Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to a national debate ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
The former vice president, who spoke at the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, yesterday, also restated his commitment to curb poverty and killings.
Similarly, Atiku, at the inauguration of the PDP presidential campaign council which held in Abuja, demanded the resignation of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris ahead of the polls next year.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that last week, the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisation Nigeria (BON) fixed the presidential debate on January 19, 2019, while the vice presidential debate will hold on December 14, 2018.
At the PDP NEC meeting, Atiku appealed for unity and support from PDP leaders ahead of the election, saying,”I am ready to debate President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The PDP presidential candidate also promised to ensure strict adherence to the principles of fiscal responsibility in the country in his administration in addition to providing a new template for productivity in all critical sectors of the country.
“Our aim is to work very hard and collectively to liberate our nation from the shackles of hunger, starvation, deprivation, bloodletting, killings and division which bedevil us today. We must all work hard to return our nation to the path of harmony, peace and progress,” he said.
The presidential hopeful hailed the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) of the party for its commitment to fiscal responsibility by making available all the details of income and expenditure of all the money realised and spent at the convention held in Port Harcourt .
“I’d never seen such fiscal responsibility by any political party. I said to them that this has posed a very big challenge should we win (and we must win the presidential election), that we will have to enthrone the best fiscal responsibility this country has ever known or ever seen, simply because our party has given us that leadership.
“We have built up so much momentum after the Port Harcourt convention but we also witnessed a lull. It is now time for us to pick up the momentum again until we land in Aso Villa,” he said.
Speaking at the inauguration of the campaign council, Atiku lambasted the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration for running a campaign of personal attacks against him which, he said, was to cause distraction from the ruling party’s inability to showcase its achievements after about four years in office.
“He should be campaigning on his records rather than engage in personal attacks. My campaign will be focused on issues,” he said, even as he called on the leadership of PDP to establish a functioning situation room.
Atiku further called on President Buhari to sign the electoral amendment bill into law.
However, a drama ensued as the rumour over the alleged existence of a presidential impostor ‘Jubril’ sparked laughter at the NEC meeting.
The drama started shortly after Atiku was introduced to make his remarks at the NEC meeting and a senator shouted “Jubril must go”.
Atiku, in a swift response to the voice, asked, “Which Jubril? Is it the one in Sudan or the one in Abuja?”
His response, however, sparked laughter from NEC members and other persons present at the meeting.
Rumours of the existence of a Jubril particularly at the corridors of power has been trending on social media.
Speaking at the NEC meeting, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, called for the resignation of the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, and the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, saying they cannot guarantee free and fair election.
The party chairman also warned that the PDP would not accept the outcome of a rigged election, cautioning that rigging the polls would be a recipe for crisis.
While stressing the need for unity among party members, he noted that the campaigns had been decentralised to the grassroots in order not to make the mistakes the party made in 2015.
On his part, the Senate president and director-general of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Dr Bukola Saraki, urged party leaders to be united and brace up for a tough election.
“The people are with us, and when the people are with us, God is with us. We will do it, we will succeed. I emphasise that we must stay strong because it is not going to be easy. Let us remember when we were going for the convention, this room was vibrating; there was tension in the country and people never believed that it was possible because it had never happened where people will go to a primary and come out with not even one person disagreeing.
“I have said it many times, that APC is not our opponent on the ballot paper; it is the security agents that are our opponents on the ballot paper. If you talk to 10 Nigerians today, they will tell you, ‘yes your party is popular but they will rig it’. What does that mean? We must stand for free and credible election. We must stand for an election where people have the right to vote.”
Speaking to the electoral managers, he said, “if election is not free and credible, you are creating crisis in the country.”
On his part, chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (PDP), Senator Walid Jibrin, urged party members to avoid impunity and endeavour not to leave anyone aggrieved as unity is essential if the party is win the election.
Also yesterday, the PDP inaugurated its Presidential Campaign Council with Secondus as chairman and Atiku as co-chairman.
Former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, is co-deputy chairman while the national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, is the head of media and psublicity for the campaign council.
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