Determined to oust President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election, Senate President Bukola Saraki; presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; and the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, are leading a host of other chieftains of the opposition party in a meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to fine-tune their campaign strategy ahead of the November 18 commencement date.
The special strategy session, which started on Thursday in the Middle East city, is meant to put finishing touches to some of the PDP’s plans aimed at defeating Buhari at the next poll.
According to sources close to the meeting, Atiku is also using the forum to perfect his comprehensive policy document, detailing how he intends to improve Nigeria.
It was learnt that the PDP presidential candidate’s roadmap for Nigeria’s development would be unveiled to Nigerians in the next few weeks.
Investigation by Saturday PUNCHrevealed that Atiku, who had been in Dubai earlier, was joined by Saraki, Secondus and a host of other PDP chieftains on Wednesday night.
It was also gathered that Atiku’s running mate and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, was also attending the meeting.
The Director-General of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Gbenga Daniel, who is a former Governor of Ogun State, is also present at the meeting, according to party stalwarts who spoke to Saturday PUNCH under the condition of anonymity.
A top source in the PDP told Saturday PUNCH that the meeting was important for the party to fine-tune its strategy ahead of electioneering.
“All of them, including Atiku, Saraki, Obi and Daniel are meeting in Dubai now; the essence is to strategise ahead of the campaign,” the source said.
As of the time of filing this report, our correspondents could not ascertain how long in terms of the number of days the strategy session would last but it was learnt that Saraki, Atiku, Secondus and other leaders in the meeting were determined to perfect most of their plans ahead of the presidential campaign scheduled to begin on November 18.
According to INEC’s timetable and schedule of activities issued by the commission, campaigns for presidential and National Assembly elections will commence on November 18, while campaigns for governorship and state assembly elections will start on December 1.
Confirming the meeting in Dubai, the spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Mr. Segun Sowunmi, said there was a need for Atiku to meet with critical stakeholders ahead of the presidential, governorship and other campaigns scheduled to begin soon.
He said, “The appropriate response is that the former Vice-President, who is now the presidential candidate of the PDP, after a very gruelling and rigorous campaign during the primaries, has taken a couple of days for a deserved rest.
“As a matter of fact, the quantum of work needed to be done in Nigeria is such that the rest is almost turning out to be a working rest.
“He has been engaging quite a lot of critical stakeholders who have flown all the way there to have conversations with him, share ideas and rob minds with him, while others are there to felicitate with him on his victory.
“As soon as he returns to the country, the entire machinery for his presidential campaign will be ready and all Nigerians can look forward to a glorious era so that the change to the change presently in place happens.”
Asked to mention all the stakeholders in the meeting, he said, “I’m sure it’s not an inventory-like meeting where I will say who is there or who is not there. Frankly, I don’t have a list of the people who are there, but I know a lot of high-ranking people are around the former VP because of his goodwill which he has gathered over the years.”
On the party’s readiness for campaigns for the 2019 general elections, he said, “We are extremely prepared because Nigerians are also ready. In going round the country, Nigerians have now keyed into the agenda of ‘let’s keep Nigeria working again’.
“Young people, businessmen and everyone else have been affected by the poor economic policies of the present administration. Nobody has been spared. Some people have felt it most deeply because they lost their lives.
“People are ready to use their Permanent Voter Cards to exercise their franchise in the 2019 general elections, which we believe should be free, fair and credible.”
*Our campaign will be issue-based, says PDP*
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PDP on Friday said its presidential and national assembly campaign would be issue-based.
It also said campaign for other offices would follow a similar pattern, adding that the alleged failures of the All Progressives Congress would further help the former ruling party.
Secondus stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents from Dubai
He said that the PDP would not engage in frivolity, “but will tell Nigerians what the PDP has in stock for them from May 29, 2019.”
He said, “We will approach the campaign of the presidential, National Assembly, governorship and other elections with all the seriousness they deserve.
“Our campaign will be issue-based and we will appeal to the electorate to look at the record of our performance and also look at what they have experienced in the last four years or so.
“We will ask them to look at the growing economy we handed over to the APC in 2015 and what we have now in the country.
“They will have to choose between hunger and satisfaction, nonpayment of salaries now and regular payment they had experienced then and so forth. It will be an opportunity for Nigerians to remember the period of peace they enjoyed then and what they have now. Definitely, the difference is clear.”
He said Nigerians and the members of the party would soon see the way the campaign would run as soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission lifted the suspension on it.