Atiku: September Heralds Dawn of Nigeria’s Freedom from APC Stranglehold – THISDAY Newspapers

*Says decentralising campaign structure is only way to win in 2023 
*Reaffirms 40 per cent commitment to women, youth in his cabinet 
*Stakeholders weigh options on PDP crisis 
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Fidelis David in Akure
Ahead of the official commencement of the 2023 general election campaign by political parties this month, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has said September brings Nigerians good tidings of the beginning of the march to freedom from the throttlehold of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Atiku declared this in a statement yesterday.

The former vice president also announced the decentralisation of his campaign structure, saying it is the only way to win the presidential election.
In Abuja, at the inauguration of the Atiku-Okowa Vanguard Nigeria, Atiku reaffirmed his commitment to 40 per cent women and youth involvement in his cabinet, if elected president next year.

The PDP presidential candidate’s statement came as stakeholders in the party began to mull over the options open to them in the effort to resolve current disagreements. This followed the suggestion to remove the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, or sack the entire National Working Committee (NWC) to give room for a north/south balance in the party.

In a statement, yesterday, Atiku said, “For many Nigerians, this year’s September is a month that comes with a great deal of joy and great expectations. After enduring many years of the ruling APC practically kneeling on our neck, September heralds the commencement of our freedom from the APC’s stranglehold.
“The time has finally come for Nigerians to take part in the process of salvaging this great country and making it a beautiful land of opportunities and prosperity – once again.”

According to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), public campaign by political parties for presidential and National Assembly elections begins September 28, while that of governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections starts October 12.

Atiku welcomed the youth of Nigeria to September, calling it the month long expected for the kick-starting of his presidential campaign.
Urging all concerned to register online to participate fully in the restructured campaign process, the PDP candidate said decentralising his campaign structure was necessary, “Because we know that every election is won and lost at the polling unit, we have agreed to decentralise our campaign.

“What that means is that folks like you are the potential managers of my campaign. It is a system that takes power away from the centre and returns it to where it belongs: to the people.”

Reiterating his promise to give 40 per cent of his cabinet positions to women and youths, if elected president in 2023, at the inauguration of the Atiku-Okowa Vanguard Nigeria in Abuja, Atiku said the importance of women and youths to the development of any nation could not be overemphasised.
Represented by his campaign spokesman, Senator Dino Melaye, the former vice president said, “Without women and youths there is no nation and part of my policy direction is to populate my appointments and empowerments by youths and women, minimum 40 per cent.

“While women are asking for 35 per cent, Atiku is offering 40 per cent and let me assure you that this will be implemented to the letter, when we come on board.”
He bemoaned the astronomically high cost of living in the country and blamed it on the failure of the APC-led federal government to effectively manage the economy.

Atiku said, “I used to fly Economy from Abuja to Lagos for N18, 000, but now it is over N100, 000; we used to buy loaf of bread for N120 and now it is N1, 200; we used to buy diesel at N150 per litre but now it is N800 per litre; dollar used to be exchanged for N210 and now N700 and rising.

“We cannot continue like this as a nation. So, let us save Nigeria by electing Atiku Abubakar. You know no Nigerian can accuse Atiku of being a tribalist or a religious bigot. Nigeria is looking for a healer not a patient, so let us go house-to-house, door-to-door and campaign for Atiku and Okowa to rescue this country.”
Wife of the presidential candidate, Titi Abubakar, appealed to the women and youths for support, saying her husband is well prepared to rescue the country and bring it back to working ways.

She said, “If my husband is elected, I will do more for Nigerian children and women. Atiku has promised women and youths 40 per cent in the cabinet; he is a man of his word and he will do it, but it is you alone that can make it happen.
“I am appealing to you, our women and youths, don’t sell your conscience and your tomorrow, but rather stand for the right thing and your tomorrow will be better, because Atiku will bring back Nigeria’s lost glory.”

Chairman of the occasion and former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, said political awareness had increased with the advent of the social media. Anyim commended the Atiku-Okowa Vanguard Nigeria for their efforts at marketing the party.
Represented by Ebonyi State PDP governorship candidate, Senator Obinna Ogba, Anyim said PDP had the best presidential candidate in the country and urged the group to intensify the effort to sell Atiku to Nigerians.

