Residents of Oyo State have been strongly advised to vote in support of comfort and ease for the generality of Nigerians, who are going through untold hardship under the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, rather than based on ethnic sentiments as being canvassed in some quarters.
Deputy Director of Media and Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Oyo State Chapter, Hon. Femi Josiah, gave this advice during radio interviews in Ibadan, on Wednesday, stating that the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, remained the best option for Nigerians in Saturday’s election.
According to Josiah, who spoke on Noble F.M. and Agidigbo 88.7 F.M, out of the leading candidates in the election, the former Vice-President is best prepared for the job, as he has served in the Presidency for eight years and was instrumental to the economic turnaround experienced by the country after years of military rule.
He said that Atiku was part of the PDP administration that grew the country’s GDP, which it met at around 59 Billion US Dollars to about 278 Billion US Dollars by 2007 and that by 2015 when the PDP was voted out of power, the country’s GDP had grown to 574 Billion USD.
He stated that rather than lead the country to further growth, things have retrogressed under the APC government, with the country’s GDP now around 454 Billion USD, while the foreign debts have also risen at alarming rates, wondering why Oyo State residents, who are going through hardship due to lack of money, scarcity of new Naira notes and fuel, would choose to reward the incompetence of the APC just because it presented a Yoruba man as president.
Josiah, who is the Special Assistant to the Oyo State governor on Community Relations and a former member of the House of Assembly, urged Nigerians to vote out the APC, which has brought untold hardship to them, noting that Nigerians, particularly Oyo State residents, should not allow the sentiments about the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu, being a Yoruba man, to cloud their judgement.
The PDP chieftain, who also clarified the position that the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, is not supporting Atiku, said the governor has not told anyone to vote for Tinubu, since he knows that Tinubu is part of those who created the hardship Nigerians are going through.
Speaking on what Atiku will do if elected as president, Josiah maintained that the PDP candidate has promised to, among other things, build a strong and prosperous economy that will lift Nigerians out of poverty and also restore Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice, and cooperation.
The former lawmaker added that the PDP presidential candidate stands shoulder above others, as he has made his agenda clear, stating that he will hit the ground running due to his hands-on experience in the Presidency, unlike others who would have to start learning the process, since the highest positions they have served in is the governorship of their states.
Hon. Josiah, who equally addressed the blackmail being sponsored by the APC that Atiku would sell everything if he is elected president, declared that the former Vice-President’s stand on privatisation has been justified by the fact that the APC-led Federal Government has sold a part of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and is also planning to unbundle the Nigeria Railway Corporation.
He added that contrary to the lies that Atiku sold Nigeria’s assets to his friends, former head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the current Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai and an APC chieftain, was once on tape swearing by the Holy Quran that Atiku never interfered with the sale processes.
He said: “Atiku Abubakar of the PDP presents Nigerians with the best opportunity to exit the hardship imposed on Nigerians by the APC government.
“Right now, the country is heavily divided and Nigerians are frustrated due to the bad governance of the ruling party and the APC is doing further damage by promoting ethnic jingoism in the presidential race. This is not the time to be saying ‘omo eni o le se’di bebere ka fi si’di omo elomiran’. For those of us who love this country, this is not the time to say that.
“It is time to rebuild and to heal the wounds of our people and Atiku is the best man to do that job. His plans and agenda are in tandem with the collective interest of Nigeria. He wants to rebuild Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice and cooperation.
“Atiku has also said he will establish a strong and effective government that will guarantee safety of lives and property by supporting state policing, which is the major thing that is missing in the security architecture of Nigeria.
“What I am saying in essence is Atiku is coming to restructure, improve the economy and emancipate youths and women and fight corruption. He brought EFCC and ICPC as the Head of the Economic Team. What is the situation of those institutions today?
“In 1999, the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria was $59b and was heavily broke because of corruption in the time of former military president, Abacha and other military heads of state before him. Nigeria was a failed nation as of the time the PDP came on board in 199 and a lot of countries were no longer doing businesses with us. But when we took over power in 1999 and as of the time Atiku left the government as the Head of Economic Council and with the support of Obasanjo, they were able to take the economy to about $278b. As of 2015 when the PDP left, the economy was $574b, which was the biggest economy in Africa.
“But today, what is the value of our economy in terms of GDP? It is about $454b as of December 2022 and likely to have dropped further. Having said that, a party like APC that took Nigeria down to such state has retrogressed the nation. If you look at what PDP met it and what it is today, you should give us kudos. And whether they like Atiku or not, facts are sacrosanct and figures don’t lie.
“You cannot separate individuals from the party and institutions. PDP produced both Obasanjo and Atiku and they worked together and achieved a lot for the country.”
Also responding to the claim that Atiku sold Nigeria’s assets to himself and his friends, Josiah said: “Atiku sat as the Chairman of a National Council on Privatisation that had the likes of Bola Ige, Adamu Ciroma, Okonjo Iweala as members. The Accounting Officer of the Bureau of Public Enterprise that was in charge of all the enterprises owned by Nigeria then was Nasir El-Rufai, and all the processes of privatisation were supervised by him. And those processes were presented to the National Council for ratification, which was further taken to the National Executive Council headed by Obasanjo for approval.
“So, when people say Obasanjo wrote in his book that Atiku sold assets to himself and his friends, I disagree. So, he wrote the book to tell us he was an incompetent leader? Were they selling everything and he just sat down there as the president?
“El-Rufai once swore by the holy Quran that Atiku never interfered in the process or are you saying el-Rufai, who is now in the APC, lied? Are you saying all the people with Atiku in the Council were not smart or that they were also corrupt?”
The governor’s aide equally declared that residents of Oyo State, who love Governor Makinde, should vote for his party’s candidates in Saturday’s election, as according to him, a vote for Tinubu will, in the long run, be a vote against Makinde.
“Whoever votes for Tinubu through Makinde and based on ethnic sentiment, it means you have voted against Makinde, and the whole benefit will go to the APC. Once they have two senators in the National Assembly and 10 House of Reps members, they will be bragging. Also, it will be an opportunity to manipulate the election result. So, let us think about it well and be careful.
“What is on the ground now is not about Yoruba nation because we have over 200 ethnic groups in the country. It is a leader who can deliver and has the capacity to bring us out of the challenges we are faced with that we need to go for,” he added.