- Ugwuanyi, Ikpeazu, Southwest chieftains also absent
- NEC member alleges N28m offer to derail opposition party
- PDP flagbearer promises restructuring, good governance
Governors in the camp of the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday boycotted the inauguration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council.
They include Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); and Wike.
Also, party leaders who are sympathetic to the Wike camp also stayed away from the International Conference Centre, Abuja, venue of the ceremony.
However, the PDP governors loyal to the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, attended the event.
They include Governors Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Diri Duoye (Bayelsa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto).
Also absent from the event was former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was listed as a guest of honour, Chief Bode George, and the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu. The Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, who stood in for him, attributed Ayu’s absence to ill-health.
Atiku has been at loggerheads with the Wike camp over the insistence of the five governors that Ayu must be replaced with another candidate from the South, a call Atiku has ignored.
However, a National Executive Committee (NEC) member, Chief Chinemerem Madu, alleged that a national deputy chairman arranged N28 million bribe for selected NEC member to disrupt the activities of the campaign council.
At the inauguration, Atiku canvassed restructuring of governance; saying that the system is heavily skewed in favour of the centre, to the detriment of the federating units
He said: “Our system of government is broken. Our current system is unfair, unwieldy, skewed towards favouring the Federal Government at the expense of other federating units, and has in itself, become a willing tool for underdevelopment.
“This system of government is no longer suited to the challenges of a 21st Century economy that works for everyone and that is needed to bring development closer to our people.
“But all hope is not lost. We have a plan to address these issues and to arrest the drift of our nation. These plans have been laid in our document titled: “My Covenant With Nigerians”.
The PDP candidate listed five focal points of his plans for the country, if elected president.
He promised to restore Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice, mutual collaboration, and consensus among the nation’s diverse peoples.
Atiku also stressed the need to build a strong and effective democratic government where the safety and security of the people and their property would be a primary responsibility.
The candidate also promised to establish a strong, resilient, inclusive and prosperous economy that generates opportunity, jobs and wealth while lifting the poor out of poverty.
He also envisioned a system that would encourage the adoption of a true federal system where all the federating units are equal, with a fair and representative federal government.
Atiku promised a system that will secure the nation’s borders and defend the people while ensuring national unity.
The federating units, he said, would be allowed to develop and grow in line with priorities which they have set on their own.
Also on the card is a plan to redevelop, invest in, and strengthen the education system to provide its recipients with the education and skills needed to compete in the new global order driven by innovation, science, and technology, as well as to live healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.
“To undertake these tasks, members of our party, the PDP, have, graciously, granted me the ticket to lead the party in next year’s presidential elections, with the singular mandate to come and lead the efforts to cure these ills.
“So, what is our task that we are gathered here today to undertake? It is beyond merely coming together to inaugurate a Presidential Campaign Council. No. Our task today is to come together to rescue and rebuild our beloved country, Nigeria. That is the end goal. It is existential to us as a nation, and it is a task that history beckons upon us all to grasp with both hands and undertake with vigour and zeal.
“The tasks ahead may appear daunting; they may seem a load too heavy to bear. But, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, we must not, even for one minute, shirk in the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with to come together to rebuild this beloved country of ours”.
The chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, deplored the activities of those he described as doomsayers, saying that their antics cannot distract the PDP.
Emmanuel said: “I want to say here, don’t mind the doomsayers. I read every where all those doomsayers saying PDP here, PDP there. But I want to assure you that PDP is a solid rock and we know that no matter the wind, it will not move the rock.
“So, irrespective of the wind that you see around the rock, it will not move the rock. The rock remains as solid as ever. Please, don’t mind the doomsayers. We want to assure you that we are campaigning to win. Nothing is acceptable to PDP outside victory for PDP. But this will also require that all of us must also work.
“If we had made mistakes in the past, we cannot wind down the clock. We cannot recall what passed yesterday. But we can move forward in the spirit of oneness, unity and progress.
“I want to assure you that as a campaign council, we have the seriousness and unity that is required.
“It is our duty to campaign, to carry and publicise the message on how to rescue and restore the hope of Nigerians. It is for Nigerians to vote and for the Almighty to give victory”.
The Director General of the PDP Campaign Management Committee, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, said the campaign organisation will hit the ground running.
He said members of the campaign organisation will work collectively as a family and expeditiously to ensure the party’s victory.
Tambuwal said: “The PDP is the party to beat in this election. It is only for us to work and with God on our side we shall deliver this victory to our party and to Nigerians.
“We have the support of Nigerians and we appeal that INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) will conduct a free and fair election, and victory by the grace of God will be guaranteed for PDP”, Tambuwal said.
The Deputy National Chairman, Damagum, who inaugurated the council, said the campaign was an onerous task that must be handed with all sense of patriotism.
He said: “The legacies of our party while in government speak volumes. We can no longer stay by the side and blow our trumpet. As we all know, the PDP and indeed our presidential candidate had successfully piloted the apheres of the nation at a particular time.
“Atiku has been tested and Nigerians have no doubt in his capacity to rescue our nation from total collapse. While we are making every effort to unify all aggrieved individuals or groups arising from the primaries, we know that PDP is more focused than now”.
At the event were two former Senate Presidents – David Mark and Pius Anyim, the chairman Board of Trustees (BoT), Adulphus Wabara and former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido.
National Assembly members, former ministers, former governors as well as past party national chairmen also attended.
However, former President Goodluck Jonathan who was listed as special guest of honour, did not attend the inauguration.
Madu alleged that N28 million bribe was offered to some NEC members to disrupt the campaign.
Madu, who addressed reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration, accused an unnamed PDP national vice chairman as the arrowhead of the plot.
He said he rebuffed overtures from the vice chairman to recruit him into the alleged plot.
Madu also alleged that the arrowhead had revealed to him that the plot was being bankrolled by some forces opposed to Atiku and Ayu.
The NEC member further said that part of the plot was for the beneficiaries of the bribe to initiate and sustain damaging media campaign against Ayu and Atiku.
Madu said: “Members of the PDP are alerted to furtive moves by a compromised national vice chairman and a couple of NEC members to derail our presidential campaign and scuttle the deserving victory of our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, at the 2023 general elections.
“This national vice chairman and his cohorts who confessed to have been heavily bankrolled, are approaching and offering members of NEC sums ranging from N25 million to N28 million each to address a damaging press conference with fabrications aimed at derailing the presidential campaign.
”The said national vice chairman had approached me personally as a member of NEC to inform me of plots to orchestrate a heavily funded press conference to be addressed by select NEC members seemingly calling for the resignation of the National Chairman, Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, but actually targeted at frustrating the Atiku Abubakar’s presidential bid.
“He pointedly confessed to me that the demands and agitation of his group have not been against the party chairman, as the public has been made to believe, but against Atiku Abubakar.
“He also vowed that nothing will assuage the group, which is now bent on derailing the PDP presidential campaign.”
Madu said the plot was planned to be executed after the inauguration and commencement of the presidential campaign.