Former Kano state governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso Wednesday declared intent to run for the Office of the President in the 2019 general elections on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) without police presence at the declaration venue.
Kwankwaso, a lawmaker representing Kano Central senatorial district at the National Assembly who had to make do with an improvised venue for his declaration following the non-approval of the use of the Eagles Square, Abuja, attracted thousands of supporters from across the country to Chinda Hotel, venue of the declaration.
Decked in red caps (for men) and red head scarfs (for women), the supporters chanted solidarity songs, urging the lawmaker to rescue Nigeria from the grip of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
Despite the presence of a huge crowd, no policeman was on ground to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order. However, Askarawan, the security arm of the Kwankwasiya Movement ensured that the regular police were not missed throughout the event.
In his declaration speech, Kwankwaso promised to make the governance count by offering the nation a leadership anchored on a paradigm shift.
He said: “Today, I declare that I am going to vie for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the PDP. I stand on my honour to offer a paradigm shift in leadership.
“There is no gainsaying that all is not well with the polity. It is also clear that the same mind-set that created and escalated the problems cannot be used in resolving the on-going crises in our nationhood and national development.
“Change has again become inevitable. To live is to witness changes because change is an inseparable part of living. Come May 2019, the narrative of helplessness, buck passing, division, poverty, insecurity and hopelessness must change to turn to a new dawn of confidence in building a well restructured Nigeria.”
The lawmaker, who a few weeks ago dumped the APC for the PDP also pledged to eliminate divisive fault lines that have been hindering national progress, even as he promised to champion an educated citizenry.
“I will provide a leadership where everybody is free and equal; where Nigerians see themselves as Nigerians first and not as Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, ljaw, lbibio. Fulani, etc, and where citizens are self-assured and self-assertive; where they are confident and competent: where they want to do what is right no matter whose ox is gored.
“I want to lead a Nigeria where people are educated and exposed beyond the confines of their tribe, religion, linguistic group or place of birth.
“l want to lead a Nigeria where ctizens respect their leaders and leaders lead and forge a team to promote and protect the interest of all Nigerians.
“I want to lead a Nigeria where all are comfortable anywhere and on any positive issue, can compete fairly with their peers without favour or discrimination. That is the kind of Nigeria we envision. We will abandon the failed relics of the past. We have all it takes to make Nigeria good for all,” he added
He noted that if elected, his administration would prioritize national security, infrastructural development, revival of the economy, human capital development and a robust relationship with the international community.
He continued: “My understanding of national security transcends the stereotype of limiting it to the Armed Forces and other security agencies. As a former Minister of Defence, I understand that security covers more and includes the entire scope of food, health care delivery, education, economic prosperity, and enjoyment of human rights.
“On the physical defence and security side, there is the need for a welI-trained, motivated, well-equipped and intelligence-propelled security architecture.
“That requires decisive options of strengthening and equipping the military while restructuring the Police to make it more effective.
“We will vigorously pursue other institutional reforms in the other security and paramilitary agencies and justice system that will serve as a huge disincentive for crimes and criminality.”
On the economy, the Presidential hopeful had this to say: “Nigeria in recent years has witnessed a weak economic performance due to tight economic policies and failed institutional framework especially as it relates to growing small enterprises that should in the long run, result in larger ventures to anchor our economic prosperity.
“Inflation and unemployment are the dominant factors hindering the growth and survival of our businesses in the country today. Our focus shall be on sound economic policies that will ensure a new regime of exchange rate stability, low interest rates and reduction in the country’s rising burden of domestic and foreign loans.
“In the past three years, poverty and unemployment have become more visible and challenging to Nigeria’s economic prosperity. Existing policies and economic programmes for alleviating the poverty incidence in the country have obviously failed.
“Our non-negotiable goal will therefore be the eradication of poverty through sustainable wealth creation and a coordinated and effective micro small and medium enterprises development. We shall promote policies that boost our foreign reserves and lower interest rate to ensure that the unsustainable debt treadmill profile is tamed.
“Locally. we shall diversify the economy through industrialisation and manufacturing, aggressive promotion of agribusiness, the mining sector and entrepreneurship to make us self sufficient and export oriented. The oil and gas sector must cease to be a verifiable source of corruption and inefficiency.”
Some of the dignitaries at the ceremony were former member of the House of Representatives, Lee Maeba and National Chairman of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), Alhaji Buba Galadima.
Meanwhile, another Presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, has faulted claims in some quarters that President Buhari is assured of 12 million votes in the North in the 2019 elections.
The former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Turaki stated this Wednesday in a chat with journalists shortly after picking his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms.
Represented by Sola Atere, Director General of the Kabiru Turaki Campaign Organization, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) accused the APC of taking credit for projects “initiated and almost completed” by the PDP.
He said: “What they are saying (12 million votes)was way back in 2015. Things have changed. When you have not been in power, you can make all sorts of forecasts. Now the scenario has changed. Nigerians have seen to what extent the APC government can perform.
“The so-called 12 million voters they are laying claim to would have been reduced. Because look at the economic situation. People are complaining that they cannot even have one square meal, how do you expect them to come out and go and aggravate votes up to 12 million for somebody who has been the architect of their misfortune?”
“If you look at some of the projects they are laying claim to, they were established by the PDP. Look at the railways for instance, the one from Abuja to Kaduna, they (APC) reported at some point that the Jonathan administration had gone over 60 percent as far as that project is concerned.
Turaki also condemned the treatment of Kwankwaso following the last minute withdrawal of the use of the Eagle Square for his declaration.
“The injury that they are inflicting on Kwankwaso is one of the things Nigerians will see and will not vote for them. And that is part of the factors that will reduce the 12 million votes. Since they have come on board, they have been harassing people. You saw the Gestapo approach in arresting judges. People know that they are just abrasive,” he stated.