Makinde Still in Eye of the Storm over Atiku
Kemi Olaitan reports that with Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State tactically supporting the Peoples Democratic Party, presidential rally held recently in Ibadan, the state capital, he may need to take a definite position before long on the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar
The crisis within the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has pitched a group, “Integrity Group” led by G-5 Governors namely Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state and Makinde, and other notable leaders such as former governors and former Ministers, against the national leadership of the party, which saw them turning their back on the presidential campaign of the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has continued to be the talking point with the presidential election just few weeks away.
While the former Vice President has refused to be weighed down by the stand of the Integrity Group and forged ahead with his campaign across the six geo-political zones in the country, political observers have however consistently raised fear about the political fortune of a party which was in power in the country for 16 years.
However for political analysts the tide may be changing with what unfolded when the campaign train of the Waziri of Adamawa birthed at the ancient Mapo Hall, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and the political headquarters of the South West region last Thursday.
The event was witnessed by large turnout of party supporters including top government functionaries and loyalists of Governor Seyi Makinde, a staunch member of the Integrity Group, state party Chairman, Hon. Dayo Ogungbenro; National Assembly candidates; state Assembly candidates and party supporters from the 33 local government areas of the state and even beyond displaying banners with various inscriptions and adorning themselves with fez-cap and t-shirt crested with Atiku/Okowa emblem, while singing victory songs for all the candidates of PDP in 2023 poll.
Governor Makinde despite not being physically present was acknowledged by all the speakers including Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku while addressing the enthusiastic crowd of party members and supporters at the rally, expressed the determination of the PDP to win the South-west in the forthcoming elections, lamenting that the people of the region had been deceived by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration on restructuring and other promises.
He assured them that his administration would implement restructuring if he got to power in May, disclosing that the type of restructuring he would introduce would give more powers to states and local government areas as it is one of the cardinal agenda of his administration.
His words: “I will restructure Nigeria. Restructuring of the country will be achieved during my time. By restructuring, we mean giving more powers and autonomy to the states and local government areas. It will be one of the pillars of my government. They have failed to implement it. Vote them out, Vote them out completely. From top to bottom, vote for PDP; from bottom to top, vote for PDP. We thank you very much. Vote for PDP so that together, we can match to progress.”
The former vice president added that PDP was committed to making sure that there would be no more strikes in the universities, assuring that if elected he would fund the universities well, and pay the teachers on time so that there won’t be any disruptions in the academic activities.
“We are also committed to making sure that we control and always take control of your security situation, so that there is law and order in every part of this country. These are our commitments. It is not like the commitments of the APC in the last seven to eight years, everything they have committed, they have failed to implement. Therefore, if you are living witnesses, this is an opportunity for you to vote out APC. Therefore, I want to appeal to you, the people of Oyo State, to support the PDP all the way, from top to bottom, and together, we can march into victory and progress for our great country”, he said.
Atiku while also speaking at the Alarere palace of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, said his administration would introduce reforms that would allow traditional rulers perform their role as expected.
He bemoaned the current state of insecurity in Nigeria, stating that traditional rulers has a role to play to maintain peace and security in their domains and the reforms he craved, when introduced, would place traditional rulers in a position to ensure peace and security in their areas.
Atiku said, “Let me assure you that the PDP government will bring some reforms to enhance the position of traditional rulers, to ensure that the traditional institution plays its role in ensuring security in the country. I remember that during the colonial regime, the traditional rulers played significant roles in ensuring security in their domains.
“The PDP will introduce the reforms to ensure that the traditional institution takes its rightful place. The government will dialogue with the people of various sections and areas in the country. These are the things we plan to introduce when we come to power.”
The PDP National Chairman, Senator Ayu, on his part, commended party members for coming out in large number for the rally, describing Governor Makinde as a true party man, who had the interest of the party at heart. While noting that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had been able to return the party to the people, he appealed to those aggrieved to return to the fold.
According to him, “Eight years ago, some people came with lies, with propaganda and deceived you, that they are going to give you a change. They brought something called change. Everyone of you here is indebted, because every day they are borrowing. As a party in government, we made life better for every Nigerian. We were working on it until you were deceived. After the election, there will be no APC in Nigeria. They will disappear from the surface of the Nigeria air and back to the small parties that they were.
“I’m calling on our aggrieved members to come back home, because we are going to win. We shall win at every level, PDP will sweep this country, all our state Houses of Assembly, our National Assembly members, our governors, and, of course, we are going back to the villa.
“Nigerians will know that PDP is back. We are not just back, we are back to work for you, to make sure that we improve your roads, we improve education, because the other party didn’t even care when our children were at home for one year. That is not a government; that is irresponsibility. PDP will make sure that schools are open, roads are good, food is cheaper, fuel is better and that is what you are fighting for. You are not standing in the sun for nothing.You are standing in the sun because you want the quality of your life to improve and we shall improve it all across Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of PDP, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, hailed Makinde for allowing the democratic spirit to play out by allowing every member of the party to participate in the campaign.
His words, “You must have noticed the train in the South-west, we in the PDP in the South-west are in a very strong competition in the South-west and by the grace of God, we are determined to win the South-west before any other zone.
“I commend Governor Seyi Makinde, the party chairman, for speaking to you to come out en masse to vote for the PDP from top to bottom. That is the only way we can complement each other to salvage Nigeria, unite Nigeria, rescue Nigeria and, indeed, to make Nigeria great again.”
Other speakers at the rally who also commended Makinde for his developmental strides and for ensuring that the rally held, included Atiku’s wife, Mrs. Titi Abubakar; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State; Oloye Jumoke Akinjide and Senator Dino Melaye.
The Olubadan while playing host to the PDP entourage in his palace, also waded into the crisis rocking the party, asking Atiku and other leaders to do everything possible to ensure reconciliation with Makinde.
Oba Balogun’s speech delivered by the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola, urged the PDP presidential candidate and other elders of the party to bring about genuine reconciliation between him and all the aggrieved members of the party before the election.
He said there was nothing like unity of purpose in an exercise of this nature, charging the PDP standard bearer to see security as a serious issue to tackle if he became the country’s number one citizen after the presidential election.
With the presidential rally turning out to be a huge success for the camp of the PDP flag bearer with the participation of those that matters in the party in the pace setter state except Makinde, political analysts believe that it is a matter of time that the governor would abandon the ship of the Integrity Group for his own political survival.
According to analysts, while Makinde may have tactically supported the rally due to the peace brokered by a former governor of the state, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, it is becoming glaring day by day that the governor may find himself alone if he continues to adamantly stand on the position of the Integrity Group knowing fully well that he is the only one fighting for second time among the G-5 Governors.
However with the clock ticking speedily towards the elections of February 25 and March 11, time may not be on the side of Makinde to come out in the open and take a stand whether to be with his people or stand alone.