Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) Mr Osita Okechukwu, says Northern Christians would not vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Okechukwu also a foundation member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said this while answering questions from journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
Reacting to the Northern Christians outrage over APC’s Muslim-Muslim Ticket, Okechukwu said he shared their anguish on identity politics and fears.
“But I know that in the fullness of time, contrary to the speculations of spin doctors, they would not vote for the former Vice President,” he said.
He assured that whatever marginalisation the Northern Christians suffered today, they would suffer no more if the APC standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu becomes the President in 2023. “Our first slogan in APC is change.
Our mantra is change.
We will not remain static, never.
We will change whatever is not working.
All we ask Nigerians is to give us another 8 years as you gave our sister political party, the PDP.
“Regarding the Northern Christians outrage over APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket; if any pundit thinks they will vote for Atiku, my answer is ‘Capital No’.
No matter what, they know he is bringing nothing new to the table.
“Find out, Northern Christians do not trust Atiku.
They know his cherry-picking antics as per rule of law and rotation convention.
They also know his ambivalence on religion, as demonstrated in the late Deborah’s imbroglio in Sokoto, which is still fresh in the mind of every Christian.
“Secondly, they know that Tinubu and by extension the Yorubas’ DNA is devoid of religious extremism and bigotry.
Yorubas celebrate Eid and Xmas together,” Okechukwu said.
The Enugu APC chieftain added:“As a matter of fact, without being personal, one was a witness when my dear friend Babachir Lawal informed the world during his Thanksgiving Church Service at ECWA Wuse, that Tinubu and Pa Akande were instrumental to his appointment as Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF).
“May one ask, is it possible that neither Tinubu nor Pa Akande didn’t know any Northern Muslim then to lobby for?
Or has Tinubu changed 360 degrees?
” “Thirdly, they’re fully aware that Atiku has violently breached the rotation convention of president from north to south and painfully by extension of the PDP’s Constitution.
For Atiku rotation convention is north-south geopolitically benched, only when he wins the president.
If he fails as in 2019, the rotation convention goal post must be shifted.
“It is on record that Atiku enjoyed and celebrated rotation convention when in 2018, Governor Nyeson Wike and other Southerners in obedience to the letters and spirit of Section 3(c) of PDP’s Constitution allowed only Northern presidential aspirants to contest in Port Harcourt.
“But in 2022 PDP presidential primary election he fought tooth and nail to jettison the rotation convention, arguing childishly that it is not applicable to PDP?
Hence breached Section 3(c) of PDP’s Constitution.
Some of us Southerners are as hurt as Northern Christians over this willful breach.
” “Yes, faith balance is very important in building bonds of inclusion, so is rotation convention which bonds north and south, and cements inclusion and corporate existence.
This is why I continue to salute APC’s Northern Governors, majority of whom unlike PDP’s Governors by this noble patriotism, restored equity, natural justice and national loyalty in our clime.
“If PDP Governors had obeyed rotation convention from north to south, to be honest there wouldn’t be the imperative of APC’s Muslim-Muslim Ticket.
They cannot benefit from their negligence.
I stand to be contradicted,” Okechukwu stated emphatically.
On the anger of the Northern Christians over a seeming premeditated plan to exclude all Christians in both the APC party structure and government, Okechukwu maintained that he shares their plight, assuring that such marginalisation would not repeat itself under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President.
“We are witnesses when Dr Umaru Dikko as Transport Minister, was more powerful than Vice President, when Mrs Diezani Madueke as Petroleum Minister was more powerful than Vice President and recently, how powerful Abba Kyari (of blessed memory) was as Chief of Staff to the President.
Therefore, Christians nationwide should give APC another chance.
” He said every Nigerian knew Tinubu’s antecedents as Governor of Lagos State, describing him as a master of sourcing for the best from every creed, tribe and tongue.
“I maintain that the next APC’s Federal Government must as a matter of urgent national importance adopt the good policies of the current administration, contain the palpable insecurity in the land and build new bonds of brotherhood.
” He summed up that throughout history there were no two successive regimes that were identical in every particular matter.
“In fact, it is only President Buhari’s regime that has the credit record of continuity of 98% of abandoned and ongoing roads, rails, and other infrastructural projects in Nigeria, both at federal, state and local councils for over five decades.
A pro-northern youth political group, Northern Youth Network, has revealed that Governor Nyeson Wike's recent visits to People's Democratic Party governors across the country were aimed at picking a weak presidential candidate from the north that he can control.
Issuing a statement Wednesday in Kano, the group's coordinator, Abdulrahman Ahmed, stressed that Wike would not be allowed to impose a weak presidential candidate in the North in 2023.
He said: “We know that Governor Wike has never been a friend of the North and has never hidden his dislike for Northerners and everything related to the North.
“Therefore, he cannot pretend to have the interest of the Northerners now for his intention to impose a weak candidate from the North as the presidential candidate of the PPD.
“Over the years, we have seen Governor Wike denigrate the North and its heritage. Wike has always used degrading words to refer to Northerners. The North has been referred to in literature as illiterate and almajiris.
“The politicization of the legal dispute over the value added tax (VAT) by Governor Wike is a deliberate attempt to cripple the income base and the economy of the northern states.
