BusinessDay

Atiku’s speech at the inauguaration of PDP’s presidential campaign council

‘We must not, even for one minute, shirk in the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with’

BEING A TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY DURING THE INAUGURATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN COUNCIL ON WEDNESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2022

Protocols

It is my distinct honour and pleasure to welcome you all to today’s inauguration. We are all gathered here today for the inauguration of the Presidential Campaign Council set up by our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, to diligently prosecute, and win, the general elections slated for February and March, 2023. Even though this body is nominally styled “Presidential Campaign Council”, in reality, it is a General Elections Council. Because, of what use or benefit is a victory of the presidential candidate alone, without a sweeping victory of all our other candidates at all of the elections taking place next year.

Majority of the people gathered here today are, like me, seasoned politicians with nothing but pure politics flowing through our veins. What is the number one job of a politician like you and I? It is to navigate the murky waters of politics, and to campaign for and win elections. So, the inauguration of a Presidential Campaign Council, as the one we are all gathered here to witness today, should be a normal occurrence in the normal life of normal politicians.

But today is not an ordinary day! And the inauguration today of our Presidential Campaign Council is not an ordinary event! Far from it!

In May 2015, Our Great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party, in an orderly, peaceful and rancour free manner, handed over the reins of government at the centre to the opposition party, the APC, having lost the presidential elections a few months earlier. Four years later, in 2019, and in spite of the drift, economic desolation, challenges of insecurity and massive dislocations to the lives of our citizens witnessed under the APC government in those years, and notwithstanding that our great party had put before the Nigerian people, a demonstrably better plan for recovery and development of our nation, our party was, once again, schemed out in the elections held that year in the most devious manner.

It is a testament to the patriotism, dedication to constitutionalism and law and order, and the unshakable belief in the rule of law and the supremacy of the courts in our land, that our great party, the PDP, chose and pursued redress in the one and only way laid down by law – through the courts. Of course, you all know how that ended so, there is no need to bore you with details.

Since the loss at the polls of 2019 till now, and under the watch of the current APC government, our dear country has witnessed a frightening descent into anarchy. Our nation is currently in the throes of a multidimensional crisis encompassing insecurity, economic meltdown, disunity and mutual mistrust, to mention a few.

To start with, the current government has failed at the very essence of what makes a government: the security of lives and property of its citizens. Our security challenges are legion, and I do not need to bore you by rehashing them here.

Our economy is in shambles, growth has stagnated, and our people are facing massive existential challenges daily. Hunger is the norm today in our country.

Our nation is in disarray. The fabric of unity that binds our country is, today, being torn apart by mutual distrust, ethnic and sectarian strife and we are now more disunited than we have ever been in our history, including even when we fought a civil war.

Our educational system is comatose. Nothing more underscores this than the twin embarrassing facts of the number of children that are currently out of school, and the length of time that University students have been kept out of their classrooms this year, as a result of the ASUU strike.

Our system of government is broken. Our current system is unfair, unwieldy, skewed towards favouring the federal government at the expense of the other federating units, and has in itself, become a willing tool for underdevelopment. This kind of system of government is no longer suited to the challenges of a twenty first century economy that works for everyone and that is needed to bring development closer to our people.

But all hope is not lost. We have a plan to address these issues and to arrest the drift of our nation. These plans have been laid our in the document titled ‘My Covenant With Nigerians.’

Our plans for Nigeria and Nigerians are as follows:

1. To restore Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice, mutual collaboration, and consensus among our diverse peoples.

2. To build a strong and effective democratic government where the safety and security of our people and their property is our primary and singularly most important responsibility.

3. To establish a strong, resilient, inclusive and prosperous economy that generates opportunity, jobs and wealth while lifting the poor out of poverty.

4. To encourage the adoption of a true federal system that provides where all the federating units are equal, and has a fair and representative federal government that secures our borders, defends our people and ensures national unity, whilst allowing the federating units to develop and grow in line priorities which they have set on their own.

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5. To redevelop, invest in, and strengthen our education system in order to provide its recipients with the education and skills needed to compete in the new global order driven by innovation, science, and technology, as well as to live healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.

To undertake these tasks, the members of our party, the PDP, have, graciously, granted me the ticket to lead the party in next year’s presidential elections, with the singular mandate to come and lead the efforts to cure these ills.

So, what is our task that we are gathered here today to undertake? It is beyond merely coming together to inaugurate a Presidential Campaign Council. No! Our task today is to come together to rescue and rebuild our beloved country, Nigeria. That is the end goal. It is existential to us as a nation, and it is a task that history beckons upon us all to grasp with both hands and undertake with vigour and zeal.

But, to rescue and rebuild our country, we must first takeover the mantle of leadership from the party that driven us into this mess. To do this, we must all be united in purpose and come together to fight and win all the elections slated for next year.

Every single person who loves this country, as I do, is needed for the arduous tasks that face us ahead as a nation, and this includes every member of the PDP. And it is my fervent hope and prayer that every man and woman of goodwill will join hands with us to help rescue, rebuild and reposition our beloved country, Nigeria.

So, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, and the distinguished members of our Presidential Campaign Council, it is in the light of all I have set out above that I want you to view today’s inauguration.

The tasks ahead may appear daunting; they may seem a load too heavy to bear. But, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, we must not, even for one minute, shirk in the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with to come together to rebuild this beloved country of ours.

I wish to congratulate all the men and women nominated to serve in the Presidential Campaign Council. You have been selected from among the millions of our party members to join this esteemed council because of your past contributions to the party.

Naturally, not all members of our party can be in the Presidential Campaign Council. But every single member of the PDP is an important member of the party and each one of you is still entrusted with the responsibility of leading our party to victory in next year’s elections. Those of you who have not found yourselves in the Presidential Campaign Council are just as important as those who have, and we do not take your contributions for granted.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours. And I welcome you all as you join me to lead the efforts to win next year’s general elections and help rebuild our country. Together, as one, we can get this job done.

May God guide and bless us all, and may God guide and bless our dear country, Nigeria.

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