No presidential candidate will defeat Atiku in Southeast, PDP boasts
Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, has promised to work to ensure that the next president of Nigeria after him is an Igbo man.

The former vice president, who had hinted at backing Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State governor and his running mate for the 2023 election to succeed him, spoke on Tuesday during a meeting with PDP Southeast zonal stakeholders in Enugu.

Atiku said he has a close relationship with the Igbo people, which he said influenced his choices of Senator Ben Obi and Peter Obi as his running mates in his previous outings as a presidential candidate.

He added that he has chosen another Igbo, Okowa for the third time as his running mate.

“I have three Igbo children and I am saying this for the very first time in public,” he said.

“I make it quite clear, and confidently too, I will be your stepping stone to becoming president,” he said.

“I did that in 2019. Again, I brought another Obi as my running mate. So, how could you say I will not give the Igbo a fair chance to lead this country?”

He also praised the Igbo for their “very positive roles in the development of my life and country”.

He said, “You are a key contributor to the economy in this country and a government that wants to revive our economy must carry the south-east along,” he added.

Atiku said if elected as president, his administration will provide quality education that would equip youths with the required skills and competency for a modern economy.

He said he would prioritise developmental projects in the Southeast and other regions of the country, adding that any projects sited in any state of the federation are not a favour to the state but a favour to Nigeria.

“The second Niger bridge in Onitsha is not a favour to the Southeast, rather it is or should be seen as a favour to Nigeria. This is because it is not only the people of the Southeast that use the bridge,” he said.

“We must be prepared to hit the ground running from day one if Nigerians give us their mandate,” he said.

“Our country is in very bad shape and rescuing it requires proper preparations and attention to detail, not just in terms of general issues affecting the whole country, but also issues specific to each zone and state.

“Our country is more divided today than it has ever been and it is our responsibility to unify through equity, justice and fairness. That way, we can all pull in one direction to develop our country and improve our people’s lives.

“This will require giving every segment of this country a sense of belonging, not just by meeting constitutional requirements on federal character, but through government policies, programmes, and projects, and in our body language and utterances.”

He said security and restructuring will be part of the priority of the government he leads.

“We will recruit, train adequately and reward police and other security personnel,” he said.

“We shall devolve policing powers to states that so desire and establish state police to help secure their states.

“We will restructure our federal system and devolve more power to the state with corresponding resources.

“I have already set up a constitutional review comprising constitutional lawyers to help me draft an amendment to our constitution so that from day one, I will meet with the governors, and leaders of legislatures so that we can have an understanding and pass that law or amendment to our constitution.

“That way, states will be able to set their own development priorities, while the federal government focuses on setting and maintaining standards. Our country needs restructuring to survive and thrive.”

Atiku’s running mate, Okowa, in his own remarks, lamented that Nigeria had never been more polarised and disunited as it is under the ruling All Progressives Congress leadership.

Okowa said the only solution to the current insecurity and other problems facing Nigeria is for the PDP to win the next presidential election, to be headed by an experienced politician like Atiku Abubakar.

Okowa called on Igbo leaders to be bold in tackling the challenges facing the Southeast.

The PDP Board of Trustees Chairman, Adolphus Wabara said the party would mobilise votes for it to win the presidential election

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