IN what appeared a scenario that may play out in Rivers, Enugu, Benue and Abia states, candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State for the general election were present at the presidential rally of the party held in Ibadan, the state capital on Thursday.
The development comes against the backdrop of the battle of wits between the PDP governors of the five states and the national leadership of the party over zoning principle on elective offices.
Though Governor Seyi Makinde was not among the chieftains of the party that attended the rally held at Mapo Hall, the ancient city, witnessed a large number of close associates and loyalists of the governor.
The G5 governors have said they would unveil their preferred choice for the February 25 president election if the party does not look into their demand that PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu should vacate office for the South to produce his replacement.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the governor of Delta State, who doubles as the vice-presidential candidate of the party, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa had on the eve of Thursday’s rally met with a former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja to tighten loose ends that culminated in the unified rally.
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government has failed to implement all its commitments, promises to Nigerians since 2015 hence should be completely voted out in the 2023 elections.
Atiku who made this call at the Oyo State leg of presidential campaign rally of the PDP held at Mapo hill, Ibadan, on Thursday, said Nigerians being living witnesses of the failures of the APC led government had an opportunity in the forthcoming election to replace the APC with the PDP at all levels of government.
He condemned the APC led government for lack of inclusion of every part of the country in the governance of the country, prolonged strikes and disruption of academic activities especially in tertiary institutions, and insecurity across the country.
On his part, Atiku, if elected president, affirmed commit- ment to restructuring, par- ticularly devolution of more powers and resources to sub- nationals; industrialization of the South-West geopolitical zone; ensuring inclusivity of all parts of the country; in- creased funding of the education sector and government taking full control of the security situation.
Atiku said: “The region of the South-West has been known to agitate for restructuring. By restructuring we mean, giving more autonomy, more money to the states. This is one of the five pillars of our programme. We will make sure we implement restructuring, meaning that we give you resources and more powers so that you can develop your respective zones, states, and local government areas.
“Again, we are committed to making sure that there are no more strikes in our universities, meaning we will fund our universities and pay our teachers on time so that we don’t have any disruptions to our academic activities. South-West is also known to be a business hub; that is why in our economic programme, we are committed to making sure that industrialization of the South-West is achieved and has the support of the federal government.
“We must make sure that there is inclusion; every part of this country will be represented in our government not like what the APC government is doing. We also commit to make sure that we take control of our security situation so that there is peace, law and order in every part of this country. This is our commitment.
“It is unlike the commitment of the APC in the last seven to eight years. Everything they have committed to, they have failed to implement. You are living witnesses. Therefore, if you are living witnesses, this is an opportunity for you to vote out APC.
“Vote them out completely from top to bottom and re- place them with PDP from top to bottom. Support PDP all the way and together we can march into victory and prog- ress for our great country.”
Among those who joined Atiku at the Ibadan rally were his wife, Titi Abubakar; governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Ademola Adeleke (Osun); Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); former vice presi- dent, Namadi Sambo; former speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara.
Also present were National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu; Senator Dino Melaye; former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Mrs Jumoke Akinjide; former Oyo deputy governor, Mr Hazeem Gbolarumi; Senator Hosea Agboola; chairman, Oyo PDP, Mr Dayo Ogungbenro.
In his remark, the PDP national chairman, Senator Iyiorcha Ayu, promised that a PDP government at the fed- eral level will ensure improve- ment of the quality of life of Nigerians.
Specifically, he said a PDP government will focus on improvement of road infrastructure, education, economy, describing as irresponsibility on the part of the government the fact that the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) prolonged for a year.
He tasked Nigerians to vote the PDP across all levels, asserting that the APC will be kicked out of existence in Nigeria.
“Eight years ago, some people came with lies, propaganda and deceived you, and that they will give you change. Are you enjoying the change? How much are you buying a bag of rice today?
Over N50,000. No fertilizer. Every one of you is indebted; every day you are borrowing. As a party in government, we made life better for every Ni- gerian. We were working on it until you were deceived.
“We will make sure we improve your roads, education, because the other party did not care when our children were at home for one year. That is irresponsibility. PDP will make sure schools are open; roads are good; food is cheaper; fuel is better. We shall improve quality of life all across Nigeria,” Ayu said.
Speaking further, Ayu said the National Working Com- mittee (NWC) under his lead- ership had returned the PDP to its origin, and to the own- ership of the ordinary people, stressing that no single person or group of people can control the PDP
He said: “We have returned this party to its origins. In the last one year, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, under my leadership, has worked tirelessly to make sure that the party returns to the people.
“No single person; no single group of people can control this party as long as we do what the people want. And we are demonstrating today that the party is truly controlled by the ordinary people. Those who are not sure are now sure that this is a party that will survive. After the election, there will be no APC in Nigeria.
“They will disappear from the surface of the Nigerian earth; they will go back to the small parties that they were.”
In his own remarks, vice presidential candidate of the party, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa tasked Nigerians to use their Perma- nent Voter Cards (PVCs) to show their displeasure, un- happiness at governance led by the APC in the past eight years.
Okowa, who held that Nige- rians are frustrated, hungry, angry, said Atiku is the only one among the presidential candidates with relevant ex- perience to take Nigeria out of difficult times.
Governor Emmanuel Udom, who is chairman, PDP pres- idential campaign council, in his remarks, posited that Atiku is the only candidate talking about restructuring, devolution of power, industrialization.
