Save Nigeria Group (SNG) convener Pastor Tunde Bakare yesterday assessed next February’s presidential election which he described as “the battle of the eagles” between President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Bakare said with Atiku’s emergence as the Peeoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer, the 2019 election will be keen and interesting.
Bakare, Senior Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, told reporters in Ikeja, Lagos after making a speech on Nigeria’s 58th Independence in his church that with Atiku, the race will be “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 Atiku, 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 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 Yar’Adua that he has 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, the party would need to demonstrate to the electorate that it is regenerated and “show repentance for the years of the locust they engineered”.
He added that the opposition party must 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 the 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 Buhari’s administration from the beginning, should not be interpreted to mean he was attacking the government, but 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.
Bakare said the emergence of many political parties was good for democracy and freedom.
He, 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 when 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.
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