By Omeize Ajayi
After what looked like a late start to its electioneering campaigns, the ruling All Progressives Congress APC last month began its campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state but after that event, there was a seeming lull in its campaigns.
The situation however seemed to have changed, with Tuesday’s launch of its campaign in the Northeast, the geopolitical zone of Atiku Abubakar, who is the presidential candidate of the county’s main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
For the APC, there was no better place to have kick-started its campaign in the region other than Adamawa, Atiku’s home state. Insiders said the move was politically strategic as the ruling party is determined to beat “black and blue” Atiku in his own home. According to them, it was the main reason the leadership of the party had no choice than to wholeheartedly support the emergence of Gov. Mohammed Jubrilla Bindow for a second term, believing that among the hordes of aspirants in the party, only him understood Atiku better and possesses the wherewithal to retain the state for the ruling party.
So, on a day the PDP berthed its north central campaign in Lokoja, Kogi state, it was a carnival of sorts for the APC in Adamawa as thousands of supporters besieged the Ribadu square in what was a prelude to the next day’s event – the campaign flagoff.
Throughout Monday night to the early hours of Tuesday, the actual day of the rally, the Ribadu Square, venue of the event became a theatre of performances for both Nollywood and Kannywood celebrities who thrilled the ecstatic audience to varieties of music and comedy.
The zone has six states, which are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. Out of the six states, the only one that the APC lost in the 2015 presidential election was Taraba.
The usual refrain by the PDP in Adamawa is that the region has never produced an elected president, hence the argument to give Atiku a chance, but the APC believes that the former vice president has no record of performance for the eight years he spent in office.
At the event, APC challenged the PDP to an open debate, describing the coming election as a battle between the forces of darkness and light.
APC urged Nigerians not to be deceived by the antics of the PDP, saying in spite of recent apologies by the former ruling party, it remained a house of thieves who are not amenable to change.
At the rally which was attended by the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Director General of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Rotimi Amaechi, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, influential Adamawa female politician, Hajia Aishatu Dahiru Binani Ahmed, Senators Ali Ndume, Paul Wampana, Binta Masi Garba and hordes of other federal and state lawmakers as well as members of the National Working Committee NWC of the party also witnessed the presentation of Gov. Mohammed Jubrilla Bindow as the governorship flagbearer of the party in the state.
In his opening remarks, Amaechi said the APC is ready to compare its three and a half years in power with PDP’s 16 “ruinous” years, urging thousands of APC supporters who besieged the Ribadu Square venue of the event to not allow the PDP back to power.
“The only way we can show these men that we are serious is not to allow them come back because if they come back, they will use four years to recoup what they have lost. They will do what our parents used to teach us while we were kids, ‘do not talk while you are eating’. If you disturb them, they will tell you they are eating. They will be busy eating from what is left, all the struggles of Buhari is what they would squander. And they will do that in four years. After that, they will ask for another four years.
“The National Chairman of PDP, Secondus had said they were sorry for what they had done but a thief is a thief; they will never change.
“This election is between two parties that have been in power. We challenge PDP to an open debate where the masses will be present. Let them show their scorecard and we will show our own too. The only place they will beat us is in corruption. You know before, when you attend rallies, they will give you money and you will not ask them where the money was coming from. When they give you N5, 000, they will go and take N5 billion.
“Please do not go and sleep. There is what they call apathy. Avoid apathy. Do not just assume that we have won. On February 16, come out with your PVCs and vote APC. We want to beat PDP mercilessly. You have to go out and vote. When you vote, do not leave. PDP people are magicians, because if you go, two thousand would become two million. You know I was in PDP, so I know this. Stay there and vote. When they announce the results, you can go home”, Amaechi said.
According to him, next month’s general election would be an avenue for the “Nigerian people to carry out a referendum between the forces of darkness and those of light which President Buhari represents”.
The SGF who conveyed the message if the president to the people said the Buhari administration was ready to sustain the peace in Adamawa and other parts of the zone.
Urging support for Gov. Bindow, he said the election in Adamawa has strategic implications for the ruling party, promising the continued support of the federal government for the state.
Oshiomhole on his part hailed 11 other candidates of various parties for collapsing their structure into the Bindow Campaign Organization saying; “If this group was 100 megawatts before, with the coming together of these additional reinforcements, it has become 8, 000 megawatts and we can now say, it is finished”.
Some of the parties whose candidates signed a Memorandum of Understanding MoU to publicly step down for Gov. Bindow were KOWA, Young Peoples Party YPP, Mega Party, Peoples Democratic Movement PDM, Zenith Labour Party, Accord among others.
The candidates led by the governorship candidate of Alliance National Party ANP, Alhaji Umar Jada said their decision to defect to APC was based on the masses-oriented policies of the APC administration in the state.
Jada said a Memorandum of Understanding MoU, has been signed by the candidates to collapse their structures into the Bindow Campaign Organization ahead of the general elections in February and March.
He said; “Adamawa state had never witnessed developmental strides among its diverse peoples like in the time of APC, especially in the areas of health, education and human capital development. We have committed our total loyalty to Gov. Bindow’s reelection and handed our structures to APC at all levels. In the state”.
Abdullahi Usman of the National Conscience Party NCP, Bappari Umaru of KOWA Party, Elizabeth Isah of Change Advocacy Party CAP and Lami Musa of Peoples Party of Nigeria PPN were among the eleven whose names were announced as having stepped down for the governor.
Others were Badau Isaac Sa’adu of the Justice Must Prevail Party JMPP, Bulame Naame of Progressives Peoples Alliance PPA, Frank Usman Koshihula of MEGA Party and Sa’ad Maiyaki of Zenith Labour Party ZLP.
Receiving the party’s flag, Gov. Bindow hailed Buhari for keeping the North East and Adamawa State from been completely taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in 2015.
Bindow stated that if not for the intervention of President Buhari the insurgents were on the verge of completely annexing the entire region.
According to the governor, “the PDP regime then had all it takes to contain the advancing insurgents, but out of lack of political will and selfish reasons, that administration abandoned the people of the region”.
He therefore called on the people to ignore all the advances of the PDP which he said remained a harbinger of evil.
He said President Buhari had won in the Northeast in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, saying, the situation was not about to change in 2019 with his “unbeaten” level of performance in the last three and a half years. For instance, he said the road leading from Yola to Jada where Atiku hails from had been abandoned for over 23 years, not until Buhari assumed the reins of governance and constructed it.
Gov. Bindow charged his supporters to embark on issues-based campaigns and avoid the temptation of being dragged so low as to match the PDP insults for insults. Quoting a former American First Lady, Mitchell Obama, the governor said, “when they go low, we go high”.
“We are not here to insult or denigrate anybody. We are not here to reply insults. We are here to tell you what we have done in the last three and a half years and we let you in as to what we have planned to do going forward”, the governor declared.
APC National Vice Chairman, North East, Comrade Mustapha Salihu who is also from Adamawa state said the people of the zone are ready to reciprocate what the APC administration has done for them.
“The people of the North East are aware of the efforts of this government. You are aware that Sambisa forest is twice the size of Belgium. The Kala Balge-Gwoza axis is like Togo and Gambia put together. This administration has assisted in recovering all those areas. Gone are the days when our soldiers were reported to be shying away from the Boko Haram. So, for those of us in the north east, we know who to vote for”, he said when asked about the chances of President Buhari against Atiku in the zone.