Governor Aminu Tamubwal, who is director general, PDP presidential campaign council, said the PDP is in strong competition in South-West and is on course to win the zone.
Tambuwal described Atiku Abubakar as the only prepared presidential candidate, who will hit the ground running from day one.
In various remarks, the PDP leaders were full of apprecia- tion to governor Seyi Makinde for encouraging mobilization of party members to the rally, while also calling for support for Makinde’s second term bid.
Declaring that the crisis in Oyo PDP is over, Senator Dino Melaye, particularly, saluted the roles played by former governor Rashidi Ladoja and a former national deputy chair- man of the PDP, Chief Yekini Adeojo.
Popular fuji musician, Taye Adebisi, also called Taye Cur- rency, who would usually sings at Makinde’s campaign, provided songs that enter- tained attendees at the Atiku rally.
The Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tam- buwal, told the party support- ers the party faces a tough competition in the South West, but expressed confi- dence that PDP would win the election in the region.
He praised Governor Makinde for allowing party members to participate in the campaign rally, stressing the important position of the South West in the country.
Tambuwal stated: “We all know the position of Oyo State in Nigerian politics. Oyo has been and remained the melting pot of the south west- ern politics of Nigeria. We are therefore not surprised with what we are seeing playing out here in the state.
“Let me commend my younger brother, my friend, Governor Seyi Makinde for allowing the democratic spirit to play out by allowing each and every member of our political party to participate in this campaign. This is very commendable, I expect no less from him.
“You must have noticed the train in the south west. We in the PDP in the Southwest, we are in a very strong com- petition in the Southwest and by the grace of God we are determined to win the South- west before any other zone.
“I commend Makinde, the party chairman for speaking to you to come out enmasse to vote for the PDP from top to bottom, from bottom up.
That is the only way we can compliment each other to salvage Nigeria, unite Nigeria, rescue Nigeria and indeed to make Nigeria great again.
“Atiku Abubakar has a mes- sage for the people of North- west, Southwest and people of Nigeria, and I am very sure that he will convince you that he is the only candidate that is prepared for the job.”
Earlier, at his palace, located at Alarere, where Atiku and his campaign entourage paid a courtesy call, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Ba- logun, sought an end to the lingering crisis rocking the PDP, most especially the rift between the G5 headed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and the leader- ship of the party.
Speaking through the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola, the monarch tasked Atiku and other elders of the party to bring about genuine recon- ciliation between him and all the aggrieved members of the party before the election.
Oba Balogun also charged the PDP flag-bearer to tackle insecurity plaguing the nation if wins the February 25 presi- dential election.
The traditional ruler stated: I will always tell whoever cares that the PDP presidential can- didate is my friend and we are promising to give you (Atiku) an honorary Ibadan chief- taincy title at the appropriate time”.
Earlier in his short address, Atiku told the gathering which had in attendance Olori Olu- funmilayo Balogun, Osi-Olu- badan, High Chief Eddy Oye- wole, Osi-Balogun , High Chief Lateef Gbadamosi, Ashipa Ba- logun, Kola Adegbola, Ekerin Olubadan, High Chief Hamidu Ajibade and High Chief Abio- dun Azeez, Ekarun Balogun that the party would put in place a lot of reforms if it wins the election.
“In the colonial era, the tra- ditional rulers played very significant roles in tackling security problems because of their closeness to the peo- ple. We would bring about a reform that would give our traditional rulers the space to function properly. In a similar vein, the call for restructuring would receive the expected response from the PDP gov- ernment by giving autonomy the various components of the country.
“We would also give them resources since they are closer to the people. Equally, we would open up the econ- omy to ensure employment opportunities for our younger generations. These and many more are what our govern- ment would do to give Nigeria and Nigerians a new lease of life if we are voted into power come 25th February this year”, the PDP flag-bearer.
Meanwhile, the Atiku/Okowa Campaign has noted that the “unprecedented turnout” of Nigerians in solidarity with the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, at the party’s rally in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Thursday, is an affir- mation of the reconciliations and unity in the PDP in readi- ness for a sweeping victory in the state, the Southwest and across the country.
A statement issued on Thursday by Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesperson of the campaign, appreciated and com- mended what it called the unanimity, oneness of pur- pose and consensus among the ranks of leaders, critical stakeholders and teeming members of the party with the state Governor, Seyi Mak- inde, “in their collective drive towards ensuring victory for our Party at all levels of the coming February and March 2023 general elections.”
The campaign organisation noted: “The unity and sin- gle-mindedness witnessed at the Oyo Rally, just like in other States of the federation, further confirms that the PDP remains one big, indissoluble and in- divisible family driven by the patriotic mission to rescue and rebuild our nation with Atiku Abubakar on the saddle as President.
“The people of Oyo State, and, of course the South West, are independent- minded, insightful, egalitarian and politically astute with un- paralleled nationalistic out-look that cannot be swayed by parochial and narrow-minded sentiments.
“The action of solidarity by our teeming members and supporters in Oyo State, like in other States, have sent very strong signal to the weak and scavenging political parties that the PDP remains firmly united in the South West and other parts of the country.
“Our campaign, once again, commends the people of Oyo State; professional groups, community leaders, faith-based groups, traditional institutions, youths and women groups, student bodies, transporters, artisans, traders and all other very important segments of the State for their unwavering sup- port and resolve to vote Atiku Abubakar as the next President of Nigeria.