By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
NATIONAL Chairman of Pan -Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of elders, leaders and stakeholders of South-South region, AVM Idongesit Nkanga (ret.), yesterday, said the people of South- South were excited about Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s nomination as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because he believes in restructuring and had promised to restructure the country.
He and the Chief Strategist to Delta State Government, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on phone, asserted that the endorsment of the PDP presidential flag bearer by former President Olusegun Obasanjo was a big boost to his victory, next year.
But, a former governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, now an All Progressives Party, APC, leader and, in fact, its Delta South senatorial candidate, said in a FaceBook post that the endorsement of Atiku does not necessarily mean that Obasanjo would campaign for him.
Nkanga, a former military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, however, said the attempt by the presidency to impugn the integrity of Atiku and chip away at his endorsement by Obasanjo did not bother reasonable Nigerians, who have made up their minds to support Atiku.
Akpeki also stated that Obasanjo is a well respected former President of Nigeria and an international figure and his endorsement of Atiku was a big plus to the PDP.
The PANDEF chairman said, “The Presidency does not represent Nigeria. They can say whatever they want to say about Atiku. Majority of Nigerians have their opinion about Atiku. Whatever they are saying does not matter.
“For us in the Niger Delta and Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, we are very excited about the choice of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar because when we invited them to screen them, he presented the best among them on restructuring.
“Not only did he say he was going to restructure the country, he presented a book to us, indicating that he had been talking about restructuring long before it became a national discuss”.
Also speaking on the issue, Akpeki stated, “Obasanjo is a former President of this country and an internationally acknowledged leader. He is still a force in Nigeria, and so his endorsement of Atiku Abubakar is very big plus for PDP.
“Let me tell you, however, that the Presidency has nothing against Atiku. All they are talking about is just rumor.”