Jonathan , Buhari, Mark, IBB raise political stake for APC, PDP
• President expresses confidence in Jega
IN continuation of his campaigns, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday stated his strong belief in the ability of the INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega to conduct a credible election.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Buhari (rtd) yesterday urged the voters to shun violence and avoid the pitfall of the past, stressing, “electorate must not only vote, but vote and protect your vote”.
In a related development, the Senate President, David Mark yesterday in Kontagora, Niger State, said that the future of Nigeria was better off in the hands of the PDP, adding, “the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know”.
In the same vein, former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida has assured that retired military chiefs would back Buhari in the February 14 presidential election.
He further alleged that the media had created the impression that the two leaders were at loggerheads.
According to him: “You media men have created this impression that we are fighting each other. Look at us here today, he knows what I mean and I know what he means. We both fought to keep Nigeria one when we were young majors then. We were well travelled.”
Also, the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation yesterday enjoined its supporters across the country to stay calm and peaceful after an advertorial in a media outfit wished that Buhari would soon die due to old age.
The group advised President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP leadership to take charge of their campaign for re-election before their surrogates plunge Nigeria into confusion and anarchy.
Jonathan made the assertion in Birnin , Kebbi State capital. Jega hails from the State.
The President added: “We appreciate the people of Kebbi State so much. We have confidence in you and that is why we are talking about elections and we selected a son of Kebbi State, Prof Jega to be number one umpire in this countryand its because of the confidence we have in him as an unbiased umpire
Buhari said that his administration, if voted into power, would fight corruption at all levels of government, just as he also listed security, agriculture, employment generation and education as his priorities.
The climax of the APC rally was the formal presentation of the Niger State Deputy Governor, Ahmed Musa Ibeto and 200 other members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who decamped to APC in the state.
Mark who spoke at the flag-off of the Niger State PDP gubernatorial candidate, Umar Nasko campaign, said that the country needed to be in secured hands.
According to Mark: “PDP belongs to all of us, we want you to vote en-masse for all our candidates from the Presidency to the State Houses of Assembly.
“Make sure, come February, you vote for the PDP because the future of the country is in the hands of PDP; our campaign is based on issue, we talk about what we have done and we talk about what we are going to do. We must vote for those who will take you beyond where you are now. Vote Umar Nasko so that he can continue on the good works of Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu,” he added.
Speaking also, the Niger State Governor Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu charged Niger indigenes to shun all forms of violence before, during and after the elections, adding, “whatever result that comes out, the people must accept it.”
According to him: “If you die, you die as a result of political violence and not by the grace of God.
“We will ensure that during our campaign there will be no character assassination, no abuse, no violence, but we will campaign from house to house.”
In his speech, Nasko called on all aggrieved members of the party to join hands with him to succeed.
Babangida gave the assurance when Buhari paid him a visit at his hill-top residence in Minna, adding that he was proud of the ex-military leader’s persistence and perseverance in seeking to offer himself for service at the highest level in the country.
Babangida told Buhari: “You have beaten some of us in proving Gen. Douglas Mc’Arthur’s theory that, ‘old soldiers never die but fade away gradually,‘ but you have refused to fade away.”
While commending APC for honouring the military by nominating one of their own (Buhari) as its presidential bearer, Babangida said: “I wish to congratulate members of the party for the honour of nominating my colleague, Buhari as your presidential candidate in 2015 election.”
The former military President had earlier blamed the media for the alleged strained relationship between him and Buhari, saying that the media had misrepresented their relationship.
Reacting to a front page wrap-around cover advertisement in yesterday’s edition of some newspapers in which Nigerians were asked to choose between life and death, grouping Buhari among former Nigerian leaders who were either killed or died of natural causes while in office, the APC campaign said, “this is the height of desperate tactics by the PDP, which is capable of degenerating into unnecessary bloodshed and destruction. They are choosing death for us. This is not politics. “We are therefore, asking our supporters to stay calm and be law-abiding.”
The statement, signed by Mallam Garba Shehu, Director of Media and Publicity of the campaign said, “even as a candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has a duty to lead the country with responsibility up until May 29, when a new president will be inaugurated.”
Taken in its ordinary meaning, the APC alleged that the on-going campaign on Buhari’s health, using forged medical reports, and now suggestions of death are reeking of plots to eliminate him (Buhari) before or after he wins.
The statement warns, “the whole world is watching and that if anything happens to Buhari before, during or after the elections, under the pretext of X, Y, or Z, we shall be left with no option than to conclude that the PDP and their surrogates are to be held accountable.”
The statement further appealed to “all APC members and millions of supporters of Buhari across the country not to play into the hands of the PDP hatchet men to be provoked and thereby, giving them the much-needed excuse to abort this democracy before or after the elections.”
Shehu explained that APC campaign remained faithfully committed to the peace accord signed by the country’s political parties under the auspices of Ambassador Kofi Annan.
He, however, alleged that the PDP is paying lip service to this commitment by trying to stoke the embers of hate and smear campaign, which he said was inconsistent with the commitment to peace.
The statement also advised the police, the SSS, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) to do their jobs by not allowing these dangerous threats to democracy go unchecked.
“Once again, the APC campaign advises all its supporters to strive to stay above the “rofo-rofo”, which is clearly designed to provoke our supporters to help the PDP sinister agenda to abort this hard-fought for democracy in view of their impending defeat in the forthcoming general elections,” Shehu said.