By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – GOVERNOR Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, Wednesday night told President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to get ready for aggressive marketing of the President and the party, declaring that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would not be a push over in the 2019 general elections.
Governor Bello who stated this when President Buhari hosted a dinner for youth political appointees at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, warned the APC against complacency, saying that opposition should not be taken for granted if the APC should win the election.
But the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha has said that the PDP in its 16 years did not do one tenth of what the APC has done in the past three and half years, adding that the ruling party went to the 2015 election with promises but will be going with its score card in the 2019 elections.
The Kogi State Governor said though the President remained the best leader for the country till 2023, the issue of perception was one that must be taken seriously by the APC to ensure that no chance was given to the opposition to return to power.
He said the task before the APC was to convince the masses of all Mr. President had done for Nigerians.
According to him, “A good product sells itself and Mr. President is a very good product. And his competence is definitely needed for the progress of this nation. But we need to go out there and sale him to the people.
“Public Relations practitioners will tell you that at some point, having a good product without excellent advertising is a winking in the dark. You know what you are doing but no one else does. Perception is reality but when it comes to politics and campaigning, perception management is therefore critical in a time like this.
“We must market the incredible accomplishment of Mr. President and of his administration to every voter and in a language he or she understands. If we fail, God forbids, the adverse narrative being put out by the PDP and other propaganda machine will dominate the land and shape perception.
“If we don’t market our product very well, a tough and progressive victory against a terrorist threat which continues to cost the lives of our brave military and law enforcement agencies will be mistaken for inactions.
“If we don’t market our product very well, try our political exposed offenders using long extant laws which previous leaders were not willing to deploy against cronies, accomplishes will be mistaken extra-judicial measures and disdain for the rule of law.
“If we do not put Mr. President’s achievements before our people so that they can sight it themselves, we will be agreeing with the PDP that in fighting corruption which he is offering again is somehow better than the alleged incompetence of the APC which has accomplished everything I have enumerated above.
“In summary, all may be lost if we don’t get Nigerian people to see why they must vote and allow Mr President continue his great work as we go to the poll in 2019.
“All that the crooked PDP is offering Nigerians is that corruption is better than incompetence in quote. 2015 was about change, 2019 will be about progress.
“As members of the APC, we will not deny that our party has a huge task in the 2019 general elections, the election will never be a walk-over and the PDP will not be a push over.
“And we must take nothing and no one for granted. If we cannot defeat PDP, maybe we should not be influencers or we should not even go to politics.”
Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, said that the PDP didn’t achieve one-tenth of APC achievements in its sixteen years at the helm of affairs.
He said, “As a Government arm, we have achieved so much and I am going to make available to you a document that we have put together, which captures what the government has been able to achieve in just about two and half years, what I called a midterm report.
“If we have to make a comparison of what has been achieved in the last couple of years, the 16 years of PDP administration will not constitute one-tenth of what we have been able to achieve in the last three and half years.
“We went to the 2015 elections with promises, but we will go to the 2019 elections with our scorecard.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, Jasper Azuatalam, told President Buhari that most Nigerians were presently disappointed with him because he had failed to perform the magic they had expected from him.
He, however, cautioned that it would be the worst thing for Nigeria if power slides back to the PDP in 2019.
He said, “The worst thing we can to this country Nigeria, is to allow PDP to come back to power in 2019. It is the worst thing we can do to Nigeria. I will liken PDP to a lion that has been put in the cage for a long time.
“I have interacted with their members and I know how hungry they have become because they don’t see free money as before. If we lose this lion again in 2019, then Nigeria is going to walk more than 1,000 steps backward.
“Like we always said in those days we lost elections, Mr. President will always get eleven to twelve million votes whether he operates from a party or not. That’s how good will we had that time, but that is because a lot of people believed that by Mr. President’s integrity and his ant-corruption, he is going to do magic when he resumes office as President that in two months, Nigeria will change.
“They don’t know it would happen. But the truth is that most of these have been disappointed because they didn’t see the magic. That is why we need to do the real work.”
But the President reassured the youths that Nigeria has all it takes for them to live a good life.
He condemned the rush by some Nigerians, especially the youth, in search of greener pastures abroad, saying his administration was determined to transform the country and make it better than it met it.
He said: “If people don’t feel good about this country, let them go and find out what is happening elsewhere but we are going to stay here and we are going to salvage this country together.
“I have gone through a lot, I have been Governor, I was in charge of our petroleum sector for over three years, I was Head of State and now I have come without the uniform and have visited each of the 774 Local government Areas in this country.
“The intention of this administration is to do the infrastructure and give education and healthcare to our people especially the poor.’’
President Buhari also noted that agriculture has blossomed under his administration, making more Nigerian rich in the process.
He said Nigerians were now leaving white-collar jobs for farming to tap from the revolution being witnessed in the agricultural sector, saying the country had achieved food security.
“I foresaw our problem in agriculture and did the right thing and today, people are much better, In terms of unemployment, our able bodied persons that do not have education and can’t get white-collar jobs, went back to till the land and today, none of them is regretting it.
“It’s very rare now to see idle people and the farmers are making money,’’ he added.
The president, however, expressed disappointment over the inadequate media coverage of the administration’s agricultural revolution programmes by the Nigerian press.
He said the press did not give the credit of the ongoing transformation in the agricultural sector of the country to his administration.
“I’m very disappointed with the Nigerian press. They didn’t give this government the credit of the `go back to land programme. We have cut down the importation of rice by at least 90 percent,” he said.