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* Soludo tasks ex-VP on erosion, bad roads, Onitsha port dredging
*PDP cautions Tinubu to leave it out of his fight with media
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, told the people of Anambra State that those who craved the emergence of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction should support his presidential bid, as voting him into power next year would mark a definite progress towards that goal.
Atiku, who spoke in Awka, the Anambra State capital, in continuation of his nationwide presidential campaign, promised to industrialise the state.
The state governor, Professor Charles Soludo, asked the PDP candidate to fix the erosion challenge in the state, address the issue of bad roads, and ensure the dredging of Onitsha port, if elected president next year.
In other news, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation warned the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, to leave the party out of his ill-fated squabble with the media.
Speaking at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, venue of the campaign rally, Atiku said, “I am going to be a stepping stone to an Igbo president in this country. I have shown it in my action, because this is the third time I am running with an Igbo man. If you really want to produce a president, then, vote Atiku-Okowa ticket.”
Atiku said Soludo had charged him to fix certain challenges in the state and he had pledged to keep those promises.
Atiku told the crowd, “On our arrival today, we visited the governor, Professor Soludo, and he said to me, ‘I know you are going to work, but make sure that all the federal roads that pass through Anambra State are reconstructed. And I promised him I’m just going to do that. He said, ‘make sure that you control our erosion, because Anambra is the erosion headquarters of the world. Erosion is destroying our farmlands, it’s destroying our houses and everything we have.’
“This is a very gigantic project. And I promised him I am going to do that, and you know I have worked with Soludo before; he is a first class patriotic Nigerian.
“You have an excellent governor. He also appealed to me that Onisha port this time around, we are going to dredge River Niger and ensure Onisha port is functional. We are also going to help Anambra industrialise so that the state will create as many jobs as possible for our young men and women.”
Atiku pledged to address youth unemployment, telling his supporters, “I promised to set aside $10 billion to promote small scale and medium enterprise for our young men and women so that they can be independent.
“I want to thank you, the people of Anambra State, for this warm reception. I never thought I will see such a crowd in Anambra State and, believe me, we are not going to forget you, we are going to reward you handsomely.”
In his speech, National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, said Anambra State was PDP’s and the governing party in the state, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), was the son of PDP, “So, we shall bring many APGA members back to their home in PDP.”
Ayu assured the people that the Igbo, particularly Anambra people, had a big stake in Nigeria, stressing that there is no village you would go to in Nigeria without seeing an Igbo man who is doing business.
The PDP national chairman said, “So, the Igbo, in terms of business, are the more national people in Nigeria. You need every part of this country and I like the indomitable spirit of the Igbo nation.
“I believe that if you join hands with us under a competent leader and an experienced leader, a man who is already your in-law, business man, a man, who will ultimately take care of all the security issues in the country, stabilise this country and make it a better country for us all.
“There is nothing that I can tell you about this great man that you don’t know, give him your votes. Sometimes an in-law is better than a son. I believe that Atiku is going to change the climate of the country. Hold your PVC, give us your vote, let us work together.”
On his part, Delta State Governor and PDP vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who spoke in the Igbo language, said, “Our party has brought out Atiku Abubakar as our presidential candidate. We ask all of you to work hard in Anambra State, because Atiku Abubakar is a good product.
“Among all the aspirants, it is only Atiku Abubakar, who has the requisite experience to recover the country from the hardship created by the APC government. Atiku has pledged to empower women and youths, including traders and start-ups, with $10 billion.
“I plead with you to work wholeheartedly so that we can win the election in Anambra State. For the past two weeks, we have toured round the country as a part and I am quite convinced that PDP will win the next presidential election. This is not the time for sentiment. Vote for the PDP so that Anambra will be among the states won by the PDP.”
The Atiku/Okowa campaign, in a statement signed by one of its spokespersons, Kola Ologbondiyan, dismissed what it called defeatist assertion by the APC Presidential Campaign Council (APCPCC) that PDP was plotting with Arise News to embarrass its candidates, Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.
Ologbondiyan stated, “We consider this allegation against the PDP as not only laughable and defeatist, but also childish, irresponsible and totally reckless. It is a pathetic acceptance of emptiness and defeat that instead of facing Nigerians through the media, the Tinubu/ Shettima campaign resorted to unnecessary squabbling, lame excuses and conspiracy theories as part of its scheme to divert public attention from Asiwaju Tinubu’s ugly past and constant display of vacuity, which landmarks his incapacity to hold office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The presidential campaign explained that It was clear that Tinubu was discomfited and had refused to appear in media town hall series, not only because he had nothing to offer, but also because he was afraid to face Nigerians on allegations of fraud, certificate forgery, identity theft, and link with narcotics for which he forfeited $460, 000 to the United States of America.
According to Ologbondiyan, “Nigerians can recall that Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, were invited to participate in the Arise News anchored Town Hall meeting in the same manner Asiwaju Tinubu was invited. But Asiwaju Tinubu, who has consistently dodged the arena of public debates, turned out to be a constant ‘no show.’”
He said the Tinubu/Shettima campaign was fixated on PDP because it was dazed by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s outstanding performance in media Town Hall series as well as his soaring popularity, which had dwarfed Tinubu in every ramification.
Ologbondiyan stated, “Asiwaju Tinubu’s handlers, having become frustrated in their quest to market a bad merchandise, have craftily resorted to name-calling, bullying the media and, now, attempting to drag our party into their pot of mess. It is not the fault of the PDP that Asiwaju Tinubu has no content, that he is haunted by an ugly past, and that he has become a butt of joke among Nigerians as well as the international community.
“If Asiwaju Tinubu still desires to be president, he should make himself available for a Town Hall meeting outside his usual self-organised sessions, which often end as ‘balabu..blublu..bulaba.’”