President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) to work diligently towards returning the governorship candidate of the party in Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, for second term in office.
The President, who presented the party’s flag to the candidate at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, said the reconciliation process in the state branch of the party had provided a solid ground for an easier victory for the candidate than he achieved in his first term.
While assuring Akeredolu of the party’s full support, the President said a peaceful and fair election that reflects the will of the people should be uppermost, urging adherence to the regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission and protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
President Buhari noted that the party’s mechanism for resolving differences was most effective and would be sustained to strengthen relationships, and project the objectives of the party as people-focused and development oriented.
Speaking with newsmen after he led the delegation, Caretaker Committee Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, expressed confidence that the ruling party would win the forthcoming election in the state.
Buni was joined by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who is the APC Campaign Committee Chairman for the Ondo election; the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong.
He stated that the APC would emerge victorious in the Ondo election because of Akeredolu’s achievements in his first tenure in office.
“We are here to present our candidate to Mr. President being the leader of the party for his blessing. That has always been the practice. We cannot kick-start our campaign without his endorsement and that is what we have just done.
“Mr. President has endorsed him (Akeredolu) and he commended him for his efforts in the last four years as he is aware of the transformation and the development he has made in the last four years.
“APC is the only party that can win election in Ondo, not only because APC as a party is the only party but because the governor there is performing and has performed. The people of Ondo State have seen for themselves and have agreed to themselves that yes, he is the only man they can trust for the next four years.
“So, Mr. President has endorsed him. That is what we have been looking for; his blessing, his endorsement, his encouragement and his support and we have gotten that already.”
On why he was confident of victory, especially as the opposition political parties also fielded strong candidates, Buni said the track record of the governor would give the ruling party victory.
He added: “I am optimistic because the product we are selling has sold himself already because he has performed in the last four years. We are all product of our choices and the people of Ondo State are wise now to choose him to continue the good work he is doing.
“So I am very much optimistic that the good people of Ondo State will renew their mandate and the governor of Ondo state will continue and they will give him the mandate again for another four years.”
Also speaking, Sanwo-Olu said that the achievements of Akeredolu in the last four years have made his assignment easier.
His words: “When you have a good product and people have seen and have agreed, it makes our job easier. Our good friend and brother, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has not only done well, he is a progressive and he is a man that has stood over the last four years, carrying his people along and doing all to ensure that good governance continues in Ondo State.
“So, for us, it is really about ensuring that we do not take anybody for granted. That is why we are not going to rest on our oars. Even when we know that he has done very well, we will still go through the entire gamut of campaigning, ensuring that we go into all the nooks and crannies of the state to reassure them that their governor, our candidate will continue on the good job that he is doing.
“We will solicit their votes to ensure that they come out en mass and vote and re-elect him. So, we will be starting our campaign tomorrow (Saturday) by the grace of God and we will ensure that he goes round all the senatorial, local governments and wards in the state so that we do not take anybody for granted.”
On his part, Akeredolu said: “Mr. President has given us his blessing. We are not taking things for granted and we know that by the grace of the Almighty God, success is ours.”