Atiku, Lamido flay govt’s fiscal policies, proffer options
President Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence as the ruling party’s sole candidate in the next year’s general elections triggered a fresh squabble between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday.“Had President Buhari shed his desperation for power and allowed for internal democracy within the APC, particularly when it became clear that Nigerians across board have become averse to his re-election, due to his incompetence and insensitivity to the plight of the citizens, there would have been little hope for the APC,” the opposition party said in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.
Concluding the development would ensure its own victory at the polls, the PDP noted: “President Buhari's fear to contest an elective presidential primary, for which he and a few APC leaders scared away other presidential contestants within their party with threats and high nomination form fees, ended up ruining APC's chance of fielding a good candidate for the election.”
According to the party, “In muzzling contest in APC and gleefully emerging a sole candidate, President Buhari has merely won a pyrrhic victory. (He is) a general without a troop, with no capacity to face a general election, as the army of stakeholders and the masses that supported him in 2015 have since left him because of his unfulfilled promises and many failures in governance.”
It added: “Since President Buhari's declaration to contest the 2019 election, true democrats and other well-meaning citizens have continued to leave the APC in droves for the repositioned PDP, which has now become the rallying platform for all Nigerians, in their collective quest for a new president among the array of very credible aspirants in the PDP.”
But in 2015, the PDP did not only make President Goodluck Jonathan its sole candidate by giving him right of first refusal, the party admitted it printed only one nomination form, foreclosing other aspirants, including the then governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido who took a shot at the ticket. With this hindsight perhaps, a founding APC member, Tony Momoh, dismissed the PDP’s statement, saying: “I can bet you that the party will face more problems after its presidential primary than any other.”
He rejected the insinuation that the coast was cleared deliberately for Buhari to emerge as a sole candidate. Nobody indicated interest to contest the presidential primary and was denied the opportunity, he said.“In the 2015 primary, Buhari’s vote was more than all the votes of other presidential aspirants put together. Now that he is the incumbent, the president stands better chances of winning the general election than he had in 2015.
“There is no state across the nation where Buhari will not get more than 25 per cent of the votes cast in 2019. I hope the opposition would begin to study this equation, so that nobody will think the 2019 election was rigged in favour of anybody,” Momoh said.
Notwithstanding, Buhari’s quest to seek another term has continued to elicit criticism. Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose in a statement said: “Buhari says he is seeking re-election to protect Nigerians? Tell him Nigerians need no spurious 'protection' from him. Nigerians from all walks of life have rejected him and dismissed the propaganda of his government as lies from the pit of hell. Buhari and the APC have only used the power they hold in trust for the people to suppress, oppress, intimidate, and destroy our people.
“We asked him to protect us from killers and murderers but Buhari has failed to do that in four years. He has instead defended them (criminals) again and again. What magic will he now perform if re-elected into office?”
Also, Abubakar Atiku, a former vice president and presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, described Buhari’s economic policies as outdated.While addressing the party’s leadership in Lokoja, Atiku said if he secures the mandate of Nigerians to rule the country, he would open up the economy to attract foreign investors and generate income and employment for all.
“I will diversify the economy, open it up to provide safety for local and foreign investors. President Buhari has killed everything because he doesn't know how to handle the economy,” he said.
Lamido also faulted Buhari’s economic policies, describing them as a mess that has brought untold hardship to Nigerians. He told supporters in Benin City: “Nigerians have history and heritage to defend the country. PDP is the only party that has the capacity, wherewithal and the commitment to restore her to her past glory.”
On his part, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ondo, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Stephen Adeniran Oni, urged Buhari to drop his re-election bid, saying the nation needs young and visionary leadership.“I don't expect any 75 to 80-year-old still in government. What are they doing there? When will they give their children a place? The age of youthfulness is 25, 30 and 40. Who will want to employ a 75-year-old man?”
Meanwhile, Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari declared that APC states that have opted for either direct or indirect methods in the forthcoming primaries have not breached the party’s constitution.
Answering questions from reporters after a meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said the controversy over the matter was of no consequence, as APC states were free to choose the more suitable option.He said: “It is not a hot cake. First of all, let ¬me say from all the states that we have ¬read and heard, Lagos, Kano and Niger, a¬re the only ones that have opted for d¬irect primaries in a country of 36 stat¬es, plus the FCT.
“I think it shouldn't be a con¬tentious issue. In fact, the constitution ¬of the party is very clear. There is no¬thing contentious in this. The constitut¬ion of the party recognises direct, cons¬ensus and indirect primaries. So, whichever method is adopted, nobody is breach¬ing the constitution of the party. So, wha¬t is the big deal about it?”
The governor, who promised 2.5 million votes from his state for Buhari’s re-election, said the people of Katsina were 100 per cent behind the incumbent and would continue to¬ support him even after the elections.
“We expect, based on figures coming out o¬f the registered voters, to give him noth¬ing less than 70 to 80 per cent. We don't have t¬he figures now because they have complet¬ed additional registration. We are not t¬alking about the last exercise that led ¬to the election of 2015. In 2015, he g¬ot almost 1.5 million votes from Katsina State. So, we expect that by 2019, we will be¬ able to give him an additional one million,” Masari said.