The Convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare on Sunday congratulated Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.
According to Bakare, Atiku’s victory would make the 2019 election keen and interesting.
Bakare, Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly, spoke to newsmen in Ikeja after making a speech on Nigeria’s 58th Independence in his church.
Abubakar, a former Vice-President, was declared winner at his party’s convention in Port-Harcourt early Sunday.
He polled 1,532 votes to defeat his closest rival, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State (693 votes) and Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, among others at the convention that started on Saturday.
Bakare said 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.
The SNG convener said both the president, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar were equal match and it was Nigerians who would decide 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,” he said.
Bakare said Abubakar, just like Buhari, had the experience, the exposure and the acceptance expected of the country’s president.
He, however, pointed out 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 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 Yaradua 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 can not say whether he will win or lose,” he said.
Bakare said for the PDP to win the 2019 elections, they would need to demonstrate to the electorate that they were a regenerated party and “show repentance for the years of the locust they engineered”.
He added that the opposition party had to convince Nigerians that they would not return to corruption, which he said was the way of life during its rule, to win the confidence of the electorate.
On the chances of APC, Bakare said though the government was trying its best, there was the need for them to do much more to win the next election.
He said the country was facing a lot of challenges which the government needed to offer solutions to, in order to fast track pace of development.
The cleric said that performance and policies, and not necessarily incumbency factor, would guarantee victory for the APC in 2019.
The SNG Convener said his comments about the Buhari’s administration from the beginning, should not be interpreted to mean he was attacking the government, but he was just raising issues needing attention.
“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 to 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,” he said.
He said the emergence of many political parties was good for democracy and freedom.
Bakare, however, said many of the parties were pretenders and they would need to “rise above the cacophony of noise” they were making to make impact in the elections.
The SNG Convener said he had a presidential ambition but would not contest against President Buhari.
Bakare, who did not say the year he would contest, however, said he would be the one to succeed the president.
In his speech on the Independence titled “The Road to 2019: Quo Basis Nigeria’, Bakare said Nigeria had the potential to be great with the right leadership and positive attitude of followers.
He said 2019 presented another opportunity for citizens to realise the destiny of the country by participating in the process and voting right.
Bakare urged citizens to vote according to their conscience and elect leaders that mean well for the country.