Minister of Transportation and Director-General of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is no match for President Buhari in the forthcoming presidential election.
Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers State, who was a guest on the ‘Morning Show’ of ARISE News, a broadcast arm of THISDAY, yesterday, boasted that judging from the anti-corruption reputation of the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government, the PDP and its candidate will be a mismatch for his party in 2019.
He noted that evaluating the performances of the incumbent Nigerian leader in comparison with previous administrations under the opposition party, would further reduce the chances of the PDP, which he labelled as corrupt and unfit to take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
Asked if, as the D-G of the president’s re- election bid, he feels the ruling party feels uneasy that the PDP has a very strong team in Atiku/Obi, Amaechi said, “I am telling you clearly, we have nothing to fear about; I am not joking.”
He said for his party and the people of Nigeria, the next general election in February 2019 would be another opportunity to critically look at the issue of who has the known antecedent to genuinely tackle corruption and that by reputation, the PDP could not contend against the APC in terms of corruption perception.
“As soon as PDP elected its presidential candidate, the first thing that went to the social media was corruption. I am not saying whether he is corrupt or not, but the first battle you had in the social media was to battle the issue of corruption and those issues of corruption were the things said by ex-President Obasanjo,” he stated.
On the celebrated reconciliation between Obasanjo and Atiku, Amaechi said their vituperative attacks against each other will also be made public for Nigerians to decide, saying: “Their statements are in the public. We would get back all those statements to the table.”
According to him, “There are two issues that we will be focusing on, corruption; Nigerians will have to decide whether to go back to the stealing, where Nigerian government was borrowing money to pay salary. We are not borrowing money to pay salary now; where we were importing tomatoes, when we can plant tomatoes at home; when we were buying about 500,000 eggs per day from South Africa; and now that we are producing the eggs.
“The reason is that there are too many issues to debate about. For 16 years, Vice President Abubakar was in power for eight years, did they do anything on railways, the answer is no. I saw in my office, contracts awarded by the last government, to Nigerians who do not know anything about railways. To build a narrow gauge, how much was spent? That is why I said I would not pay and I won’t pay, when I leave the next person can pay them because these Nigerians did nothing and they are asking to be paid for having rehabilitated the narrow gauge.”
Buhari’s chief campaign manager said the PDP doesn’t offer any alternative, contending that he could not see any real opposition to his candidate.
Explaining why Nigerians have not witnessed much in terms of infrastructure, especially roads despite claims by the administration that it is spending huge amounts on the sector, Amaechi said weather and other natural factors have delayed work at most of the sites.
He said there are ongoing construction works in most parts of the country, adding that the APC-led administration has been able to implement capital budget almost at a 100 per cent rating as against a dismal situation during the past administration.
The minister listed several ongoing road projects and railway facilities, which he said the Buhari-led administration has invested hugely in the last three and half years.
On the forthcoming campaigns, Amaechi said it will be issues-based.
He denied that the party ever promised to make naira equivalent to dollar during the 2015 elections.
Amaechi said, “We will be telling Nigerians the same thing – don’t let thieves come to power again. The president never said he will make naira equal to dollar. We are not that cheap economists, we don’t practice voodoo economy.
“The president was clear during his campaign. ‘I will ensure that insecurity is tackled; I will ensure that we rebuild the economy and create employment; I will ensure that corruption is tackled because corruption is the basis in which we are finding ourselves into these entire problems.
“I give you this example, by the time we assumed office, we discover that PDP had taken $2 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and we followed the money. It was in everybody’s private pockets. The railway line from Lagos to Kano is $2.6 billion. So, we would have had two times that project with the money.”
Responding to the allegations of bias against Buhari in his fight against corruption, and the fact that he and others in APC have been shielded from prosecution on corruption allegations, Amaechi said he was ready to submit himself to investigation any day, any time.
Amaechi said it was instructive that the first former governors to be sent to jail for corruption under this administration are APC members.
“The prominent persons that went to jail under this administration are APC members. Does it take anything away from the fact that the president does not defend anybody? he asked.
When asked to comment on the crisis bedeviling the APC and the quizzing of the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, by the Department of State Services (DSS), Amaechi said it showed that Buhari would not like to protect the chairman of his party from being grilled by the DSS.
On why President Buhari evaded presidential debate while seeking for election in 2015, Amaechi said his campaign organisation thought that at that time the debate wasn’t necessary and that it was better he talked to Nigerians directly during campaigns.
Amaechi said the campaign organisation would decide on whether to advise Buhari to participate in the debate for 2019 election when the time comes, adding that it will be based on its assessment of the situation.
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