The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has again commented on his endorsement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Thursday.
Mr Obasanjo had said openly endorsed his erstwhile deputy for the February 2019 presidential election.
He spoke when Mr Abubakar and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party visited him at his Abeokuta home.
The former president said he believed Mr Abubakar had ‘re-discovered and re-positioned himself’ and is now good enough to enjoy his support in the next election.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) on Thursday night in Abuja, Mr Abubakar said though he could not confirm if Mr Obasanjo had returned to the party, he was sure that the former president was now with him “body and spirit.”
The PDP presidential candidate, who describe the meeting “as a successful outing,” revealed what transpired between him and Mr Obasanjo moments before he (Mr Obasanjo) openly endorsed him.
“I may not say whether he is a PDP member or not, but he is with us body and spirit.
“Even before he delivered his statement, we retired to his private room where he gave me his statement to go through and possibly edit.
“He said he would launch my campaign to the presidency with a statement. That is vintage Olusegun Obasanjo for you,” Mr Abubakar said.
The presidential candidate thanked the party leaders and members for his emergence as PDP’s flagbearer, urging them to gird their loins for the election proper.
He implored the BoT members to use their endowments toward ensuring that the party records resounding success in 2019, stressing the need to take seriously his opponents in the contest.
He said, “I can assure you that I am prepared to work with and reward all of you if we unite together to achieve success.
“I must commend the sense of patriotism displayed by my fellow contestants. From the very day I delivered my acceptance speech, we have been working together.
“I believe it is our duty to provide that sense of unity and leadership to the rest of our party members.”
Speaking at the meeting, the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, urged the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) to ensure victory in their respective constituencies in the 2019 general elections.
He attributed PDP’s failure in 2015 presidential election to complacency, saying every BoT member must deliver his or her unit, ward or constituency.
“We must build a consensus and arrangement that you will be rewarded and be recognised when you deliver. We cannot play the type of Abuja politics that made us lose in 2015,” he said.
Mr Secondus said the BoT should not leave the task of winning 2019 general elections to the younger ones, but give them the support and encouragement necessary to get the desired result.
“Our task now is to focus and remain focused. Our target is to win all the polling units in the country and we will be able to do that, with the strategies in place.
“A popular candidate has emerged. He is grounded in Nigeria. What is left for us to do is to take the message home,” he added.
He expressed optimism that if free and fair elections were conducted in 2019 the PDP would have a landslide victory because people appeared to be tired of the governing All Progressives Congresses (APC).
Responding, the BoT Chairman, Walid Jibrin, congratulated Mr Abubakar over his success at the party’s primary election held in Port Harcourt, urging him to reach out to his co-contestants with a view to keeping them in the PDP.
“Now that you are the clear winner you must work with all and embrace everybody in order to win the 2019 election. Our youth and women should never be left behind in the campaign train,” Mr Jibrin said.
He pledged the board’s commitment towards the success of the party’s standard bearer, saying “the BoT wishes to assure you of our free service in order to make you the President of Nigeria in 2019.
“As our presidential candidate and without any iota of doubt the President of Nigeria come 2019, you stand to beat any presidential candidates of all the political parties, especially the APC.”
On the choice of running mate for Mr Abubakar, the BoT Chairman said consultations were ongoing to select from a zone that would attract more votes, adding that the decision would be made known at the appropriate time.
“We are not wasting time at all. The strategy is that wherever the vice president will come from will translate to additional votes for the party.”
On his part, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said that Atiku had set the pace for others to follow with his exemplary leadership.
Mr Saraki said that the party was united in the objective to remove President Muhammad Buhari and replace him with Mr Abubakar.
“I can assure you, on behalf of the BoT members, we will give you our total support.
“The meeting with former contestants in the convention, gubernatorial aspirants and stakeholders is sending a strong message across the country that we are united.
“Just one thing remaining, to remove the president,” he said.