Barely 24 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifted the ban on campaigns for the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections, political parties have hit the ground running with electioneering activities.
The 89 registered political parties, including the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that have presented candidates for the elections have already commenced political fireworks and scheming to outwit each other ahead of the polls.
For its part, the APC is banking on the President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in the last three and a half years to earn him re-election.
President Buhari yesterday kicked off his presidential campaign with a promise that the next four years will be significant for the country.
He made the promise during the launch of the APC road map tagged, ‘The Next Level’ at the presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president said, “The next four years will be quite significant for our country. Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep building a new Nigeria, making a break from its tainted past, which favoured an opportunistic few.
“Our choices will shape us – our economic security and our future prosperity. Nigeria, more than ever before, needs a stable and people-focused government to move the agenda for our country forward.
The president also appealed to politicians to campaign peacefully and not to set the country ablaze.
“I am not unmindful that presidential and National Assembly campaigns start today. I implore candidates to go about peacefully and decently. We have no other country; let us not set it ablaze”, he stated.
President Buhari also declared that his administration’s biggest ambition is the overhaul of the education sector.
According to him, every child counts and whatever it takes to prepare teachers, curriculum and classrooms to attain the right educational goals that grow the country will be done.
The president promised to “remodel 10,000 schools every year and retrain teachers to impart science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, using coding animation, robotics to reinterpret the curriculum.
The president also stated that to succeed, moral integrity and conscience must continue to form the dominant character of the nation and its leadership.
Maintaining that corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria, the president stated that despite the gains his administration had made in closing the gates, there is still much ground to cover to stop systemic corruption.
He added: “We are committed to deepening the work we started this first term, such that the nation’s assets and resources will continue to be organised and utilised to do good for the majority of our people”.
Noting that four years ago, his party promised Nigerians real change in what they do and how they do it, Buhari said, “Nigerians sent a clear message in the last election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a secure, prosperous and corruption-free country.
“We have worked hard to fulfill our promises – and while the road may have been difficult over the last three and a half years, we have laid the foundations for a strong, stable and prosperous country for the majority of our people.
“Foundational work is not often visible, neither is it glamorous – but it is vital to achieving the kind of country we desire. Judging by the prior depth of decay, deterioration and disrepair that Nigeria had sunken into, we are certain that these past few years have put us in good stead to trudge on the Next Level of building an even stronger nation for our people”.
On his part, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the event provided an opportunity for them to showcase the success story of President Buhari’s administration.
“We have 90 days to elect our next leaders and I believe Nigerians will make the right choice of returning our leader to power,” he said.
Mustapha said the outcome of last Saturday’s by- elections into three federal constituencies in Bauchi, Katsina and Kwara States have shown the direction the 2019 elections will go.
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP checks revealed that the post-primary crisis rocking the APC has taken a toll on the party’s national secretariat of the party in Abuja, as many party leaders have either abandoned their offices or decided to operate outside the secretariat.
But the National Auditor of the party, Chief George Moghalu, has insisted that there is no division within the APC leadership, saying despite the fallout of the primaries, reconciliation is being pursued vigorously.
He said, “Naturally, in any human organisation of which APC is one, interests are bound to clash. There must be disagreements after every primary election because in every contest involving two or three persons, only one person will win.
“Having clearly established that fact, it is incumbent on us who by the grace of God and the will of the people are assigned with the responsibility of managing the party to set the machinery to reach out to every concerned person in the reconciliation process.”
Speaking on the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 general elections, he noted, “To be honest with you, I really don’t have any fear. However, what we need to do which is also good for our democracy is that we need to work hard as a party.
“We need to improve on our marketing and we need to consolidate on our area of advantage. We must continue to reach out to the people, doing what is expected of us considering the limited resources available to us.
“If there is healing process taking place internally to avoid any more cracks, we must concentrate on it until it is done with. We must tidy up our house first.”
In the same vein, the Presidential candidate of the PDP and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said his campaigns will be issue based and devoid of hate speech and empty promises.
“We need to restate as directed by His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of The PDP, that the 2019 elections should be issue-based, devoid of slandering and name calling.
“We hold the view that unguarded narrative hurts the country and further divides us as a people”, the Atiku Campaign Organisation said in a statement issued by its spokesman, Segun Showunmi.
He also ruled out the outsourcing of Atiku’s campaign to expatriates, stressing that Atiku’s presidential campaign will be funded by stakeholders, friends and support groups who, it was gathered, have also been advised to abide by campaign laws to avoid sanctions.