Governors in the camp of the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday boycotted the inauguration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council.
They include Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); and Wike.
Also, party leaders who are sympathetic to the Wike camp also stayed away from the International Conference Centre, Abuja, venue of the ceremony.
However, the PDP governors loyal to the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, attended the event.
They include Governors Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Diri Duoye (Bayelsa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto).
Also absent from the event was former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was listed as a guest of honour, Chief Bode George, and the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu. The Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, who stood in for him, attributed Ayu’s absence to ill-health.
Atiku has been at loggerheads with the Wike camp over the insistence of the five governors that Ayu must be replaced with another candidate from the South, a call Atiku has ignored.
However, a National Executive Committee (NEC) member, Chief Chinemerem Madu, alleged that a national deputy chairman arranged N28 million bribe for selected NEC member to disrupt the activities of the campaign council.
At the inauguration, Atiku canvassed restructuring of governance; saying that the system is heavily skewed in favour of the centre, to the detriment of the federating units
He said: “Our system of government is broken. Our current system is unfair, unwieldy, skewed towards favouring the Federal Government at the expense of other federating units, and has in itself, become a willing tool for underdevelopment.
“This system of government is no longer suited to the challenges of a 21st Century economy that works for everyone and that is needed to bring development closer to our people.
“But all hope is not lost. We have a plan to address these issues and to arrest the drift of our nation. These plans have been laid in our document titled: “My Covenant with Nigerians”.
The PDP candidate listed five focal points of his plans for the country, if elected president.
He promised to restore Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice, mutual collaboration, and consensus among the nation’s diverse peoples.
Atiku also stressed the need to build a strong and effective democratic government where the safety and security of the people and their property would be a primary responsibility.
The candidate also promised to establish a strong, resilient, inclusive and prosperous economy that generates opportunity, jobs and wealth while lifting the poor out of poverty.
He also envisioned a system that would encourage the adoption of a true federal system where all the federating units are equal, with a fair and representative federal government.
Atiku promised a system that will secure the nation’s borders and defend the people while ensuring national unity.
The federating units, he said, would be allowed to develop and grow in line with priorities which they have set on their own.
Also on the card is a plan to redevelop, invest in, and strengthen the education system to provide its recipients with the education and skills needed to compete in the new global order driven by innovation, science, and technology, as well as to live healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.
“To undertake these tasks, members of our party, the PDP, have, graciously, granted me the ticket to lead the party in next year’s presidential elections, with the singular mandate to come and lead the efforts to cure these ills.
“So, what is our task that we are gathered here today to undertake? It is beyond merely coming together to inaugurate a Presidential Campaign Council. No. Our task today is to come together to rescue and rebuild our beloved country, Nigeria. That is the end goal. It is existential to us as a nation, and it is a task that history beckons upon us all to grasp with both hands and undertake with vigor and zeal.
“The tasks ahead may appear daunting; they may seem a load too heavy to bear. But, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, we must not, even for one minute, shirk in the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with to come together to rebuild this beloved country of ours”.
The chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, deplored the activities of those he described as doomsayers, saying that their antics cannot distract the PDP.