In spite of clamours to zone presidential tickets to candidates of South-East Nigerian extraction, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar has urged the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Working Committee to give him the mandate to contest with the APC in the 2023 presidential election.
While speaking during his meeting with the National Working Committee at the party’s secretariat in Abuja, the presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, said that he is the party’s best candidate to deliver come 2023 and should be given the opportunity.
Atiku praised the National Working Committee saying that it is the most experienced NWC PDP has ever produced. In his words: “There is one very very important and significant thing I would like to mention as far as this National Working Committee is concerned. First of all, it is the most experienced National Working Committee we have ever elected.”
In his arguments on why he is the most qualified candidate, Atiku boasted that he already has 11 million votes in his favour ahead of the 2023 general elections.
In his words: “Under normal circumstances, this is a guy who already has 11 million votes in his space. And I think as a party, you should give me the right of passage to use the votes,” he said beating his chest with cheers from supporters who filled the hall at the PDP Secretariat.
Mr Abubakar’s assertions come barely two days after supporters of another aspirant in the APC, Bola Tinubu, said they have secured 14 million votes for him in the South-west alone.
Although he lost out in the 2019 presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Abubakar garnered about 11 million votes in the poll. He did not, however, clarify if he was referring to those votes.
Reports from Nigerian elections, however, show an increase in voter apathy over the past years.
The former vice president admonished the PDP to “provide the right kind of leadership to present a good candidate.”
His call was swiftly followed by “…and I am the best candidate.”
He, however, noted that the PDP practises democracy and asked the NWC to be fair, transparent and credible in producing a flag bearer for the party.
The aspirant repeated his agenda for the country if elected president next year. These plans include uniting the country, tackling insecurity, reviving the economy and devolution of powers.
While he commended the NWC for hard work and excellent leadership, he urged the party to “come out in force and show Nigerians just how much the APC has and will continue to fail.”
In attendance at the meeting were: The National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu, National Secretary Samuel Anyanwu, National Youth Leader, Mohammed Suleiman, Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal and the rest of the other party leaders.
In his remarks, the chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, asked to dismiss the notion that he will work for Mr Abubakar because they are friends.
“I will not work for you. I will work for all the 17 aspirants. It is left to you to convince thee delegates, market and sell yourself to the delegates,” he said.
He said the NWC will remain unbiased and will not take sides but that each aspirant will get the support of the party.
“I know each of you, if given the opportunity, will do better than what APC has been doing. At the primaries, we will elect a candidate and we will all rally around that candidate,” Mr Ayu said.
He further assured that the PDP will work towards winning the election in 2023 and retaining power afterwards.
Mr Abubakar is one of 17 aspirants who have indicated his interest in the presidential race.
Although the party fixed May 28 and 29 to elect its presidential candidate, there have been clamours for the party to zone its presidential ticket to candidates of South-East extraction. This clamour has not created any impact on the political direction of the party’s decision as scores of candidates from different parts of the country have continued to emerge.
The aspirants cut across different regions. Some of them are former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed and Mohammed Hayatu-Deen.
Others are Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, former Ekiti governor, Ayo Fayose, renowned pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa, and Ovation Magazine publisher, Dele Momodu.
The PDP has also not taken a position on the mode of primaries to adopt in electing its candidates for the February 2023 presidential election.