By Akpokona Omafuaire, WARRI
FORMER militant leaders from the Niger Delta region yesterday after a brainstorming session endorsed the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the 2023 general election.
The endorsement of Atiku by the group was contained in a communique signed by Gen. Josiah Oyakonghan a.k.a Commander Oyimi, Chairman (MADND), Sokere Ekpos, Secretary General (MADND) and Freeborn Ochuko alias Pressure, PRO (MADND) in Warri, Delta State.
The strategic meeting culminating in the endorsement was held by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Dreams of Niger Deltans (MADND) and Former Warlords of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
The Communique read in part, “In our meeting, held today, 3rd of January, 2023, as an executive and members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Dreams of Niger Deltans (MADND) and Former Warlords of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), met to review the political situation in the nation generally and focused on the issues that predicated our hitherto agitations such as resource control, restructuring the polity, political inclusion, economic development as well as environmental challenges. Rising from the meeting, we agreed that:
“Regrettably there is no tenable progress done to addressing our agitations; hence, we unanimously agreed to work for a President who has shown commitment to these issues via his manifesto.
“As a result of this, we, therefore, endorsed the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, H.E. Atiku Abubakar, who had shown more readiness to the plights and challenges of Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta region. A region that has been neglected morally and remains economically poor, despite, contributing huge resources to Nigeria’s economy.
“One of our criteria reached in endorsing, Atiku Abubakar, is that amongst all Presidential candidates, he was the first to pick a running mate in person of H.E. Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, Governor of Delta State; while others were struggling to pick a running mate, ended up submitting placeholders as running mates, a nomenclature that is nonexistent and an alien to the laws of our land.
“And more importantly a representation of lack of incompetence from them to hit the ground running even if they become President because as the last time they changed their placeholders, to legal running mates; they were still struggling with their manifestos.
“On the other hand, Atiku Abubakar immediately nominated a running mate, with a clear document that speaks or provides solutions to the myriads of challenges in Nigeria through his policy thrust, or manifesto, titled: ‘My Covenant With Nigerians.’
“Nigeria is at a crossroads; our country is on a precipice: today Nigeria is not working, and this has heightened a series of agitations, existential threats and tensions. The issues that brought the Niger Delta agitation of which we were an integral part before former President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, proclaimed a presidential pardon, had still not been addressed.
“Issues about environmental degradation, political inclusion, resource control, restructuring as well as the economic development of the region are conspicuously ignored by politicians.
“In all these, one candidate amongst other candidates has proposed devolution of power, a restructuring that will put the Niger Delta into the path of economic development and political inclusion.
“Indeed, Atiku has been advocating for restructuring and devolution of power far back in 2004, when it was very unpopular and not politically expedient for him to do so. And perhaps, this is something all Nigerians have been clamouring for for a long time, therefore, it is time to elect a president who is detribalized and has got the wherewithal and political will to achieve something all Nigerians want desperately.
“In addition, Atiku amongst the other candidates was still the first to flag off his campaigns whilst others were still battling on how to kickstart their campaigns. These are symbolic signs that Atiku Abubakar has the wealth of experience in governance and the ability to traverse every part of the country to unite Nigerians and entrench a national government of unity.
“Nigerians can’t afford to trust the leadership of our land to people who are flagrantly disobeying the laws of the land whose actions are in breach of the electoral act. As Nigerians, we should elect someone who has shown readiness.
“It is therefore on this premise we use this medium to appeal to all Nigerians especially the Niger Deltans, Yorubas, Igbos and every other region that has been agitating for restructuring to support Atiku Abubakar and vote for him to address our needs. Nigeria was due for restructuring and Atiku Abubakar is fully ready to restructure Nigeria.” It added.