Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar has promised to reward the 11 aspirants who contested the sole ticket with him, if he is elected President of Nigeria in the 2019 general elections.
Atiku who stated this in Abuja at a meeting with members of the PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, charged them and other leaders of the party to rally behind him in his quest to make life better for Nigerians.
According to him, the sense of togetherness amongst the 12 who contested the party’s primaries in Port Harcourt recently, is an indication that the party is well positioned to take over power from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2019.
“I can assure you that I am prepared to work with and reward all of you if we unite together to achieve success. I must commend the sense of patriotism displayed by my fellow contestants. From the very day I delivered my acceptance speech, we have been working together. I believe it is our duty to provide that sense of unity and leadership to the rest of party members,” Atiku said even as he gave a brief account of what transpired behind closed doors in his Thursday’s meeting with former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
“I visited my former boss in Abeokuta where we exchanged pleasantries. I may not say whether he is a PDP member or not, but he is with us body and spirit. Even before he delivered his statement, we retired to his private room where he gave me his statement to go through and possibly edit. He said he will launch my campaign to the presidency with the statement. That is vintage Olusegun Obasanjo for you,” he added.
Also speaking, Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, congratulated Atiku and urged him to rally round other contestants in the presidential primaries in order for them to work together for victory in 2019.
He counseled him to engage youths, women and BoT members in his campaign train, adding that the board would not disappoint in any responsibility assigned to it.
He said: “As our presidential candidate, you will beat other presidential candidates, especially the APC that is already going down the drain and I wish you God’s guidance and protection throughout the campaign and success as you eventually enter the Villa in 2019.
He added that consultations were going on for the Vice President to be selected from a zone that will attract more votes for the party.
“Consultations are ongoing in order for the Presidential candidate to select a formidable Vice. With the Presidential candidate and the campaign team putting their heads together, soon, the VP will be announced.
“The strategy is that wherever the Vice President will come from will translate to additional votes for the party. It is not all about appointing a Vice President that will not add value to the party and that will guide those who will take decisions in due course,” Jibrin said.
For Uche Secondus, national chairman of the PDP, what would have amounted to a post-convention crisis has been nipped in the bud.
In his words, Atiku met with the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike shortly after the convention; a development not unconnected with the governor’s seeming unhappiness with the outcome of the primary election.
He said: “Immediately after the convention, the Presidential candidate and I visited the host governor and a few issues were resolved almost immediately because we had to carry the momentum from the venue.
On Monday, I called a meeting of all the former aspirants and they all came and we discussed heartily. They have already started implementing what we discussed by visiting critical stakeholders, governors and dignitaries.”
Highlighting the reasons the PDP tasted defeat in the last election, Secondus said the “party was complacent in 2015, which led to our losing the election,” even as he charged members of the BoT to win their various polling units in order to earn their rewards.
“Now, every BoT member must deliver his or her unit, ward or constituency. This was lacking in the last election. We must build a consensus and arrangement that ensures you will be rewarded and recognized when you deliver. We cannot play the type of Abuja politics that made us lose in 2015.”
INEC, he added, will neither rig when they see the faces of the nationalists members at the polling units, nor would security operatives intimidate them.
“Our task now is to focus and remain focused. Our target is to win all the polling units in the country and we will be able to do that, with the strategies in place. A popular candidate has emerged. He is grounded in Nigeria. What is left for us to do is to take the message home.
“The current government is vicious. They are framing up and coming up with lies and propaganda, but we are happy that we are in complete control of the National Assembly.
“We must sustain that so that the international community will be aware that the PDP is ready to take over the government and do what we know how to do best: which is to provide good leadership for Nigerians. Of course, the APC know how to be in opposition and they will go back to their former position. However, we can’t do it alone. We must have everyone on board. We must move fast immediately when INEC releases the timetable for campaigns.”
On his part, a visibly elated Senate President , Bukola Saraki called on President Buhari to quit “now now,” to pave way for the assumption of office by Atiku without further delay.
He said: “Buhari must go, now, now, now! His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, should come in now, now, now!
“To hear the Presidential candidate spoke of rewarding members shows we now have a politician as an incoming president. It gives us the tonic to go out to the field and perform. I can assure you, on behalf of the BOT members that we will give you our total support.
“The meeting with former contestants in the convention, gubernatorial aspirants and stakeholders is sending a strong message across the country that we are united. Just one thing is remaining which to remove the President.
Present at the well-attended meeting were prominent BoT members including Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, erstwhile Kaduna state governor, Ahmed Makarfi, former Katsina state governor, Ibrahim Shema, ex-Aviation Minister, Kema Chikwe, and former Imo state governor, Achike Udenwa.
Others were former Minister of Police Affairs, Waziri Maina, ex-Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina and former Niger state governor, Babangida Aliyu amongst others.