From their looks it was evident that they were in the Ondo State for serious business that will determine their political future and continued relevance in the nation’s polity.
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, across the South West gathered penultimate Saturday in Akure, the Ondo State capital for the inaugural meeting of the National Campaign Council to strategise for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan and principally to deliver the zone to the party in the 2015 general elections.
The tone for the meeting was set by the National Coordinator and governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, who has become a force in the PDP since he joined the party three months ago.
Mimiko declared that Jonathan will not only win the 2015 presidential election but will also garner an unprecedented number of votes from the South West.
He submitted to the leaders that the region “ have a date with history as we approach the 2015 general elections. We need to forge a common front and also mend fences because of the task before us is one that can only be done effectively if we have a unity of purpose and demonstrate uncommon loyalty to the cause of our leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, and our great party, the PDP.
“ The PDP should not be difficult to ‘market’ to Nigerians despite the propaganda that the opposition has deliberately orchestrated against us in recent times”, the governor said.
“ It is our responsibility to let Nigerians take pride in the PDP and its pan Nigerian credentials. Our party does not have regional bases, the whole nation is its base and this should definitely be a plus for us.
“With due respect, the choice between the PDP’s candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, and the opposition’s candidate is very clear.
“ The only change that the main opposition to PDP shouts about is indeed a design to change from democracy to dictatorship”.
Leaders from the South-West states chronicled past ‘sins’ of the presidential candidate of the opposition APC ,Gen Muhamadu Buhari, against elder statesmen and foremost leaders from the region to show that “ a leopard can never change” no matter the white washing of the general’s image in and outside the social media.
A PDP chieftain from Ogun State, Otunba Olukoye Ijaduoye, went memory lane when he said the desecration of the foremost Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s home and the brutalisation of other sons of the state by the APC presidential candidate would make him fail to get votes from the state.
Ijaduoye pointed out, “The APC presidential candidate, who had contested the same election three times before and failed, manifested his hatred for the Yoruba people and Ogun State in particular with the unlawful detention of a former governor of the state, the late Bisi Onabanjo, whose claim to fame was his popular column in the Nigerian Tribune, Aiyekooto.
“Buhari insisted Onabanjo remained in detention even when the courts did not find anything against him, ditto for other South-West leaders he ensured he humiliated and tortured for serving well their people, whereas those from his own region who were arrested were given preferential treatment”.
One after the other, the leaders spoke on the way forward for the Yoruba in the PDP and how they needed to educate the electorate of the lies of the opposition to paint their candidate as a democrat/ messiah and their party as the alternative to the ruling party
They equally deliberated on how they can garner votes for the President in the 2015 elections.
They hammered on the Jonathan presidency transformation agenda and unanimously gave him a pass mark declaring that there is no vacancy in Aso Rock..
“It took us 50 years to get to the point we were before Jonathan became President in 2010 it will take us more than four years to get out of the problem we faced for half a century”, one of them said. The crowd that attended the meting scramble for space in the Banquet hall, Government House venue of the meeting.
Others who spoke, including Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose; a former Minister of State for Defense, Musiliu Obanikoro; a former Osun State governorship candidate Iyiola Omisore; Oyo State governoship candidate, Teslim Folarin; and FCT Minister of State, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, were unanimous that the South West should cast their votes for Jonathan based on the enviable results of the transformation agenda across the country.
They put a lie to what they descibed as the deceit of some Yoruba leaders in the APC “who are fighting for personal interest and that of the northern hegemony to the detriment of the Yoruba”.
After the meeting, the leaders agreed that the presidential candidate of the APC “is not fit to rule the country going by his political antecedents”.
A communique issued by the leaders said that the change the opposition mouths “ is indeed a change from democracy to totalitarian and dictatorship as represented by Buhari”.
“Judging by his temperament, political antecedents and intellectual capacity, General Muhamadu Buhari, the APC candidate, is unfit to be the President of Nigeria”, the communique said.
It was signed by Mimiko, Fayose,Omisore,Obanikoro, Akinjide, Folarin, Chief Kolapo Ogunjobi, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe and Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun
The communique read, “ We resolve to fully back and work for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential election and all PDP candidates in other elections”.
The communique, read by Mimiko, commended the President for developing structures and institutions through which the country had evolved cashless financial system, dismantled the fertilizer corruption cartel, improved food security, democratised access to education through the establishment of additional universities, polytechnics and Al-majiri schools and conducted successfully the 2014 National Conference.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Ondo governor said it was high time the PDP leaders rose to challenge the propaganda machinery of the APC.
Mimiko said the APC presidency would spell doom for the South-West and Yoruba race, saying Buhari, at 72, cannot change and what made him lose in the three previous presidential elections would still repeat itself in the 2015 general elections.
According to him, a Yoruba man was to be Speaker of House of Representatives in 2011 but was denied and the slot given to North-West with the connivance of the leaders of the proscribed Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Also, he said the position of Minority Leader in the Senate was to be given to Yoruba but was also taken to the North-Central which already has the Senate presidency.
Mimiko said a vote for Buhari is a vote against the sensibilities of journalists who were jailed by the military regime and the Yoruba leaders who were sent to jail for being governors of their respective states.
The governor said Jonathan presidency has improved the lives of the people have improved based of the United Nation’s report which stated that life expectancy has risen from 42 years to 52 years, income of the average Nigerian moved from low income to middle income nation.
Also present at the meeting were Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; Senators Lekan Balogun, Hosea Agboola and Ayo Adeseun; Hon Muraina Ajibola; and Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, Hon Dennis Alonge-Niyi.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Fani-Kayode as the Media Director of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation is generating excitement in the PDP as many people believe he will deliver, citing his antecedents.
A pro-PDP group, National Patriots, in a statement, yesterday, described the campaign media director as the right man for the job.
The statement, signed by the group’ s leader, Bunmi Coker, solicited support for Fani-Kayode, especially in the face of the opposition APC” s “legendary capacity for propaganda”, to make his job a success.