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Atiku: Why Southeast should support my presidency

By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)
28 September 2022   |   4:30 am
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said he is a ‘stepping stone’ towards the realisation of a president of Igbo extraction...

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (left), Enugu State Governor and candidate of the PDP for Enugu North Senatorial District, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; PDP Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagun and vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa during the PDP South East Zone stakeholders meeting with Atiku, in Enugu…yesterday.

• Nnamani, Ikpeazu absent from meeting with Southeast stakeholders
• Atiku: Why Southeast should support my presidency
• Nnamani: I have no regrets supporting Tinubu
• Dogara denies defection to PDP
• I still stand with Wike, Ortom insists

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said he is a ‘stepping stone’ towards the realisation of a president of Igbo extraction, promising that his administration would restructure the country.

 
Atiku, who spoke in Enugu State, yesterday, at a meeting with PDP stakeholders from the Southeast in continuation of his consultation with stakeholders across the six geo-political zones, noted that he was optimistic of winning the 2023 general elections and was prepared to change things for the better for citizens.

He stated that he was interested in the repositioning of Ndigbo to play a vital role in the survival and development of the country, stressing that he would at all times respect and honour the people of the zone.

He noted that his love for the region influenced his choices of Senator Ben Obi and Peter Obi as his running mates in his two previous outings as presidential candidate, adding that he has chosen another Igbo for the third time as his running mate.

He said: “As you know, the Southeast is close to my heart. You have supported me through thick and thin and I will always remember that. Your sons and daughters have played very positive roles in the development of our country; they were key personnel who played important roles in the PDP government in which I served as Vice President. And they have continued to excel in other roles across the world.

“You are a key contributor to economic activities in this country and a government that wants to revive our economy and provide opportunities for our people must carry the Southeast along. I am a businessman and I know that businesses need supporting environments to thrive and when they thrive, the country thrives.”

He assured the people that his agenda would benefit them and that they would not be left out in the scheme of things.

 
“We must tackle the feeling of marginalisation, which is providing an excuse for the separatist agitations in this zone. National unity will benefit the people of this zone who need a wider platform to operate on. Restructuring that devolves powers from the Federal Government and gives states the power to set their priorities is better for this zone than what we currently have.

“Also, insecurity pervades the Southeast now as much as other zones and without security, people cannot go about their normal businesses. I am aware of how the economy of this zone and the livelihoods of its people are being destroyed by the Monday sit-at-home being imposed by a small misguided youth from this zone.

“It is difficult to understand how you liberate a people by destroying their economy. This has to stop and we shall address all political grievances not just by words, but by deeds,” he added.
   
Also speaking, Atiku’s running mate, governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, lamented that Nigeria had never been more polarised and disunited as being noticed under the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership.
 
Okowa said the only solution to the current insecurity and other problems facing Nigeria was enthronement of PDP administration that would be headed by an experienced politician like Atiku.
 
Acting Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Adolphus Wabara, said the Southeast would mobilise votes for the PDP to win the presidential election. He said the turn-out at the event was an indication that PDP remained the dominant party in the region.

However, Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu and some Southeast leaders were absent at the meeting. Ikpeazu, a strong ally of Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, is among those calling for the resignation of the PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu. The host, Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was, however, in attendance.

Apart from Ikpeazu, also visibly absent was Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, representing Enugu East Senatorial zone. The former governor was listed as a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), a development that has unsettled PDP members in Enugu.

As of the time Atiku was meeting with PDP stakeholders in Enugu, Nnamani was still showing his admiration for the APC presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, on his social media pages.

He wrote: “Tinubu is my friend, brother and colleague. I have great respect for him, his political antecedents and strides in governance. And I am very proud and well pleased with him. Anybody belly-aching should go … himself.”

On Tuesday, a campaign poster of Nnamani and Tinubu had emerged on social media. The poster had a conspicuous inscription: ‘Ebeano 4 Tinubu.’

An ex-national official of the PDP, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that Nnamani was “playing a dangerous game,” saying it behooves the party to apply the necessary sanctions.
 
The official told The Guardian: “I don’t know why he is doing what he is doing now, but I know that he has not left PDP. He is an adult and should know that what he is doing is against our party’s interest. This is clear anti-party and he does not want to change. It is bad and condemnable. Even if he has scores to settle with the presidential candidate of our party, this is not the way to show it. Like I said, it is for the party to decide.”

MEANWHILE, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has faulted stories making the round that he, alongside the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, have defected to the PDP.

Dogara said those behind the story must have misconstrued his condolence visit to Atiku for defection to the PDP. When asked if it is true he had defected to the PDP, Dogara replied through a text message thus: “Not true. We would have issued statements on it. We just went to condole with Atiku on the death of his close aide who happened to be a friend as well. Nuhu Ribadu and Shehu Garba were there also. Why are they not talking about them?”

Dogara and Lawal, who are stalwarts of the ruling APC and associates of Tinubu are stringent critics of APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Also yesterday, the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, refuted claims that he broke away from his Rivers State counterpart, Wike.

Addressing journalists after a meeting with caucus members of PDP from the Northwest senatorial district, Ortom said that nothing would make him leave Wike.

The senatorial district comprises of Jemgba and Minda axis. A group from the Jemgba community had accused the governor, who is from Minda, of working against their son, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, the party’s national chairman.

While reacting to this, Ortom had through his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, narrated how he supported Ayu, adding that he could not, therefore, turn around to work against him to be removed from office.

But making his position known yesterday, the governor told journalists in Makurdi that he could not have parted ways with his friend, Wike, saying they both just returned from London.

He said: “We are friends and I still maintain my stance on what I said. I have not moved away from there; that I still sympathise with Wike on the injustice meted out on him.

“Politics is about interest and where your interest is not protected, you have a right to protest and I think that is what is happening.”