From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
A group, Southern Youth Alliance (SOYA) has called on the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, not to wait any longer to declare his intention to vie for the seat of president in 2023, declaring that further delay by him would be viewed as an act of cowardice.
The group equally threatened to cause a petition against Atiku if he fails run for the number one office in the country next year.
The President of SOYA, Ismail Ridwan, stated this in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during a press conference organised by South West arm of SOYA, in support of former Vice President’s ambition.
Ridwan alongside other members were armed with placards with inscriptions such as ‘Age is an advantage for Atiku; ‘Atiku loves the youth”; ‘PDP is safe with Atiku’; ‘Atiku for President 2023’; ‘Atiku promised the youth 40 % inclusion’ and ‘Nigeria is safe in Atiku’s hand’.
The President noted as a group of youths they had canvassed for youths in leadership position, but more emphasis should be placed on competent leadership.
He also submitted that Nigeria is confronted with monumental challenges, including insecurity, poverty and increased debt, arguing “the country requires a choice of a leader who can speak the truth, mend fences of division and belong to the South and the North”.
Ridwan said Atiku possesses leadership qualities to fix the nation’s challenges and placed Nigeria on the right footing.
“We are also not comfortable with the seem silence of reluctance of Atiku in declaring his intention to contest the presidential election.
“If he does not do so, we will believe he is a coward, we will believe he is scared.
“We are respectfully making a demand that His Excellency Atiku Abubakar breaks the air about his ambition to run for the 2023 presidential election and make a declaration in the affirmative,” he said.
He also expressed the group’s discomfort over campaign of calumny against Atiku, saying age has nothing to do with leadership.
“We observe with regrets that today, our country is at the brink of crisis in all facets of life. Insecurity has become rampant such that in some places in the country, residents have to pay protection levies to bandits for security. Food prices keep going up and, indeed, a vast majority of Nigerians wake up and go to bed with empty bellies.
“The universities are on strike as we speak and fuel queues are back at our petrol stations. Our debt as a nation is climbing into frightening proportions and bookmakers say that by the end of 2023, Nigeria’s debt portfolio would have reached a whooping N50trillion.
“So, it is scary, very scary. And it is an unusual time that we are in, right now; we are faced with monumental challenges.
“We know that for every season, there are leaders that are cut out for the purpose of that season. Our unity as a country is at risk. The challenge before us as a nation requires that we search for a leader who, from his antecedents, we are sure that is fit for this particular situation that the country has found itself.
“One leader who is not bigoted, someone who can pick up the pieces and mend the divisions in the country from North to South; West to the East. A leader who can bring everyone to the roundtable table and have a discussion around these issues that beset the nation.
“The man who fits into that call is someone that is widely known through the length and breadth of this country and that person is Atiku Abubakar. Atiku possesses the set skills to fix Nigeria and make Nigeria a great country again!
“He has the competencies and the skills to rework our national economy and make us competitive again in the area of education and innovations.
“For us in the Southwest, the ideas that Atiku Abubakar has espoused through the years reflect the aspirations of our people. He is one leader who has expressly committed to restructuring even when it was not politically popular to do so. Atiku believes that there is an over-concentration of power in the central government and advocates that more power and resources should be delegated to states. Is that not the ideal upon which this country was birthed? There was a time that the regions (now states) were the centers of development in this country and the people were the centerpiece of development”. SOYA president stated.