Atiku: PDP Will Win at First Ballot Tinubu: Delta Not ATM for Politicians
*Ortom insists only a southerner should succeed
*Buhari, Wike challenges Atiku to start restructuring from PDP
*Asks N’Delta govs to account for 13% derivation backlog paid by Buhari
Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Sylvester Idowu in Warri and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
Following a revelation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it was planning to print extra 93.5 million ballot papers for a possible presidential election runoff, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has said he will win on the first ballot.
On his part, Atiku’s counterpart in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, chided the PDP for failing to develop Delta State in spite of the huge resources accruing to the state, stressing that state is not an ATM for migratory politicians.
National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education at INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, had on Friday told journalists that the commission was planning to print 93.5 million presidential ballot papers for a possible runoff in next year’s presidential election.
But the Spokesperson of Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, advised INEC not to worry, expressing the confidence that Atiku would win in the first ballot.
According to Ologbondiyan, “our campaign counsels INEC not to listen to diversionary narratives by apologists of the deflated APC who are ostensibly seeking ways to derail the election, having realised that their party has been rejected.”
He urged INEC to deploy its resources towards conducting a free, fair, transparent and credible election that would be generally accepted by majority of Nigerians.
He said: “Our campaign is confident that by every indices and data available, our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will win the presidential election of February 25, 2023 at the first run.”
Ologondiyan said the APC has seen defeat ahead as Nigerians are quickly reaching a consensus on the fact that the ruling party’s presidential candidate, Tinubu, is not electable.
He urged Nigerians to remain resolute in their determination to vote for their choice, Atiku, and take every step necessary within the ambit of the law to protect their votes.
Tinubu: Delta Not ATM for Migratory Politicians
Meanwhile, Tinubu, while addressing the mammoth crowd that thronged the Warri Central Stadium in Delta State to have a glimpse of him during the inauguration of governorship campaign of the APC in the state, promised to clean up Niger Delta region just as he accused the PDP of abandoning infrastructure development in the state.
“Delta has all it takes to be great and help lead the nation forward. Yet, for the past 23 years, those governing your state have taken you for a hard and long ride by selling you short. They have not done the things they should have and could have done for you.
“The infrastructure in the state was better 30 years ago than it is now. The state has recorded historic debts run up by the incumbent yet the infrastructure and other things still remain lacking because of under investment and neglect.
“The money is much, but it does not have legs. Where did it go? Not to your welfare. Perhaps, it has found a home with a certain presidential candidate who loves Dubai more than Nigeria. But Delta State is not an ATM for migratory politicians. It is a place where good and hardworking people reside and work to create decent and peaceful lives for themselves and their families,” he said.
Tinubu accused Atiku of fighting President Olusegun Obasanjo when he served as vice president between 1999 and 2007.
“Our rivals do not have shame. They are fighting in the public, how can they think of governance?” the former Lagos State governor told the gathering.
“When Atiku was there, he was fighting his boss in public. They were telling us how they spent money to buy cars for their girlfriends. Do they have shame? Will you vote for them again?”
He told the crowd of supporters that the APC would deliver its promises to Nigerians if the party wins next year’s elections as he redoubled his accusation that the PDP failed the country.
“I will commit to your progress and fulfill all the promises made to you. You are the future of this country and the heart and soul of Nigeria,” Tinubu added.
“Your environment is as important as gold mining. Your health, welfare, and dream will be realised for a stable and prosperous Nigeria.”
On his plans for the state, Tinubu promised to re-activate the gas revolution industrial park, while also seeking the clean-up of the whole Niger-Delta region to ensure that the host communities do not suffer for building the nation’s economy through their oil.
“We will step up and clean up the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of the Niger Delta. The NDDC will be improved. Greater cooperation with communities which have suffered the environmental degradation will be my policy.
On infrastructure development in the state, which he affirmed had been in a sorry state, Tinubu said: “We will help develop the infrastructure of your state. The deep sea port project and the Omadino-Escravos Road project will be revisited. We will rehabilitate Warri, Koko, Sapele and Burutu ports, creating yet more jobs in the state.”
He also promised to make the state safe for all, noting that no business can thrive in an unsafe environment.
