In what promises to be one of the fiercest verbal encounter in the electioneering season leading to the 2023 polls, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday taunted each other in their ongoing battle of credibility.
In the latest face-off, the standard bearers of the two major political parties were struggling for the soul of Kano State ahead of the 2023 general election.
The APC standard bearer cast the first stone when, in a veiled reference to Atiku’s frequent trips to Dubai, said he would not be a Nigerian president who will spend 50 per cent of his time in the country and the rest 50 percent in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE).
But hitting back hard at his APC counterpart, Atiku said the empty streets, which greeted Tinubu’s visit to Kano, was a clear indication that he had already lost the support of the people of the state.
Atiku said the development had indicated that he has defeated Tinubu in Kano.
Earlier, Tinubu who spoke in Kano at an interactive session with members of the Tijjaniyyah sect had taken advantage of Atiku’s frequent Dubai trips to let Nigerians understand why they need a president who is on ground with them 100 per cent.
Atiku had been criticised for spending most of his time in Dubai, with some Nigerians insinuating that he relocated to that country after the 2019 general polls.
Implicitly taunting the PDP standard bearer, Tinubu said he won’t be a part-time president who will share his time between living in Dubai and Nigeria, adding that he would concentrate his attention and energy on confronting and surmounting Nigeria’s pressing challenges.
Tinubu was accompanied to the session held inside the African Hall of Kano Government House were his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, and at least six governors of the party.
Governors at the session included chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Babajide Sanwo-olu (Lagos), former APC interim chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, and some of the party’s National Working Committee members.
A statement by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, noted that at the meeting, members of the Tijjaniyyah sect led by leader, Sheikh Bashir Tijjani Usman Zangon Bareebah, presented a long list of issues the sect wants the APC Presidential candidate to address when he gets to office.
Top on the list are improved electricity, full security, giving agriculture full attention including provision and completion of dams and improved quality education for Nigerians.
While giving their full endorsement and support to the APC presidential ambition, the sect demanded that the Tinubu presidency should ensure inclusion of their members in cabinet and other government appointments, reduction in Hajj fares and assistance in concluding Tijjaniyyah University under construction in Kano.
In his response, Tinubu said the answers to some of the demands contained in his manifesto unfolded to the whole world on Friday by President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that he is running to be the president because of his commitment to better the lives of all Nigerians.
In a similar development, the APC Presidential candidate met with business leaders from Northern Nigeria Saturday night in Kano where he assured the business community of a better business environment through implementation of well-thought-out policies that will revive dead and ailing manufacturing companies in Kano and across the country.
At a forum to share insights with the Northern business community, business leaders and captains of industry from across the North openly endorsed the APC presidential candidate and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima.
At a forum attended by the APC national chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, Vice Presidential Candidate, Senator Shettima, Governor Ganduje of Kano and seven other governors, the business leaders said with his private sector background, Asíwájú Tinubu would drive the nation’s economy well.
Governor Ganduje said Kano and Lagos have always maintained a long standing relationship which will be strengthened under Tinubu whom he labelled a Kano man.
Ganduje said as governor of Lagos State, Asíwájú ran a pan-Nigeria cabinet that grew the state in all indices of governance and economy.
While assuring the northern business leaders of a better business environment with well-thought-out policies that will revitalise industries and open up new opportunities, Tinubu identified the link between Kano as a centre of commerce and his economic plan for Nigeria.
He said: “There is a strong nexus between the place of Kano as a centre of prosperity and my plan for Nigeria. What I pledge is a revamped economy which will renew the hope of our people. Our country needs multiple centres of prosperity, and we intend to achieve that by adding value across all sectors of our economy.
“As I said during my speech at the Arewa House on Monday, Nigeria is sitting on a goldmine. There is no state in Nigeria that is lacking in one resource or the other. We are determined to explore and exploit these resources to the maximum benefits of our people. Kano, for example, has huge agricultural potentials and important mineral resources underneath its ground like gold, silver, nickel, tin ore and columbite. Each of these, if properly harnessed, can add significantly to our economy as a country.
The APC flagbearer added that Kano’s arable land and its comparative advantage in agriculture will be further expanded to make the state and northern region industrial hubs in sub-Saharan Africa.
He stated: “The state’s vast arable land and other agricultural potentials, if added to its population will make Kano a force to reckon with in sub-saharan African agro-market. Those who listen to my speech in Kaduna would have heard about my plan for agriculture. Aside from working with the private sector to make input available that would guarantee greater yield, among other incentives, we will ensure all categories of farmers have easy access to finance through appropriate government and private sector initiatives.
“We have seen the wonders from the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative. We will consolidate on those gains. Kano’s famous dams such Tiga, Chalawa Gorge, Thomas, Kusalla, etc that are not being maximally tapped will get special attention from my government. We will invest in the expansion of irrigation land, channelization of the water, among other initiatives that will ensure we cultivate these lands all year round.
“We will not stop in investing and boosting our agricultural potentials, we will add value throughout the value chain.
