In separate interviews with our correspondents during the week, the aspirants said contrary to the belief that only the big parties stand a better chance of winning the election, they were in the race to win, adding that Nigerians were tired of the big players in the country’s political space.
A presidential aspirant under the Young Progressive Party and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, said the party would work with others and persuade Nigerians to vote out Buhari in 2019.
He said, “I am in the race for the presidency based on a vision I have for my country, which is one of nation-building to create a united country that works for all of us. I want to provide leadership that is beyond mere politics, establish an educational system fit for purpose in the 21st century for our kids, and create.
“Nigerian security outfits are protecting regimes and not Nigerians. This government is very subversive and has no respect for the rule of law. This is an invitation to anarchy. Buhari must go and Nigerians will reject him through the ballot.”
Similarly, a presidential aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party, Prof. Olufunmilayo Adesanya-Davies, said she was confident she would employ a populist approach to raise money to fund her campaign. She added that it was time women took more active role in governance at national level.
She noted that as an academic, she had understudied the country and had solutions to its challenges.
According to her, many people have shown support for her aspirations, adding that she will galvanise more Nigerians to actualise her aspiration of being the country’s next president.
She added, “Absolutely, I know it is possible for me to beat President Muhammadu Buhari because Nigerians are tired of his government and they are fed up with the empty promises that they made that they will bring a change. It is time to effect the real change, different from what the APC is doing. It is time we had a woman as the president of this country; we need serious change.”
Some of the aspirants, whose parties had joined the Coalition of United Political Parties, said they were confident that if they emerge as the consensus candidate of the CUPP, unseating Buhari would not be a difficult task.
An aspirant under the KOWA Party, Mr. Ayo Lijadu, said if he emerges as the candidate of the CUPP, it would give him a better platform to win the election, in spite of the dominance of the two political parties.
He said, “The reality is that it is not easy to dislodge an incumbent president, especially given the larger than life image and resources available to the party in power, but the strategy is the bonding together of parties that are like-minded in their objective to dislodge the government that has been rejected by the people.
“That strategy is the most effective; when over 40 political parties, including the disgruntled members of the ruling party, bond together to produce a single presidential candidate. Some of these parties have structure all over the country, so it is wise that we all come together. My party is part of the CUPP and that strategy will work.”
When asked on his plans for funding, he said, “By the time we have a single presidential candidate, the task of sourcing for funds would not be left to that individual candidate or their party, because there is an understanding that all the parties will come together to support, and it’s not just material or structural support, funding support would also come into place.
Also, an aspirant under the platform of the National Conscience Party, Mr. Martin Onovo, told Saturday PUNCH that he was confident he would emerge as the consensus candidate of the CUPP.
This, he said would help him to win the election, adding that it was unlike in the past when money had a role to play in determining the outcome of the presidential election.
Onovo said, “It is very clear that the coalition is going to produce me. It is not confidence but hard fact. The country wants a younger person as President in 2019.
“Some people say they are more popular, but the question I want to ask is that if they are popular why do they rig elections? My answer is that they rig because they are not popular. They rig because they know they cannot win in a free and fair election.” “Those who raise hundreds of billions for elections should be asked how they got the money. It is the money for education, health and other facilities for the masses that they are stealing. We need to put an end to that.”
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the National Action Council in its recently held national convention, Dr. Olapade Agoro, expressed confident he would defeat the incumbent.
He said, “I draw the confidence to send Buhari out next year from what I can do as a leader. Buhari is sitting on a cankerworm of corruption. Until we address the issue of corruption properly, we cannot address the issue of poverty. What our youths are doing is far smaller than what they are capable of doing. Politics is for service and not a way of amassing huge wealth.
“It is not everybody that claims to be in leadership position that knows what it entails. My purpose is to bring real change into the affairs of this country and that is why we are going to win.”
Another presidential aspirant under KOWA Party, Dr. Adesina Fagbenro-Byron, told Saturday PUNCH that he was in the contest to win and that he did not need to raise too much money.
“Goodluck Jonathan had more access to funds than Buhari in 2015 but money could not save him,” he added.
Fagbenro-Byron, who is a development expert and former regional coordinator of United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, said he would win because he meant serious business.
He said, “Yes, I’m in the contest to win and I have confidence that I will win. One of the issues we have is security and it is the failure in governance that has led to the current state of insecurity, which is why we need to change the current government.”
When asked whether he wanted to try just for recognition, given the dominance of the popular parties, he said, “If you know my history, you would know I don’t need the popularity. If I wanted to be popular, I would go into the studio and record an album with Falz. I am 59 and what I’m doing is not for frivolous reasons, having been in the business of governance and development for over 25 years.”
In his own response, an aspirant under the African Action Congress, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, said with the phenomenal progress his campaign had made, he was confident he would win the election.
Speaking on his strategy to win the race, Sowore, said, “I convened the largest political movement this nation has ever seen, called the ‘Take it Back Movement’, which now has chapters across all continents, Nigeria’s states and local government areas. We have held town hall meetings to engage Nigerians both within the country and in the Diaspora. I make bold to say that no one has worked as hard as we have done to engage with Nigerians and spread our message of transformation and progress.”
Also, the aspirant under the National Interest Party, Mrs. Eunice Atuejide, told Saturday PUNCH that she stood a good chance of winning the election, given that her party is in the CUPP.
She said, “I’m very sure that I have a huge chance to win this election, because I’m in the Coalition of United Political Parties, which includes some of the biggest political structures in Nigeria. The job of the CUPP is to pick one candidate from among us to represent all of us, and then every other party, with all their resources and structures, must now back the candidate. My goal is to become that candidate everybody else would support. My advice is that people should vote right; not because the political party is popular, but because the person we are voting for is the right person.”
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