PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Anthony Anenih, has admonished the people of Lagos State to take their destiny in their hands by putting a stop to the continued suffering which the politics of opposition has foisted on them.
Meanwhile, the PDP leader and Nigeria's President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has also called on Nigerians to ensure that the wind of change presently blowing goodwill, economic stability and prosperity should and would be sustained by a Umar Musa Yar'Adua presidency. By the same token, Yar'Adua, the PDP presidential candidate for the April elections, has been preaching the gospel of continuity per economic reforms, promising that Nigeria, under his watch, would continue to march forward.
However, while acknowledging the efforts of President Obasanjo at being fair to the Igbo nation, Governor Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State declared that after the expected eight-year tenure of Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, his running mate, it would be the turn of the Igbo people to ascend the presidency. Abdulahi Adamu of Nasarawa State said the PDP is Noah's Ark and Nigerians should jump on board. National deputy chairman of the party, South, Olabode George said the reason the flag off of the party's campaign commenced in Lagos and at the TBS is because in 1960, it was at the same venue that Nigeria got her independence, pointing out that "it is fitting that the campaigns should start here having gotten economic independence via debt relief as nurtured and achieved by our great leader, President Obasanjo."
All these came yesterday when the PDP stormed Lagos to flag-off its presidential campaigns. The rally, unlike its famed Tsunami rally of 2005, saw a mammoth crowd fill the main bowl of the Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS. Whereas the flag-off was scheduled to kick off by 10a.m, it did not commence until 12:40 with the arrival of President Obasanjo.
At the rally were the who is who in the PDP. Senators and House of Representative members were also on hand. Speaker after speaker, the main issues at the rally were the need to continue with the plethora of reforms being engendered by the Obasanjo administration, the need to position the party in a manner that it would retain power at the centre and, sounding most importantly, the need to take over Lagos State. Olabode George; Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; Egwu;, Abdulahi Adamu; Gombe State governor, Danjuma Goje; Madam Ciroma; national chairman, Ahmadu Ali; Yar'Adua and President Obasanjo, spoke in that order.
Each pointed out that Nigeria was at a point where the gains of the reforms already put in place should not be lost. Those claiming to be pursuing the virtues of democracy and promising heaven and earth do not mean well for Nigeria.
Bode George: Any river that forgets its roots would dry up.PDP was originally a movement and continued growing from strength to strength. From 1999 when PDP took over under the leadership of President Obasanjo; and he has taken Nigerian from the deptH of rottenness to the height of success. From a debt of $36billion in 1999, to a foreign reserve of close to $50billion, Obasanjo has, through prudent management of our resources, re-positioned Nigeria. We are here because we started here at independence and Obasanjo has again given Nigerians another independence. Nigeria may not be so smooth yet but with God all things are possible. George then greeted the crowd in Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, and also hailed the crowd in like manner, including Ijaw language.
Olagunsoye Oyinlola: We, as Yoruba, should simply follow President Olusegun Obasanjo's path. We've always had deceptive leaders in Yoruba land. Once upon a time, it was all opposition politics but the last eight years has been superb. Therefore, this politics of the centre from which we have gained tremendously, we should not depart from it. Even after Obasanjo, we would continue as a people to play major politics. Nobody can continue the good works of Obasanjo other than Yar Adua and Jonathan. To the people of Lagos, who have been living under deceptive leaders, it's time for you to move to the centre and stop this suffering.
Sam Egwu: Igbos are the ones in control of Lagos, and I want to say without Igbos there is no Nigeria. And under this dispensation Obasanjo has looked after the interests of the Igbos. He has appointed Igbo as Defence Minister, as Minister of Education and as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. We have tried to get the presidency without success, but I say if we do not get it today we will get it tomorrow. From Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe at independence up till now the Igbos have not played opposition politics, we have been at the mainstream of politics of Nigeria. And the PDP is the only national and real party, so we must remain in PDP. I believe that after Yar'Adua and Jonathan has finished their tenure, the Igbos will get their turn.
Abdullahi Adamu: PDP is the Noah's Ark, and so we are here to launch 2007 presidential campaign for the April elections. PDP is enjoying the people's confidence and that is why we won two previous elections, and the time has come again for all the political parties to seek the mandate, but we have delivered. We have not solved all the problems of Nigeria, but we have shown commitment and we have reduced the burden tremendously and so whether you are a PDP supporter or not, if you fear God, you cannot say that your life has not been touched, that you have not seen something new, be it water, road or something that was not there before.
Yar'Adua: I feel great and privileged to receive the PDP flag and as the flag bearer of the PDP, the greatest party in Africa, I want to say, for me, this is the moment of rally because this flag, the PDP flag, stands as the role and road for Nigerians, this flag embodies Nigerian generation and the road for continuity lies in this PDP flag. This flag is very. Nigeria today has a political leader and a political party that is being described as prominent to transform our country from underdeveloped nation to a developed country. The journey began in the year 1999, many Nigerians and even PDP members will agree that a historic event had taken place. PDP is the most democratised party in Nigeria today. The party under the leadership of President Obasanjo has transformed Nigeria to be among the best black race around the world by the year 2020.
