Atiku challenges Buhari to debate, says 2019 a must win for PDP

Buhari and Atiku

The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has said that the 2019 election is a must win for the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Speaking at the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party in Abuja on Thursday, he said the national convention of the party which produced him as the party flag bearer had given it a lot of

momentum which must be built upon until the aim of winning the presidency is achieved.

He said: “i am convinced without any doubts that this election is for us to win. We have built up so much momentum after the Port Harcourt convention but we also witnessed a lot of the momentum.

“It is now time for us to pick up the momentum again until we land in Aso Villa.

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“We have lost elections, we have learnt our lesson and because we have learnt our lessons we embarked on the reform.

“It is normal therefore after we have reformed ourselves we should return to power and we must return to power because Nigerians have agreed that we have learnt our lessons, we have reformed and we are now ready again to offer them a better leadership than the first time we came into office.”

The presidential candidate further said: “Our aim is to work very hard and collectively 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 challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to a national debate as he expressed his readiness for the encounter.

Meanwhile, the former Vice President elicited laughter when he responded to a voice in the venue which had shouted, “Jubril must go, ” a reference to the ongoing social media claim that someone from Sudan may be posing as the Nigerian President.

Atiku has asked: “Which Jubril, the one in Sudan or the one in Abuja?”

The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, in his address at the occasion, warned the federal government that any attempt to use security agents and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig next year’s election will plunge the nation into crisis.

He also declared that the main opposition party will not accept any result that emerges from a rigged exercise.

The party boss observed that with what happened in the Ekiti, Osun gubernatorial elections and other bye-elections conducted in parts of the country, which he said were rigged, the All Progressive Congress (APC) believes that it can as well use the same crude tactics to win the 2019 general election.

“Also intelligence report before us show that these agents are bent in manipulating the 2019 elections.

The consequences of rigging 2019 election may be terrible for our dear country.  So, we call on all Nigerians and the international community to add their voices to the agitation towards ensuring that the APC, FG and the INEC conduct free and fair transparent election in 2019,” he stated.

Secondus affirmed that PDP was not contesting election with the APC but with the security agencies and INEC.

He called on the leadership of the electoral body led by Prof. Mahmud Yakubu and the Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Idris, to resign.

“Majority of Nigerians who are disillusioned about the state affair of this country are all excited and praying ceaselessly that we can get it right and that the APC administration can be chased out of their lives,” he added.

In his remark, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, echoed the position of the party boss on the lack of independence expected to be exhibited by INEC and the police in 2019, saying that the party must remain strong to fight against such rigging.

He said just as the party was able to overcome a contentious national convention, it will also conquer the coming presidential election.

Saraki stated: “Same way we conquered it then, we will conquer it again this time at the Presidential level, but to that, we must stay strong.

“I have said it many times APC is not our opponent on the ballot paper, it is the security agents that are opponent 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, we must stand for free and credible election. We must stand for an election where people have the right to vote.

“Election cannot be credible when you have a practice that two days before the election, all opposition leaders will start looking for them in their houses to arrest them, that cannot be a credible election and that must stop.

“We must stand for an election because if the election is not free and credible, you are creating a crisis in the country, and people should know, and they know the responsibility that this country will hold them for that.

“Go and do a free and fair election. If you win, we accept because we are Democrats and if you lose, you too should accept because it is so important because the greatest beneficiary of democracy is this government.”

He affirmed that there will be problems in the country if indeed the APC uses the security agencies and INEC to rig election, saying that President Muhammadu Buhari must be voted out to allow a competent person to steer the affairs of the country.

According to him, “you cannot give what you do not have.”

He said that the PDP through its recently organized national convention has shown Nigerians that it is ready to take over and move the country forward.

The Senate President was however confident that Buhari can be defeated as experience has shown that an incumbent president can be defeated even though it is not easy.

“You can’t give what you don’t have. Let the man who knows how to provide food come and do it.  Let the man who is there who can’t do it leave for the man who can,” Saraki declared.

Meanwhile, the party has formally inaugurated its Presidential Campaign Council headed by Saraki.

At a ceremony which took place in Legacy House, Abuja on Thursday, Atiku also called for the resignation of the Inspector General of Police, Idris.