Governors, ex-governors, and top chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party in the camp of the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, arrived in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, in no fewer than 15 private and chartered jets for the formal inauguration of the party’s campaign ahead of the 2023 poll.
Findings byThe PUNCHindicate that aside from the Governors of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and his counterparts in Oyo State (Seyi Makinde), Benue State (Samuel Ortom), Abia State (Ikpeazu Okezie), and Enugu State (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi), other governors elected on the platform of the party were present at the event.
The inauguration, which was held at the Nest of Champions International Stadium, was also attended by the party’s National Assembly members, and National Working Committee members led by the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, among other party stalwarts.
Members of the PDP Board of Trustees led by a former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara were also present at the venue.
The PDP governors present at the rally include Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintri; Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku; and the host governor, Udom Emmanuel.
Others are the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri; his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed; Delta State Governor and Atiku’s running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa; and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Investigations by our correspondents revealed that at least 15 private and chartered jets landed and were parked at the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo for the inauguration of the presidential campaign of the former vice-president.
Some of the private and chartered jets which landed at the airport were Hawker Siddeley 125 with registration number 5N-BZP belonging to Jubilee Aviation, Bombardier Challenger 604 with registration number 5N-BYN belonging to Jed Air, HS 125 with registration 5N-BZT belonging to Jet Support Services, and Embraer Phenom 300 (E55P) with registration number 5N-AAK belonging to Matrix Energy and operated by Jet Support Services.
Others are HS125 private aircraft with registration number 5N-BNM belonging to Dogon Daji; Lear Jet 45 jet with registration number 5N-BLW belonging to Max Air; Embraer E135 jet with registration number 5N-BTX belonging to Anap Jets and Embraer E145 plane with registration number 5N-BZN belonging to Exejet, and an Embraer E135 jet with registration number 5N-FZE belonging to Execujet.
The list also includes an Embraer E145 aircraft with registration number 5N-BWW chartered from United Nigeria Airlines.
The former VP’s Global Express private jet with registration number T7AAA was not sighted at the airport as of press time.
Also, a private jet belonging to Akwa Ibom State Government with registration number N224BV could not be sighted as of the time of filing this report.
Ayu seeks truce
Speaking at the campaign ground in Uyo, the PDP National Chairman, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu said the party has moved on, calling on those who are yet to join the party’s presidential campaign to join the train because they are moving slowly waiting for them.
Ayu in a veiled reference to the withdrawal of Governor Wike and his allies from the party’s presidential campaign council following the crisis in the party stated that Nigerians were not interested in the personal rifts in the PDP but in the rescue mission of the party.
He further noted that the party’s presidential candidate has penned down his plans for Nigerians in his policy document, ‘My Covenant with Nigerians.’
He said, “The PDP train has started moving and we have left the station, but we are moving slowly so that those who are yet on board will join us on the train.
“It is important for us as leaders; Nigeria is not interested in our quarrels, Nigeria is waiting for us to come and rescue them from what is worrying them. The PDP knows what is worrying Nigerians: Nigerians are hungry, Nigerians are suffering from all sorts of sickness.
Atiku assures Nigerians
Addressing the mammoth crowd, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku lamented that since the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress regime took over the leadership in 2015, Nigerians have witnessed unprecedented hunger, insecurity and poor economy while Nigerian students have continued to stay out of school.
According to him, the PDP on the other hand lifted Nigerians out of poverty when it assumed power in 1999, noting that Nigeria became the biggest economy in Africa.
He also explained that there was peace and progress until the APC took over power in 2015.
The former vice-president added that the flag-off of the presidential campaign was to rescue Nigeria from hunger, and poverty and bring back the unity the country lacked.
While noting that Nigerians wanted to take a cue from Akwa Ibom which had witnessed uninterrupted PDP administration and progress since 1999, the ex-VP stressed that the PDP is on a rescue mission to salvage the country.
He appealed to Nigerians to vote for the PDP for prosperity, unity, and safety.
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Atiku said, ‘’Today, as we inaugurate the flag-off of the campaign to rescue Nigeria, to rescue Nigeria from hunger, to rescue Nigeria from poverty and bring back the unity we are lacking in this country; I want to appeal to all Nigerians to vote for PDP.
“If you vote for PDP, it will be a vote for prosperity, it will be a vote for unity, it will be a vote for your safety. So, there will be no more hunger and there will be security. I swear, if you vote for PDP, you will not be out of school, you will get jobs, there will be security, there will be unity.”
In his remarks, the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, Okowa told the gathering that the PDP is the only party that is prepared to rescue the nation through a candidate that has the experience to restore and rebuild.
He added, “When you want to rescue people, particularly in the military, because we are in a war, everything has gotten so bad, you do not go to war with a lieutenant leading, some other parties are presenting lieutenants but PDP is presenting a general.
The acting Chairman of the PDP BoT, Wabara stressed that there is a vacancy in the Presidential Villa that Atiku and his running mate are suitably qualified to fill.