What PDP has achieved for Nigeria is a historic vision. In PDP, we are thinking about the future from one generation to four generations. We are going to put efforts into transforming our country. Nigeria will be great. Our leader in the PDP is laying a foundation in the party to greatness, we need to follow this path to aspire and do a lot to achieve what ought to be achieved. Let me assure you, we are going to move this country forward. We are going to ensure we work hard to ensure that we realise the PDP dream of our great Nigeria. We are determined to ensure Nigeria attain greatness and President Obasanjo has promised Nigerians and there is no going back on it. We are giving the best from the PDP to Nigerians to attain greatness, and we are saying no to backwardness. We are charting the path to greatness.
Every Nigerian must make the PDP to make Nigeria great. With this campaign starting, let everyone of us carry this message of hope throughout this country that we have a duty for our leaders and to ourselves and a duty to achievement and duty for the future generation and to ensure that there is an opportunity to attain greatness. Our message is forward ever and backward never. Nigeria must be great. The vision 2020 must be realised and it must be achieved. It is a good Nigeria that we want. so let us make good efforts and remain determined to ensure that we achieve this greatness for our country.
President Obasanjo: I want to start by saying you the members of PDP, you have to thank God for everything. Yesterday, I was thinking God has guided us from one dispensation to another, PDP is still waxing strong. At the national level, state and local government, the party structure is stable. We also want to thank God for all the national committees of the party. In this party, we want continuity. Continuity in programme and manifesto of our party and those who will implement the policies and the manifesto at the national, state and local levels. That is what democracy is all about. Nevertheless, PDP has outshone his own agenda to do a number of things especially the repositioning of Nigeria.
To reposition Nigeria, for continued democracy for stability, for progress, for development, for security. What are the contests? The main contest is choosing the presidential flagbearer who is going to make Nigeria proud, to make Nigeria one of the greatest economies in the year 2020. To make our country a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of opportunity, a land of prosperity, a land where democracy will continue to reign, a land devoid of corruption. Now, what are the main items that we are to take care of. Security without security, we cannot move our country forward and we have been trying our best on security; the police have increased by 300 per cent.
Our security is a very dear matter that should not be left in the hands of security agents alone, security is the responsibility of all of us. When we return back, we will make security an issue and something that concerns and satisfies everybody. We must do something now, when security prevails, that is how prosperity grows. These physical infrastructure, roads, railways, electricity, water, are owing you attention today, and we will continue to give your attention; aside human infrastructure, education, health, food and nutrition, we need to pay attention to production so that as a nation, we have not just been doing enough in production, we must produce what we need and produce for other persons so that we can diversify resources of our revenue or income.
Peter Odili: Mr. President, you have laid the foundation, like the great father and leader, you have cut the bush, you have dug it, you have laid the foundation, the country has been brought back on course, we no longer owing anybody. you have made the economy the best that Nigeria can have since the creation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You also gave us a team that would succeed you, the joy of a father is the presence of worthy successors, Yar'Adua and Goodluck,. are worthy successors to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Let us unite, let us go out there, let us go into the boat, let us get to every corner of the country starting from Lagos state. Obanikoro must come and take over Lagos State.
Let us take control of the headquarters, the rest will flow; after that, all others. The courage I'm going to give to my brother from the North-West is that he had better go back and start working hard because the South-South will do what we always do, we will return the highest votes for the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come May 29, 2007.
Ahmadu Ali: The time is now for the people of Lagos State to extricate themselves from the counterfeit who have acquired power through false promises. The duo of Musa Yar'Adua and Jonathan Goodluck are a pair of tested young men who have all it takes to bring our party to the best level of development. We are presenting them to you and we want you to vote massively for them in April. This generational shift is made in the interest of posterity, PDP wants you to identify with these two as they will provide you with unparalleled assess to prosperity.
Jonathan Goodluck is a post-independence man and they are both ready to serve with all their might and hearts. I want Nigerians to vote for Yar'Adua and Goodluck, the PDP is a great party, it believes in self-achievement and the development of our country.
Tony Anenih, BOT chairman: My message goes to the people of Nigeria particularly the people of Lagos State. The people of Lagos State, I have a message for you. In 1999, you made a mistake. In 2003, you made a mistake of voting in the opposition again. If the governor of Lagos State was a PDP governor, he would have found a solution to the problem of the Bar Beach which you have. That is just one bad example. Lagos State is a very bad example in opposition. If a PDP government was in place in Lagos State, the centre would have found means of developing Lagos State. A PDP governor in Lagos State would not stop the Federal Government from developing Lagos.
The speakers comprising candidates of the party at the senatorial level, gubernatorial level and presidential level as well as the PDP leaders sent a signal that they could mobilise party members to ensure victory for the PDP at the April polls. Virtually all the federal ministers were at the rally, as well as all members of the PDP National Executive Committee, NEC. Also in attendance were a handful of ambassadors. Apart from Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State and Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State, all the other PDP governors were at the rally.
Masquerades of different cultures and hues were on display as the Ogun State band stand gave verve and life to the rally. Both paid supporters and genuine supporters of candidates were at the event. But because it was held in Lagos, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Lagos PDP gubernatorial vandidate made his presence, more than any other, felt. With his Okada riders donning reflective gears, they stormed the TBS venue of the rally with over 250 motor bikes, said to have been given to them by the senator.