With the fierce contest for the presidency well underway, the two main contestants for the office – President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari – both berthed in Abeokuta on Monday in their quest to woo voters to their side.
Jonathan, who arrived Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, after a rally in Ibadan earlier in the day, last night met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with Pastors Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and David Oyedepo, Bishop of the Living Church Worldwide (also known as Winners’ Chapel) in attendance, THISDAY was reliably informed.
Although details of the meeting were sketchy, presidency sources said Jonathan had met the former president, with whom he has had a thorny relationship, to solicit his support as the elections loom.
Buhari, on the other hand, arrived Abeokuta just before 10 pm to spend the night ahead of the APC presidential campaign rally in the town today.
Although both men did not meet, it was gathered that Jonathan was lodged at the presidential lodge while Buhari was accommodated right opposite him at the Government Guest House.
The Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was said to have shuttled between both premises to pay courtesy calls on the president and Buhari.
Meanwhile, Jonathan yesterday lambasted Buhari over the latter’s promise to scrap the office of the first lady if elected president.
He explained that the money used in funding the Office of the First Lady does not come from the government budget but from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Jonathan, while addressing the rally held at the historic Mapo Hall, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, defended the office, saying it was a necessity to assist in mobilising Nigerian women in the polity.
He also told the crowd at the event that he planned to deploy technology to fight corruption in Nigeria, stressing that it was not the number of people that are jailed for corruption that mattered to him, but the use of modern technology in blocking all the loopholes where people corruptly enriched themselves.
According to Jonathan, even if 10 million people were tried for corruption and 5 million of them are jailed, “that would not stop people from being corrupt”.
While urging his supporters to support his re-election bid, the president reiterated the need to encourage Nigerian women to participate actively in the polity, pleading that they should reject Buhari and the APC at the elections.
He said: “A vote for Buhari is a vote to condemn the womenfolk into the kitchen. The office of the first lady helps to mobilise women. The money being spent does not come from the government budget. It comes from NGOs.”
While maintaining that it is only the PDP administration that can effectively take Nigeria to the next level, onathan decried in strong terms the human rights posture of some leaders of the opposition APC whom he described as “hypocrites”.
He told the gathering that his administration had spent over N10 billion as educational intervention fund in Oyo State alone.
Jonathan added that a lot was being done by his administration in the area of agriculture transformation through its intervention in cocoa and cassava with a view to encouraging young graduates to go into commercial agriculture.
“This administration is the first government ever in this part of the country, after (Obafemi) Awolowo, to show great concern and commitment to Agriculture,” Jonathan stated, just as he pledged to sustain the ongoing rehabilitation work on the Ibadan airport and the Ibadan dry port respectively.
On the Boko Haram insurgency, the president said he had directed the security chiefs to submit a comprehensive report on the Baga incident, assuring the crowd that his government would “surely win the war against terror”.
PDP chieftains at the rally included the National Chairman of the PDP, Adamu Mu’azu; Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Ms. Jumoke Akinjide who played the role of chief host; Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, the House Leader; Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State; former PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Alhaji Yekinni Adeojo; Senator Lekan Balogun; and Mrs. Olusola Obada, former Minister of State for Defence.
The high point of the Ibadan rally was the presentation of the PDP candidate for the February 28 governorship election in the state, Senator Teslim Folarin, with the party’s flag.
In Abeokuta, he vowed to continue his transformation agenda, pledging that he would create not less than two million jobs annually if re-elected next month.
He said he would give increased attention to addressing the challenges of the youths in order to prepare them for leadership roles.
The president, who expressed satisfaction with the rally held at Moshood Abiola Stadium, said Ogun was a great state that has produced great leaders in the country.
He pointed out that the state had produced leaders like Awolowo, Moshood Abiola and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, among others, noting that the state has also produced Obasanjo who governed the country as military head of state and civilian president.
He said he was in the capital city again to solicit the support of Ogun people to re-elect him as president next month, saying he would build on the “good work he started last four years”.
Jonathan recalled that his administration had established 14 additional universities, stressing that more would be established if re-elected.
The president, who stressed that he would continue to improve infrastructure in the institutions, said: “Many of the universities now perform open heart surgeries as well as kidney transplants in their teaching hospitals, due to our commitment to improving education.”