John Alechenu, Abuja
The New Nigeria Peoples Party and the Labour Party have disagreed with claims by the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, that they were engaged in alliance talks.
National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Prof. Rufai Alkali, in a telephone interview with Vanguard, on Wednesday, denied the existence of any such talks.
He said, “There is no such talk to our knowledge. We just returned from our campaign in Ibadan, our party and our candidate are in this election to win.
“ Our candidate, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is the candidate to beat, he is not stepping down for anybody or any party.
Speaking in a similar vein, the Chief Spokesman for the Labour Party, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, said, “There is no such discussion to the best of my knowledge. We have so far campaigned in 29 states and our candidate is in Sokoto, we are busy campaigning others are speculating.
“It is too late in the day for anyone to begin to imagine that our candidate will step down for anyone. We welcome anyone or party wishing to step down for our candidate. “
They both said this in response to Atiku’s claims in an interview with the BBC that alliance talks were ongoing.
The PDP presidential candidate had in the interview given a hint of a possible alliance with the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi and that of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso in his favour.
Atiku also used the interview to clear the air on a number of issues surrounding his campaign and his quest for the Presidency.
Speaking on the possibility of the alliance talks Atiku said, “Of course, yes, it is politics, we are talking with them, anyone of them. However, they aren’t a threat to me.”
He also said he was not afraid of any politician least of all his opponent in the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. In response to a question as to whether he was afraid of Tinubu, he said,”No l’ am not afraid of that, I have never been afraid of any politician.”
Speaking about his plans for Nigeria if he wins the Presidency, Atiku said, “My vision is to ensure that I used all the things I have done in government and in politics for the development of the country, but especially what I used to tell my children that I give birth to , gave them education (Western and Islamic), after they graduated (from
Schools) abroad, I have not allowed them to stay there, they all came back to Nigeria. So, what kind of country am I bequeathing to them and other children of Nigerians? This is my driving force to say that if I win this time around what can I offer?
On his administration’s policy direction, the PDP candidate said, “I will take five things, especially insecurity, that is all over the country, north and south, disunity and injustice in governance. we have the economy, education and the co-existence of the people.
“In my opinion, the federal government has taken over lots of responsibilities that were supposed to be devolved to states and local governments. These are the five things I will focus on if I win the presidency.”
On how he intends to tackle the issue of insecurity, he said, “First of all we will increase the number of security agents and equipment, we will increase their salaries and allowances. We will allow state police, but we will ensure that they are not being used to infringe on the rights of the opposition.”
He also promised to take steps to address the problem of the over 12 million out-of-school children most of whom are in the north.
Atiku observes that “The federal government will take steps to ensure that states use the funds on education judiciously to develop it.
On the issue of perennial strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, he expressed his willingness to negotiate with the unions.
He said, “I don’t see any problem with that now is over 20 years I own a university and for one day there has been no strike, why? Because we pay them their salaries and allowances.
“We can have where students will get scholarship we will revitalise this, anyone who cannot pay we have this Scholarship and when they graduate and start working they pay that is how it is done all over the world.”
On the challenge posed by his dispute with G-5 governors of his party, the PDP candidate said, “Almost all parties have crisis and we are still pacifying them we are confident that this will not hamper our chances of winning the election and we are confident of how the elections will be conducted now unlike in the past where a governor will dictate who the people will vote for, the law has changed this, now election is in the hands of voters.
He also expressed willingness to make his asset declaration public if required to do so. He said, “I write all that I own and if I am required to declare my assets i will do that for journalists who want to have it, is there.”
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