The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has said if he wins the February 25 presidential election, restructuring, a core desire of people of the South-west, would be a cardinal principle of his administration.
Atiku spoke in Ibadan while addressing a crowd of party members and supporters at the frontage of Mapo Hall. He pledged to introduce reforms towards enhancing the status of the traditional institution in the country.
PDP also expressed its determination to win the South-west in the forthcoming elections, while the party’s national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, urged aggrieved members to return to the party.
Ayu said PDP would win the elections and its victory would mark the end of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the country.
In a related development, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, at a rally in Oju and Obi local government areas of the state, on Thursday, assured supporters of PDP that the party would be victorious in the 2023 elections.
Meanwhile, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, a member of the G-5 Governors who are upset by the national leadership of the party, was absent at the rally. He was, however, acknowledged by everyone, who spoke, including Atiku.
Although THISDAY gathered that a former governor of the state, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, had brokered peace between Atiku and Makinde during a meeting at his Ondo Street residence in Bodija, Ibadan, Wednesday night.
Atiku, who also visited the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, lamented that the people of the South-west had been deceived by the APC administration on restructuring and other promises. He assured them that his administration would implement restructuring if he got to power in May.
He disclosed that the type of restructuring he would introduce would give more powers to states and local government areas, insisting that restructuring of the country would be one of the cardinal agenda of his administration.
Atiku stated, “I will restructure Nigeria. Restructuring of the country will be achieved during my time. By restructuring, we mean giving more powers and autonomy to the states and local government areas.
“It will be one of the pillars of my government.”
He said, “They have failed to implement it. Vote them out,” apparently, referring to APC, and urging the electorate to, “Vote them out completely. From top to bottom, vote for PDP; from bottom to top, vote for PDP. We thank you very much. Vote for PDP so that together, we can match to progress.”
The former vice president said PDP was committed to making sure that there would be no more strikes in the universities, adding that, if elected, he would fund the universities, and pay the teachers on time so that there won’t be any disruptions in the academic activities.
According to him, “We also commit to making sure that we control and always take control of your security situation, so that there is law and order in every part of this country. These are our commitments. It is not like the commitments of the APC in the last seven to eight years, everything they have committed, they have failed to implement.
“Therefore, if you are living witnesses, this is an opportunity for you to vote out APC. Therefore, I want to appeal to you, the people of Oyo State, to support the PDP all the way, from top to bottom, and together, we can march into victory and progress for our great country.”
At the palace of Olubadan, Atiku said his administration would introduce reforms that would allow traditional rulers perform their role as expected.
Bemoaning the current state of insecurity in Nigeria, Atiku stated that traditional rulers had a role to play to maintain peace and security in their domains. He said the reforms he craved, when introduced, would place traditional rulers in a position to ensure peace and security in their areas.
Atiku told the paramount ruler, “Let me assure you that the PDP government will bring some reforms to enhance the position of traditional rulers, to ensure that the traditional institution plays its role in ensuring security in the country. I remember that during the colonial regime, the traditional rulers played significant roles in ensuring security in their domains.
“The PDP will introduce the reforms to ensure that the traditional institution takes its rightful place. The government will dialogue with the people of various sections and areas in the country. These are the things we plan to introduce when we come to power.”
Director General of the Presidential Campaign Organisation of PDP and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, also commended Makinde for allowing the democratic spirit to play out by allowing every member of the party to participate in the campaign.
Tambuwal said, “You must have noticed the train in the South-west, we in the PDP in the South-west are in a very strong competition in the South-west and by the grace of God, we are determined to win the South-west before any other zone.
“I commend Governor Seyi Makinde, the party chairman, for speaking to you to come out en masse to vote for the PDP from top to bottom. That is the only way we can complement each other to salvage Nigeria, unite Nigeria, rescue Nigeria and, indeed, to make Nigeria great again.”
Ayu, in his speech, commended party members for coming out in large number for the rally. He described Makinde as a true party man, who had the interest of the party at heart.
While noting that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had been able to return the party to the people, the national chairman appealed to those aggrieved to return to the fold.
