By Dirisu Yakubu
Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has pledged to form a government of national unity if elected into power.
The former Vice President stated this yesterday at a meeting in Abuja with leaders of the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, who earlier in the week, endorsed him as their sole Presidential candidate.
A visibly elated Atiku told the opposition leaders to dismiss any fear of a cabal in his government stressing that since same would be broad-based, no room would exist for a cabal to operate in the corridors of power.
He said: “I want to commit myself to the continuation of the doctrine a government of national unity.
“We believe as a political party in a government of national unity and there must be stability before you can do anything, whether to implement your economic programme or implement your healthcare programme. Right from the beginning, I have been a member of the PDP and I know we have always believed in a government of national unity. It takes a long time for a country as diverse as Nigeria to be united and stable even before we start talking about which ethnic group we come from or which religion we practice.
“I want to assure you that as long as we are having a government of national unity, there will not be a cabal”, he said
He called on the coalition to do a public presentation of its decision to work together “so that Nigerians will be further enlightened, so that every nook and cranny of this country can be informed.”
On the clamour for the participation of young people in partisan politics, Atiku said what is paramount is the involvement of all and sundry, adding that democracy as a process does not pitch the old against the young.
“Democracy is not a process where one group replaces the other but it is a process where all groups participate. It is not a process where one group, young or old, rich or poor exclude the other but a process where everybody participate,” he noted.
Amidst a thunderous applause from the crowd, Atiku narrated his journey into politics, stressing that were it not for the effort of democracy advocates like him, President Muhammadu Buhari would not be seeking participation in the polity today.
“In the 1980s when some of us joined politics, the reason was to drive the military out of power and restore democracy. That was what late General Yar ‘ Adua told me. He said, come and join me. I was in my late 30s and in the public service. I abandoned it and followed him. That was the beginning of my political career.
“If we did not drive the military, he won’t be here today talking about political parties and wanting to be President,” he stated.
Nigerians are hungry— Saraki
Also speaking, Senate President, Bukola Saraki said President Buhari since his election in 2015 has demonstrated a lack of capacity to find solution to the question of hunger and poverty in the land.
He called on the coalition to work hard to ensure victory for Atiku whom he described as a man “who understands the issues.”
He said: “The message everywhere we go is that this country must move forward and we have agreed that the existing President must give way because he is not leading us in the right direction.
“We have met with Nigerians all over the country, the old, the not-too-old and the message is that the President cannot lead us the right way.
“We must be part of the process to usher in a new direction. The most important thing is that we want a change, a new direction. We want a man that understand the issues.
“We have been to three zones and there is a common message and that message is one of insecurity and hunger. Everywhere in this country, hunger and poverty are the issues. So the challenge before us is how to bring back prosperity to this country. Unfortunately, our President today cannot do it. He cannot do it because he does not have the ability to do so.
“Government alone cannot bring prosperity to this country because close to 80% of the revenue of government are going into personnel and servicing of debts. The remaining percentage cannot bring about development.
“To bring development to this country today, you need an environment that encourages people to bring in investment. Nigerians are even afraid to bring out their monies and so they need somebody that they have confidence will bring about the right environment for their business.
“At the moment, the verdict is that this government and this President do not give that confidence and without that investment, we are going no where,” he said.
The meeting which held at the Kano Hall of Transcorp Hilton was attended by prominent opposition leaders including Olagunsoye Oyinlola (national chairman, African Democratic Congress, ADC) Peter Ameh (national chairman, Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA), Gershom Benson (national chairman, Democratic Peoples Party, DPP) among others.