Leaders and elders of all geopolitical zones in the country yesterday reached a major political consensus to back Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The groups, Northern Elders Forum; Pan Niger Delta Development Forum (PANDEF); Afenifere; Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum and Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly (NLSA) resolved that Atiku is the only candidate with the competence and vision to take Nigeria out of its present economic and socio-political quagmire.
This development, coming barely 12 days to the February 16, 2019 presidential election, represents a major shift in the political permutations that could sway victory in favour of Atiku.
At a summit convened by the groups, all the five socio-political and cultural fora of leaders and elders, they described President Muhammadu Buhari as a misfit that must not be reelected for Nigeria to achieve unity, security and peace required for meaningful development.
In a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting and read by Yinka Odumakin, the forum’s spokesman, said: “The Forum adopts Atiku as the consensus candidate for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“He has demonstrated deep understanding of the critical needs of the country at this time and possesses the capacity to proffer clear solutions in that respect.
“We call on all Nigerians, irrespective of religious or ethnic background to stand in unison and vote for Atiku in the February 16, 2019 and ensure that they defend their votes.”
Responding to the development, PDP Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the endorsement as a welcome development, saying: “It is the position of Nigerians who have suffered so much since Buhari came to power and it is not a surprise that they have endorsed Atiku.”
The elders who took their turns to review the Buhari administration, crisis thrown up by his style of administration and the way forward, submitted that the President had demonstrated lack of mental and physical capacity to continue to rule a nation as complex as Nigeria.
They added that the era of having a President who could not take charge of his administration was over, stressing that Nigeria is not only in serious crises of insecurity, dwindling economy, nepotism, killings, corruption, but now witnesses a major constitutional crisis under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
One of the leaders, a former Federal Commissioner of Information, Chief Edwin Clark said, “I join Ohanaeze, Afenifere, the Northern Elders Forum and on behalf of the Niger Delta people, Atiku is our presidential candidate for a better and prosperous Nigeria. We must do away with the deceit of President Buhari’s government.
Speaking at the summit, leader of the Northern Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, stated, “We in the Northern Elders Forum arrived at our decision on the basis of principles.
“We later began to see that things are not going according to our expectations and our expectation is in the best interest of the entire country. We had alerted the Presidency on all these but they played to the gallery by saying that we are scuttling Northern Presidency.
“So our resolution was published that Northern politicians who had failed should not expect support from the Northern Elders Forum.”
President of Ohanaeze, John Nnia Nwodo, lamented that Nigeria has fallen from its glorious days where ethnicity, religion and others were relegated to the background when key decisions were to be taken.
“Today, we have a head of state who has reminded us of our Ethnic and religious differences.
“On restructuring, Buhari said it was not the problem of Nigeria but Atiku excelled in his response to our questions on restructuring. In four years, the Federal Government has taken more loan than the debt paid by Obasanjo,” he stated.
He also lamented the failure of Nigeria to diversify to other sources of revenue when the United States (U.S.) will soon be producing 12 million barrels of crude oil per day.
Responding, Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, said: “I never foresee that the government of the day will become so tyrannical when it started.
“We are only asking God to confirm the election of Atiku as President. By voting Atiku, you are working for the survival of Nigeria. The evil tormenting us is doing everything to remain in power.”
Meanwhile, Town Union Presidents in the Southeast zone at the weekend endorsed the presidential bid of Atiku and Peter Obi, just as they described reports that traditional rulers in Ebonyi State earlier endorsed President Mohammadu Buhari as absolute falsehood.
They stated that contrary to the reports, the royal fathers in Ebonyi welcomed the President with tubers of yam and blessed him when he visited last week for his reelection campaign.
“Buhari was actually welcomed by the monarchs in Ebonyi with 1000 tubers of yam and 1000 bags of rice and nothing more. He was not endorsed by anybody,” they stated.