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The Peoples Democratic Party will on Wednesday (today) inaugurate its 2023 Presidential Campaign Council in Abuja, the nation’s capital, as political campaigns officially begin in line with the elections timetable stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the campaign council members are expected to storm the International Conference Centre, Central Area, Abuja, the venue of the PCC inauguration.
The party had said it would go on with its campaign programmes despite the withdrawal of Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and other political heavyweights from the council.
Expected at the ceremony are governors elected on the platform of the party, former presidents and vice-presidents, ex-ministers, serving and erstwhile senators as well as incumbent and former house of representatives members.
The PUNCH gathered that ahead of the inauguration, newly appointed special envoy to the presidential candidate, Dr Bukola Saraki has launched fresh moves to woo the pro-Wike group in a bid to broker peace.
A member of the PDP National Working Committee confided in one of our correspondents that the former Senate President was determined to resolve the crisis in the party.
Citing Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom’s support for the embattled PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, the source stated, “You can see the result already. A governor has decided to give peace a chance in the interest of the party and Nigeria. This is what you get when the right people are given responsibilities.’’
Ortom, a known ally of Wike, suddenly declared support for Ayu a few hours to the inauguration of the council.
While Atiku is preparing a grand inauguration of his presidential campaign which will also include a book launch after the PCC inauguration, the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, have postponed the inauguration of their campaign councils.
A statement late Monday night from the Director-General, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, explained that the activities lined up for the official inauguration of the APC presidential campaign would no longer hold as planned.
He hinged the postponement of activities on the need to accommodate more stakeholders and interests within the APC fold.
The statement was titled, ‘Adjustment of the timetable of activities earmarked to commence campaigns by the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council.’
It read, ‘’Recall that we had earlier earmarked a peace walk and prayers for Wednesday, September 28, 2022, to officially kick off our campaigns for the 2023 presidential elections. We had also announced that the members of the campaign council report at the campaign headquarters on that day to collect their letters of appointment.
‘’However, due to the expansion of the list to accommodate stakeholders and interests within the APC family, we have decided to adjust the timetable of these activities to ensure everyone is on board before activities officially commence.
‘’Consequently, the activities earlier announced for the 28th of September will no longer hold. As the ruling and most attractive party in Nigeria, we understand the sacrifices and understanding of our teeming members who are more than willing to volunteer themselves for this great task ahead. It also shows the enormous love the party members have for our candidates. A new date and timetable of events will be announced soon.’’
Before the party postponed its campaign activities, there had been reports that the APC flag bearer, Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima had jetted out of the country for London, United Kingdom, on Saturday night.
They were said to have travelled on holiday to prepare properly for the campaign season.
Tinubu’s trip coincided with that of Wike and his loyalists who also travelled to London on Friday.
Relatedly, the LP presidential candidate, Obi, has not constituted his campaign council as he was said to be making consultations across the country.
Confirming this to The PUNCH on Tuesday, the National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Abayomi Arabambi also disclosed that the party has no plan to host any inauguration.
However, he said the candidate would unveil his policy document on the same day he announces his presidential campaign council.
Arabambi stated, “We are not having any inauguration for now. Our candidate is focusing on sorting out the composition of his presidential campaign council and the nationwide consultation he is conducting.”
When asked if the Labour Party PCC would be ready this week, Arabambi disclosed that he can’t give a definite date.
“I may not give you a definite date until I return to Abuja on Friday but I can assure you that Obi will release his policy document at the same time he announces his presidential campaign council,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party, Tuesday, declared its readiness to commence campaigns in full compliance with electoral guidelines.
In a statement signed by its National Chairman, Julius Abure, the party commended INEC on its position on incumbent political office-holders “who use the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties access to public facilities for campaigns,” an action which the Commission said was illegal and would attract sanctions as spelt out in the Electoral Act, 2022.
The statement read in part, “The position of INEC is germane with the recent attacks on the supporters of Labour Party candidates across the nation particularly in Ebonyi, Enugu, Katsina and Kaduna amongst others.
“It is a fact that the popularity and influence of Labour Party recently have been astonishing wherein it has witnessed exponential and geometric growth across the states.’’
Police deploy personnel
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Police Force, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has revealed that the Nigerian Police Force has put its personnel on alert to secure the electoral process towards the 2023 general elections.
He also noted that the police would improve on its deployment of personnel for election security management in line with standard procedure.
Responding to questions on police preparedness for the polls, he said, “We have put our men on alert to secure the entire electoral process towards 2023 general elections.
‘’Also, the IG will be jointly addressing stakeholders and candidates with INEC as soon as possible in preparation for the campaign proper and other electoral processes. We will continue to engage the citizenry in the election and political responsibilities and education.
“We do deployments daily, however, we can only improve on what we currently have in line with our standard operating procedure for Election Security Management,’’ Adejobi noted.
Concerning the directives to state commands, he recalled that IGP Usman Baba met with commissioners of police and other top police officers in Abuja last Thursday to discuss issues bordering on the 2023 general election.
The police boss told the participants that the professional leadership to achieve election security mandate rests squarely on the shoulders of the police chiefs present, adding that the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty which was issued in 2020 by the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, must remain a guide.
In a related development, the Sokoto State Commissioner for Police, Muhammed Gumel has warned the political class in the state against hate speech or the spreading of fake news.
In his remarks at the election and security management colloquium on the security of the upcoming electioneering campaigns and the general elections with all critical stakeholders in Sokoto State on Tuesday, the CP further called on political parties, especially politicians to always resort to legal justice channels to address any grievances as prescribed by the law.
He called on the traditional chiefs, religious leaders and civil societies to maintain their neutrality and act as a link between the politicians and the general public.
