The convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Tunde Bakare on Sunday congratulated Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Bakare who is also the Senior Pastor of Latter Rain Assembly spoke to the media after making a statement on Nigeria’s 58th Independence in his church.
Atiku was declared the winner at the party’s convention in Port-Harcourt on Sunday.
He polled 1,532 votes to defeat his closest rival, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State (693 votes) and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, among others at the convention that started on Saturday.
Bakare said the development is a welcome development as it meant the race for the presidency would be a very keen contest between him and Muhammadu Buhari.
The SNG convener said both the president, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Abubakar were an equal match and it was Nigerians who would decide between the two.
“I congratulate him (Abubakar), he makes the issue in 2019 more robust.
“It is not going an eaglet versus an eagle but an eagle versus eagle: an old eagle versus new eagle and probably both of them old eagles”.
He continued, “I wish President Muhammadu Buhari the best in 2019.
“He has the power of incumbency and he will do his best to win the election, but Atiku is not going to take No for an answer when the two forces collide in the election”.
He reaffirmed the experience and poise Atiku possesses just like the incumbent, Buhari.
He, however, stated that having those qualities won’t be enough to translate into a victory for him as the voting citizenry decides on who would be the next president.
“I can’t say Atiku will win or lose. You see, I am not advocating for him. Among all the aspirants who contested the PDP’s ticket with him, he is perhaps the most cosmopolitan, he is a Wazobia man.
“He was Vice-President for eight years, and he inherited something from late Yaradua that he had held on to so effectively.
“He has been a businessman with a business acumen and he has the exposure.
“But you see, that is not what qualifies you to win. A lot comes into play, so again, I can not say whether he will win or lose,” he said.
Bakare also clarified earlier comments about the Buhari’s administration saying he was just drawing attention to critical issues.
“I didn’t take any swipe at the administration of President Buhari.
“What I have always said is that despite the acclaimed progress in the country, Nigerians are not feeling the impact in their homes.
“That does not mean the government is not working. Look at the groanings of the people, the government still has to do a lot more before the 2019 elections.
“They have to work harder to assure Nigerians that they are really up to the task of listening to their yearnings and aspirations.
“The purpose of government is the welfare and security of people. Take that from the equation, then governance means nothing,” he said.
He also said he had a presidential ambition but would not contest against President Buhari.
Bakare, who did not say the year he would contest, however, said he would be the one to succeed the president.
In his speech on the Independence titled “The Road to 2019: Quo Basis Nigeria”, Bakare said Nigeria had the potential to be great with the right leadership and positive attitude of followers.
He said 2019 presented another opportunity for citizens to realise the destiny of the country by participating in the process and voting right.
Bakare urged citizens to vote according to their conscience and elect leaders that mean well for the country.