The presidential bid of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar got a tremendous boost on Sunday as regional socio-cultural organisations, including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum, Pan-Niger Delta Forum and the Middle Belt Forum, endorsed him for Nigeria’s top job.
This was disclosed after a meeting of the groups at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, saying Mr. Abubakar possessed the intelligence, capability and knowledge to lead the nation.
The leaders of the groups like Ayo Adebanjo, Nnia Nwodo, Ango Abdullahi, Edwin Clark and Bitrus Pogu, have therefore asked Nigerians to vote for Abubakar on February 16.
According to the groups, the PDP candidate could be trusted to restructure the country if given the mandate.
They blasted Buhari for emphasising ethnicity and religion in his administration, condemning the high level of insecurity and constitutional crisis.
The leaders made it clear that all they had seen in the last three years is blame game, adding that the Buhari targets perceived enemies under the guise of fighting corruption.
Pogu Bitrus of the Middle Belt forum, said, “Today we are making pronouncements that will save and reshape Nigeria, away from suspicion, ethnicity and religion has become an issue. This is the Nigeria we want to depart from into a Nigeria that everyone will feel they belong.
“We can only transform this country with a leader we can trust. In 2015, we thought we could trust Buhari because we felt Jonathan was too weak, but three years after, all we get is blame game. In this government what we have is tyranny and crime (corruption).
“We have had to subsumed our interest into the national interest, come together as one and agree that the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar is our collective candidate for this election. We are convinced that her possess the capacity to take us out of the quagmire we have found again, that our economy will begin to grow again and we are going to push forward with development.”
To Ango Abdullahi, convener of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Nigeria is at a cross roads.
He said, “The reality is that we have to fish for a president among the two major parties, the ruling and the main opposition.
“It is clear that the country requires a new leadership and this is why the Northern elders Forum which I lead is in agreement that a new leader should emerge and that leader is Atiku Abubakar.”
Mr. Edwin Clark, leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), on his part said, “We have served in governments, so nobody should make the mistake of saying we are looking for jobs. We don’t belong to a political party but we met as elders and leaders of the three regions of the country because the country is at a crossroad.
“We want a leader not sick, but focused and has the respect of foreign leaders. We have been passing through crisis and the outside world is laughing at us. One man cannot change the constitution of Nigeria, the moment you can remove the chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) by fiat and gets the power to remove the senate president, you become a dictator.“
While president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo felt sad about the current situation in the country.
He said, “Today’s Nigeria is not the one we used to know. The Nigeria we have today is not the Nigeria we desire. I grew up in a Nigeria where we use to love each other. Today, we have a head of state who has reminded us of our ethnic and religious differences and has put us into jeopardy.
“We have seen Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Borno states crying that they have been overwhelmed by insecurity, seeking military intervention.
“This is the edge of precipice. These proclamation of governors followed the declaration by former chief of army staff, asking Nigerians to take up arms and defend themselves following the unrest in the middle belt.
“The very essence of government is to secure the country. The security of the country is in jeopardy. We have a constitutional deadlock in the country. Southern and middle belt have insisted on restructuring, APC committee recommended interesting initiatives but nothing from the president except to say we don’t have a problem of structure but process.”
Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere added, “I didn’t know that this government will become so tyrannical when we started this initiative. We are asking Nigerians to confirm the election of Abubakar. You’re not voting for him but you’re working for the interest of Nigeria. You must work doubly hard if you want the country’s unity. The evil tormenting us is devising new method to remain in power.
“We are not so cheap to follow people. If you think all we have been telling you is propaganda, the recent exposure of the candidate will convince you of the type of president we need. Be vigilant until the election is declared and confirmed. You are the ones to save Nigeria.”
Recall that last week, a faction of Afenifere, led by Ayo Fasanmi, had endorsed the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo had also suspended Mr. Uche Okwukwu as secretary-general for annoucing that the group has endorsed Mr Buhari for president.