By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – In what was seen as a setback for the candidacy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), a political movement started by Shehu Yar’Adua today declared support for President Buhari.
Atiku, who is now in America on a foreign campaign, has always regarded Yar’Adua as his mentor and leader.
But today, the founding chairman of the PDM, Dr Farouk Abdulaziz led other executives to declare support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy. Among the delegates was the current chairman, Senator Abubakar Mahdi.
It was an emotional ceremony at the State House Council Chambers as President Buhari recalled his relationship with Yar’Adua, who he described as a friend, classmate and dependable colleague in the army.
“I am very pleased to receive this delegation and I am forced to remind you of an emotional revival or reminder you brought to me which I think I have to tell you for respecting your steadfastness.
“ Late Gen. Yar’ Adua was my classmate for nine years; primary and secondary and we joined the military the same day.
“He went to Sandhurst and I went Mons both in the UK. And during the civil war, I was in Awka sector; he was in Onitsha sector; under late Murtala Muhammed and again, we decided to link up from Abagana to Onitsha.
“Unfortunately, he was wounded; I went to meet him in hospital in Benin—this is much I care about my relation with late Yar’Adua.’’
He thanked the group for articulating its appreciation of what his administration had been doing, adding that he was overwhelmed by the group’s steadfastness.
Buhari said he never thought there would be such as consistent group in the country–people who would make up their minds based on principles and stick to the principles over the years.
“ Really, you have indicated your belief in the person who started your organisation—a very honourable person, steadfast; we shared youth and shared together.
“His demise was very regretful but God does what he wants for all times,’’ he said.
He thanked the group for its support, the principles and patriotism it had shown and assured them that he would continue to work for Nigeria
National Chairman, Sen. Abubakar Mahdi said that PDM had been important in Nigeria’s political landscape since 1987 when it was founded as Peoples Front.
He said that the delegation comprised chairmen and leaders of PDM from the 36 states of the federation and Abuja who conscientiously had resolved on the Jan.1 to support Buhari’s candidature in the forthcoming presidential election.
He said that PDM had observed with keen interest, the giant strides of Buhari administration in the areas of infrastructure development, security, fight against corruption, road networks, railway lines and improved power supply.
“In the area of security, peace and harmony has returned to the North East where Boko Haram used to hold sway.
“Mr President, I come from Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno, the Headquarters of Boko Haram in Nigeria, as I speak before you today, I am happy to inform you that our people have returned home in their thousands; and that was in appreciation, APC members from Gwoza Local Government, gave you over 90, 000 votes during the APC presidential election primary election.
“The total fight against corruption by your government is quite commendable and it is worthy of support by all citizens.
“Suffice it to say that corruption has become so endemic in our country that public office holders who have access to public treasury have found allies in our country’s legal system both in the bar and the bench,’’ he said.
On his part, Gov. Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State said that he facilitated the visit of the delegation to the president.
According to him, the group is made up a very rare breed of Nigerians basing their activities on principles; the principles agreed upon by their late leader over 20 years ago.
He said that PDM was set up by Gen. Yar’Adua, adding that from the time of his demise to date, members had remained steadfast and attached to the principles of the founder.
Yar’Adua began the Peoples Front in the late eighties, in the run-up to the shortlived Third Republic, before the regime of Ibrahim Babangida imposed two parties on Nigerians, the National Republican Convention and the Social Democratic Party.
The group resurfaced in the 4th Republic as PDM.(NAN)