Keynote speaker at the event and National Secretary of PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said, “Nigerians are looking up to PDP for immediate rescue from the lacklustre leadership of the APC.” Anyanwu appealed for collective action by Nigerians to liberate the suffering masses.

He said, “This group is, therefore, a welcoming effort in our quest to rescue and rebuild Nigeria from the maladministration of the APC. The country is in a paralytic condition awaiting immediate rescue, because every facet of the economy has become dysfunctional and putting the country under imminent collapse.”
Welcoming guests earlier, National President of the group, Hon. Oby Nwaogu, described Atiku and Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as detribalised Nigerians and experienced leaders needed to rescue the country from the hardship and underdevelopment brought on the people by APC.
Stakeholders Weigh Options On PDP Crisis
Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that as part of the options being considered for the resolution of the PDP crisis, there were plans to revive the legal battle by the former national chairman, Uche Secondus.
The Supreme Court had in April adjourned, indefinitely, the Secondus legal challenge to the October 2021 national convention that sacked him. A former principal secretary to Secondus, Chuma Chinye, had dragged PDP before a Federal High Court in Abuja, praying the court to sack the Ayu-led leadership.
Chinye, a lawyer, alleged that his principal was illegally and forcefully removed from office. In the suit, he sought a declaration that the removal and replacement of Secondus by Deputy National Chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwumi, without regard to the provisions of constitution of PDP, the first defendant, was unlawful, unconstitutional, and of no effect whatsoever.
Part of the contemplation was to declare a parallel NWC, and also ensure that the southern members of the party did not attend any of the Board of Trustees (BoT), national caucus, and NEC meetings, if it became clear that Ayu was unwilling to step aside.

THISDAY learnt last night that Atiku was planning to hold what could be considered the final talks with Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his team.
Sources hinted that because of the interest of Wike’s team in the 2023 general election, where they had candidates for governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections, they ruled out defection as an option.

Rather, a source said, “Since Atiku is already taking sides with Ayu, we will help him to destroy his ambition of becoming the president. We will boycott all scheduled organs of the party, factionalise the party and see how the PDP will win the presidential election.”

The source, however, said despite the plans, “We still hope that reason will prevail as Atiku and the Wike team will meet Wednesday for a last minute resolution of issues before the NEC meeting.”
At the last meeting between the Atiku and Wike camps, another meeting was agreed to hold in two weeks’ time to review positions.
APC Plotting to Rig 2023 General Elections, PDP Alleges
The opposition PDP in Ondo State, yesterday, alleged that it had uncovered a plan by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the 2023 general election.
The party said against the background of unfulfilled promises made to Nigerians in 2015 and 2019, the leadership of APC had, allegedly, perfected a plot to compromise the electoral process by recruiting fake National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to serve as presiding officers during the general election.

In a statement by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Kennedy Ikantu Peretei, PDP alleged that the plot was hatched at a meeting attended by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, APC State Chairman, Ade Adetimehin, and other leaders in Abuja.  Peretei alleged that at the meeting, they were directed to identify five leaders in each of the 18 local government areas of the state to coordinate the plot.

He stated, “If the 2023 elections were to be about dividends of democracy delivered to the people, the APC knows it does not stand any chance of winning. Their recent outing in Osun State gubernatorial election has also opened their eyes to the reality that not even the bullion vans can save them from imminent failure, hence, the ploy to resort to any available tricks in the books.

“For example, in Ondo State, where civil servants have become the butt of every joke, especially, teachers whose promotion letters were withheld for not presenting Master’s in Education degrees or forced to attend Public Service Training Institute, Ilara-Mokin, for a whooping N130,000.00 per person, must not be allowed to freely exercise their franchise by voting their preferred candidates. In a free and fair election, the civil servants will certainly revenge their humiliation and frustration over the years.

“Our party calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission not to allow itself to be used in this unpatriotic act. If President Muhammad Buhari failed tragically to provide security, and also failed to sustain the prosperous economy he inherited, the least expectation from him is to deliver free, fair and credible elections in 2023. He should not allow desperate politicians in his party destroy whatever is remaining of his battered image.”
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