According to him, “Eight years ago, some people came with lies, with propaganda and deceived you, that they are going to give you a change. They brought something called change. Everyone of you here is indebted, because every day they are borrowing.
“As a party in government, we made life better for every Nigerian. We were working on it until you were deceived.
“After the election, there will be no APC in Nigeria. They will disappear from the surface of the Nigeria air and back to the small parties that they were.
“I’m calling on our aggrieved members to come back home, because we are going to win. We shall win at every level, PDP will sweep this country, all our state Houses of Assembly, our National Assembly members, our governors, and, of course, we are going back to the villa.
“Nigerians will know that PDP is back. We are not just back, we are back to work for you, to make sure that we improve your roads, we improve education, because the other party didn’t even care when our children were at home for one year.
“That is not a government; that is irresponsibility. PDP will make sure that schools are open, roads are good, food is cheaper, fuel is better and that is what you are fighting for. You are not standing in the sun for nothing. You are standing in the sun because you want the quality of your life to improve and we shall improve it all across Nigeria.”
The Olubadan waded into the crisis rocking PDP, asking Atiku and other leaders to do everything possible to ensure reconciliation with Makinde.
Speaking through the Otun Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola, he urged the PDP presidential candidate and other elders of the party to bring about genuine reconciliation between him and all the aggrieved members of the party before the election. He said there was nothing like unity of purpose in an exercise of this nature.
The monarch also charged the PDP standard bearer to see security as a serious issue to tackle if he became the country’s number one citizen after the presidential election.
“Ibadan people want from your presidency the creation of Ibadan State and at our level as traditional rulers, we want your government to put us in mind so as to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country,” the monarch stated.
Other speakers, who commended Makinde for his developmental strides and for ensuring that the rally held, included Atiku’s wife, Mrs. Titi Abubakar; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State; Jumoke Akinjide; and Senator Dino Melaye.
Speaking at the rally in Benue, Ortom, who said the party structure would galvanise it to victory, noted that all the 276 councillors in the state were members of PDP, while 26 out of 30 members of the state assembly were also members of PDP.
“We also have seven House of Representatives members out of 11 and all the three senators from Benue are members of PDP. Also, the deputy governor and the governor are members of PDP. This goes to show that Benue is purely a PDP state and this, we will maintain,” Ortom said.
He advised the people to arm themselves with their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), emphasising that the forthcoming elections were different from the past ones.
According to him, “The era of snatching ballot boxes is over. Now is the era of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS). With the introduction of BIVAS, you must be there at the polling unit to vote because the machine must capture you before you will vote. You should take this election very seriously.”
In his remarks, the governorship candidate of PDP, Mr Titus Uba, said he would consolidate on Ortom’s outstanding legacies if voted in, adding that the governor has built a solid foundation for security and they would leverage on it.
Uba, who asked the people to entrust him and his deputy, Mr John Ngbede, with their mandate, promised that they would never be disappointed if they gave them their votes.
“We are blessed with arable land in the state, as such, we will use agriculture to develop the state through modern agricultural techniques,” Uba said.
Ngbede, too, said they would build on what Ortom had done, and pledged that they would not leave the civil servants out in their programmes.
At the same time, the acting chairman of PDP in the state, Mr Isaac Mffo, told the people that a vote for the party meant securing the future of their children.
Some of the PDP chieftains, who were in Atiku’s entourage to the state, included the party’s vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; Ayu; his predecessor, Uche Secondus; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; and his counterparts from Balyesa and Osun, Douye Diri and Ademola Adeleke, respectively; former governors of Kogi and Osun states, Idris Wada and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, respectively; as well as Mrs. Titi Abubakar.
Others were Senator Dino Melaye; former Vice President Nnamadi Sambo; former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; Hon. Ndidi Elumelu; Senator Abdul Ningi; former governor of Adamawa State, Bonie Haruna; former governor of Cross River State, Lyel Imoke; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and Senator Philip Aduda.
George Okoh in Makurdi, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan