Nigeria’s main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has started to draw the battle line for the 2023 presidential war. An indication to this effect emerged at a summit of PDP Governors’ Forum in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State.
Before the summit, PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, urged Nigerians to keep faith with the party that is poised to produce the next president of the country, maintaining that the current inept rule of the All Progressive Congress (APC) led Federal Government, which has pulled the country backwards economically has to be changed.
Ayu gave the assurance at the gala night event hosted by Governo Nyesom Wike for PDP governors at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt on Sunday night.
He emphasised that the APC leadership has been unable to harness the rich diversity of Nigerians into better fortunes that should strengthen the bond of brotherhood and promote peaceful coexistence.
“Unfortunately, a very poor leadership has presented Nigeria at home and abroad as an extremely divided country.
“We must change this narrative and the only way to change this narrative and harness not just the culture, but the environment and the richness therein is to back the Peoples Democratic Party which is determined to produce a new leadership for this country.”
Ayu also enthused that Nigeria will bounce back again with the PDP at the saddle because the project of rescuing the country and making it great is realisable.
He stated that the expected leadership they will offer at the national level will change the negative characteristics associated with the APC that have been used to deepen the divide among Nigerians in the country.
“The PDP will definitely produce the next president and take the country back to the days when we were in power, when we cleared all foreign debts, when we were developing this country at reasonable speed.
“We became the richest country on the African continent. But today we are the poverty capital of the world. All that will change.”
In his welcome address, Governor Wike said the gala night event is a pride to the usual meeting of PDP governors that is rotational, stating that such meetings have always been used to discuss salient issues of economy, politics, and others that bother on how to chart a virile Nigerian society.
“It has been ritual for PDP governors to gather and meet and discuss the welfare of the party. And this has been rotating from one state to the other.”
On his part, Chairman of PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said the PDP governors and other party leaders are already working in synergy towards rebuilding the party.
He said the focus is to rescue Nigeria, which will also require all Nigerians of goodwill to join forces with the PDP to achieve that goal.
“All Nigerians of goodwill who believe in this country, who believe Nigeria is going the wrong direction, ought to join us.
“And like I always say, there are two divides in Nigeria today. Those who are happy with the confusion because they are benefiting from what is happening at the centre, and those of us who are truly patriotic enough to disagree with the way our country is being governed and being run.”
“I appeal and beseech every Nigerian, even those in APC that are patriotic enough to join hands with us as we continue to march towards rescuing Nigeria together.
“I believe it is our responsibility to do so, not for ourselves but for our younger ones and generation unborn.”
Governors present at the gala night were, Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Mohammed Bala (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Also in attendance were the Deputy Governors of Rivers and Zamfara, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo and Mahdi Aliyu Mohammed Gusau; PDP national secretary, Senator Sam Anyanwu and several other dignitaries.
However, setting the agenda on issues the opposition party will be tackling President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC, the governors noted that the management of the oil and gas resources and the administration of Federation Account remittances have remained opaque, confusing and non – transparent under the Buhari administration.
According to the battle-ready PDP governors, the transition of the state oil corporation to Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has not been properly streamlined to ensure the interests of all the tiers of government are protected, consistent with the 1999 Constitution.
Continuing, the smoking opposition governors said, “in 2015, under PDP, the exchange rate was N198 per dollar, it is now under APC almost N500 to a dollar. In 2015, the unemployment rate was 7.3% under PDP, it is now 33%, one of the highest in the world under APC. In 2015, the Pump price of Petroleum was N87 per litre, it is now N165 per litre and climbing under APC.’’
Adding, they alleged that debt servicing under the APC regime of President Buhari, is taking over 98% of the federal budget, pointing out, ‘’the tales of woe is endless.”
Eager for a credible 2023 election, the governors are requesting the National Assembly to consider overriding President Buhari’s veto as one tenable option towards achieving the intended reform of electoral jurisprudence for Nigeria.
With a nine-point communiqué that was read out by Tambuwal, who is also a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, the PDP governors equally noted the urgency required to conclude deliberations on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
While the meeting was convened to once again review the various challenges confronting the federating States, the state of the nation and the PDP, Tambuwal also pointed out that the other option opened to the National Assembly is to delete areas of complaints in the bill.
The meeting advised that the option of sustaining Mr President’s veto will lead to a quicker resolution, and will deny President Buhari the opportunity to once again truncate a reformed Electoral jurisprudence for Nigeria.
‘’An early concluded Electoral Act is vital for credible elections”, the PDP governors stressed even as they decried the continued deterioration of the country’s economy under the regime of Buhari’s APC.
Their communique said Nigerians have become numb and accustomed to bad economic news as exemplified by the inconsistent and differential exchange rate regime, high-interest rates, unsustainable unemployment figures and borrowing spree some of which have not been applied to important projects and other bad economic indicators.
“In particular, it is clear that the APC Government is a massive failure when compared with the records of PDP in government. The PDP handed over a $550 billion economy (the largest in Africa), but under APC, Nigeria is the Poverty Capital of the world.
Also, the PDP governors lamented the protracted insecurity situation in the country, the persistent and ceaseless flow of Nigerians’ blood on a daily basis in many parts of Nigeria, noting the near-collapse of the security situation in Nigeria with the APC administration lost on any enduring strategy to deploy in confronting the terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and other criminals
“The meeting expressed regrets that Mr President is unwilling, from his recent comments discountenancing the proposals for state policing, to participate in reviewing the structural problems of tackling insecurity in Nigeria.
“(The meeting) urges Mr President to reconsider his position and consider decentralisation and restructuring of the security architecture as the most viable solution, together with proper arming, funding and training requirements for Security Agencies.”
The meeting also urged eligible Nigerians of all walks of life, particularly the youths, to register en-masse with the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
This, according to them, will enable the registered Nigerians to exercise their franchise in the 2023 general elections.
“The next election is a very consequential election that should be used to end the dominance of very youth unfriendly APC Government; a government that had the arrogance to deny Nigerian youths of the use of Twitter, a business-friendly tool for the young, for over a year. The youths should empower themselves to determine who leads them.”
They congratulated the Iyorchia Ayu-led National Executive Committee of the party and commended them for hitting the ground running with respect to repositioning PDP into a credible vehicle for rescuing and rebuilding Nigeria which has been battered by bad economy, insecurity, unemployment and other social ills by the incompetent and inept APC administration.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers who hosted the meeting was commended by forum for the great leadership performance he has entrenched in the state.
Governors who attended the meeting are, Tambuwal (Sokoto ); Udom Emmanuel ( Akwa Ibom); Douye Diri ( Bayelsa); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde (Oyo); Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa); Darius Dickson Ishaku (Taraba); and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).