“Finally, we cannot wait for the Presidential debate where Atiku Abubakar will talk about his plans to reduce the unemployment rate…”
Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has said President Muhammadu Buhari will be judged by his actions in the run-up to the February 16 presidential election and not by rhetoric.
Atiku, who is also the presidential standard bearer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stated this, yesterday, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, in reaction to the president’s New Year message, in which he cautioned that the 2019 polls should not be a do-or-die affair.
The former vice president said it was not enough for Buhari to condemn do-or-die politics if he could not contain the activities of overzealous aides, including the country’s security chiefs.
He admonished the president “to go beyond lip service and urge security chiefs to be politically neutral during the election”, stating that “their loyalty to the constitution doesn’t include putting themselves at the service of the ruling party at the expense of free and fair elections.”
Besides, the PDP candidate urged President Buhari to follow the example of former president Goodluck Jonathan, who, in 2015, walked the talk of the 2015 elections not being worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“Jonathan lived by his noble words and statesmanship when he conceded defeat without hesitation, thereby contributing to peaceful conduct of election,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Atiku has said it is insensitive for President Buhari to claim during the flag off of his reelection campaign in Uyo, last week, that he had fulfilled his 2015 campaign promises to Nigerians, when the realities on ground indicated otherwise.
In another statement, also signed by Ibe, Atiku said it was ironic that a day before Buhari’s claim, it was revealed that the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty had increased from 87 million to 90 million in just four months.
He stated that except the president has vowed to impoverish Nigerians, it was difficult to see how he could have fulfilled his promises when there is pervasive poverty and hunger in the country.
“But the most blatant insult from the president was his assertion at Uyo that ‘we have defeated Boko Haram.’ It was most insensitive of the president to have said such on a day that foreign and domestic media reported the entrapment of our gallant troops by Boko Haram/ISWAP in Baga, with as much as 700 reported missing.
“Even more indicting is the statement from the US-based International Strategic Studies Association, that the Boko Haram insurgency was lingering due to the massive corruption around President Buhari.
“How would those soldiers feel, how would their families feel, how would their colleagues in the barracks feel when they are facing a life and death situation and their commander-in-Chief is impervious to reality? Atiku queried.
The PDP candidate said in the face of denial of reality by Buhari, it has become expedient to revisit the demand by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) for all presidential candidates to submit themselves for a mental health test.
Atiku said he was prepared to undergo the test and challenges the president to accept CUPP’s challenge.
“Finally, we cannot wait for the Presidential debate where Atiku Abubakar will talk about his plans to reduce the unemployment rate from 23.1 percent under Buhari to single digits, because Atiku means jobs and Buhari means extreme poverty.“
Meanwhile, the opposition party, yesterday, x-rayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year speech saying it is an indication that he has conceded defeat in next month’s presidential poll.
The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO), in a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, claimed Buhari has switched into valedictory mode since he realised that Nigerians have seen through the alleged falsehood and deception that have characterised his administration since 2015.
According to Ologbodiyan, the president could not articulate any concrete commitment on any sector of our national life.
It noted that not only is Buhari bereft of ideas, he has equally lost projections having realised that Nigerians were not ready to give him a second term in office.
“Even when he admitted in his opening that the turn of the new year is a time for stocktaking and unfolding of new prospects, Nigerians are invited to note that Mr. President, in his entire speech, could not point to any single achievement he made in the outgoing year neither could he unfold any development prospect for the New Year.
“President Buhari has no prospects on security despite the daily killings in the land. Even as a Commander-in-Chief, he has no words for our gallant troops daily laying down their lives, fighting insurgents in the North East. He had no soothing word for the victims of bloodlettings in various parts of the country.
“Furthermore, President Buhari had no prospects on our ailing economy. He has no plans for our grossly under-performing power sector, nothing on health, education, agriculture, transportation, commerce and industry. He has nothing on job creation, empowerment of our entrepreneurs, and no blueprints for increased foreign direct investments into our nation.
“President Buhari said nothing about burning labour issues in the country. He also choose to overlook the ASUU strike that has crippled our tertiary institutions. He has no plans on how to shore up the value of naira, increase purchasing power of citizens and reduce the high costs of goods and services in our land.
“Instead, President Buhari dwelt on unnecessary diatribes, finger-pointing, hate speech and fixation on the 2019 general elections, in which an imminent defeat awaits him and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC),” he stated.
In a related development, the PDP said voting decisions of Nigerians in the 2019 general elections will determine the future of the country.
Uche Secondus, the party’s chairman, in his New Year message issued in Abuja, yesterday, said 2019 was critical in the life of the nation as it would be a turning point in the emerging political evolution.
“The general election in the country this year, 2019, provides ample opportunity for the country to be rescued and restored as the biggest black nation in the world both economically and politically.
“This year provides us the ground to save our democracy and the country from the comatose state misrule has placed it.”
Mr. Secondus said that 2019 would provide the way to correct the mistake Nigeria made in 2015, saying that good decisions by voters is needed to recover the country.
He noted that growing insecurity, senseless killings across the country and mauling down of troops by terrorists raised a lot of concern and called for real change in the nation’s polity.
He said it would be a huge disservice to the nation if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to give the country free, fair and credible elections to enable the will of the people to prevail as to who governs them.
He claimed PDP elevated Nigeria’s democratic status by introducing electoral reforms that saw it defeated and had a seamless transition to an opposition.
He said if the party could do that, the democratic world should be concerned at the president’s refusal to sign an amended Electoral Act that would have facilitated a smooth and transparent election.