Governors, ex-governors, and top chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party in the camp of the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, arrived in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, in no fewer than 15 private and chartered jets for the formal inauguration of the party’s campaign ahead of the 2023 poll.
Findings by The PUNCH indicate that aside from the Governors of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and his counterparts in Oyo State (Seyi Makinde), Benue State (Samuel Ortom), Abia State (Ikpeazu Okezie), and Enugu State (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi), other governors elected on the platform of the party were present at the event.
The inauguration, which was held at the Nest of Champions International Stadium, was also attended by the party’s National Assembly members, and National Working Committee members led by the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, among other party stalwarts.
Members of the PDP Board of Trustees led by a former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara were also present at the venue.
The PDP governors present at the rally include Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintri; Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku; and the host governor, Udom Emmanuel.
Others are the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri; his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed; Delta State Governor and Atiku’s running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa; and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Investigations by our correspondents revealed that at least 15 private and chartered jets landed and were parked at the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo for the inauguration of the presidential campaign of the former vice-president.
Some of the private and chartered jets which landed at the airport were Hawker Siddeley 125 with registration number 5N-BZP belonging to Jubilee Aviation, Bombardier Challenger 604 with registration number 5N-BYN belonging to Jed Air, HS 125 with registration 5N-BZT belonging to Jet Support Services, and Embraer Phenom 300 (E55P) with registration number 5N-AAK belonging to Matrix Energy and operated by Jet Support Services.
Others are HS125 private aircraft with registration number 5N-BNM belonging to Dogon Daji; Lear Jet 45 jet with registration number 5N-BLW belonging to Max Air; Embraer E135 jet with registration number 5N-BTX belonging to Anap Jets and Embraer E145 plane with registration number 5N-BZN belonging to Exejet, and an Embraer E135 jet with registration number 5N-FZE belonging to Execujet.
The list also includes an Embraer E145 aircraft with registration number 5N-BWW chartered from United Nigeria Airlines.
The former VP’s Global Express private jet with registration number T7AAA was not sighted at the airport as of press time.
Also, a private jet belonging to Akwa Ibom State Government with registration number N224BV could not be sighted as of the time of filing this report.
Speaking at the campaign ground in Uyo, the PDP National Chairman, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu said the party has moved on, calling on those who are yet to join the party’s presidential campaign to join the train because they are moving slowly waiting for them.
Ayu in a veiled reference to the withdrawal of Governor Wike and his allies from the party’s presidential campaign council following the crisis in the party stated that Nigerians were not interested in the personal rifts in the PDP but in the rescue mission of the party.
He further noted that the party’s presidential candidate has penned down his plans for Nigerians in his policy document, ‘My Covenant with Nigerians.’
He said, “The PDP train has started moving and we have left the station, but we are moving slowly so that those who are yet on board will join us on the train.
“It is important for us as leaders; Nigeria is not interested in our quarrels, Nigeria is waiting for us to come and rescue them from what is worrying them. The PDP knows what is worrying Nigerians: Nigerians are hungry, Nigerians are suffering from all sorts of sickness.
Addressing the mammoth crowd, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku lamented that since the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress regime took over the leadership in 2015, Nigerians have witnessed unprecedented hunger, insecurity and poor economy while Nigerian students have continued to stay out of school.
According to him, the PDP on the other hand lifted Nigerians out of poverty when it assumed power in 1999, noting that Nigeria became the biggest economy in Africa.
He also explained that there was peace and progress until the APC took over power in 2015.
The former vice-president added that the flag-off of the presidential campaign was to rescue Nigeria from hunger, and poverty and bring back the unity the country lacked.
While noting that Nigerians wanted to take a cue from Akwa Ibom which had witnessed uninterrupted PDP administration and progress since 1999, the ex-VP stressed that the PDP is on a rescue mission to salvage the country.
He appealed to Nigerians to vote for the PDP for prosperity, unity, and safety.
Atiku said, ‘’Today, as we inaugurate the flag-off of the campaign to rescue Nigeria, to rescue Nigeria from hunger, to rescue Nigeria from poverty and bring back the unity we are lacking in this country; I want to appeal to all Nigerians to vote for PDP.
“If you vote for PDP, it will be a vote for prosperity, it will be a vote for unity, it will be a vote for your safety. So, there will be no more hunger and there will be security. I swear, if you vote for PDP, you will not be out of school, you will get jobs, there will be security, there will be unity.”
In his remarks, the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, Okowa told the gathering that the PDP is the only party that is prepared to rescue the nation through a candidate that has the experience to restore and rebuild.
He added, “When you want to rescue people, particularly in the military, because we are in a war, everything has gotten so bad, you do not go to war with a lieutenant leading, some other parties are presenting lieutenants but PDP is presenting a general.
The acting Chairman of the PDP BoT, Wabara stressed that there is a vacancy in the Presidential Villa that Atiku and his running mate are suitably qualified to fill.
“In the past, we used to say no vacancy in Aso Villa but all have seen that there is indeed vacancy in Aso Villa. The applicants that will occupy the villa are our presidential candidate and the running mate,’’ he noted.
Describing the PDP as the party to beat, the BoT chairman said, “The party to beat, our presidential candidate and the vice are the candidates to beat. We have a unifier here.