The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday expressed optimism that Nigeria would be a better country if he wins at next year's general elections.He said it was a shame that the nation, despite its huge resources, could be rated the poverty capital of the world, promising he would cause a transformation within six months in power.
The former vice president, who spoke at the PDP's southwest rally in Ibadan, Oyo State, told the mammoth crowd that the current administration can achieve nothing because of its fake promises and limited understanding of the economy.He criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC) for reneging on its promise to restructure the country, insisting he would make all units in the federation achieve their economic potential.
Atiku said: "In the next two months, you will be required to choose your next president. Please, make your decision carefully. The best democracy we enjoyed in Nigeria was under the PDP. In 2015, APC promised 12 million jobs but today, we have not seen the jobs. Nigeria is now the headquarters of poverty in the world. We shall return Nigeria to prosperity in 2019.
"I headed the best economic team in Nigeria. When we get to government in 2019, we will continue to give you the best education. One of the best policies for Nigeria is restructuring and we will do it when we get to government. Don't believe APC's lies again. Within six months, we will reposition Nigeria. Don't sell your vote and don't sell your PVC. Buhari must go!"
The National chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, maintained that President Buhari is not fit to rule the country beyond 2019. He said: "With what we have seen here, today, it is sure that our people in the southwest want a change in government and Atiku is the only candidate who can rescue Nigeria at this time.
"Buhari is not fit to rule Nigeria again. By the grace of God, in February, we will stand to defend our votes and defeat Buhari. The hunger in the land is too much. There is hunger because Buhari is not aware of anything in government. His government has collapsed."
Secondus said further: "This is the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria. Where is our $25 billion withdrawn from the NNPC's account? Corruption has taken another dimension in Nigeria under Buhari. Poverty headquarters has relocated to Nigeria under Buhari. By the grace of God, Atiku is the next president of Nigeria."
Addressing the crowd, Senate President Bukola Saraki noted: "In 2015, APC promised security but could not do it. They promised to make food abundant but the price of rice is getting higher daily. The only solution to our challenges is to vote Atiku as president."
Atiku's running mate, Peter Obi, lamented the high unemployment rate in the country, urging Nigerians to vote for the PDP to reverse the trend. "If you want jobs, vote for Atiku. If you want development, vote Atiku. Atiku is the only solution to the challenges we are facing in Nigeria today," he said.
Former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose told the people: "The only product we are selling is Atiku; the only candidate that can defeat anybody at a debate. I am sure Buhari won't attend a debate. But let me tell you that you have to defend your votes. By God's grace, PDP will be announced winner in next year's elections."
Speaking on the background of the party's presidential candidate, a former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, noted: "The 2019 election is a family affair. Atiku's first wife is a Yoruba woman. He grew up and worked in Ibadan. With what we met here, it is obvious that our people have spoken that they will vote for PDP."
PDP stalwarts at the rally included the governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje; Senator Ademola Adeleke; vice chairman of the party (southwest), Eddy Olafeso; a former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; the governorship candidate of the party in Oyo State, Seyi Makinde; and PDP's publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
Meanwhile, APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole has urged party leaders to focus on issues and Buhari's achievements in their campaigns.He made the call in Abuja yesterday during a consultative meeting with the party's governors, governorship candidates, state chairmen and secretaries.
He also condemned attempts by some leaders to polarise the party in some states following its contentious primaries. He said party leaders must campaign for all party candidates. According to him, "This is not the time to say I didn't want this person; this is the person I wanted. We all have our individual preferences but those issues will now be settled."