Also, the Director, Department of State Security Service, Sokoto State, Yahaya Hassan, urged the political class to have a closer relationship with the security agencies.
Speaking on behalf of the political parties in the state, the chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, Alhaji Abba Sidi, assured that the parties in the state would adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Ex-VP, Ayu, Wabara meet S’East govs, Anyim, promise to address Biafra agitation
Meanwhile, as part of moves to rally support for his aspiration, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku has begged the South-East leaders to prevail on their youths to end the Monday sit-at-home in the region, lamenting that it had seriously affected the economy of Atiku, who appealed to Enugu on Tuesday, when he met with South East Stakeholders of the party, promised to resolve all their agitations if elected president in the 2023 presidential election.
The former vice-president stated that he is seeking the presidency to reunify Nigeria and improve the economy of the country, promising to provide efficient leadership that would guarantee justice, equity and fairness to all.
He said, “The last few weeks have been a difficult one for me but I know we must succeed together and win the election come 2023 as my five priorities if I emerge as the president of this nation are to reunify the country, revive the economy, improve security, restructure the federation and improve human capital development.
“Unfortunately, our country is divided today which has never been like this; so it is our responsibility to reunify our country through equity, justice and fairness to develop our country and improve our peoples’ lives as this will give every region in this country a sense of belonging.
“We will provide efficient and good governance to protect the lives and properties of our people because without security life is meaningless and the economy will be in bad shape as investors will flee from our nation and that is why security will be a top priority for the government that I lead.
“Our task is a collective one to build a strong nation and I promise we will carry everybody along. The task before us is highly demanding but we must win the election in 2023.”
He appreciated the South-East leaders for their support to ensure PDP wins the forthcoming election.
Atiku lamented the poor state of Nigeria and enjoined the electorates to vote for the PDP in 2023, assuring he would render selfless service if elected as the President of Nigeria.
He said “The South-East is close to my heart because they have supported my political career and I will always remember that they played key roles in my life when I served as the vice-president.”
Bemoaning the weekly stay-at-home restriction in the region, he stated, “We will revive our economy if voted into power because we are one country in one economy and I want to assure that we will carry the South-East along because they have played key roles in the development of this nation’s economy.
“When you understand the importance of infrastructure, your focus will be to provide infrastructure, and job opportunities that will better the lives of our people and we will surely do it.’’
He also threw his weight behind the creation of state police, saying “I have been calling for this a long time ago. Even when I was in government I disagreed with my former boss and I am happy now because no party in this country is against state police.”
Also, the vice-presidential candidate of PDP, Ifeanyi Okowa expressed worry over the manner the government has divided the nation, saying only the PDP can restore peace and unity in Nigeria.
In his address, a former senate president and the chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP, Adolphus Wabara assured that the South-East would deliver all its votes to PDP in 2023.
The engagement meeting, which was held at the Base Event Centre in Enugu was attended by South-East PDP governors except for the Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, who was represented by his deputy.
Also present at the event were PDP former spokesman, Oliseh Metuh, ex-Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, the PDP national Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, all PDP governorship candidates in the region, among others.
Obi charges electorate
The LP presidential candidate, Obi has charged the electorate in the country to see beyond tribal or religious sentiments while choosing the president in the next general elections.
Obi spoke in Ile-Ife, Osun State on Tuesday during a visit to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi at his palace.
The ex-Anambra State governor, who lamented the harsh economic conditions Nigerians were currently going through, charged the youths to choose a leader with the capacity to lead Nigeria in the right direction.
He further said, “To the Nigerian youths, it is now your turn to take this country from them. Choose the right leader that would take the country to its promised land. Your title, nobody is entitled to take it from you, if they give you money, take it. They are only paying parts of their debt.
“Nobody should vote for me because I’m an Ibo man, south-easterner or because of my religion. There is no tribe where people are eating free food, buying bread cheaper or exempted from the excruciating hardship currently being experienced in the land.”
Oba Ogunwusi commended Obi for making youth development the thrust of his agenda, noting that any society seeking greatness must prioritise youth development and capacity building.
A statement by Ooni’s spokesperson, Moses Olafare, quoted the monarch to have stated, “Right from my first day as the Ooni, I openly dedicated this revered throne to the youth population and I have been matching the promise up with actions in form of programmes and several initiatives geared towards empowering our youths because they are our future.
“I am glad that you recognize that fact and I pray that God Almighty grants your heart’s desires.’’
Stop using money to divide Christians, Northern Christian elders warn Tinubu, APC
Meanwhile, the Northern Christian Elders Forum has warned the APC and its presidential candidate not to cause division among Christians in the North out of their desperation for power.
The forum chairman, Oyinehi Inalegwu handed down the warning in a statement in Kaduna on Tuesday.
He said, “NOSCEF is concerned that apart from the failure of the desire of the architects of the single faith ticket to cause serious divisions in the forthcoming elections, APC has resorted to clandestine ways of causing division in the body of Christ by recruiting hitherto unknown bodies in the body of Christ to counter decisions taken by the umbrella body, CAN and its various organs.
“We warn APC to stop using monetary incentives to recruit and cause divisions amongst the Christians, especially in the North.’’
“In 2011, Bola Ahmed Tinubu sought a Muslim-Muslim ticket with Atiku Abubakar and it was rejected. In 2015, he again sought a Muslim-Muslim ticket with President Muhammadu Buhari and it was again rejected.
“Both Atiku and Muhammadu Buhari from the North know that having a Muslim from the South would not have added any electoral advantage,” NOSCEF said.
The group pointed out that in December 2021, Tinubu met with a group in Abuja and sold the Muslim-Muslim ticket idea to them.
It noted, “We warned that every patriotic presidential aspirant should avoid the same faith ticket to avoid polarisation of the nation further along religious lines.”