PDP, APC Presidential Candidates Pledge To Build New Nigeria
• We’ll Defeat B’Haram, Rebuild Borno Communities — Jonathan
• It’s ‘Keg Of Gun Powder’ If Jonathan Wins, Says Buhari
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, at separate campaign rally, yesterday, pledged to build a new Nigeria if they win next month’s election.
The President, who visited Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to canvass support, pledged to end Boko Haram insurgency and rebuild all destroyed towns and villages, for displaced residents to return and continue with their socio-economic and farming activities that were disrupted by terrorist activities. Jonathan’s promise came as the APC also pledged to build “a new Nigeria” that will be free of corruption and where sanctity of lives and property would be protected, if its Presidential candidate, and his running mate Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, were elected in the February 14 presidential election.
Jonathan spoke for more than two hours yesterday while flagging off the PDP Presidential Campaign rally at the Ramat Square, Maiduguri amid tight security. He said the Borno Empire and its people do not kill others as the Boko Haram sect has been doing since the commencement of insurgency in Borno State in July 2009.
Calling for ‘a minute’s silence in honour of people killed by the terrorists, the President expressed concern that many would not visit the state for the fear of Boko Haram. “But I assure all of you here today that we must conquer Boko Haram. I will continue to be working with you, until this insurgency is brought to an end. Nigeria is not the only country facing this terrorism that has claimed many lives and property. What I can assure you today is that all the destroyed communities in Borno State will be rebuilt by government.”
He said in rebuilding Baga, Bama, Dikwa, Gwoza, Banki, Konduga, Mafa, Marte, Damboa, Chibok and Gambouru, among other towns and villages already destroyed by the insurgents, all the primary and secondary schools in the affected communities would also be rehabilitated by the Federal Government.
“We will assist all the affected people of Borno State, to go back to their businesses, farming and herding activities that provide more than 60 per cent employment opportunities,” he promised.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff assured the President of the votes of Borno State’s electorate during the February 14, 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Mr. President you should hold me responsible if the PDP fails in a free, fair and credible election in this state. Also, the truth of the matter here in Borno is that, Kashim Shettima in next month’s gubernatorial election will barely get 20 per cent of the votes,” said Sheriff.
Jonathan also absolved himself and his administration of alleged complicity in foisting the state of insurgency on some parts of the country. The president said this during a visit to the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garba El Kanemi in his palace, as part of his campaign tour of Borno State. Other traditional rulers in the state were also in attendance, as the President promised that his administration would, in a matter of few months, bring a total end to the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency. He also assured the monarch that his administration was committed to the rescue of the missing Chibok schoolgirls, noting that the efforts that had been put in place to halt the activities of insurgents might be hampered by external interests and forces.
However, he denied vigorously insinuations in some quarters that either himself or his administration was encouraging insurgency, noting, “We feel the pain of Borno people. I personally feel more pained when people accuse me of being involved in the problem for some political advantage. I have said it many times that my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. And I don’t think any president or human being can do what they accuse me of doing.
“The Boko Haram problem is what I thought we would have ended long ago but may be external influence or interest is affecting us. I am assuring you however that it won’t take us more than a few months to end this insurgency and restore peace in Borno. Our people must return to their communities. Insha Allahu, we will get our Chibok girls back.”
Responding to some of the requests made by the monarch, the President promised to extend the ongoing railway rehabilitation to the state and accelerate ongoing work on the Kano-Maiduguri Expressway.
The monarch appealed to President Jonathan to reconstruct the Maiduguri- Bama-Uba-Askira Road, as well as Kukawa-Baga Road, and extend it to Mallam Fatori, while also asking for the completion of rehabilitation work at the Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru Ngala Road, which he said were all in state of disrepair.
The Shehu advised President Jonathan to comb and clear the Sambisa Forest before insurgents re- occupy it and continue to use it as base.
Buhari, in company of other APC leaders, hit Ado-Ekiti, in Ekiti State, with promise of better future for Nigerians if the party take over the Federal Government through the February 14 polls. They described the suggestion from PDP chieftain that the election be postponed as clear indication that the ruling party is “jittery” and afraid to face the consequence of its maladministration in the last 16 years.
The 12,000 seat capacity pavilion was filled to the brim as early as 10am but Buhari and the party leaders did not arrive at the campaign ground until 2pm.
They also pleaded with Ekiti people not to allow the “mystery of June 21, last year” when the party lost governorship election to the PDP to repeat itself in the coming elections.
Buhari, who blamed the ruling party for the insecurity and high level of unemployment among the youths, said unless all Nigerians joined hands with the APC to fight corruption and bring necessary change in governance, the country is moving towards precipice. Buhari, however, promised to make agriculture attractive to the youths and posited that Nigerians would be sitting on a keg of gunpowder, should they allow President Jonathan to win the election.
Buhari said he is resolute to bring the needed change in all facets in a way that would usher in economic and political rebirth that would put Nigeria on a faster lane of development.
He said: “My programme revolves around Insecurity, Corruption and unemployment. We have a roadmap that would fight these scourges to a standstill, if elected. What you can do to help us is to collect your permanent voter cards and vote during the election. You should not only vote, you must ensure that your votes count.”
The National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who accused President Goodluck Jonathan-led Government of being bereft of ideas to develop the nation after PDP had ruled the nation for 16 years, branded Buhari/Osinbajo as a revolutionary ticket that would stamp out poverty, insecurity and unemployment in Nigeria.
Tinubu also announced the presence of the House of Representatives and Labour Party Chieftain, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele, into the venue of the event, which signaled his imminent return to the party.
Former Speaker of the State House of Assembly and a chieftain of the PDP, Sola Ajigbolamu, led other PDP members to defect to the party and they were received by the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi commended the crowd for being resolute to attend the rally despite threat from the PDP that they would be attacked.
Fayemi, specifically told the supporters to stand against any form of electoral malfeasance that could mar the February 14 election.