Addressing the rally, Omo-Agege said the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who is also PDP vice presidential candidate, had failed the state and should step down.
Omo-Agege accused Okowa of betraying Southern Nigeria by accepting to be the running mate to Atiku.
He said a southerner should succeed President Buhari after his eight-year tenure next May.
Ortom Insists Only a Southerner Should Succeed Buhari
Meanwhile, despite moves to reconcile Atiku and five governors, who were elected on the platform of the PDP, led by Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, yesterday remained unrelenting in his opposition to the presidential aspiration of the former vice president, insisting that only a southerner should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium during the inauguration of the PDP state-level campaign in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, Ortom, who is one of the governors in Wike’s camp, insisted that only a southerner should succeed President Buhari in 2023.
He said he was the first governor from the North to back the southern presidency, which he said is in the interest of fairness and justice.
“Nigerians, for the sake of equity, fairness and justice, expect that after eight years of President Buhari, the next President should go to the South irrespective of political affiliation and that is the right thing to do. We are Nigerians and we must ensure that all of us work together,” Ortom said.
He added that Wike was the right candidate to succeed Buhari, but “enemies of progress” ensured he didn’t win the party’s presidential primary in May.
Stressing that the enemies of progress also denied Wike the running mate ticket, the Benue State governor, however, urged the party’s supporters in the state to work with him and ensure victory for all PDP National Assembly, state assembly and governorship candidates in Rivers.
Atiku Should Start Restructuring from PDP, Says Wike
Also speaking at the event, Wike argued that Atiku must start a government of inclusion and national unity from the PDP.
He insisted that he believed in the party as well as in equity, fairness and justice.
He argued that if Atiku believed in restructuring, and devolution of power and that President Buhari appointed 17 northerners as heads of security chiefs, he should correct it from the party by asking the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to step down for a southerner.
He boasted that none of the G-5 governors would lose their governorship. “Not one of the states of PDP integrity governors will lose their governorship. Not one. No amount of gang-up will make us lose Abia, Enugu, Benue and Oyo states and who is that that will come and win Rivers State? I do not understand human beings; some people want to be governor of Rivers State since 2003 till now.”
Wike again alleged that Ayu pocketed funds realised by the party from the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for primaries in May.
He challenged the PDP national chairman to head to court to see if he is innocent.
“You cannot fight Rivers State and go free,” he added.
Speaking earlier on Friday night during a banquet organised by the PDP in the state for the G-5 governors, Wike challenged his counterparts in the Niger Delta to account for the huge sums of monies received by them as a backlog for the 13 per cent oil derivation since 1999, which was paid by Buhari.
The governor told attendees at the banquet that while he could point to the projects executed by his administration with the monies in Rivers State, some of his colleagues cannot show any proof.
He said: “I am not an apostle of Buhari; he is not my friend but I have no regret to appreciate him for paying the money meant for the Niger Delta states. He has paid. Let everybody come and account for it.”
Wike said he is unfazed by threats of being sacked by the PDP.
He dared the party to carry out the threat, stating he would respond appropriately.
The governor insisted that his state would no longer work for anybody, who refuses to embrace justice, fairness and equity.
He said he was only committed to working for PDP, Rivers State chapter, adding that all his candidates in the state would win their elections.
The governor said after he had praised Buhari for releasing the money owed to some Niger Delta states of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Bayelsa, some persons sent him messages that he should not have commended the president.
“Just like all of them here, you have not won the election and you want to jail the Benue governor. You have not won the election and you want to jail the Enugu governor. You have not won the election and you want to jail the Oyo governor. God will not allow you.
“Because they stand for the truth and say they will support Wike; therefore all of them will come down. They will never come down. They cannot be governors again. Only Seyi will still be governor. He has worked for Oyo State and you cannot threaten him.
“What have we done? We say by our party’s constitution, the President should go here and the chairman should go here. But you say no you will take everything, we also say no we won’t allow that. History will be on our side that we are saying the truth and nothing but the truth.
“There is one man who married 20 wives and because we say no, you can’t extort states of over $400 million – one man. He said he did work. Which work? But we say we won’t allow him to take that money,” Wike added.
On his promise to give logistics support to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, Wike said he had no regret. He promised again to release vehicles and security for Obi’s campaign in Rivers State.