2023: Backlash trails Atiku’s comment on making Nigeria like Akwa Ibom

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There have been divergent reactions after the presidential campaign flag-off of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which was held on Monday, October, 10, at the Next of Champions International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Many analysts and residents of the State have tackled the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar over his comment on ”making Nigeria to be like Akwa Ibom State if elected the president in the 2023 elections.”

The stadium, during the flag-off rally, expectedly, was filled to capacity by supporters of the PDP which is the ruling party in Akwa Ibom State and with many guests from other States of the federation.

However, five governors, dubbed as the G-5 were absent at the rally, a development that spoke eloquently of their grievances more than speech could have done.

The absentee governors included Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.

The governors, DAILY POST reports, see it as a slap for the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar and the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu to come from the same region, insisting that the Chairman should resign, a call which has hit the rocks.

The governors who feel marginalized said the resignation of Ayu would restore equity in the leadership of the party.

However, despite the absence of the G-5 governors at the rally, the crowd was overwhelming but what seemed anomalous was the sound of ‘Obikererenke Obi’ music that was heard in the background heralding the entrance of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku.

The music had made some people, especially on social media, to lay claims that the crowd were real supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.

Obi, no doubt has a large support base like other presidential candidates of different parties, but his supporters popularly called ‘Obidients’ have insisted that even at PDP rally, a song promoting their principal, Peter Obi was sung.

But, one Joseph Okon said the song has been in existence even before the ‘Obidient movement’ started, stressing that the song is only a show of victory.

He said, “it was a historic day heralding the move by the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) as they launched the Atiku/Okowa ticket and in the course of general acceptability and victory in view, the age-long song of Obi-Kerenke was dished out by the DJ.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the song has been in public space before Mr Obi was born so it has nothing to do with whosoever bears Obi and he nor his campaign organization do not have the exclusive right to the said tune. It’s a tune generally played by the victorious side in any contest and the PDP family in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State gladly danced to the victorious tune as a Party to beat.”

However, dignitaries at the occasion spoke glowingly about the presidential candidate and how he would restore Nigeria to its pride of place. When it got to Atiku’s turn, he, among other things, promised to make Nigeria to be like Akwa Ibom in terms of development and consistency in maintaining the same party, which is PDP since 1999.

He said, “Nigeria wants to be like Akwa Ibom. You know why, because since 1999, you have not changed party, but you can see the development that is taking place here in Akwa Ibom. You can see the prosperity that is taking place in Akwa Ibom, you can see the security that is available in Akwa Ibom. So the rest of Nigeria would like to be like Akwa Ibom.

“What we have seen is poverty, insecurity, lack of jobs and disunity. Our children are no longer going to school. Is that what we want to continue in?

“So, today, we have inaugurated the flag-off of our campaign to rescue Nigeria. To rescue Nigeria from hunger, to rescue Nigeria from poverty, and also bring back the unity that we require in this country.

“I swear, If you vote for PDP, you will not be out of school, you will get jobs, there will be security, there will be unity,” he stated.

Of all that Atiku said at the rally, some callers in a phone in programme in one of the radio stations in Akwa Ibom saw it as ridiculous for Atiku to make such a ‘watery promise’.

According to one Abasifreke Daniel, “it is so unfortunate that Atiku came here just to tell us that he will make Nigeria to be like Akwa Ibom. What are the achievements so far? Has he gone inside the villages and seen how they are? Has he gone into the streets and seen the unemployment rate?”

Another caller, Ubong said he would not blame the presidential candidate for making such a comment because he may not actually know what is truly on ground.

“Well, I will not blame the presidential candidate of PDP because he wouldn’t know what is on ground. They must have shown him the hilltop mansion, lights are there uninterrupted, they move him from government house to the stadium and other places and he feels that is how everywhere is in Akwa Ibom.

“Let him go to Eket even to Ika Local Government where there is nothing like electricity, hospital and good roads, then he wouldn’t have made such comments,” Ubong noted.

Also one Idara said, “what is it that has been done in Akwa Ibom that would make the candidate say that? He should come out with a manifesto and present to Nigerians. If he goes to Lagos, he will still promise Nigerians that he will make Nigeria to be like Lagos State.”

Meanwhile, other observers also knocked Atiku for having jumped from party to the other, yet he was praising Akwa Ibom State for keeping faith with the PDP.

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