The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, was on Wednesday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, in continuation of his campaign.
Mr Abubakar is seeking to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in next week’s general elections.
The former vice president called on the people of Borno State to vote out Mr Buhari, and the APC because they have failed the state and entire Nigerians.
Mr Abubakar had earlier visited Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, before attending the campaign rally in Maiduguri.
The PDP flag-bearer was received by a large crowd of supporters who gathered all day at Ramat Square Maiduguri, the venue of the rally.
Though Borno is generally believed to be a stronghold of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the former vice president was still received by an impressive crowd of supporters.
Mr Abubakar and his campaign team arrived at the Maiduguri International airport at about 11 a.m. before heading to Damaturu, Yobe State’s capital by road.
He returned to Maiduguri and arrived at the venue of the rally at about 5 p.m.
He was accompanied by the Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo; a senator Abdullahi Ningi, and a spokesperson of his campaign team, Buba Galadima.
Addressing the mammoth crowd at the Ramat square, the former vice president said he was almost at the point shedding tears of joy upon seeing the large turnout, which, he said, exceeded his expectations.
“I thank you all for this great show of love and support,” Mr Abubakar said, in Hausa.
“What I see here is a clear testimony that Borno is indeed the home of the PDP and you people here have clearly demonstrated your readiness to vote out the other party.
“The entire Nigerians have agreed that it is the turn of Northeast to produce the next president of the country. And if you, the people of Borno, key into this agreement and vote PDP I will make some key promises to you all here. Which by the grace of God I must fulfil.
“My first promise to you is that we will ensure peace returns to the Northeast Nigeria and the country at large. Everyone that knows me can testify that I am not a person that engages in triviality and I am not a coward.
“After the return of peace, I will ensure that everyone who is displaced will return to his or her local government area while we provide them with businesses to pick up the pieces of their lives. We will reopen schools, markets, and hospitals.
“The United Nations has said it long ago that the Northeast of Nigeria is the poorest of all places in the world. And by the time we assume office we shall bring to end poverty in this region. We are going to do this by investing in our agriculture, in small and medium scale entrepreneur and empower our youth.
“Borno voted APC to power over three years ago and they promised to restore peace and security. They also promised to provide jobs for the youth. They also promised to even revive our economy. But three and half years later they have failed Nigerians. They are nothing but liars.
“APC has betrayed the trust of Nigerians and they deserve not to be re-elected.”
He also called on the Nigerian security agencies to stay away from politics and concentrate on protecting the people of the country, as mandated by the law.
Earlier, the national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, had in his speech, commended the party supporters for turning out such a large number, which exceeded their expectations.
“Now we know Borno is truly a PDP state and we congratulate the people of Borno for the show of courage and solidarity for all our candidates, especially the PDP flag bearer, Dr Atiku Abubakar.
“The APC has planned to rig the election and we call on the people of Borno not to allow them. We heard during the APC rally in Ekiti and the APC leadership confirmed that they want to rig the election. But Nigerians will reject them because they cannot be allowed to rig this election. Any rigged election will be rejected by Nigerians because the vote is for PDP.
Mr Secondus also called on the APC-led federal government not to politicise Nigeria’s security. He alleged that the ruling party is planning to win the election using security operatives.
“APC leadership is not the Inspector General of police and it cannot be allowed to be posting police officers of their choice. You are not the IG. The APC leadership cannot interfere in the posting of police commissioners and military officers. You must (not) destroy our country and our democracy. Exhaust your remaining time and allow the man, Atiku Abubakar to come and restore our economy and our security.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of the flag to the governorship candidate of the PDP in Borno State, Muhammed Imam, by the PDP national chairman.