•It’s all lies, fraud, deception – APC
By Lateef Ibrahim and Lawrence Olaoye, Abuja.
The presidential candidate,of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has been unanimously adopted by the forum of leaders and elders across geo-political zones in the country, according to a statement yesterday.
The said endorsement came barely 13 days, to the presidential election slated for Saturday February 16, 2019.
However, in a swift reaction yesterday the APC Presidential Campaign Council described Atiku’s endorsement by the groups as a fraud and deception saying that, “there is no fraud bigger than that of known PDP members and/or hardened PDP sympathizers wearing the apparel of socio-cultural groups, purporting to represent entire regions and endorsing their own political party.”
Atiku, a former Vice President, was said to have been endorsed at a special summit convened by five socio-political and cultural groups which include the Northern Elders Forum; Pan Niger Delta Development Forum; Afenifere; Ohanaeze; Middlebelt Forum; as well as the Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly.
They are said to have resolutely declared that Atiku is the only candidate with the competence and vision to take Nigeria out of her present economic and socio-political quagmire.
A communiqué released at the end of the meeting and read by Mr Yinka Odumakin, the Forum’s spokesman, said:
“The Forum adopts the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the consensus candidate for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as he has demonstrated the deep understanding of the critical need of the country at this time and possesses the capacity to proffer clear solutions in that respect”
The Forum called on all Nigerians, irrespective of religious or ethnic backgrounds to “stand in unison and vote for Atiku Abubakar on the 16th February 2019 and ensure that they defend their votes.”
The PDP, in its reaction, described the endorsement of its candidate as a welcome development.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The endorsement is the position of Nigerians who have suffered so much since Buhari came to power. It is not a surprise that they have endorsed Atiku Abubakar”
The elders who took their turns in reviewing the Buhari administration, the crisis thrown up by his style of administration and the way forward, opined that President Buhari has demonstrated lack of capacity to continue to rule a nation as complex as Nigeria adding that the era of having a president that is not in charge of his administration is over.
The leaders noted with regrets that Nigeria is not only in serious crises of insecurity, dwindling economy, nepotism, killings, corruption, but now witnessing a major constitutional crisis under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
One of the leaders, who was former Federal Commissioner of Information, Chief Edwin Clark said; “I join the Ohaneze, the Afenifere, the Northern Elders Forum and on behalf of the Niger Delta people, Atiku is our presidential candidate for a better and prosperous Nigeria. We must do away with the deceit of the President Buhari’s government.”
President of Ohanaeze, John Nwodo, lamented that Nigeria has fallen from her glorious days where ethnicity, religion, others were relegated to the background when key decision were to be taken.
He said: “Today we have a head of state who has reminded us of our Ethnic and religious differences.
“On restructuring, Buhari said it was not the problem of Nigeria but Atiku excelled in his response to our questions on restructuring
“In four years, the Federal government has taken more loan than the debt paid by Obasanjo”
He also lamented the failure of Nigeria to diversify to other sources of revenue when it is now known that the US will soon be producing 12 million barrels of crude oil a day
Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, said: “I never forsee that the government of the day will become so tyrannical when we started the program. We are only asking God to confirm the election of Atiku as President.”
Director, Strategic Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, (Official Spokesperson), Festus Keyamo in a statement yesterday, noted that “ the impression given through these endorsements that PDP is expanding its support base is also an attempt to deceive Nigerians because these are groups that supported PDP in 2015 and lost the election along with PDP.
“Therefore, their excuse that they are supporting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar because of the bogey called ‘restructuring’ is nothing but a subterfuge. In any case, Ohaneze had said in its earlier release that the first reason they are endorsing Atiku Abubakar is that his running mate is an Ibo man.”
The statement alerted Nigerians to be firm and unwavering in their resolve not to go back to the vomit which they spewed forth in the shape of PDP in 2015.
“Unfortunately for them, President Muhammadu Buhari has managed to navigate his way directly to the masses who they purport to represent and is ensuring that the dividends of democracy reach the people directly. Their annoyance is that they have been eliminated as middlemen. That is why the bond between the masses and President Muhammadu Buhari continue to grow on a daily basis.
“The curious question we ask is that, where were these social-cultural groups all these years when the PDP squandered our resources and failed to develop critical infrastructure in their respective regions?
“Are they saying that they are satisfied with the level of developments of infrastructure in their respective regions during the 16 years of PDP rule? Where is the outrage of these socio-cultural groups as the Buhari administration has so far recovered from PDP members and their allies a total of nearly N800billion, 407 mansions, 259 automobiles, farmlands, filling stations, etc – all belonging to the Nigerian people?
“Where is their outrage? Instead they are endorsing these same set of people who perpetrated this evil against the Nigerian people”, the statement said.
The Presidency also said that Peoples Democratic Party is hiding in the bunker of ethnicity to avoid their inevitable defeat but that won’t change anything.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media to the President, Garba Shehu said yesterday that the current scenario resembles efforts to stop Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 by the same characters.
“It is an effort to repeat the old experiment that failed is 2015. They failed to stop him from coming to power in 2015 and they will fail yet again on February 16th.
“If all these groups are ganging up against one person, that is President Buhari, it tells you who is the formidable candidate in the election. This gang up they forged, one more time will change nothing. It is for the people to decide,” Garba Shehu.said.
But Atiku in a statement he personally signed said was challenged by his endorsement by the socio cultural groups on his assignment for Nigeria.
The former vice president said, “I am moved to tears that in the midst of deep divisions and deliberate use of instrumentalities of state to set our people against themselves in the last three and a half years, responsible and respected leaders across Nigeria have agreed to come together for the purpose of endorsing my candidature for the February 16th,2019 Presidential elections.
“The endorsement by the leading lights of our nationalities – Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum, Pan-Niger Delta Forum and Middle Belt Forum is a loud statement that there is hope for our country as we go to the polls in a few days.”