The presidential flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has revealed what former President Olusegun Obasanjo told him before endorsing him as the country’s next president.
Speaking at a meeting with the Board of Trustees of the party in Abuja on Thursday night, he said before the public pronouncement, Obasanjo took him into a room and asked him to vet his prepared speech.
Abubakar disclosed that the former president told him that if there was anything he did not like in the speech he was about to deliver, he would delete it.
The PDP presidential hopeful noted that he read the text and affirmed to Obasanjo that he was comfortable with everything in it.
Abubakar, who was speaking about the “fantastic meeting” with his former boss in Abeokuta, Ogun State, disclosed that Obasanjo told him that the speech was meant to launch his presidential campaign.
He praised the former president for staying true to his character.
Abubakar noted: “We had the most successful outing with my former boss.
“It’s all over the news that we had a fantastic meeting, we had a fantastic press conference, after which we had a sumptuous lunch.
“I will not say whether he’s a member of PDP or not but I can confirm to you he is with us in body and spirit because before he delivered his statement, two of us went into the room.
“He said: ‘VP, sit down, read this my statement. If there is anything you don’t want in that statement, I will remove it.’
“I read it and said: ‘Mr. President, I’m totally in agreement with all what you have said.’
“He said: ‘With this statement, I’m going to launch your campaign to the presidency.’
“That is vintage Olusegun Obasanjo for you.”
The PDP presidential hopeful told the board members that the outcome of the national convention which produced him as the flag bearer was only the first phase of the journey to the presidency.
While calling on the “Conscience of the party” to gird its loins for the task ahead, Abubakar said he was well prepared for the battle and called for unity among party members.
He affirmed that he had already incorporated his former co-contestants for the party’s ticket into his campaign structure as all of them were involved in everything he did.
Abubakar vowed to reward members of the BoT if he becomes the president.
He added: “We have passed the first phase.
“We are now going into the second phase, a phase that is extremely important, a phase that we should not underrate our opponents, a phase that we need total dedication and a phase that will, ultimately, bring us the success that we desire.
“I, therefore, implore all of you, those qualities that I have mentioned, which you definitely possess, it is time for you to unleash them and make sure we record a phenomenal success during the elections.
“I can assure you that I am prepared to work with all of you and I am prepared to reward every one of you if we unite, we work together and achieve success.
“Here again, let me commend the sense of responsibility and the patriotism displayed by my fellow contestants.
“From the very day, last Sunday, when I addressed the convention and delivered my acceptance speech, we have been working together.
“And each and every one of them is involved in whatever we are doing because I believe that it is our responsibility to provide that sense of unity and that sense of leadership to the rest of the party members.
“I want to thank you for this meeting.
“It is indeed a unique meeting.”
In his address at the occasion, the President of the Senate and former PDP presidential aspirant, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, observed that in Abubakar, Nigeria now has a true politician coming in as the next president.
Saraki said Abubakar’s promise of reward was a tonic for the party members to go all out for him.
Saraki stated: “To hear the presidential candidate speak of rewarding members shows we now have a politician as an incoming president.
“It gives us the tonic to go out to the field and perform.
“I can assure you, on behalf of the BoT members, we will give you our total support.
“The meeting with former contestants in the convention, gubernatorial aspirants and stakeholders are sending a strong message across the country that we are united.
“Just one thing remaining: to remove the President.
“(Muhammadu) Buhari must go, now, now, now!
“His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, should come in now, now, now!”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the PDP BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, congratulated Abubakar for emerging as the party’s candidate in a transparent exercise, urging him to seek the support and cooperation of other former contestants as in “every, contest, there must be a winner and a loser.”
While requesting the candidate to incorporate members of the BoT in his campaign committee, Jibrin also called for accommodation for women and youths.
The BoT Chairman stated: “As our presidential candidate, you will beat other presidential candidates, especially the APC (All Progressives Congress) that is already going down the drain and I wish you God’s guidance and protection throughout the campaign and success as you eventually enter the Villa in 2019.”
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said members of the party must now come out of the convention mode and face the challenges ahead.
While conceding that political parties tend to be divided after their conventions, the party boss opined that it was time for fence-mending and rebuilding of confidences and therefore requested the party faithful to work together.
While noting that the PDP was complacent in 2015, Secondus advised all party stakeholders to go out and ensure the party took its pride of place in the country.
He said: “The party was complacent in 2015, which led to our losing the election.
“Now, every BoT member must deliver his or her unit, ward or constituency.
“This was lacking in the last election.
“We must build a consensus and arrangement that you will be rewarded and be recognized when you deliver.
“We cannot play the type of Abuja politics that made us lose in 2015.”