UPDATED: Jonathan kicks off presidential campaign in Lagos, as PDP mocks APC

Thousands of people crammed into the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos, Thursday, to attend the official kick-off of the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The party also presented flags to all its 36 gubernatorial candidates, as dozens of support groups danced under the late morning sun to beats from traditional drums.

The crowd, which began pushing and shoving into the venue by 10 a.m., gyrated to periodic stage performances by the energetic Obesere, Oritsefemi, and Sammy Okposo.

But the almost capacity filled arena was half-empty five hours later, before President Goodluck Jonathan took to the podium to deliver his campaign address marking the end of the event.

In his opening remarks, Ahmadu Ali, the Director of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organisation, said that the PDP, unlike the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, belongs to all Nigerians.

“The PDP is not the exclusive preserve of an individual who has turned Lagos into a cow to be milked,” said Mr. Ali,

Olusegun Mimiko, the Ondo State Governor, told the crowd to settle for a presidential candidate who is “cool as a cucumber,” rather than one who is not “21st century educated.”

“In spite of the antics of the opposition, that you (President Jonathan are the most abused, most insulted, most negatively-profiled president in the history of our nation, you have refused to roll out any obnoxious law of the semblance of Decree 2 of 1984,” said Mr. Mimiko, Chairman of the party’s Local Organizing Committee, South West.

“We thank you. We do not take you for granted.”

FACING THE OPPOSITION

The roll call at the campaign ground included present and former PDP governors and national assembly members.

Groups like the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria and the Lagos chapter of the Catholic Women Organization were also represented.

Former Super Eagles Captain, Joseph Yobo, spoke on behalf of the youth.

Speaker after speaker, from Babangida Aliyu, the Niger State governor, to Olajumoke Akinjide, the minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory, sang President Jonathan’s praises and trumpeted his achievements in office.

They also mocked the APC for being controlled by an “emperor” as well as fielding a ‘dinosaur’ in General Muhammadu Buhari.

The speakers also dwelt on the dead Lagos metro line, cancelled in the 80’s by Mr. Buhari when he was Head of State, perhaps hoping that resurrecting the ghost of the project would haunt the retired general.

“Our memory is not short not to remember the anti human decisions…,” said Mr. Mimiko.

“A project the Jakande administration had committed a whooping $75 million at that time was meant to put an end to traffic nightmare in Lagos metropolis through installation of a circuit of rail lines that will have stretched all the way from Agege to Marina, Ikorodu in the north and Badagry in the east, ferrying nearly a million people a day 31 years ago.”

Ms. Akinjide said that the nightmarish traffic experience in Lagos would have been history had Mr. Buhari not cancelled the metro project.

“We have a presidential candidate, during his tenure we had political exiles, political prisoners, and we had bodies in crates,” Ms. Akinjide said.

“Now we have another candidate, today in Nigeria there is no political exile, no political prisoner, which one is the better one?”

Bode George, a leader of the PDP in the Southwest, urged the crowd not to be deceived by newspapers’ “lies and propaganda”.

“I want to ask you, the last 16 years, have you enjoyed anything in Lagos?”

The crowd roared “No.”

“The worst part of it is they are talking about corruption and good governance.”

David Mark, the Senate President, said that a choice of either PDP or APC was like a decision between day and night.

“What we are asking you to do today is to go back and vote for Mr. President so he can consolidate all he had done in his transformation agenda,” said Mr. Mark.

Mr. Aliyu called on the party’s supporters not to allow a repeat of the 2011 post election violence.

“Today I’m going to speak to you about violence,” said Mr. Aliyu.

“We in the PDP abhor violence. We in the PDP have respect for our fellows including those in the opposition. We must not fall for propaganda. We must understand the difference between sentiments and reality, and we will be ready because PDP is going to win this election. We saw what happened in 2011.”

Godswill Akpabio, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, urged the youth not to vote a candidate who would jail their parents and uncles to 300 years.

“These are the united governors of the PDP in Nigeria. Any person that was elected as a governor who is not here today must have been aggrieved because he wanted the seat of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,” said Mr. Akpabio, the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.

“And because he could not get it, he decided to join what they call the Aggrieved Peoples Congress, APC.

“Nigeria cannot afford to hand over this country to people who are aggrieved. We cannot afford to hand over leadership to people who are bitter.

“Are you ready to go to prison? Some of you, your fathers, your grandfathers were given 310 years for crimes they did not commit. Some of them were given 180 years. People like Jim Nwobodo, the governor of the old Anambra State.

“A person who was in the habit of collecting democrats and locking them up cannot today come and pretend to be a democrat. Can a leopard change his skin?”

Adamu Muazu, the PDP Chairman, said a vote for the party is a step in the right direction.

“Our party has no owner. Our party is our party, you and I and all of us. And everybody has the singular chance and opportunity to be anything in this party,” said Mr. Muazu.

“Whatever your tribe, whatever your ethnic group, whatever your religion, you equally have the opportunity to be whatever you want in this party. Therefore I want you to know choice of our party PDP is the right path.”

Read our earlier post (published while the event was underway on Thursday morning) on the campaign below:

President Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday officially opened their campaign towards next month’s presidential and governorship elections in Lagos, with a vow to emerge victorious at the polls.

The president and all PDP state governors made the declaration at the Tafawa Balewa Square.

In his opening remarks, Ahmadu Ali, the Director of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organisation, said that the PDP, unlike the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, belongs to all Nigerians.
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“The PDP is not the exclusive preserve of an individual who has turned Lagos into a cow to be milked,” said Mr. Ali.

Tunji Shelle, Chairman, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos State, on Thursday said the impressive turnout at the party’s rally in Lagos indicated support for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. Shelle was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, as saying that the transformation agenda of the Jonathan administration should be allowed to continue.

“President Jonathan, despite security challenges being faced by the nation, has performed well in all sectors of the Nigerian economy.
20150108_105830
“The crowd here today is not just party members but Nigerians who believe that Jonathan, his team and the PDP have done well and will do better,” he said.

The party later presented its flags to the governorship candidates of the respective states.
Details later….


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