Three presidential candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party and Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC yesterday intensified their bid to win the popular votes from the northern part of the country.
Mr Obi and Asiwaju Tinubu laid their agenda for the country before northern leaders under the aegis of the Arewa Joint Committee at Arewa House, Kaduna, who had invited them to share their visions for the country and the region while former vice president Atiku Abubakar spoke during a PDP rally, also in Kaduna.
At the interaction with northern elders at Arewa House which was attended by leaders from Northern Nigeria across party lines, academics, civil society and youth organisations, Tinubu said he would ensure that Nigeria remains an indivisible entity, adding that he would transform the country the same way he did as Lagos State governor.
He stated that the whole country is endowed with resources that can be harnessed for greater economic development.
The APC presidential candidate praised past leaders of the country, including the late Premier of the Northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello; Nigeria first and only Prime minister, Tafawa Balewa; Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe for being visionary leaders who gave their all to nation-building.
Before addressing the Northern leaders, Tinubu had earlier visited the tomb of the late Saudauna of Sokoto who he prayed for and praised for his invaluable sacrifice to the North and country.
Standing on the ideals of the heroes of Nigeria’s independence and history, Tinubu said he would continue to give his best as president to ensure the country remains indivisible, with parts achieving greatness together as one.
He said, “As I said when I chaired the Sardauna Memorial Lecture last year, I have a solemn feeling of responsibility and duty to our country every time I am here. Standing here evokes memories of a great leader and a father of this nation, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Sardauna of Sokoto. The contributions of the Sardauna to nation-building remain a reference point for us all. He was a visionary builder of men and institutions.
“The dream of Sardauna, and indeed that of our other great leaders such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and our first and only prime minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was for one indivisible and prosperous nation built on shared values of patriotism, equity, justice and brotherhood.”
In a veiled criticism of his PDP rival, Atiku, who had earlier told the northern elders that they should ignore candidates of Igbo and Yoruba extraction, Tinubu said, “The framers of this anthem, God rest their souls, will cringe to know that 62 years after, someone would come to this hallowed platform to campaign on the basis of tribe or where others come from.”
On his plans for Nigeria as president, Tinubu promised to build on the successes recorded by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in all sectors of the nation.
“Our economic plan would utilize the vast natural resources we have, through strategic investment in infrastructure which will lead to the diversification of the economy and wealth creation across the entire country. We will pay attention to modern economic drivers such as the digital economy, creative industries, sports and entertainment sectors for the benefit of our young people.
“We shall support private businesses in our country and attract foreign direct investment to create jobs, re-industrialise our country and accelerate economic development. Nigerian businesses in sectors like banking and cement have successfully ventured out of the country to build thriving subsidiaries,” he said.
Tinubu also promised to focus on using his experience of building human capital, which made Lagos one of the largest economies in Africa, to grow the nation’s economy to an enviable height.
“I will ensure that we take advantage of our resources to convert cotton to textile, plants to pharmaceutical products, groundnut to edible oil, cassava to ethanol and starch, etc., thereby building competitive advantage for our farmers through value addition.”
Tinubu said North has a greater advantage in agriculture and under his presidency, the region will emerge as the hub of agribusiness in Africa through huge investment in the sector in collaboration with the private sector.
He said, “Agriculture is of special interest to me. It is both an economic and existential issue for every country.
“Experience in the last seven years has shown the potential of agriculture in solving the problem of unemployment and boosting our GDP. For example, recent investment in the rice value chain has led to the springing up of rice mills across the country with attendant wealth creation and a reduction in our import bill.
“The North has a greater advantage in this regard due to its large and abundant arable land. My vision is for the region to be the hub of agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We will improve investment in our livestock value chain, specifically, subsectors like the dairy industry that have the potential of adding billions of dollars into our economy will receive significant attention.”
On his plans for education and helping reduce the out-of-school children in the North, the APC presidential flag bearer said: “Millions of our children are currently roaming the streets instead of being in classrooms. My administration will invest heavily in infrastructure to allow for proper integration of these children into our conventional schools.
