Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar would never avoid any opportunity to explain his rescue plans for the country.
Speaking on Arise Television “News Day” on Tuesday, Spokesman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr Charles Aniagwu said while other candidates may be shying away from engaging Nigerians on the issues that bothers the nation, Atiku and PDP hierarchy were mindful of the need to tell Nigerians what it tends to do to take Nigeria out of the abyss orchestrated by the ruling All Progressives Congress APC.
On Atiku’s absence at the townhall series organized by Arise News in collaboration with Centre for Democracy and Development CDD on Sunday, the Spokesman said Atiku was already outside the country on a scheduled visit and had to seek the permission of the organisers to allow his running mate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa represent him.
He said a townhall meeting was different from a presidential debate and urged Nigerians to understand that when it comes to a presidential debate, the PDP Presidential Candidate will definitely be available for that purpose.
“Our party was also communicated to like other parties and you do know that our candidate has never shied away from interfacing with Nigerians which is why we are the only party at the moment that has been very busy with campaigns across the length and breadth of this country.
“You will also recall that he has held several interface through different fora like the LCCI, which the APC candidate refused to attend.
“We were also in Kaduna for the Arewa, Enugu for the South East and Ibadan for the South West, and many other interface including the youths, so Atiku will never shy away from such engagements because he is very clear on what he wants to do in line with his ‘Covenant with Nigerians’.
“But in the case of this particular townhall meeting, you will recall that our Presidential candidate traveled to the United States to have engagement with stakeholders as it affects our desire to start off work by the grace of God when elected from day one,”
He said the interface centred on how to impress it upon the US and other developed countries to support Nigeria legitimately for the purpose of having a very credible and fair election.
“The need for them to also have a buy-in in our own desire to recover our economy from where it is at the moment, the need to rejig our education system from the challenges we are encountering at the moment and the need to deal with the issue of insecurity which has continued to threaten our nationhood to its foundation.
“Atiku also travelled to Morocco for another scheduled meeting and when we planned all these we never knew we were going to be invited for this programme but when they wrote, we accepted as a political party, we were much willing but it happened that he was not in the country.
“But because of the respect we have for Nigerians and those who organised the event, it became very obvious that we needed to send a representation and the Supreme Court was very clear when they said the President and the Vice are like ‘Siamese twins’
“The Constitution made it clear that your candidacy cannot be valid until you have a running mate and beyond that we also got back to the organisers to explain the situation to them and they obliged us to send his vice, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to represent him.
“The programme was not a debate but an interface with Nigerians, so if any political party is shying away from reaching out to Nigerians because they felt they didn’t carry the day in the course of that interface with Nigerians so be it.
“But for us as a party, at any given time we are invited to reach out to Nigerians that we aspire to lead we will take advantage of that particular invitation.
“As a political party that has respect for Nigerians we will want to take advantage of such invitations but when the principal is not available due to other pressing engagements, the best thing to do is to send his Vice who is equally capable of addressing Nigerians on the issues,” he stated.
He said Okowa was not only able to give a good account of himself but was very clear on how the PDP intends to bring Nigeria out from where it is at the moment.
“Okowa understands the issues because majority of the challenges we have now are issues that are supposed to be dealt with by the police but because they lack the numbers that is why the military is over stretched.
“The PDP is the only party that is proposing multi-level policing to tackle the issue of insecurity in the country. We plan to have police at the Federal level, states and local governments and that is the only way to address the security challenges bedevilling the country.”Aniagwu added.