Port Harcourt — Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Tuesday, where he met with Governor Nyesom Wike, who is widely believed to be one of the major financiers and calls the shots at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
During his visit to the state, Atiku, who has contested for the Nigerian presidency for a record four times, also kicked off consultations with stakeholders in the state and once again declared his intention to contest the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the PDP.
This came as Wike called on Nigerians to team up to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 because of bad leadership.
The duo spoke at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
In his remarks, Atiku reiterated his commitment to the creation of a new Nigeria devoid of favouritism, segregation and ethnicity, and one built on a foundation of industrialisation and economic revolution.
He said the problem of Nigeria was not the lack of resources or skilled manpower but the absence of leadership and the willpower that is needed to make conscious decisions and give adequate direction.
He said he was offering himself to set the country on the path of growth after the serial failure of the APC, which he left late last year.
He said since 2015, the APC-led federal government has destroyed the education, health and infrastructure sectors through poor budgetary allocations and releases.
"Since 2015, we have not seen a 100-kilometre road constructed by the APC-led federal government anywhere in the country," he said.
The former vice-president also blamed the current administration for destroying the foundation of unity and cohesion of the country.
He said: "I have never seen Nigeria so divided along religious, ethnic and regional lines. This division is as a result of the mismanagement by the APC."
The presidential hopeful called for unity in the country, saying that no component part of the country would be able to progress alone.
He called on Rivers PDP stakeholders to support his ambition to emerge as the party's presidential candidate.
Also speaking, a former Enugu State governor, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, described Atiku as a detribalised Nigerian, with the capacity to rescue the country.
A former Ogun State governor, Chief Gbenga Daniel, also said Atiku was a true Nigerian, with business and political links across the country, adding that Nigeria needs the former vice-president to revive the country.
Atiku was accompanied on the visit by Daniel, Nwodo, a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Michael Aondoakaa, and the Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi.
Addressing the group, Wike declared that all Nigerians must take up "the solemn responsibility of sacking the non-performing APC federal government in 2019".
He urged all PDP members, irrespective of their status, to ensure that the march to the Presidential Villa is not truncated by disunity.
He also urged all PDP presidential aspirants to contest within acceptable limits, as the race is not "a do-or-die affair" but "a movement to oust a failed APC federal government".
"Every presidential aspirant must see himself as a member of the larger PDP family. We must do everything to ensure that PDP returns to the Presidential Villa in 2019.
"Only one aspirant will become a candidate. We will do everything to ensure that the party comes out with a candidate that has a track record to upstage the APC," he charged.
The governor said he had received former Jigawa State governor, Mr. Sule Lamido, and now Atiku, noting that other aspirants would be offered the platform to consult with Rivers PDP members.
"God will make sure that the right candidate emerges. When the right candidate emerges, we will team up and remove this bad government.
"There is no benefit that Rivers State has derived from this APC federal government. All it is doing is plotting to rig the 2019 elections," Wike said.
He said the former vice-president has the right qualifications to fly the PDP flag, counselling that he should extend his consultations.
Atiku met with state and federal lawmakers, caretaker committee chairmen of local government areas in Rivers State and party leaders.