“Education is the most effective weapon against poverty. Compared with other countries, education in Nigeria suffers from a funding deficit on account of our population and limited resources. I will provide the required leadership and mobilise investment for the development of the sector. We will work with both states and local governments to reform and retool the system. These reforms will give special attention to the welfare and training of our teachers and lecturers as a necessary catalyst for the better system we desire.”
I Will Unlock Nigeria’s Greatness – Obi
On his part, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) and former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, told the northern leaders that Nigeria at the moment qualifies to be referred to as a failed state and that he would work to restore the country’s greatness which had been undermined by poor governance over the years.
According to the LP presidential hopeful, when a country is no longer in control of the economy and security, such a country is nothing but a failed state, stressing that if elected president in 2023 he will positively change the narrative.
Obi stated this during an interactive session organised by the Arewa Joint Committee made up of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Northern Elders For (NEF), Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation (SABMF), Jamiyyar Matan Arewa (JMA) Arewa House (Centre for Historical Development and Research) and Arewa Research Development Project (ARDP).
“Nigeria is not bereft of ideas but institutional weakness and lack of political will to effect genuine change that will better the lives of average Nigerians,” he said, adding that he is committed to unlocking the greatness of the country and lifting it from a consuming country to a producing country.
Obi reiterated that insecurity will be a thing of the past when he gets elected as president through the creation of employment opportunities for youths who are tools used to perpetrate social vices.
On insecurity ravaging the country such as banditry and Boko Haram terrorists, among others, Obi said once jobs are created and the youths are gainfully engaged and made productive, insecurity would have been reduced to the barest minimum and will no longer be a lucrative business.
He, however, asserted that the security agencies will be adequately equipped to handle all forms of insecurity in the country.
“We want to bring a transformative government. The greatest assets of Nigeria are in the north, the greatest assets of Nigeria are vast uncultivated land in the north but these lands have been taken over by bandits. We are going to unlock Nigeria.
“We will bring Nigeria back to life. All banks will be shareholders in the Bank of Agriculture where our farmers can directly assess loans,” he said.
Obi also promised to eradicate poverty in Nigeria, saying that when people are pulled out of poverty, the rate of crime in the country will reduce.
Stressing that his candidacy is for a new Nigeria, Obi said he wants to make Nigeria a country the people will be proud of.
Obi further said he will fight corruption to standstill, maintaining that fighting corruption is easy when one is not stealing.
“Our past is gone; we are going to face the future. Fighting corruption is easy when one is not stealing; our money is being stolen, subsidy is organised crime.
“I want to give Nigerians’ hope. I and my running mate will be in charge, they will not find us wanting; we have the physical strength; I will dialogue with every agitator because it will make us a better and united Nigeria.”
He promised to invest more in women, maintaining that women are very industrious and dedicated and committed when given responsibility.
He urged Nigerians to vote for a person with the character and capacity they can trust, saying he is that candidate that can be trusted.
Atiku Pledges To Reposition Manufacturing Sector
Also yesterday, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, promised to revive moribund manufacturing industries in Kaduna as well as finding solutions to terrorism, which has bedeviled Kaduna for years and Nigeria in general.
Speaking at the presidential rally which took place at the Ranchers Bees Township Stadium in Kaduna, Atiku thanked the people of Kaduna for giving him the highest number of votes in 2019 and pledged to take issues concerning Kaduna seriously if elected in the 2023 election.
Atiku said, “Let me thank you for your support in 2019. You gave me the highest number of votes in 2019 and I believe you will do so this time around. I have come here on behalf of PDP to tell you If you vote for us, we will end insecurity in Kaduna. We will revive the industries in Kaduna in partnership with the private sector of Kaduna.”
In his remarks, the director-general of the Atiku’s campaign council, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, said efforts to throw a spanner in PDP’s campaign will fail.
“The people of Kaduna have seen and felt the negative impact of the APC and when Atiku gets into power by next year, all the factories will return by God’s grace.
“His administration will ensure we invigorate our economy to have jobs and better life. I urge the people of Kaduna to come out in their millions to vote come February 2023.”
The party’s national chairman, Iyiocha Ayu, in his remarks said despite being denied the proposed venue for the rally, the PDP has shown that if rallies were held on the road, they will always be successful.
