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FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki arrives for a news conference at the National Assembly in Abuja, Aug. 8, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday formally declared his decision to contest the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He made the declaration during a dialogue with youths and young aspirants convened by the Not Too Young To Run Movement in Abuja.

He said: “The choice we face in the forthcoming election is either to keep things as they are or make a radical departure from the old ways; to find a better way of doing things or keep repeating the mistakes of the past; to fix the problems or keep compounding them.

“​It is with all these in mind, and taking account of the challenges that I have outlined, that I have decided to answer the call of teeming youths, who have asked me to run for president.

“Accordingly, I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming general elections in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

This came as President Muhammadu Buhari expressed optimism that defections by Saraki and many others from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would not affect the party’s fortune at the polls.

At a meeting of the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) yesterday, he said: “They left, threatening to go along with scores of people, thus upsetting the party.

But due to the work of the new party leadership, the exit barely made a dent on our super structure, as they could not muster the figure they had envisaged to cause an upset, particularly in the two chambers of the National Assembly.”

The APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, also insisted the party is stronger and more united despite the departure of Saraki and others.

The national leader, Bola Tinubu, and the party’s 22 governors attended the event.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and his deputy, Yusuf Lasun, were absent.

The party resolved it would adopt direct primary in nominating its presidential candidate before the end of the year.

It also threw open the mode of choosing candidates for governorship and legislative positions.

It requested any state chapter willing to use direct primary to officially write the national secretariat.

In a related development, PDP presidential aspirant, Sule Lamido, urged Nigerians to back a candidate who would uphold the rule of law, while a political pressure group, Good Governance Ambassadors of Nigeria, called on people of the southeast geo-political zone to support Buhari’s re-election, to pave the way for an Igbo president in 2023.



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