Nigeria: 2023 Is Choice Between New Direction and Those Who Want to Sustain Current Disaster – Atiku

The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has said the 2023 general election is a choice between those who are prepared to lead change from day one and persons bent on continuation of the current disaster caused by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Atiku stated this yesterday in Abuja, as he engaged in a last minute push to reconcile aggrieved members of the party.

The PDP presidential candidate met with members of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), and was scheduled to meet stakeholders from the North-east this week.

But five rebellious governors of the party, led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, met in Enugu yesterday to strategise and ponder the options open to them.

Relatedly, Akwa Ibom State Governor and Chairman, PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, said the party would get it right in the 2023 general election, because it was at the moment the only true party in the country.

Emmanuel, who said he was confident of the party’s victory at the poll, said PDP had abundant human resources to win the 2023 election.

Similarly, the senator for Adamawa South Senatorial District, Yaroe Binos, said the party’s National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, could not resign until after the presidential election because it would require another national convention to make him step down him.

However, a PDP pressure group, Coalition for Good Governance (CGG), demanded the immediate sack of five members of the National Working Committee (NWC), who recently accused the party of bribery, for anti-party activities. A leading political economist and PDP chieftain from Cross River State, Dr. Evaristus Abang, also called on the South-south governors to remove representatives of the zone in the NWC, saying they have outlived their usefulness.

Atiku, in a statement yesterday, maintained that the next general election was a contest between those who came prepared to lead and others who sought continuation of the current disastrous reality imposed by APC.

“Or some might even say it’s a choice between fact and fiction; proven PDP leadership versus APC broken promises,” he said.

The statement quoted the former vice president as saying, “We are the team, who come prepared and fact is that none of the other candidates or political parties comes close. So it is my pleasure to say a big thank you for making our campaign the best this season.

“But the race is just starting and our goal is to maintain our leading position. You and I are not in this campaign to make comments that would be a slur on other people. We are here to promote our Unity-SEED policy agenda.

“Our policy agenda is about unifying the country, maintaining the security of lives and property of Nigerians, promoting sound economic policies that will lift our people out of poverty to prosperity, promoting sustainable educational environment and making the people take ownership of government.

“I believe that we can achieve all of these and more, when we work as ONE. Welcome to the month of October, the month of our liberty and freedom from the failures of the APC.”

Atiku, in his verified Tweeter handle, confirmed meeting BoT members and described the outing as successful.

He wrote, “Earlier today, I had a fruitful meeting with some members of the PDP Board of Trustees led by the Acting Chairman of the BOT, Senator Adolphus Wabara.”

The vice presidential candidate of the party and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, had Saturday met with the BoT members, where he and Wabara assured party members that the crisis in PDP would soon be resolved.

THISDAY learnt that Atiku would on October 5 meet the North-east stakeholders of the party as part of efforts to restore unity to PDP before the election. This followed his meeting last week with stakeholders in Enugu.

Five governors of the party, including Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom; Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu; and Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, met in Enugu last night.

The outcome of the meeting was not known at press time.

Meanwhile, speaking on the prospects of PDP in 2023, Emmanuel stated that the inauguration of the campaign council of the party less than 24 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifted the embargo on electioneering activities made PDP the first to unveil its machinery for full-fledged campaigns.

Insisting that PDP remained Nigeria’s only party for everybody, Emmanuel said, “This is the only party we have in Nigeria, forget associations, forget unions, forget alliances. Also, PDP is the party for everybody but this time around, they decided to look at people like us, who still have the energy to run around and that means a whole lot. I think we are getting it right this time around.”

The governor explained that what was needed to execute the election was human resources, which he said the party had in abundance across the country.

Emmanuel added, “We don’t need more than one resource, which is human beings, because we are everywhere – all over the country. That’s all we need for elections, the people, and we have people everywhere and I think we will win.”

The campaign chairman expressed appreciation to the NWC, BoT, the entire structure of PDP, as well as the presidential candidate of the party and his running mate for the confidence reposed in him and others.

He acknowledged that the final victory was dependent on the will of God and the choice of the people, saying, “Our duty is to campaign to get Nigerians to vote, but victory comes from God. You only campaign with your power of persuasion, hoping that Nigerians will vote, then God gives victory.”

Binos: Why Ayu Can’t Resign Till After Election

PDP Senator for Adamawa South Senatorial District, Yaroe Binos, said the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, could only resign after the 2023 general election and if Atiku won.

Binos said anyone, who decided to cause crisis at this critical period, did not love the party.

He spoke with journalists in Abuja, weekend, at an art exhibition organised by his son, Stephen.

Binos said the aggrieved people knew that Ayu could only resign at a convention, which was not convenient at the moment.

The senator, who is from the same senatorial district as Atiku, noted that the PDP presidential candidate, had done everything possible to persuade and pacify the aggrieved PDP members to no avail.

