Buhari too mild on opposition, says Oshiomhole
*As IBB, Saraki, Dankwambo, ZLP drum support for PDP candidate
By Ezeocha Nzeh, Myke Uzendu (Abuja), Willie Etim, Blessing Ibunge and Chukwudi Ejimofor, Port Harcourt
Battle for the 2019 Presidential election have been drawn as several political parties picked their candidates ahead of the February 16, 2019 poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released timetable of political activities for the 2019 general election in which it fixed midnight of yesterday as the last period for the submission of names of candidates for the election by all the political parties.
Given the timeline, the two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Parties (PDP), along with the remaining 89 registered political parties stepped up preparations to meet the deadline.
As at yesterday evening, President Muhammadu Buhari emerged the presidential candidate of the APC, while former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, defied book makers to pick the ticket of the PDP.
While the APC simply ratified Buhari’s candidature at its National Convention in Abuja, the PDP held an elective National Convention in Port Harcourt where it elected Atiku Abubakar as its flagbearer.
Other political parties which elected their presidential candidates at their National Conventions included the Social Democratic Party, which picked the former Governor of Cross River State, Dr. Donald Duke, as its candidate.
Atiku emerged the PDP standard bearer after polling 1,532 votes, ahead of his 1st runner-up, the Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwl who secured 693 votes.
Others aspirants in the race including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, got 317 votes; former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (158 votes); Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwabo (111 votes) and the former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, who got 96 votes.
Others were the former National Chairman of the PDP and past Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Markafi (74 votes); former Presidential Adviser of Special Duties, Dr Tanimu Kabiru Turaki (65 votes); former Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa (48 votes); former Senate President, Senator David Mark (35 votes); former Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang (19 votes) and business mogul, Alhaji Dati Baba Ahmed, who polled 5 votes.
Declaring Atiku the winner, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who served as the chairman of the PDP National Convention Committee announced that of the 3,221 delegates who were accredited 68 of them dropped void votes, while Atiku emerged victorious with 1,532 votes.
In his acceptance speech, Atiku said the landmark event since the rebranding of PDP brought about the first “credible, transparency, free and fair election” ever conducted by the party since its inception in 1998.
In commending the convention committee members, host governor Nyesom Wike and PDP members giving him the mandate, solicited their continued support saying “I look forward to working with you”.
Recalling the economic, security, social and political problems the country has been facing since 2015, Atiku stressed that: “We cannot afford to fail Nigerians in this historic period. PDP has in the past years brought property and development of the country. History had beckoned on all of us to return PDP to its position in this country.”
Atiku further lauded his former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for his impact in building his political carreer, stressing that had his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, not made him his Vice, he would not have contested, not picked the ticket.
“I have participated in five primary elections, I am moved by the opportunity given to me by this great party today and I will not fail you. In conclusion I hereby accept to be the candidate of our party”, he stressed.
However, one of the aspirants, Saraki, assured that all the aspirants will partner with Atiku to bring success the PDP in next year’s presidential election.
Meanwhile, as the PDP concluded its primary, the National Chairman of the APC Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has boasted that PDP will not come near victorious in the February 16, 2019, presidential election.
Oshiomhole, who spoke at the APC national convention which took place at the Eagle Square in Abuja, stated that the APC will battle the opposition from all fronts to retain the presidency, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements earned him a second term in office.
Oshimhole cautioned the PDP to get prepared to defend whoever emerges as its candidate, as the APC is poised to tackle the opposition party’s candidate on achievement and integrity.
He added that while Buhari had his impeccable integrity and forthrightness as his core campaign background, primordial issues of religion, ethnicity and region will not determine the outcome of the 2019 general election.
He nonetheles accused Buhari of being too mild with the opposition, alleging while the APC was in the opposition, the then ruling PDP deployed the machineries of public office to intimidate them at will.
“When the opposition accuse us of abusing Federal Powers, if there is any complaint among APC leaders; it is that Mr. President has been extremely mild. Even myself, sometimes, I feel Mr. President is too mild compared to what we went through.
“As a sitting governor in Edo State, I was denied the use of a Federal Airport. I went to the airport, but I could not fly. My brother from Rivers State, a Commissioner of Police blocked him and detained him at the Government House and said he could not leave Government House.
“Mr. President, your predecessor, the former President, used seven people to impeach a sitting governor in Bayelsa State. Also, he used seven people to impeach a governor in Plateau State.
“Even myself, I was to be impeached. I had to remove the roof of the House of Assembly to survive. My brother in Rivers, he was to be impeached, he had to do battle and fight like a thug, but I know he is a gentleman because he is a Catholic. But he was almost turned to what he is not.
“They fought us, they harassed us, they intimidated us and they charged us for no reason. But Mr President, I am not about to suggest that you should copy them. We cannot copy people who have no character. You must resist the temptation, even the pressure from some of us who feel that you are mild.
“It is PDP that had a President who told Nigerians, and it is on record, that elections were a do-or-die affair. So, when they talk the way they do, you wonder if they have forgotten their past,” Oshimhole stated.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy was affirmed at the national Convention with 14, 842, 072 votes, as announced by the Co-ordinator of the APC Presidential Primary and Governor-elect for Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
He noted that such magnitude of votes is a pointer to what Buhari would harvest in the presidential elections.
“This is only votes of the registered members of our party. We are not talking about other Nigerians who will vote for the president in the general elections,” Fayemi said.
Buhari in accepting the mandate, commended people he claimed were “other eligible candidates who deferred to me in the interest of our party and over-all national stability.
He enumerated his achievements in office saying that “from 2015 to date, we have arrested and checked the slide to anarchy on the security and economic fronts. Boko Haram is reduced to dastardly attacks on soft targets. Normalcy has returned to much of North East and neighbouring North West states.
“Our currency have stabilized; Our reserves are now $44 billion, a lot higher than we had in 2015. Power generation capacity has reached 8,000 megawatts against less than 4,600 when we came into office.
*IBB drums support for Atiku, ZLP too
Meanwhile, former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida has declared support Atiku Abubakar.
IBB in his tweeter handle, Ibrahim B. Babangida (@General_Ibbro) tweeted: “One of the few reasons I admire Atiku is because he is one of the very few politicians who has a lot of investments in Nigeria; for some of these reasons, he has my blessings. We shall Atikulate together in 2019, my congratulations to him”.
One of the newly registered political parties, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) has described the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a standard that should be emulated by other political parties.
The Chairman of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Barr. Dan Nwanyanwu in an exclusive chat with The AUTHORITY said that the convention is a standard that every other political party must emulate.
He said, “The convention looked transparent, free and fair, therefore it is a very credible convention. There is no ‘mago-mago’ known to us. Everything was televised for more than 24 hours. And you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that this is the kind of convention that we want.”
*Learn how to conduct credible elections from us, PDP tells INEC
Also, the PDP also asked INEC to come for tutorials on how to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent elections devoid of rancour and inconclusive outcomes.
In a statement on Sunday in Abuja, the party stressed that the process has shown that the electoral umpire, in its manifest compromises, has been responsible for the electoral crises at various levels of elections.
*Buhari group raises credibility questions against Atiku
Meanwhile, the Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) has raised issues with the credibility of Atiku Abubakar.
In a statement on Sunday by the BCO Director of Strategy and Communication, Barr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), the group insisted that the former Vice President still remains a “Leopard that can never change its skin,” insisting that Atiku carries a lot of credibility and integrity baggage on his back ahead of the elections.
“We wish to congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the candidate of the PDP in respect of the forth-coming 2019 Presidential Election.
“However, we note with interest all the reports in the media as to massive vote-buying at the PDP primaries (especially with foreign currency)