and we appeal that INEC will conduct a free and fair election, and victory by the Grace of God, will be guaranteed for PDP.”
Nwobodo: Atiku’ll Hand over Presidency to South-east, Restructure Nigeria
Elder statesman and former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, yesterday, called on the South-east geopolitical zone and Nigerians, in general, to support Atiku Abubakar’s presidential bid. Nwobodo said Atiku would hand over the presidency to the zone after his tenure. He also assured that Atiku would restructure Nigeria and ensure adequate security for all.
Nwobodo also appealed to the Igbo to accept the PDP vice presidential running, Okowa.
Nwobodo said, “My name is Ifeanyichukwu and his name is also Ifeanyichukwu. Ifeanyichukwu Okowa is part of us. He is an Igboman. With both of them, Atiku and Okowa, Nigeria will be united and they will restructure Nigeria and ensure security. With Atiku, Nigeria will be united and there will be peace. Above all, Atiku will hand over presidency to the South-east.”
Sambo Urges PDP Members to Sheathe Swords
Former Vice President Namadi Sambo called on aggrieved members of PDP to sheathe their swords and join forces with the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to boost the party’s chances of emerging winner in next year’s presidential election.
Sambo, who spoke at the launch of Atiku;s memoir, described Atiku as the most prepared and qualified candidate to lead the country out of its current quagmire.
“Atiku is the most prepared candidate contesting the presidential election today. He is a driver, who knows how to drive but also knows the way to navigate,” Sambo stated.
Haruna: Adamawa’s Security Votes Not Shared with Atiku
Former Governor of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna, debunked allegations that during his eight years as governor, the state’s security votes were shared with Atiku, who served as vice president.
Boni made the clarification while speaking at the event. He extolled Atiku’s virtues, stressing that the allegation against him is not only mischievous but also grievous.
He described Atiku as a man of character, who had sacrificed so much for the country, saying the occasion should serve as the best place and time to clear the air.
Boni said, “Let me today use this occasion to clear some allegations made in the past when I was the governor of Adamawa State. There was this allegation that during my years as a governor, I was sharing the state’s security votes with Atiku. I never took security votes. I have never taken security vote, let alone sharing money with Atiku. My monthly receipt was N800m.”
Haruna, who expressed sadness that he was accused of sharing corrupt proceeds worth billions of naira, added, “Another allegation was that I funded the establishment of American University, Yola, with state money.
“They said I gave Atiku N5 billion. This is 15 years since after I left office; the American University is there. So, who is still funding it? How has American University been funded since I left office 15 years ago? These are rumour. There is no other time for you to tell your story about yourself.”
NEC Members Raise Alarm over Plot to Sabotage Atiku
Some members of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) exposed alleged plots by certain officials of the party led by a national vice chairman in the south to scuttle Atiku’s presidential bid.
Addressing a press conference at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, a NEC member, Chief Chinaemerem Madu, said party officials were alerted of furtive moves by a compromised National Vice Chairman and some other members of the NEC to derail the presidential campaign and scuttle Atiku’s victory in 2023.
Madu said, “This National Vice Chairman and his cohorts, who confessed to have been heavily bankrolled, are approaching and offering members of NEC sums ranging from N25 million to N28 million each to address a damaging press conference with fabrications aimed at derailing the Presidential Campaign.
“The said National Vice Chairman had approached me personally as a member of NEC to inform me of plots to orchestrate a heavily funded press conference to be addressed by select NEC members seemingly calling for the resignation of the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, but actually targeted at frustrating the Atiku Abubakar presidential bid.
“He pointedly confessed to me that the demands and agitation of his group have not been against the party chairman, as the public has been made to believe, but against Atiku Abubakar. He also vowed that nothing will assuage the group which is now bent at derailing the PDP Presidential Campaign.”
According to the PDP NEC member, “Central to this plot is the timing of the damaging press conference, which has been scheduled to hold soon after the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and official commencement of campaigns with a view to unsettle the PDP Presidential Campaign and scuttle Atiku Abubakar’s Presidential bid.
“Part of the scheme is to use the press conference to throw up heavily concocted script, which will contain unprintable damaging claims, assertions and allusions that will trigger confusion within the party and side-track the presidential campaign
“The said National Vice Chairman informed me of how huge sums have been paid to certain media houses and social media influencers to isolate and escalate the damaging content of the press conference and throw up negative narratives to frustrate the campaign.
“As a loyal and very dedicated party man, I am obliged to alert PDP leaders, members, supporters and the general public and expose this furtive scheme against Atiku Abubakar, which is completely against the national interest.”