2019: Buhari, Atiku dangle records, SGF at Southwest

 2019: Buhari, Atiku dangle records, SGF at Southwest

President Muhammadu Buhari is wooing southern leaders in a bid to strengthen his support base ahead of the 2019 poll.

The Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) is in talks with prominent southern leaders and groups, including Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Ijaw National Congress and Middle Belt Forum, it said yesterday.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar is pleading with critics of his running mate Peter Obi’s choice to take it easy.

Atiku is dangling before the Southwest two main items —restructuring and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) slot.

Buhari’s campaigners are relying on the President’s records to fetch him support.

BCO believes that Buhari’s second term will be in the best interest of the country because, said the organisation, he is poised to use the next four years to consolidate on the policies of his administration.

The Director of Communication and Strategic Planning of the BCO, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, noted that the group had been touring the southern states “in the past few weeks”.

According to him, the group’s meetings with southern leaders, including royal fathers, is to get them to re-examine the scorecard of the Buhari administration in the last three years, and realise that he has performed well, contrary to “the falsehood” being peddled by the opposition.

Ibrahim  said: “First, we want to reach out to fellow leaders in the South and convince them to rally round Buhari and support him beyond boundaries.

“If the President is allowed another four years to do what is needed to consolidate on what he has started, within a very short time, the situation will change in Nigeria.”

According to Ibrahim, most of the North’s leaders are leading Buhari’s campaign for re-election because his performance, particularly in agric, and his economic diversification policy was yielding results for the economy.

The group has visited the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III. “We reviewed President Buhari’s performance in the last three years. The royal father agreed with us that he has done creditably well, Ibrahim said.

On why the meetings with the southern leaders had been going on secretly, he said: “The agenda of the meetings is not for public consumption. We have been meeting and it is not for me to announce the dates of the meetings and venue of the meetings for newspapers. It is not proper. When we circulate notice of meeting, it is for those who are involved only and not to those who are not part of the meeting”.

On the consistent criticism of President Buhari by some opposition leaders, Ibrahim warned that the “divisive” politics being practised by certain politicians won’t benefit the country.

He added: “Let me state here that some so-called opposition leaders should desist from attempts to draft Nigeria into unecessary national opposition and negative narratives on national events by their destructive criticism of President Buhari. Some groups have also appointed themselves as opposition. This is not the right thing to do.

“President Buhari should be praised for fulfilling some of his campaign promises in sectors like security, war against corruption and the economy. He has even done much more in global politics. Nigeria is no more treated with disdain in the international community,” Ibrahim said.

Over  200, 000 members of the Atiku Care Foundation  in the North-West Zone yesterday dumped the Foundation and collapsed into Arewa Media Group Organisation for Buhari 2019 Campaign. Their leader of  Alhaji Abdulmajid Danbiliki Commander.

At a brief ceremony,  chairman of the amalgamated group under the auspices of Atku Care Foundation, Comrade Sanusi Ababai, said over seven affiliates of the Atiku Care Foundation supporters, decided to dump Atiku for Buhari because of unfulfilled promises.

He said: “For several years now, we have been working hard for the development of Atiku Care Foundation. A lot of promises were made when we started.

“They told us that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar needed a platform to reach out to the masses at the grassroot. We were committed because there were programmes from healthcare delivery, education, entrepreneurship, youth and women empowerment.”

Ababai, former Director of Administration and Strategy in-charge of North-West for Atiku Care Foundation, said the group  has decided to pitch its tent with President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election bid for his foresight and commitment to redeem Nigeria from the shackles of corruption and poverty.

Worried by criticisms of the choice of ex-Governor Peter Obi as his running mate, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar has initiated moves to pacify Southeast PDP governors.

To set the tone for reconciliation, with PDP leaders in the Southeast, it was also learnt Atiku is said to have called Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Further talks with Southeast leaders will begin when Atiku returns from vacation this week.

It was gathered that Atiku limited his consultation on the choice of Obi to stave off pressure and reduce friction on his decision.

There were indications that the PDP candidate might disband his personal campaign organisation to pave the way for the take-off of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC)  with Senate President Bukola Saraki as the Director-General.

A source, who spoke in confidence, confirmed Atiku’s reconciliatory moves. He said: “What happened was that Atiku was not unilateral in picking Obi. There was really consultation but restricted to some national and PDP leaders to avoid the search degenerating to conflict in the South-East.

“Following reactions from governors and PDP leaders in the Southeast, Atiku has started reaching out to them. In fact, he has put a call to Ekweremadu whose camp was more embittered.”

Details of Atiku’s discussion with Ekweremadu remained unknown yesterday.

“Atiku is returning from vacation this week and he will embark on more rapprochement talks with Southeast leaders.

The Southeast leaders will want other issues addressed. They include:

  • reaching consensus on other posts to concede to the zone;
  • finding a meeting point with the zone on Atiku’s idea of restructuring;
  • the need to spend one term in office; and
  • ceding power to the Southeast in 2023

A PDP leader in the Southeast said: “We need more discussion with Atiku on the fate of this zone. Between 1979 and 1983, the defunct National Party of Nigeria(NPN) conceded the vice presidential slot to the Southeast with the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme nominated as deputy to ex-President Shehu Shagari.

“Within the same power sharing structure, the Southeast also produced the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who was Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke.

“We want a concrete deal with Atiku beyond the choice of Peter Obi. We need to know his plans for us. What other things will the Southeast get, apart from being Vice President.”

As at press time, there were indications that Atiku Campaign Organisation may be disbanded to give room for the Presidential Campaign Council headed by Saraki.

“The PDP candidate is expected back in the country this week and one of his plans is to disband Atiku Campaign Organisation.”

Also yesterday, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the Director General of the  Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, said the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) will go to the Southwest, should Atiku become president.

Daniel, a former governor of Ogun State, broke the news at an interactive session with reporters in Lagos.

The PDP initially zoned its national chairman to the Southwest, but  gave the job to Uche Secondus (Southsouth).

Also, Atiku’s running mate, Mr Peter Obi, hails from the Southeast.

“We need to understand that the candidate has control over who becomes his running mate during the election and who becomes the SGF if he wins.

“The decisions on major offices are being given serious consideration and no zone or region will be marginalised.

“The offices of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Reps will be decided after the polls and based on what plays out in both houses.

“Aside major slots, I think what is paramount to the people of the Southwest is restructuring of the country, which Atiku is very serious about.

“So the issue for the Southwest is not personality or slot issue per se because personalities come and go but restructuring Nigeria is significant and more symbolic than zoned offices,” he said.

On Atiku’s manifesto, Daniel said that it would be published as soon as the campaigns kick off.

The PDP said its Presidential candidate was set to revamp the economy through the creation of qualitative employment for the youths.

The party gave the assurance in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan on Sunday in Abuja.

The party added that Atiku would implement the political and economic restructuring of the nation in a manner that would engender unity, inclusiveness in governance and uplift the general standard of living for all.

Ologbondiyan added: ”Atiku will open a system-wide fight against corruption as soon as he is elected into office by strengthening the institutions empowered by our laws to do their jobs.

”He will do this while he also concentrates on the onerous duty of governance and rescuing our people from hunger, starvation, bloodlettings and wanton killings.’’

Ologbondiyan assured that rebranded PDP would ensure that all those looting the national treasury, would definitely face the wrath of the law and go to jail.

He added that Atiku administration would not only fight poverty but will also uncompromisingly fight corruption.”


Tolani Giwa

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