As President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling PDP and his main challenger, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the APC, this week round off their campaigns ahead of the Saturday presidential poll, governors on the platforms of both parties are plotting last-minute winning strategies to ensure their candidates win. MUYIWA OYINLOLA examines the plots.
The governors have been sharply divided along party lines since the failure of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to rebuild its home after its May 2013 election that produced two presidents along the party lines.ince the postponement of the general elections from February to March 28 and April 11, respectively, activities of governors on the platforms of both the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) have become increasingly noticeable as they have started holding series of meetings along party lines toward ensuring their candidates emerge victorious at the poll.
Since then, the 36 governors have been showing more commitment to party meetings while NGF meetings and activities suffer good attendance. In recent times, only PDP governors religiously attend NGF meetings.
But in the last few weeks, the governors have been meeting at different fora to strategise and canvass for votes of their presidential candidates.
Akwa Ibom State governor and chairman of the PDP Governors Forum did not mince words on the essence of the media interaction the forum held in Lagos early this month.
“We, the governors of the PDP family, are certain that the hope of the common people is secured in our great party.
“We are convinced that the key to the continued greatness of our country lies with our President, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. And we know that the mandate freely given to us by the good people of our different states obliges us to speak out at a time like this.
“We have come as servants; humbled in our collective knowledge that today’s democracy, which some persons appear bent to undermine, was obtained for us, in our lifetime, by the blood, toil and sweat of our compatriots”, he said.
Having set the tone for Jonathan’s re-election campaign, he described the PDP as the only mass movement in Nigeria, “and it has assigned itself the role of not only protecting our democracy, but also fighting to sustain democratic values and developing our nation”.
While speaking further, Akpabio gave reasons why Nigerians should vote for the PDP, stressing that: “If we want to move forward, then we must move into drive mode with President Goodluck Jonathan and cross this Jordan River into a land reflecting the promises of our founding fathers. To PDP, sustaining democratic values is a creed. Since President Jonathan came to power, there has been free reign of opinions”.
“To enhance this right, the administration enacted the Freedom of Information Act and it is on record that no single individual in the country under the Jonathan administration has been hounded on account of having a viewpoint. President Goodluck Jonathan and indeed PDP have shown an abiding faith to democratic values. He has also shown uncommon commitment to internal party democracy. Under his watch, the nation has witnessed remarkable improvement in the conduct of elections in the country”.
Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State at a different forum urged the party supporters and Nigerians at large to vote for Jonathan at the poll.
The politician, who is also the Cordinator for Jonathan’s re-election in the North-west zone, however described Buhari, as an incorruptible and honest leader.
He explained that he had no problem with the former head of state, but that he had with some of Buhari’s supporters, especially those that left the PDP to the APC.
“I agree like every other person that Buhari is an incorruptible, honest, clean and patriotic Nigerian. My concern has always been about defectors who our party (PDP) had made ministers, governors, speakers and members of the National Assembly and left us after benefiting so much,” he said.
In the same vein, Abia State Governor Theodore Orji also recently declared that the combination of the PDP and Jonathan remained the best option for Ndigbo in the forthcoming general elections.
Orji, while saying this at a PDP campaign rally in the Umuahia South Local Government Area and Ikwuano Local Government Area of the state, called on “Ndigbo everywhere in the country to vote massively for Jonathan and other PDP candidates.”
He said that Jonathan had done a lot for Ndigbo as well as other tribes in the country and that he deserved a second term to complete his programmes, noting that Jonathan had recorded some remarkable achievements despite distractions from insurgents in the northern region.
Orji also appealed to whoever the President might have offended in the course of his duty to forgive him and vote for the party.
Just like his counterparts, Chairman of Northern States Governors Forum and Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu also recently called on the people of the region to vote for Jonathan at the poll.
He said that the northern part of the country has benefitted from the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan even as he stated that the people would benefit more if the president is re-elected.
To crown up campaigns in their individual states, APC Governors Forum otherwise known as Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), will meet today in Owerri, Imo State capital to brainstorm and perfect winning strategies for Buhari’s electoral victory.
According to a statement issued weekend and signed by the Director General of the forum, Salihu Lukman, the session, under the theme, “March for a New Nigeria”, will be chaired by the APC Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, who is billed to deliver a paper on how a prospective APC-led federal government will work with state governments.
Chairman of the PGF and Imo state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and his Lagos state counterpart, Babatunde Raji Fashola, will also speak on the imperative peaceful and credible elections, while Governors Kashim Shettima, Rauf Aregbesola and Adams Oshiomhole of Borno, Osun and Edo states, respectively, will speak on issues ranging from plans for a post Boko Haram reconstruction, strategies for sustaining governance in times of dwindling resources and the effects of PDP’s mishandling of the economy and its consequences on state finances.
Meanwhile, Buhari’s integrity is one factor that appears to be the
winning mark for APC. This is one attribute that even the PDP has not been able to fault.
The General Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, described Buhari as a man of integrity who, he said, he had a high level of respect for.
“Buhari is a man of integrity and I have no doubt about what he can do and achieve, but his environment, I doubt,” he said.
Another factor working for Buhari is the fact that those who contested the party’s presidential ticket with him have remained good sportsmen and have remained in the party in line with the undertaking signed before the primary that that they would remain in the party whether they lost or won.
Former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar and one of those lost who the primary congratulated while congratulating Buhari said the former head of state has the capability to turn the nation around.
“I am very confident that you will provide the needed leadership to turn this country around. I have no doubt that you will work with dedicated and qualified Nigerians to protect our citizens, improve our economy, create jobs, improve education, reform governance and fight corruption. You will indeed bring the change Nigerians have been yearning for”. It quoted.
As both sides are putting finishing touches on their winning strategies, the result of the elections holding in the next six days will perhaps show which group is making a better scheming.