The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday, dismissed claims by Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State that the party rented crowd from Niger Republic to kick-off its presidential campaign in Sokoto on Monday.
Secondus, who made the clarification in Ilorin, Kwara State at the palace of the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, noted that the large turnout of members of the party at the rally jolted the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He urged Nigerians to massively vote for the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in order to rescue the nation from hunger.
His words: “There is no iota of truth in the claims that the crowd you saw during our rally in Sokoto State were people hired from Niger Republic. They are our genuine supporters and that was a clear indication that people are tired of the current government. We are here to receive your blessings and permission to talk to our people and seek their votes for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi.
“The nation is currently suffering from hunger and insecurity. There is need for a competent and well experienced Nigerian to come on board to save us. As we are all aware that Nigeria is in distress and we are in need of a well-connected leader to rescue us.”
Also speaking, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, thanked the emir for honouring the team and urged him to support the party in prayers always.
The PDP presidential candidate, in his remarks, disclosed that he has been close to the emir since the monarch’s days on the bench as a judge, promising to maintain his relationship with the Ilorin Emirate and to further chart a way forward for the development of the state and nation at large if elected as president in 2019.
Responding, the emir urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be an unbiased umpire during the elections. He also advised the judiciary to act independent of the other arms of government in order to discharge its roles as the hope of the common man.
Also, the Sokoto State government, which also dismissed el-Rufai’s claim, said the PDP’s successful rally in the state has frightened the Kaduna State governor.
The state government, in a statement by the Special Assistant on Public Enlightenment and Mobilization to Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Hon. Akibu Dalhatu, said: “The recent claim by Governor el-Rufa’i that PDP hired supporters from Niger Republic during the flag off of the Atiku/Obi North-West Presidential campaign in Sokoto, is nothing but blatant lie, evident of political frightening and an attempt to score cheap political goals.
“The outcry by el-Rufai is a testimony to the fact that APC and its leadership were shocked by the gargantuan crowd the rally recorded in Sokoto, which serves as the final burial of APC government in the North-West and Nigeria in general because of perpetual failure, bad leadership, massive corruption, failure to end terrorism and other security challenges bedevilling our nation since the inception of Buhari’s administration in 2015.
“For the purpose of setting the record straight, el-Rufa’i should not forget so soon that his hands were deeply involved in messing up of the present administration as a result of his bad governance and policies as governor of Kaduna State, through mass sacking of innocent primary school teachers, unnecessary demolition of people’s landed properties, disregards and disrespects to traditional rulers, Northern elders, leaders and other respected institutions, escalation of insecurity, refusal to obey the court orders and rule of law among several others.”
Describing el-Rufai as coldhearted, the Sokoto State government noted that the same North-West people, who elected the Kaduna governor and his party in 2015, have dumped them because of the failure of their government.
It added that what scared el-Rufa’i and his co-travellers was the success recorded at the Sokoto PDP campaign rally, while insisting that APC will find it impossible to record a replica of such mammoth crowd in any state of the North-West, including Kaduna.
Challenging el-Rufa’i and APC to do same if at all they can in any of the states in the North-West, the statement added:
“With Governor Tambuwal at the helm of affairs in Sokoto State and campaign coordinator of PDP in North-West, el-Rufai will receive the shock of his life in Kaduna State and entire North-West during the forthcoming general elections.
“Tambuwal, as master political strategist who came second during the presidential primary of PDP, will defeat APC hands down and deliver the entire North-West to PDP because of the massive support, love and loyalty of the people of the North-West for him.”
Meanwhile, Secondus has again warned that the main opposition party would not accept the outcome of the forthcoming general elections unless it was visibly free, fair and credible.
Secondus, who spoke at the Ilorin metropolitan mini-sports stadium at a rally to kick off the PDP North Central Presidential Campaign, declared that there will be no escape route for election riggers in 2019.
He urged INEC to ensure free and fair elections to avert crisis.
The PDP National Chairman told the jubilant crowd drawn from the six states of Kwara, Niger, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi and Plateau that make up the zone that the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Peter Obi, were on a rescue mission.
Secondus said that the APC leaders were afraid of the PDP flag bearers because of the credibility and their rich record of performance in public service.
He noted that APC leaders have exhausted their lies and have come to the end of the road since the people cannot be fooled all of the time.
“Atiku Abubakar is a man set out by providence to rescue this country from the APC mess and we must give him our votes.
“He is the man destined to make Nigeria work again and he would end hunger and unite Nigerians once again,” he said.
Secondus, who called for a minute silence in honour of persons killed by herdsmen in the North Central zone, remarked that Atiku is the man who will end killings in the country.
He warned the Police and other security operatives who might want to connive with INEC and APC to thwart the will of the people, to desist from electoral malpractices, adding that they would be stoutly resisted since the voters were determined to guard and protect their votes.
Saraki told the rally that Atiku is the only person with the wherewithal to tackle the challenges facing the country.
On his part, Atiku assured the people that with their mandate, he would drastically address the myriads of the problems facing the country.
The highpoint of the rally, which attracted PDP leaders from the North Central zone, was the handing over of victory flags to the presidential candidate and PDP gubernatorial flag bearers in five states of Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau and Kwara excluding Kogi whose governorship election is due later in 2019.
The PDP zonal rally train heads to Ibadan, South-West region today.