•Swears to revitalize economy, unite Nigerians
•S-South PDP govs vow to unite to rescue Nigeria in 202
•Say rescue mission non-negotiable
The campaign of the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, got off the starting block in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, yesterday, with a pledge to revitalize the economy, fight insecurity and unite Nigerians.
But five aggrieved governors, including Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State; and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, stayed away from the campaign, deepening further the rift in the party.
However, governors and stakeholders of the South South geo-political zone on the platform of the party had at a meeting on Sunday night, vowed to unite and work hard towards rescuing Nigeria from its present morass during the 2023 general elections.
Speaking at the rally, Abubakar said: “Nigeria wants to be like Akwa Ibom. You know why? Because since 1999, you have not changed party, but you can see the development that is taking place here in Akwa Ibom.
”You can see the prosperity that is taking place in Akwa Ibom, you can see the security that is available in Akwa Ibom. So the rest of Nigeria would like to be like Akwa Ibom.
“We want to dedicate the launching of this campaign to the achievements of Akwa Ibom PDP for good governance.
“When PDP came to power in 1999, we met Nigeria in a state of poverty, insecurity, hunger, lack of education.
“We lifted Nigeria from the bottom to the top. We became the biggest economy in Africa, we had peace, we had progress but when Nigerians said they wanted change, they voted for change in 2015.
“What we have seen is poverty, insecurity, lack of jobs and disunity. Our children are no longer going to school. Is that what we want to continue in?
“So, today (yesterday), we have inaugurated the flag off of our campaign to rescue Nigeria from hunger, to rescue Nigeria from poverty, and also bring back the unity that we require in this country.
“I want to appeal to all Nigerians, I am standing in Akwa Ibom today to ask them to vote for PDP.
“If you vote for PDP, it would be a return to prosperity, it would be a return to unity, it would be a return to your safety. There would be no more hunger, there would be security.
“I swear, If you vote for PDP, you will not be out of school, you will get jobs, there will be security, there will be unity.”
Also speaking, his vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said Nigeria was in dire straits, likening the situation to a war which “needs a general like Atiku to rescue it.”
He said: “We cannot afford to allow lieutenants lead because they will lead us to doom.
“Other parties are presenting lieutenants and only PDP can rebuild the nation where people can trust one another. Atiku is ready to take the bull by the horns.”
Okowa, who is the governor of Delta State, restated his clamour for state police which, according to him, will address the rising insecurity and restore confidence in the citizens.
Similarly, chairman of the campaign council and governor of Àkwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, took the ruling All Progressive Congress to the cleaners over alleged bad administration as evident in hyperinflation, insecurity and others.
The governor, who urged the electorate to vote the PDP so as to return the country to its lost glory, said: “The campaigns to restore Nigeria, the parts of our unity, even the parts of our unity that has been fractured, restore faith and hope in our common dreams and aspirations begins today (yesterday).
“Poverty today has got to misery indices. When PDP handed over power, exchange rate was N186 to a dollar.
“Today, the exchange rate is almost N800 to a dollar. When PDP handed over power, Nigeria had the largest economy in the entire Africa, today, all those indices have been battered.
“Today, we want to flag off the hope for Nigeria, we want to flag off the rescue mission to Nigeria, we want to flag off the restoration mood for Nigeria.
“We want to tell Nigerians, the ship is beginning to sail today, we want to tell Nigerians, the train is moving today.”
Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, appealed to aggrieved members to sheathe their swords, saying the party was large enough to accommodate everyone.
On his part, the Director-General of the campaign organization and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, described the Atiku-Okowa ticket as a clear sign of federal character, which had “united the plurality of Nigeria.”
Tambuwal added that the PDP presidential and vice presidential candidates were the most competent and experienced leaders and, therefore, had all it took to restore Nigeria.
“We are on a mission to rescue and restore Nigeria. They are planning to plant a seed of discord in our party, but we must not allow that to happen,” Tambuwal said.
Speaking on behalf of PDP Governors’ Forum , Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State said Atiku and Okowa were two outstanding Nigerians that would reset the country for the good of the youths.
“We assure you that once the team of PDP comes to power, in four years we would change the narratives. You can move freely in Nigeria and there is no more harassment,” he said
Highlight of the flag off campaign was the presentation of flag to Atiku by the national champion, Ayu.
S’South PDP govs vow to unite
Meanwhile, governors and stakeholders of the South South geo-political zone in PDP have vowed to unite and work hard towards rescuing Nigeria in 2023 elections.
They took the unanimous position of taking back power at the center, during the South-South stakeholders meeting held on Sunday in Uyo Akwa Ibom State capital, stressing that the mission of rescuing Nigeria from the grip of bad governance was non-negotiable.
“Speaking at the meeting, the PDP Vice presidential candidate, and Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, noted that given the unpleasant realities faced by Nigerians under the current leadership, it became necessary for them to unite and stay on course of the party’s rescue mission.
He said: “We know that there is a great task and we will tackle it as a team. We believe we are better prepared to take this country out of where it is dumped to a place it is supposed to be.
“The South-South is the strength of PDP and will continue to be.
“We have been a strong pillar of PDP and it will be our great delight that PDP delivers as always. I truly believe the time has come for PDP to rescue this nation and we need to work hard.”
Speaking in the same vein, Akwa Ibom State governor , Mr. Udom Emmanuel, pointed out that the need to rescue Nigeria from the brinks far outweighed any other concern, adding that the strength of PDP in the South-South was a reliable factor as the party goes for the 2023 polls.
Governor Emmanuel added: “The PDP is the foundation of modern democracy in this country and by the grace of God, we are still standing today as a party. We need to work together if we must succeed.
“If we go as individuals, we may not make impact but if we move as a team, we will make great impact. Let’s be rest assured that in the next dispensation, Nigeria will return to PDP and once we take back power, the economy and hope of Nigerians will rise.”
In their separate remarks, Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and Douye Diri of Bayelsa State assured that they would give their maximum support to ensure PDP’s victory in 2023.
Contributing, the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign 2023, and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, said it was gratifying to see leaders and stakeholders of the South-South zone of the PDP making spirited efforts to lead the “rescue Nigeria” struggle.
Tambuwal maintained that Nigerians would amplify their clamour for the PDP to return to power at the center during campaigns.
“Akwa Ibom State chairman of the party, Aniekan Akpan, in his brief remarks, assured that the state would not fail to deliver PDP because the people had strong faith and confidence in the party to deliver good governance.
Others leaders from the zone who spoke during the special meeting in Uyo included former Governors Liyel Imoke of Cross River State; Celestine Omehia of Rivers State; Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State; Akwa Ibom State PDP governorship candidate, Pastor Umoh Eno, Tom Ikimi, Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator George Sekibo, and Senator Stella Omu.