BY LEKE ADESERI, ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH, HENRY UMORU & DAPO AKINREFON
LAGOS — THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is said to be in palpable shock over progressing schemes by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and allied opposition political parties to get the upper hand of it in the forthcoming polls in the Southwest.
The party’s fears came against the background of the invasion of Lagos yesterday by the presidential candidates of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Ibrahim Shekarau respectively.
Buhari at the presentation of his party’s manifesto in Lagos vowed that his administration would make the country inhabitable for all criminals including politicians who fail to abide by the rules of the land.
As Buhari presented his manifesto, erstwhile Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai gave him a ringing endorsement as the best of all the presidential materials on offer. El-Rufai affirmed that the day Buhari is inaugurated president half of the criminals in the country would flee.
Shekarau at another forum in Lagos blasted the twelve year stewardship of the PDP as a failure which he said had brought the nation to its knees.
The fears of the PDP came against reports of talks between the ACN national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State to consolidate their interests against the PDP in Ogun State, one of the Southwest States the PDP is expected to face strong challenges. Despite denials by the Ogun State government and allies of Tinubu, there were indeed strong indications that Daniel’s Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN could forge an alliance with ACN ahead of the gubernatorial elections.
Leader of the PDP in Lagos State, Chief Bode George, however, dismissed claims of threats to the party’s chances in Lagos and the Southwest.
The threat from the opposition among other issues were expected to have been at focus at a meeting of the PDP’s Presidential Campaign Council meeting with members of the National Working Committee of the party that took place at the Legacy House headquarters of the PCC yesterday.
It was also learnt yesterday that the PDP leadership has also summoned key players in the South West PDP to Abuja for a crucial meeting anytime after the National Assembly elections of Saturday.
The meeting, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, will specifically measure the party’s performance at the first set of ballots and re-jig strategies for presidential and governorship elections in the region.
The meeting is also expected to review the impact of the N2.9billion earlier released by the party to challenge the progress of ACN in the Southwest.
Aware of this, the ACN is said to be fighting back by plotting serious counter_attack.
With the massive protest votes against PDP expected from some states like Ogun and Oyo and the uncertainty of how Southwest will flow, President Jonathan’s campaign team is now said to be concerned and fearful of underperforming in the April 2011 presidential election, especially because of the developments in the Northwest and Southwest zones.
The Jonathan/Sambo campaign is clearly unwilling to tolerate a run_off presidential poll which it is feared may force the opposition parties to unite against the PDP and spell doom for the Jonathan presidential ambitions.
Buhari presents manifesto in Lagos
Buhari yesterday at the public presentation of his party’s manifesto in Lagos at the City Hall identified five major areas which his administration would concentrate which includes security, quality services at all levels, raising the standard of education, providing aggressive pursuit after youth development and youth employment generation and total disarming of the Niger Delta.
His words: “CPC government will seek the disarmament of all criminal gangs in the nation and also secure the entire polity. On education, we shall rehabilitate all dilapidated infrastructure while we are going to make it a must to finding solution to the Niger Delta social problems and we will lay down a comprehensive blueprint for the development of the area.”
Besides, he explained that if given the opportunity to rule Nigeria, his party intends to make “this nation accountable and corruption_free, and bring morality back to governance. We shall make this nation uncomfortable to those who do not wish to play by the rules.”
To actualise this, the former Military Head of State urged Nigerians to vote credible crop of leaders who he said would turn around the fortunes of the country.
“For the past 12 years, Peoples democratic party (PDP) has bastardised the nation. In all this period, it has done very little that is right even less than is proper, and nothing intrinsically useful or cost effective,” he stated.
The presidential hopeful , however, berated the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for failing to resolve the lingering communal and religious crises in the country, adding “What stopped them from securing the nation from communal, religious and political violence and from the new wave of terrorism? How many years do they need to do that?”
On his part, Buhari’s Vice Presidential running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare maintained that the CPC will pursue aggressive amendment of the constitution to remove immunity clause for public officers and guarantee a state of community police adding that “CPC will also address the federal structure with the aim of reviewing it.”
El-Rufai endorses Buhari
Earlier in his address, former Minister, Federal Capital Territory (FTC), Mallam Nasir El Rufai said having critically analyzed the three major presidential candidates, Ï have found in Buhari the best quality that could move the country forward.”
According to him, “We all know what the PDP and his candidate President Goodluck Jonathan can do. At least the past 12 years is enough to draw our conclusion. I have also sat with the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and told him that there is a better candidate in Buhari. The day Buhari is made president of the country half of the criminals will leave Nigeria.”
PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the ANPP, Mallam Shekarau at a colloquium organised in Lagos by the Congress of Political Leaders attributed the poor state of the country to bad governance, he accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of failing “to give the nation good governance”.
According to him, in the twelve years of the PDP administration none of the many problems plaguing the country has been addressed.
In addition, he said “we have no guarantee that the next 12 years of PDP rule, will be different from the last 12 years. I maintain that this party is more concerned with just ruling the country than moving the country forward.”
The ANPP presidential candidate said overtime, we blame the military for the woes of the country, but was quick to point out that in the “last twelve years we have been ruled by one party that claims to be the biggest in Africa, never mind the change of individuals, they are all the same, yet we have not seen any change.”
Earlier in his remarks, first civilian governor of Lagos state, Alhaji Lateef Jakande decried the number of political parties which currently exists in Nigeria adding that “with 66 political parties seeking to represent Nigeria, many countries will consider Nigeria as not serious.”
Jakande, was of the opinion that the forum would have afforded all progressives the opportunity to discuss the way forward noting that “ this sort of meeting would have afforded everyone the opportunity to air his or her view on how to move Nigeria forward.”
Chief Bode George reacting to the development yesterday said, “ As far as I am concerned, I do not think any merger threat can affect the fortune and the victory of PDP in the South-West, especially Lagos State. I will not talk about the abracadabra going on in Ogun state.
Either Tinubu is entering an alliance with Gbenga Danile or not, that cannot be a big deal to us here. However, I am assuring you that the people of Lagos know what happened to them, they know the type of pain they feel in the last 12 years under the government of the ACN. So, the merger cannot reduce the pain the damages caused them in Lagos State.
This cannot remove the pains of looting of the state treasury, the payment of double taxation, the payment of unrealistic land use charge. So, we are not being threatened by any merger at all.”
You can fool some people some times, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”