Convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare, who is also Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly, on Sunday congratulated former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on his emergence as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, saying his victory would make the 2019 General Elections keen and interesting.
Atiku was declared the winner of the party’s national convention which took place in Port Harcourt, the River State capital, beating eleven other aspirants who were in the race with him.
Bakare spoke to journalists after making a speech on Nigeria’s 58th Independence at his church in Ikeja, saying the emergence of Atiku was a welcome development as it meant the battle for the presidency would be a tough contest between him and President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to Bakare, both Buhari and Atiku were equal matches, saying the choice was in the hands of Nigerians to make between the two.
“I congratulate him (Abubakar), he makes the issue in 2019 more robust. It is not going to be an eaglet versus an eagle but an eagle versus eagle: an old eagle versus new eagle and probably both of them, old eagles.
“I wish president Muhammadu Buhari the best in 2019, he has the power of incumbency and he will do his best to win the election but Atiku is not going to take no for an answer when the two forces collide in the election,” the SNC convener said.
Pastor Bakare said Abubakar like Buhari had the experience and the exposure and the acceptance expected of the country’s president, but noted that having those qualities alone would not translate into the victory for him as the electorate would decide the parameters on which to elect the country’s next president.
“I can’t say Atiku will win or lose. You see, I am not advocating for him. Among all the aspirants who contested the PDP’s ticket with him, he is perhaps the most cosmopolitan, he is a Wazobia man. He was vice- president for eight years.
“And he inherited something from late Yar’Adua that he had held on to so effectively. He has been a businessman with a business acumen and he has the exposure.
“But you see, that is not what qualifies you to win. A lot comes into play so again, I cannot say whether he will win or lose,” he said.
Speaking further, Bakare said for the PDP to win the 2019 elections, it would need to demonstrate to the electorate that it was now a regenerated party and show repentance for the years of the locust it foisted on the country.
According to him, for the party to win the confidence of the electorate, it has to convince Nigerians that it would not return to corruption which he said was the way of life during its rule between 1999 and 2015.
On the chances of APC, Bakare, while acknowledging that the government was trying its best, said there was the need for them to do much more to win the next election as the country was facing a lot of challenges which the government needed to offer solutions to in order to fast track pace of development.
He argued that performance and policies and not necessarily incumbency factor would guarantee victory for the APC in 2019, even as he said his comments about the Buhari’s administration from the beginning, should not be interpreted to mean he was attacking the government.
According to him, what he was doing was raise issues needing attention, declaring: “I didn’t take any swipe at the administration of President Buhari.”
“I didn’t take any swipe at the administration of President Buhari. What I have always said is that despite the acclaimed progress in the country, Nigerians are not feeling the impact in their homes.
“That does not mean the government is not working. Look at the groanings of the people,the government still has do a lot more before the 2019 elections.
“They have to work harder to assure Nigerians that they are really up to the task of listening to their yearnings and aspirations.
“The purpose of government is the welfare and security of people. Take that from the equation, then governance means nothing,” Bakare said.
On the existence of several political parties on the political landscape, Pastor Bakare development as good for democracy and freedom.
He, however, said that many of them were pretenders and the need for them to “rise above the cacophony of noise” to enable them make impact in the elections.
Speaking through his speech titled: “The Road to 2019: Quo Vadis, Nigeria?” the SNG Convener, who disclosed that he had a presidential ambition but would not contest against President Buhari or disclosed which year he would contest, however, said he would be the 16th president of Nigeria.
According to him, he would run for the country’s presidency to ensure the implementation of his 16 pragmatic steps to restructuring.
“However, fellow Nigerians, on this day, the 7th of October, 2018, I declare to you that I am running. Yes, I am running. I am running for a united Nigeria that will birth the New Nigeria. I am running to begin to stir conversations around the seven-point agenda. I am running to lead Nigerians in a movement to demand the adoption of the pragmatic steps towards restructuring Nigeria.
“But don’t get it mixed up. I am not running with my name on the ballot paper; my name is in the Book of Life. I am not running for any office in the 2019 elections; the doctrine of my election stands sure.[i] I am not running on the platform of any political party; I am building a political family.
“For those who care to listen, I am the nationhood candidate. I am stepping in to pitch the unyielding political class against God and His agenda for our nation. I am stepping in to execute the judgement that is written against perjurers – those politicians who make promises they have no intention to fulfil; those who swear oaths of deceit with their hands on the Bible or the Quran; those oppressors who feed fat on our common patrimony and return every four years to refill their tanks of deceit; those who think they have an entire region or state in the palm of their hands and can play God in the affairs of the nation,” he said.
Bakare condemned the recently concluded Osun election which he described as a sham, saying it was a pointer “to the ignoble intentions of this political class ahead of 2019. What a sham, and what a shame.”
The cleric, who insisted on restructuring, said previous elections had not taken Nigerians out of the woods as over 80million Nigerians still languished in poverty, declaring, however, that it was an idea whose time had come.
“Among the political class, there have been diverse responses to the call to restructure. There are those who once championed restructuring but have now restructured their opinions because they have become part of the system. They have forgotten that the position they currently occupy is not permanent.
“There are those now promising restructuring who did nothing in that regard while they were in the system. Such politicians face the tall order of convincing the Nigerian people that restructuring is not a mere front for their inordinate political ambitions.
“Then there are those incumbents who are diametrically opposed to restructuring because they cannot imagine a Nigeria that is not dependent on petrodollars. I do not have a moment to spare for such sceptics. Their political extinction is inevitable because there is no force strong enough to stop an idea whose time has come,” Bakare said.