Through Commodity Exchange markets, we will link markets like Dawanau in Kano and Gujungu in Jigawa with international markets and boost return on investment for our farmers. The overall aim is to move the nation from import oriented to export oriented economy where grains from Kano will be exported to the world market rather than us buying from other countries.
“I know of the commercial exploits of some of you, traders and businessmen in Kwari Textile Market, Sabongari Market, Singer Market and the famous grain market in Dawanau which transacts with the rest of West Africa. These commercial activities alone can provide the state with enough IGR to maintain itself with the right support and policies.
“Beyond trading and commerce, I have a special interest in addressing the problem of the dead or comatose Kano industrial estates in Sharada, Bompai, Panshekara, Jogana, etc, which were vibrant in 70s and 80s. We understand the reason why those companies collapsed and we have a plan to revive them and make them competitive.
“We will provide incentives for industrial development nationwide through institutions like the Bank of Industry. There will be a deliberate policy to create industrial hubs and free zones specific to every region. For Kano, we will give attention to agro-allied industries such as textiles, tomato paste, rice processing, animal feeds, etc, in line with the state’s competitive advantages.”
He promised to rebuild Nigeria and make it far better than Dubai if elected as President in 2023.
He also promised to fight banditry and insurgency, ensure qualitative education, adequate power supply, industralisation, food security, physical security, among other democratic dividends.
Tinubu positioned himself as the best presidential candidate to redeem Nigeria, saying, “we are only three left (in the presidential race), one just failed the most important examination when he was asked: ‘are you a divider or Uniter, and he said ‘I am from the North… “
Empty Kano Streets Signpost APC’s Defeat – Atiku
But true to type, Atiku who would not shy away from such vetbal confrontation, fired back at Tinubu, saying the empty streets that greeted the presidential candidate of the APC) in Kano, at the weekend, signposts the road to extinction for the APC ahead of the 2023 election.
Atiku who spoke through the spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, however pointed out that the huge crowd of Nigerians that received him at his campaign rally in Benin, the Edo State capital, as well as the two separate rallies held in Bida and Jibia in Niger and Katsina States respectively, are manifest proofs that Nigerians are resolute in voting for him as the next president of Nigeria come February 25, 2023.
Atuku observed that the “thoughtless display of opulence” by Tinubu at his flopped Kano visit was completely repugnant and offensive to the people of Kano State who cannot be swayed by pointless material showboating.
The former vice president advised Tinubu to immediately apologise and rescind from such trips and actions.
To this effect, Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said, “Nigerians in Kano watched in awe as a convoy of vehicles paraded the streets of Kano municipal without eliciting any attention from bystanders who went about their normal businesses.
“In a recorded video that has gone viral, one of the bystanders was heard saying; ‘God has shown them clearly that people aren’t supporting them. No one is concerned about them. It is very shameful; Kano people are not with them.”
Ologbondiyan further said unlike the APC’s shameful outing in Kano, Atiku’s campaign was gaining more traction across the country because of his tenacity in addressing the issues and challenges brought upon Nigerians by the APC.
“His determination to revive the economy while making the unity of our nation number one priority sits well among Nigerians.
“He has also sworn to make insecurity a part of our sordid past by making State Police a plank of the security solutions he will introduce when sworn into office on May 29, 2023. Atiku is bringing the light to our dark side. He is creating hope in our state of disillusionment”, Ologbondiyan added.
We Own Kano, You’re Just Fighting In Vain, NNPP Tells APC, PDP
Relatedly, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), wrote both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of, saying they were just fighting in vain over Kano, which is in its conrol.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP last night, national publicity secretary of the NNPP, Major Agbom said both the APC and the PDP are struggling for nothing in Kano.
He said, “When Tinubu was entering Kano, I was leaving the state. Both the APC and the PDP are struggling for nothing. They can’t get Kano because the state is for the NNPP.
“Kano is NNPP. Those following Tinubu are just miscreants and not the real politicians in Kano”.
According to him, Kwankwanso has been commissioning various projects in Kano, adding that Kano is for the NNPP, Kwankwaso and their gubernatorial candidate, Abba Gida-Gida.
“Kwankwaso is totally in control of Kano State. Whatever anybody tells you, do not accept it because the NNPP is winning Kano and Abba Gida-Gida is winning Kano State,” Agbo added.
Atiku’s Picture Missing On Rivers’ PDP Branded Vehicles
Meanwhile, the picture of the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku, seems to be missing on the party’s branded vehicles for campaigns for the 2023 general election in Rivers State.
The branded vehicles, numbering about 25 are set to be unveiled today, Monday, October 24, 2022, along with the party campaign council secretariat located along Woji Road in GRA, Port Harcourt.
The campaign council, christened, “New Rivers Vision Consolidation Project”, has former PDP vhairman in the state, Chief Felix Obuah as director-general while Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is the Chairman.
Recall that Wike, along with his four colleagues, including Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo), have been having running battles with the PDP leadership over the continued stay in office of Senator Iyorchia Ayu as National Chairman.