As President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar launched their presidential campaigns Sunday and Monday respectively, two of their rivals have warned against choosing either of the two veterans.
Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC) and Oby Ezekwesili of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) described the two front runners as failed participants in Nigeria’s democratic history.
According to a statement on Monday, Mr Sowore spoke while addressing Nigerians in Diaspora at a town hall meeting and fundraiser organised by his campaign group, #TakeItBack Movement, at the Christ International Community Church, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America.
He warned Nigerians to be cautious of the “fake promises and documents which will be used by some candidates to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians.
Mr Sowore, who is seeking elective office for the first time in Nigeria, said as the campaigns start officially, he would allow the opposition lead while he catches up when he returns to Nigeria.
“Today in Nigeria is the beginning of the campaigns for the elections that will be happening next year…I am supposed to be back home but the truth is we are dealing with two old men if we are going to start the race is better to let them start first and when I return to Nigeria I can always catch up,” Mr Sowore said.
He urged Nigerians to be wise in their choice because the leaders who have put many Nigerians in pains are the same clamouring for their votes.
”They did an event and launched what they called Next Level, but Nigerians are very creative people who can see through all that, they have already done a lot of cartoons which shows President Buhari Blindfolded and his followers following to fall over a cliff and they said that is the Next Level.
”They said the same thing about Atiku with a cartoon where everyone following him was holding on to their wallets, you know what that means.
“Those who are positioning themselves to lead Nigerians today, are the same people who caused Nigerians pains and sorrow that Nigeria is in today,” he said.
Mr Sowore urged Nigerians “do the right thing by freeing yourselves of your oppressors who have no fresh ideas or capacity to solve Nigeria’s problems which they created.”
Mrs Ezekwesili also spoke on Monday but in Abuja, urging Nigerians not to resign to low standards by voting for parties like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).
She said the mistakes of previous PDP administrations were being repeated by President Buhari of the APC.
“Sometimes it is hard to believe Nigeria’s greatness in the midst of our daily struggles, and as we watch our country repeat the same mistakes over and over again, it is hard to remember the contributions our country has made for freedom and peace across the African continent,” Mrs Ezekwisili said.
“I cannot stand it when we choose to accept mediocrity or resign ourselves to lowly standards. Nigeria can do much better. I care about Nigeria and Nigerians enough to know that the back-to-back failed leadership has held us back for far too long, and if we do not take a stand and take our country back, they would still be here in years to come, holding back our children and their children. God forbid!”
The former Minister of Education assured Nigerians she would fulfill her electoral promises, adding that a situation where elected candidates deny their promises was bad for Nigeria’s growth.
“The APC campaigned in 2015 on a manifesto that propagated the doctrine of restructuring. President Buhari went along with it every step of the way because it is all about getting into power for him.
”He won and then began to renege on his promises, including on restructuring. He suddenly remembered all the reasons why ‘structure is not the problem’ with Nigeria.
“I want to reignite belief in Nigeria’s greatness by leading a government that would make clear promises to citizens and deliver on them, not like the current leadership which spent its first year in office denying all the promises it made to get into that office,” she said.
She furthered accused Mr Buhari of placing a lesser value on the lives of Nigerians, warning that Nigerians need to vote for a candidate who would make their well-being a priority.
The former Vice-President of World Bank explained that Nigeria’s current federal structure was not working and recommended a review.
“Entire communities and even local government areas in this country have been driven into hunger and poverty, as their sources of livelihoods are completely wiped out due to insecurity. The value of a Nigerian life has been devalued and cheapened,” she said.
“The structure of a federation is its skeleton. A functional structure gives shape, support, and aids the movement of the federation. No wonder Nigeria is handicapped under this dysfunctional structure,” she said.
She recalled that the APC before the last elections agreed on the need to restructure the federation and devolve more powers to the regions and states. She added.