•Port Harcourt agog as aspirants posters, banners, billboards adorn city
The stage is set for tomorrow’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The 12 aspirants have outdoing one another clinch the ticket to fly the party’s flag during the presidential election next year. BISI OLANIYI writes on the minimum standard some of the aspirants and delegates expect from the historic event.
The die is cast. The turf is the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Locking horns are 12 presidential aspirants under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). At stake is the opposition party’s presidential ticket.
In the race are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe); formers governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto); Jonah Jang (Plateau), former Senate President David Mark; Datti Baba-Ahmed and former Special Duties Minister Tanimu Turaki.
Some of the aspirants have been expressing optimism that they will be victorious at the convention. They have traveresed the country to present their programmes and plans for the country if given the mandate to lead the opposition party.
The PDP, which lost power to the APC at the central in 2015 after 16 unbroken years, had appologised to Nigerians and pleaded that it be given another chance.
It has been critical of the ruling party, especially in the areas of the the economy and the anti-corruption battle, which it alleged is targetted at opposition forces.
Many of its members are facing trial over alleged misdeeds during the 16-year reign of the PDP between 1999 and 2015.
Port Harcourt – the Garden City and capital of the Southsouth state, was agog last night for PDP’s national convention, at which the President Muhammadu Buhari’s main challenger will emerge.
The APC will also tomorrow hold its national convention to affirm Buhari as its candidate in the presidential poll.
Moving round the city and its environs yesterday, The Nation observed that the billboards, banners and posters of Abubakar; Kwankwaso; Tambuwal Saraki were jostling for space.
The Adokiye Amaesimaka Stadium venue of event near the Port Harcourt International Airport, was wearing a new look, with the presidential aspirants having their banners, posters and billboards conspicuously placed for attention.
Artisans were seen busy at the stadium, painting, decorating and mounting Public Address System (PAS) to ensure a successful convention.
Convention Planning Committee Chairman and Delta State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa reportedly adjudged the stadium as befitting for the historic event.
Hotels in the city and neighouring communities were being fully booked by aspirants’ representatives, observers, local and foreign reporters, as well as PDP stakeholders.
Delegates from the 36 states and Abuja were trooping into the city through the airport and the inter-state roads.
The state capital was also wearing a new look with repainted roundabouts, junctions and strategic points. Street sweepers and sanitation officials have been mobilised to work extra hours to keep the city clean.
Resident newsmen were battling with accreditation for coverage of the event, being coordinated by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, with the support of two members of the Publicity Sub-Committee: Simeon Nwakaudu, the Special Assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on Electronic Media and Oraye St. Franklyn, the Special Assistant to Rivers Governor on Social Media.
Governor had kicked against those pushing for shift of venue from Port Harcourt, branding such peoples as enemies of the state. According to him, such a big event would boost the economy of the state.
Why delegates must vote
for me, by Mark
Senator Mark yesterday urged delegates to vote for him in the interest of unity, stability and prosperity of the nation.
In a statement issued by his media aide Paul Mumeh, Mark was quoted as making the call in his Otukpo country home in Benue State.
Mark said that the peace and unity of Nigeria superseded any other consideration.
He said that Nigeria had gone through avoidable turbulent times in the last few years, adding that only a man with the requisite knowledge, experience and passion for the country like him could salvage the situation.
The former Senate President said that he had a clear roadmap to revamp the economy within two years and also halt the intractable security challenges, if voted into office.
The statement reads: “The situation in the country more than ever before demands ready hands, stable character and commitment to the ideals of nationhood. I am committed to the sanctity of our unity.
“We must restore the trust and confidence in our people. We all have a stake in Nigeria. We have no other place to call ours.”
He reminded the delegates to vote wisely at the convention saying: “I will be with you and serve the nation diligently. I will be there for you. I will not let you down. I will be the last man standing.”
He added that his record of service in various parts of the country over the years put him in a better position to serve the nation creditably.
“I am the bridge Nigeria needs now. I will be the bridge between the North and South and between the old and young,” Mark was quoted as saying.
According to the statement, Mark possessed the requisite executive and legislative experiences to lead Nigeria to prosperity and restore the trust and respect of the international community.
He expressed confidence that the Okowa-led National committee would do a good job
The candidate of our dream
in Bayelsa, by Dickson
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday gave an insight on the qualities of the aspirants that will get the support of delegates from Bayelsa State at the convention.
“All delegates of the state PDP will adopt a common position and cast their votes en bloc for the candidate that displays enough courage and capacity to restructure the country,” Dickson said.
Making the assertion at a meeting with leaders and other stakeholders of the party in Government House, Yenagoa, the governor stated that the state and the entire Ijaw nation would only vote for a candidate that is ready to promote mutual respect for all Nigerians as well as create a level playing ground for all, irrespective of ethnic and religious leanings.
