…as ex-gov declares presidential bid in hotel
John Alechenu and Olusola Fabiyi
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has denounced the last-minute cancellation of the approval earlier granted to Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, to use the Eagle Square for his 2019 presidential declaration.
The denunciation is contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Saraki was quoted as saying “The refusal to allow Senator Kwankwaso to utilise the Eagle Square for his presidential declaration, despite an earlier approval, sends a wrong message about our democracy, particularly the tolerance level in our politics.
“That square belongs to all Nigerians because it was built with public funds. We hope this is not what we will be seeing as we approach the 2019 General Elections.”
Recall that the Federal Capital Territory Administration denied him the use of the Eagle Square and the International Conference Centre, which he had initially booked for the occasion.
The FCTA had claimed that it took the action because Wednesday was a workday and that the event would impede the movements of workers.
The Senate President insisted that the “Eagle Square belongs to all Nigerians,” noting that the cancellation sent a wrong message about the tolerance level in our politics.
Meanwhile, Kwankwaso has declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Kwankwaso, who used a private hotel for the declaration in Abuja on Wednesday, promised to provide what he called “value-added leadership” if elected.
Dressed in the white kaftan with a red cap, Kwankwaso exuded confidence as he spoke amidst shouts of “kwankwasiya” by his supporters, who came from across the country for the event.
He said, “As I formally declare my intention to vie for the office of the President on the platform of the PDP, I promise you a value-based leadership.
“We shall provide national security and as a former Minister of Defence, I know what I am talking about here.”
Kwankwaso listed national unity and cohesion, restructuring and qualitative education as some of the key areas he would focus on if he was elected President.
The former governor, who was a minister of defence, stressed that his administration would focus on the economy, human capital development, global competitiveness as well as research and innovation.
He said, “The primary responsibility of the government is the security of life. My understanding of national security transcends the stereotype limiting it to the armed forces and other security agencies.
“As former Minister of Defence, I understand security from that point; it covers more and includes the entire scope of food, health care delivery, education, economic prosperity, and enjoyment of human rights on the physical defence and security side.
“There is the need for well-timed, motivated, well-equipped and intelligence-propelled security architecture. That requires decisive options of strengthening and equipping the military while restructuring the police to make it more effective.”
He said his administration would also pursue other institutional reforms in the polity.
Kwankwaso maintained that the priority of his leadership would be the enhancement of a united Nigeria driven by productivity.
He added, “A key propellant of our journey must be a committed desire to ensure that the labours of our heroes shall truly not be in vain.
“We will strive to create an atmosphere where every Nigerian has an equal opportunity to contribute.
“Our restructuring will be to ensure an inclusive political, social and economic space for all. All of this will ensure that first, we are Nigerians.”
Kwankwaso pointed out that he would lead a Nigeria where people are educated and exposed beyond the confines of their tribe, religion, linguistic group or place of birth.
“l want to lead a Nigeria where citizens respect their leaders and leaders to lead and forge a team to promote and protect the interest of all Nigerians.
“I want to lead a Nigeria where all are comfortable anywhere and on any positive issue can compete fairly with their peers without favour or discrimination.
“Education in Nigeria will be rejuvenated and restructured to make future generations not only problem solvers but proud custodians of their culture, heritage and history and also for creating confidence in all Nigerians across all the states, sectors and talents,” he added.
Linking us to Kwankwaso’s inability to use Eagle Square mischievous – APC
The All Progressives Congress has described attempts to link it to the inability of an aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party to secure the use of the Eagle Square, to declare his intention to run for the office of President as mischievous.
Although the APC did not name the aspirant, only former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, was on Wednesday denied access to the Eagle Square after he had paid for the use of the facility for his declaration.
In a statement signed by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, in Abuja on Wednesday, the APC described attempts to link the party to the development as mischievous.
The statement read, “We frown on mischievous attempts in some quarters to blame the All Progressives Congress for the inability of a Peoples Democratic Party presidential contestant to secure the Eagle Square for his declaration.
“The party read in the media reasons given by the facility managers of the Abuja International Conference Centre and Eagle Square not to allow campaigns on its facility on Wednesday to avoid disruption of workflow at the federal secretariat, the main hub of civil servants in Abuja.
“Hence the allegation is unnecessary and misplaced. We should not be dragged into a private transaction involving entities we have no business with.”
It added, “In any case, the 2019 elections will not be won by cheap campaign ground antics but actual votes from the Nigerian electorate who are wise and know who is working in their interest.
“Never again will we return governance of our dear country to the hands of those that selfishly have held us back for years.” (Punch)