“In the past, we used to say no vacancy in Aso Villa but all have seen that there is indeed vacancy in Aso Villa. The applicants that will occupy the villa are our presidential candidate and the running mate,’’ he noted.
Describing the PDP as the party to beat, the BoT chairman said, “The party to beat, our presidential candidate and the vice are the candidates to beat. We have a unifier here.
“For the man to have put pen to paper and say this is my covenant with Nigeria is worth emulating. No wonder PDP is the only party in today’s Nigeria that is ready to take over power.’’
Emmanuel praises PDP
The Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel while welcoming dignitaries said the campaign would restore hope and faith in the common dreams of the people.
He described the PDP as the pillar of the South-South region.
Emmanuel alleged that the APC-led regime has caused the country so much hardship, as poverty has reached misery indices.
“Poverty today has gotten to misery indices. When PDP handed over power, the exchange rate was N186 to a dollar. Today, the exchange rate is almost N800 to a dollar. When PDP handed over power, Nigeria had the largest economy in entire Africa. Today, all those indices have been battered.
“Today, we want to flag off the hope for Nigeria, we want to flag off the rescue mission to Nigeria, we want to flag off the restoration mood to Nigeria. We want to tell Nigerians, the ship is beginning to sail today, we want to tell Nigerians, the train is moving today,’’ he added.
On his part, the Director-General, the PDP Presidential Campaign Management Committee and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal said the duo of Atiku and Okowa would rescue Nigeria from its problems.
“Today is a very historic day in the history of Nigeria and our democracy as we present to Nigeria the most competent of those running for the President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar,’’ the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum noted.
Speaking on behalf of the PDP governors, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State described Atiku and Okowa as ‘’two outstanding Nigerians that would reset the country for the good of the youths,’’ adding that when “the team of PDP comes to power, the narratives would change and that Nigerians would once again begin to move freely in Nigeria without harassment and molestation.
“Our party is on a mission to rescue Nigeria and to restore its value and I believe the other party, their candidature is not only against the federal character but against the constitution of Nigeria because it doesn’t reflect the federal character of Nigeria.
Obaseki meets stakeholders
Meanwhile, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has expressed confidence that the PDP would emerge victorious in the general elections, noting that the party will deploy technology to ensure victory at the polls.
The governor who convened the PDP South-South Zonal meeting, held at the Ibom Hall in Uyo, ahead of the campaign, explained that the waters had been tested in Edo and Osun States, where the party leveraged technology to ensure victory in the governorship elections.
Obaseki said the meeting was held to discuss issues affecting the party ahead of the launch of the PDP presidential campaign for the February 23, 2023 election in the South-South region, noting that this would be a very different election witnessed in the past.
He noted, “Our election in Edo redefined the face of election in this Republic. This will be a technical election as we used technology to win our election in Edo State.
“We repeated the same in Osun State and now can tell how elections are being run with the new Electoral Act. In this zone, we have the skills and knowledge in supporting one another in running and winning elections. The election is not won on election day but a battle for election at the polling unit level.”
On his part, Okowa commended stakeholders from the different zones in the South-South, noting that the meeting would create an opportunity to rub minds and know members of the party more.
Okowa said, “As a party, we are most prepared for this election. As a zone, we are strong and will continue to give strength to the party as we deliver greater votes to the party and come out victorious.
“For this election, with the electoral laws, a lot of work is needed as we will be using the Bimodal Verification Accreditation System recognized in the Electoral Act. It calls for greater work and mobilization in the February and March election in 2023. The South-south is a strong pillar in the PDP as we hope to deliver votes for the PDP.”
In his remarks, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Diri said that the South-South geopolitical zone was lucky to produce the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP for the 2023 general election.
This was just as he expressed optimism that the internal crisis rocking the PDP would soon fizzle out, saying that the party had always dominated the south-south region over the years.
Diri, who spoke during the PDP South-South Zonal Stakeholders meeting, described the PDP as a big family that has held sway in the South-South geo-political zone, noting that in such large families, there were bound to be disagreements.
The Bayelsa governor, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, said: “South-South is the only zone that has a preponderance of PDP governors. Therefore, it should be the zone to kick off the PDP presidential campaign.’’
The statement added that former governors of Edo, Lucky Igbinedion, Cross River, Liyel Imoke, Celestine Omehia, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tom Ikimi, were among party leaders that delivered goodwill messages at the meeting.
One million march
Meanwhile, PDP supporters in Niger State on Monday organized a road walk as part of their campaign for the party’s Presidential candidate.
The rally which took place from the Minna city gate to the Ahmadu Bello roundabout was organized by 52 PDP support groups in the state.
After the road walk, the deputy governorship candidate, Samuel Gwomna assured supporters that if elected, the party would improve the education system in the state, adding that the party would restore free education for primary and secondary school pupils at levels.
Also speaking, the state Chairman of the party, Tanko Beji said the rally was organized to garner support for the PDP presidential and governorship candidates in the state.