Binos stated, “It is wrong for anyone to say the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has not done enough to resolve the crisis in the party. After the presidential primary, in which he emerged as the party’s flag bearer, he reached out to all aggrieved party members, especially, those who contested against him.

“Alhaji Atiku has done enough. He has reached out to aggrieved members and he’s still reaching out. But some people think that they can hold the party and the presidential candidate to ransom and blackmail him to do what is not right.

“The argument of the aggrieved members is that why will the north produce both the party chairman and the presidential candidate. But this is not the first time it will happen in PDP.”

The senator recalled, “In 2017, when the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua was the presidential candidate of PDP, Ahmadu Ali was the party’s chairman, both of them from the north. The need to move the chairmanship of the party from the north to the south did not arise until after the election and inauguration of Yar’adua.

“This is what we are saying. For now, the best thing to do is for the party leaders and members to come together and face the elections before us. When we win the election, we can hold convention and re-zone the key positions in the National Working Committee.

“Saying that Dr Ayu should step down now will be contrary to PDP’s constitution. For those causing crisis, if they truly love the party, they won’t be causing rift at this critical moment, when elections are coming.”

Alleged Bribery: Group Demands Sack, Investigation of Five National Officers

The Coalition for Good Governance demanded the immediate sack of five members of the PDP NWC for alleged anti-party activities. Those in this category are Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman (South-south), Chief Dan Orbih; National Vice Chairman (South-west), Olasoji Adagunodo; National Vice Chairman (South-east), Chief Ali Odefa; and National Woman Leader, Professor Stella Affah-Attoe.

The group, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Mallam Muhammad Suleiman; General Secretary, Owolabi Adebola; and National Publicity Secretary, Ephraim Obinna condemned the bribery allegation.

It demanded a thorough investigation.

According to the group, “In the bid to foist a negative storyline on the party, these apparently compromised national officers yielded to the enemies of the party by falsely presenting their housing allowances, their legitimate entitlement duly approved and paid to national officials and staff of the party to the public as bribe.

“We have been reliably informed that this is part of the well-funded furtive scheme targeted not at the National Chairman, Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, but also to destabilise the PDP, derail its presidential campaign and frustrate the deserving victory of our presidential candidate, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 general election.

“We have also received information of how huge sums of money exchanged hands to bring the PDP to public opprobrium a day after the inauguration of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council.

“The action of these national officers amounts to serious betrayal of trust, gross misconduct, abuse of office and unpardonable anti-party activity in violation of Section 58 (1) of the Constitution of the PDP, 2017 (as amended).

“This is especially as these national officers are part of the National Working Committee, which approved the funds in line with the already established Terms and Conditions of Service of staff and principal officers of the party.

“In this regard, we call for the immediate investigation into the financial activities of these officials following allegations that they were heavily bribed to execute such a despicable scheme against the party and our presidential candidate.

“We call for a scrutiny of their bank records following findings that they received their Housing Allowances since September 14, 2022 and utilised it for the designated purpose. An investigation should ascertain who raises the funds they returned after spending their housing allowances.

“This is especially, given allegations that these party officials disclaimed and returned the housing allowance after huge sums exceeding the housing allowances were reportedly paid into their accounts by agents of a particular state governor to work against the party.

“Consequently, we call for immediate resignation, suspension and investigation of these national officers of our party for anti-party activity and attempt to scuttle our presidential campaign.”

In a similar vein, Abang, who called for the removal of South-south representatives in the NWC, said their role in the party’s housing allowance scandal was a huge embarrassment to the zone.

In a statement yesterday, Abang urged the governors to remove Professor Stella Effa-Attoe (National Women Leader) from Cross River State and Chief Dan Orbih from Edo State, for their role in the alleged media debacle to paint a bellicose image of the party on an internal matter.

The statement said, “It is only their removal that will protect the sanctity of South-south representation in the leadership of the party. The zone has been known for robust political activism and quality representation devoid of playing to the gallery to support a skewed narrative being peddled by a certain governor.

“According to what we have read from the media, the housing allowance is just an entitlement of their office and the matter was approved by the NWC without any ulterior motive but what the four-backsliding southern NWC members have done is to expose other members to unnecessary pressure.

“For instance, Dan Orbih is a disgrace in the way he has fuelled and escalated the PDP crisis in his home state without showing leadership but rather have made himself a stumbling block to every to reconcile the members and cooperate with their governor.

“Look at Edo State, you hardly know that it is a PDP state, because Dan thrives in opposition and has so weaponised some social media militia to write nonsense about their governor.”

As for Stella, the statement said, “It is rather unfortunate that she didn’t fully grasp what her office entails and the constituency of women members of the party she is supposed to lead.” Abang said, “Her office calls for courage and not pandering to propaganda theatrics.”

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