Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Mr Atiku Abubakar yesterday received a major boost to his ambition with the leadership of five major socio-cultural groups endorsing his candidacy ahead of February 16 election.
Coming under the auspices of Nigeria Leaders and Elders Forum, leaders of Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum and the Pan Niger Delta Forum said they were endorsing Abubakar for the presidential election because they believed that among all the presidential candidates, he has what it takes to lead the country back on track and place it where it should be in the comity of nations.
In a communique at the end of their meeting in Abuja, they explained that they have studied the presidential candidates and they were convinced that Abubakar demonstrated deep understanding of critical need of the country and possesses the capacity to proffer clear solutions.
The communique read by Mr Yinka Odumakin said the forthcoming election was vital to the country’s democratic survival and co-existence and called on Nigerians, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, to stand in unison behind the Abubakar candidacy.
The communique reads: “We adopt PDP candidate, as consensus candidate for the office of President of Federal Republic of Nigeria as he has demonstrated deep understanding of the critical need of the country at this time and possesses the capacity to proffer clear solutions in that respect.”
Abubakar, in his response to the endorsement, said the move has placed a greater challenge on his assignment.
In a statement yesterday, which was personally signed by him, Abubakar expressed hope for the country as Nigerians go to the polls to elect a new president in a few days.
The statement said: “I am moved to tears that in the midst of deep divisions and deliberate use of instrumentalities of state to set our people against themselves in the last three and a half years, responsible and respected leaders across Nigeria have agreed to come together for the purpose of endorsing my candidature for the February 16, 2019 presidential elections.
“The endorsement by the leading lights of our nationalities – Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum, Pan-Niger Delta Forum and Middle Belt Forum is a loud statement that there is hope for our country as we go to the polls in a few days.”
But, APC Presidential Campaign Council rejected Atiku’s endorsement.
The party described it as a fraud by desperate members of PDP.
Its spokesman, Mr Festus Keyamo, while reacting to the endorsement, said those who gathered under the various regional groupings were only members of PDP endorsing their party’s candidate.
“Secondly, as to the voodoo percentages allocated to Abubakar in some voodoo projections by some media houses (which should have since changed their crests to the umbrella – the symbol of PDP), it is laughable to see them project a tight race between President Muhammadu Buhari and Abubakar.
“For instance, we note with amusement the clear lead given to Atiku in the Southeast, just because his running mate is from the region, but fail to see that same clear advantage given to President Buhari in the Southwest from where the vice president comes.”