Reacting on his Twitter handle to reports of an attack on PDP members by suspected APC thugs at the rally, Atiku urged President Buhari to call on all parties to call their supporters and members to order and to ensure that campaigns towards the general elections are kept free, fair and safe.
NNPP Intervenes In South West Crisis
The New Nigeria Peoples Party crisis rocking their party in the South West, calling on the warring factions to eschew bitterness and come to compromise.
Speaking at a press conference, the national chairman of the party, Prof Rufai Alkali, said as the party goes into the campaign mode, it is correcting certain misconceptions being peddled in the public space.
“NNPP has been drawn to some misunderstanding among the leaders of our party in the South West Zone, leading to suspension of some zonal and state executives.
“However, the leadership of the party has resolved as follows: That all feuding parties should eschew bitterness and embrace peace for the sake of the greater good of the party; that the suspension of the Executive members has been reversed to status quo ante bellum.
“That the National Working Committee has set up a peace and reconciliation Committee to immediately meet with all the aggrieved parties at Lagos to listen to their grievances and amicably resolve the differences.”
The leadership of the NNPP called on all its members, particularly in the South West, to remain calm as all their grievances will be properly addressed to bring everlasting peace and harmonious relationship among members of the NNPP family.
On the campaigns, Alkali said NNPP will soon release its timetable for the campaign that will take its presidential candidate, Sen. Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to every nook and cranny of the country.
“However, one incontrovertible fact is that His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is the best and the most qualified among those contesting for the number one position in the country. His performance in all the positions he had held is second to none.”
“He is ready to replicate all the past achievements at the Presidency level if elected into office in 2023. His records speak for him. This is the icon that the NNPP is offering Nigeria.”
He promised that the party will run an issue-based campaign in line with the words and letters of the Peace Accord signed last month by the various candidates.
PDP Condemn Attack On Party’s Rally
Following the reported attack on the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign rally in Kaduna yesterday, the Kaduna State Peace Commission has warned political parties and supporters against thuggery and disturbance of public peace.
In a statement issued by the executive vice chairman of Kaduna State Peace Commission, Saleh B. Momale, he appreciated the proactive response by security agencies in immediately halting the development, and urged the agencies to be extra vigilant in monitoring campaign processes in order to prevent occurrences of clashes.
The commission assured the residents of the state of its commitment to continue working with stakeholders in ensuring peaceful campaigns and elections in all parts of Kaduna State.
The statement said, “The Kaduna Peace Commission notes with dismay acts of aggression reported at the Kaduna Township Stadium during the political rally organized by one of the political parties, today, Monday, 17th October, 2022”
“The commission also notes the negative reportage, deliberate distortion of facts and inciting discussions on social media relating to the sad event.
“The probable aim was to escalate the mild event that was immediately stopped due to the intervention of the security agencies and peace-loving citizens of the State.
“The commission strongly cautions political parties, candidates, supporters and the teeming youths in Kaduna State against all acts of provocation, thuggery, arson, destruction of properties and disturbance of public peace,” it said.
Similarly, PDP yesterday condemned the violent attack on its Presidential Campaign Rally in Kaduna, Kaduna State capital yesterday by those it called heavily armed hoodlums sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party said the unprovoked attack is not only reprehensible but also exposed the desperation of the APC which is overwhelmed by the continuing popularity of the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar for which they have now resorted to violence.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Hon Debo Ologunagba, said the aim of the APC for this attack was to frustrate the PDP Presidential rally, trigger tension, violence and cause bloodletting in Kaduna State.
He added that this is contrary to the undertaking in the Peace Accord signed by political parties on September 28, 2022 in which the presidential candidate of the APC was conspicuously absent.
He said, “The APC is intimidated by Atiku Abubakar’s popularity and acceptance among majority of Nigerians following their confidence in Atiku Abubakar’s practical experience, record, capacity, broad-mindedness, Pan-Nigerianism and willpower to unite our nation, revamp our devastated economy and guarantee security of lives and property in our country.
“In any case, our party is undeterred by such cowardly attacks as Nigerians are already connected with our issue-based campaign and Atiku Abubakar’s message of hope which is already resonating throughout the nooks and crannies of our country.”