Leading candidates contesting the February 16 presidential election have devised last-minute strategies to worm themselves into the hearts of the electorate ahead of the election, SATURDAY PUNCH has learnt.
According to the timetable of the general elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, political campaigns for presidential and National Assembly elections which commenced on November 18, 2018, will end on Thursday, February 14, 2019.
With barely five days to the deadline for the campaign, our correspondents gathered on Friday that the leading political parties –the ruling All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party-were strategising on how to make lasting impression about their candidates on the electorate.
One of the strategies being adopted by the APC which has President Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate, it was further learnt, was the decision of the party to fix the grand finale of its nationwide presidential campaign rallies on Thursday, which is the last day allowed for campaign.
It was learnt that the rally which has been described as “mother of all rallies” and slated for Abuja was deliberately fixed on a day known as Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide on February 14 every year to show love.
A party source said the day of the final rally was carefully chosen.
He said, “Our mother of all rallies has been fixed for Valentine’s Day. The idea is for party members to gather in the FCT in huge number to show love for our presidential candidate, President Buhari, and his running mate, Vice-President Osinbajo.
“The rally will be our own Valentine Day’s gift for these two leaders who have performed well since they assumed office in 2015.
“The rally will be used as a recap. All the achievements highlighted and promises made in previous rallies we had across the country will be re-presented to Nigerians.
“The strategy is that coming very close to the election billed for Saturday, Nigerians will still keep the promises in their hearts while approaching polling booths on Saturday.”
In a counter strategy, however, our correspondents also learnt that the PDP had decided to take its last presidential campaign rally to Adamawa State, the home state of its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“The strategy is that being the home state of the presidential candidate, there will be a huge turnout that will make the ones we have been experiencing across the country a child’s play,” a source said.
It was further learnt that the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation will, during the week, make more use of social media and text messages to reach out to prospective voters.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in an interview confirmed that some strategies would be adopted in the last few days of campaign.
He however refused to disclose the strategies.
“Our campaigns are going on. We are out there campaigning. We are doing everything required,” Ologbondiyan simply said.
“However, in spite of the fear of chaos in the forthcoming elections, we should not despair for as a nation, church and individuals, we can make the Lord our Shepherd. He will be there to protect us even in the valley of the shadow of death,” he added.
Meanwhile, as part of its last-minute campaign strategy, the APC on Friday launched the Directorate for Contact and Mobilisation for the February 16 presidential election.
Members of the directorate were saddled with the responsibility of going to the grass roots to mobilise and encourage voters to troop out en masse and vote for President Buhari on the election day.
The Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Rotimi Amaechi, inaugurated the directorate on Friday in Abuja.
Amaechi, who was represented by the Spokesperson of the PCC, Festus Keyamo (SAN), urged members to ignore the opinion polls conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party.
“We are proud supporters of President Buhari, let them show us who are their proud supporters. We are ahead of the PDP in this poll, so their opinion polls cannot be reckoned with. In fact when we heard that, we burst into laughter,” he said.
The Director of the C&M, Hadiza Bala Usman, said re-electing the APC was securing the future of Nigeria and the potential for “our children.”
She urged members to work vigorously for the victory of Buhari and other APC candidates in the election.
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