A statement by his media aide Fidelis Soriwei, quoted hism as stressing that, the Ijaw nation would only support and work with a candidate that will give the people equal opportunities and stake in the oil and gas industry, where the Ijaws have been relegated to the background over the years, despite, their enviable role as oil producing areas.
It reads: “Why I have assembled you all is about the position that we will all take as a state and the entire Ijaw nation. All the delegates will vote at the PDP Presidential Convention in one direction and as a bloc. No one delegate’s vote will be lost because the 2019 general election is a very serious election for our people.”
The governor also condemned some reported cases of misdemeanor during the senatorial and House of Representatives primaries at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Yenagoa and at Ogbia yesterday (October 3).
He called on the people to always conduct themselves peacefully, reminding them that elections must not be taken as a do-or-die affair.
Dickson urged all aspirants to exhibit team spirit, stressing that, politics should be seen as an opportunity to serve the people and not a one man game.
His words: “In politics, things change. There are some people, if it is not their own way, it is the highway, everybody will go and crash, they don’t care. Those are not politicians but mercenaries.
“This game is a group game and never about one man or one woman. The day we worked for them and they became senators, it was not imposition. Some stayed there for 8 and 12 years and others for four years. They tend to forget that this game of political service requires loyalty.”
Dickson promised to convene a meeting with all those, who lost out at the primaries, noting that, the political system has a way of making them relevant by offering other opportunities to contribute to the development of the state.
In his remarks, the Special Adviser to the governor on Political Matters, Chief Fyneman Wilson, congratulated all those, who emerged winners of the various primaries, adding that, there was need for all to work together to ensure success for the PDP in the 2019 general elections.
Bafarawa group feeds
6, 000 delegates
The Bafarawa Support Alliance Group (BSAG) said it has commenced feeding of at least 6, 000 delegates in Port Harcourt ahead of tomorrow’s convention as part of strategies to woo delegates.
The group’s National Chairman, Dr. Frank Osagie, told reporters that the group would be visiting delegates in their hotels and other locations to deliver food and drinks to them.
According to Osagie, the group has taken it as a responsibility to ensure the welfare of delegates during the exercise.
He said the group had since commenced the delivery of food and drinks to some delegates at Voyage Hotel, Stadium Road.
Osagie called on delegates that were yet to benefit from the welfare package to contact the group at its secretariat at Living Shepherd Hills Hotel.
The chairman commended the PDP for its recent assurance to party faithful that a mechanism had been put in place to ensure a level playing ground for all the aspirants.
He expressed optimism that Attahiru Bafarawa, the former Sokoto State governor, would win the primary election and fly the PDP flag at the presidential election next year.
Osagie said that Bafarawa had earlier visited all the 36 states and the FCT to consult with the delegates who assured him of their votes.
According to him, Bafarawa’s integrity and clean political record distinguished him from other aspirants.
He appealed to the delegates to make a wise choice by voting Bafarawa, whose credentials and integrity, he said, had been tested and proven and who was acceptable to every religion, region and tribe.
Saraki’s camp sure of victory
The chairman the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Presidential Campaign media committee of, Dr. Doyin Okupe, yesterday expressed optimism that his principal will emerge as PDP presidential flag bearer.
He made the declaration in a chat with reporters in Port Harcourt, venue of tomorrow’s convention.
Reel out what he called ‘great qualities’ that will give Saraki an edge above others, described the Senate President as a quintessential leader with an intimidating track record of achievements.
He said: “We have arrived at the Garden City where the presidential candidate of the PDP will be elected. It is a great event that will determine and shape the future of Nigeria.
“Dr. Bukola is a man that has been aptly described as a man for this season, a man that has in-born proclivity for leadership. He has an exemplary pedigree that is important for this type of post. His late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, was a medical practitioner and Bukola Saraki is a medical doctor.
His father was a leader of the Senate and he is the Senate President. His father was Waziri of Ilorin and he is the Waziri of Ilorin.”
He also extolled the virtues of Saraki and the impression of Nigerians, particularly the youth about the Senate President. “He is a great, confident, courageous, competent and cerebral personality. He is a shinning light in the political firmament of the PDP. Having gone round the country with Dr. Saraki, I am amazed at the level of his acceptability in virtually every zone of the nation. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has become a national phenomenon and his ideology and policy to grow Nigeria has become a doctrine especially amongst young Nigerians”.
On Saraki’s manifesto, Okupe said: “The message of Saraki, which is inclusiveness, equity and the programme to grow Nigeria is unrivaled and this is what he has consistently preached all over the nation. This has no doubt found great acceptability amongst the delegates.”
Okupe lauded the efforts of those saddled with the responsibilities of organising the convention, saying: “We have absolute confidence in Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the Chairman of the Convention Committee as well as his team. We also appreciate the genuine hospitality of the chief host, Governor Nyesom Wike. We also commend the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus and his team for the provision of a transparent convention. It is transparency and fairness that will allow a winner to clearly emerge and for others to accept.”