“In recent times, Wike has championed divisive policies designed to create hatred against Northerners. Wike has said that the collection of VAT by the federal government is a deliberate way to change the South in favor of the North. "
The group added that Mr. Wike's stance as an advocate of good governance is hypocritical.
“He was a minister in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan at that time BokoHaram / ISWAP, assumed a dangerous dimension in the country, bombing churches and public places.
"The insurgency and the level of insecurity we face today is because the government that Wike served refused to treat him seriously, the group emphasized.
Abdulrahman therefore warned those running for the presidency in the north who think playing a secondary role to Wike will win the ballot to remember that the governor is a bad politician.
The group further recalled that in 2019 it supported Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, who sadly lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
“If Governors Tambuwal or Bala Muhammed emerge as candidates, it is not Governor Wike who should tell the North. The North has everything it takes to get a candidate.
“He is trying to be smart. He wants to be vice president of whatever northern candidate he chooses and Ayim pius Ayim's chief of staff if power is shifted south.
“Wike was among the southern governors who held a meeting and issued a statement that power should be transferred to the southern part of the country. In another twist, Governor Wike, feeling that the PPD could elect a candidate from the north, has begun to move across the country in a desperate attempt to impose a candidate. "
The group insisted that Wike has expelled many people from the PDP as a result of his pushy, arrogant and domineering behavior.
“Recently, he fought and removed the PDP's national president, Prince Uche Secondus. At the reception of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the new president of the party in Benue state, it was cited that Wike warned him and threatened to work against him if he did not dance to his rhythm, ”the group alleged.
“We know that Wike's intention and his sudden love for the North is a ploy to deceive the region in its desperate attempt to impose on the PDP a presidential candidate that it can control.
"Now that his term is coming to an end, he is afraid of his political future, hence his desperation to impose a candidate that he can control in the party," the group added.
He concluded that the northern region has very experienced and successful veteran politicians and statesmen who understand the demand for leadership without the input of Governor Wike.
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, on Saturday said plans were underway to summon the Edo Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs to pray for a peaceful election in the state.
The Oba made this known when Gov. Godwin Obaseki led some governors, senators and other top ranking officials of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign council visited him in his palace in Benin.
The Oba said God and his ancestors have been answering his prayers whenever he prayed, adding that the forthcoming governorship election would not be an exception.
“I remember when I visited Governor Obaseki in his office, he asked me to pray for him to be able to complete his tenure in office and I did.
“And today he has not been impeached despite the ups and downs and I thank my God and my ancestors for answering my prayers.
“When I also visited Rivers and Cross River states, the governors there asked me to intervene in the Edo political crisis and I said I will not give up.
“And we have been praying and I thank God and our ancestors that we had the primary elections in the state and there was no bloodshed and it was so peaceful.
“And now as we arr about going to the governorship election proper, I am going to summon Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs to pray for a peaceful election in the state.
“We all know that there is nothing prayers cannot do. It is prayers that have been keeping the country going,” the monarch said.
Earlier, the National Chairman of the party, Chief Secondus Uche, told the Benin monarch that they decided to come and pay him homage and to also seek his blessings and permission to go on with their campaign in the state.
Also, Gov. Nyeson Wike of River State thanked the monarch for being a shining light in the country, adding that his prayers have kept the country together.
Wike told the monarch that after the September 19 governorship election, they would also come to say thank you to him.
Also speaking, Obaseki told the monarch that he was in the palace to seek his blessings for his campaigns and election in the state.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
The 22 oil workers arrested by officials of the Rivers Government have been freed, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
The oil workers, detained at Elekahia Stadium, comprising 20 men and two women were on Thursday, arrested at Akwa Ibom-Rivers border for alleged breach of the lockdown order imposed by Gov. Nyeson Wike, to check further spread of the COVID-19 virus in the state.
They were heading to an oil facility in Bonny, operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), a subsidiary of U.S. energy firm, ExxonMobil.
They were subsequently taken to a stadium where they were detained and awaiting arraignment.
Mr Lumumba Okugwagba, Secretary-General, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), confirmed the development to NAN on telephone on Sunday morning.
Okugwagba noted that PENGASSAN frowned at the detention and inhuman treatment meted out to the oil workers rendering essential services and issued an ultimatum to shutdown the oil industry if their members were not freed.
“We have information that our members have been freed and they are on their way out of the stadium, but we are monitoring their movement.
“These oil workers are Nigerians and the way they were treated and detained in a stadium is not decent at all, remember there are two women among them and you know the trauma they have gone through since Thursday.
“The union had given a notice of shutdown by midnight of Sunday, if the workers were not released, we do not understand why they should be held when the Federal Government says the oil industry was exempted from the lockdown.
“The Attorney General of Rivers just addressed them. He says the case against them has been dropped, they are no longer going to court and they should leave.
“The convoy is about to leave the stadium now (morning),” he said.
The resolution of the issue had doused fears of an industrial dispute over threats by oil industry workers’ union to shutdown the industry.
Contacted, Mr Ogechi Udeagha, the Manager in charge of Public and Government Affairs, MPN, said the oil firm had no comments on the development at this time.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Peter Ejiofor) (NAN)