By Chinelo Obogo and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has fired back at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 elections.
Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, his running mate, had spanked Atiku and other presidential candidates during a town hall meeting at Eko Hotel, Lagos, on Tuesday.
Responding in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, Atiku played down on the chances of Tinubu, declaring that Nigerians would not elect a ghost president.
He accused Tinubu of shying away from public scrutiny and using proxies to answer questions reserved exclusively for would-be presidents.
He claimed that the APC presidential candidate had on two occasions “dodged” the invitation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry (LCCI) but decided to “play smart” by organising his own town hall meeting with the organised private sector at Eko Hotel and suites, the same venue of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) where he failed to show up in August.
Shaibu said rather than be bold enough to subject his ideas for scrutiny before a non-partisan panel of professionals as done by Atiku and even the candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, before the LCCI, “Tinubu decided to organise his own event in Lagos where he dictated the pace of events and filled up the room with most of his supporters and fans who applauded his flavourless ideas.
“After reading out his uninspiring speech, Tinubu sat on the high table and systematically dodged questions directed at him by the audience. Rather, he delegated his team members to answer all the questions on his behalf, an indication that he lacks a clear understanding of the issues plaguing the country and is hiding his ignorance.”
He noted that town hall meetings were supposed to be events where candidates display their understanding of issues and inspire hope in the electorate, emphasizing that such important events were no mere gatherings where aides speak on behalf of their principals.
“From indication, his aides spoke more than he did at the event, an indication that he didn’t even need to be there in the first place. Clearly, Tinubu plans to run a proxy government in the unfortunate event that he wins the presidential election.”
According to him, the conduct of the APC presidential candidate and his decision to cleverly dodge dialectic public conversations may not be unconnected with Tinubu’s clear lack of mental coordination and understanding of Nigeria’s core problems.
“At the KADInvest programme in Kaduna last month, he spoke about how Governor Nasir El-Rufai turned a “rotten situation to a bad one”. In Kano last year he revealed his plan to recruit 50 million youths into the military in order to tackle unemployment while he went off tangent at a book launch back in July, talking about “cassava, garri, agbado, eba and ewa.
“Earlier this year, he advised Nigerians to go and renew their expired Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) thereby causing confusion in the polity until the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a rebuttal.”
He said Nigerians would not “overlook these ominous signs”, the reason Tinubu’s handlers have continued to shield him from open public engagements and scrutiny.
“He continually argues that he doesn’t need physical strength to lead Nigeria but only the mental capacity. However, his refusal to publicly display this intelligence and articulate his thoughts should worry every well-meaning Nigerians who are still suffering from the seven-year misrule of the All-Progressives Congress that has brought poverty, inflation and unemployment to an unprecedented height.”
Shaibu added that of all the 18 presidential candidates, Tinubu was the only one that has refused to subject himself to a media interview.
“Due to his continual refusal to be accountable, the Lagos godfather had to be publicly invited to the studio by Arise Television, an invitation that he remains too timid to honour since nobody would be able to teleguide him,” Shaibu lamented, insisting that Nigerians would not elect a phantom president in 2023.
•You’ll retire to Dubai in 2023 –Oshiomhole
Former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, backed the party’s vice presidential candidate’s comment that Atiku would be forced retire to Dubai after the APC’s victory in 2023, as he would be rejected by Nigerians again.
During an interview on Arise TV, Oshiomhole said Shettima’s recent comment that Atiku is a political tourist and would be retired to Dubai is accurate.
“It was clear to everyone who was watching the Vice Presidential nominee, that what he meant, which would eventually play out is that given Atiku’s record of movement, once he suffers a defeat, he moves to Dubai. So, what Shettima is saying is that because Nigerians have rejected Atiku three to four times and even the best partnership he enjoyed in 2019 with Peter Obi didn’t deliver him. Now, his ticket is not as potent as it was in 2019, we are confident that God willing, using the same Nigerian people who have rejected him in the past, they would reject him again, and once he is rejected, he will relocate again to Dubai,” Oshiomhole said.
•Shettima suffering from amnesia –PDP
However, the PDP presidential campaign council has berated Shettima over claims that Atiku. cannot Nigeria when he has not united his own political party
The PDP presidential campaign, in a statement by the director, Strategic Communication, Dele Momodu, noted that Shettima’s claims against Atiku were “heresy.”
The statement read in part: “We have watched in utter incredulity and amazement the boldfaced speech made yesterday by the APC Vice Presidential candidate, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, at an event in Lagos. He alleged gleefully that the PDP presidential candidate, H.E Atiku Abubakar (GCON) cannot unite Nigeria when ‘he has not united his own political party’.
“It is our belief that Alhaji Shettima, in a moment of deliberate amnesia, must have tried to point fingers at the specks in another man’s eyes while studiously ignoring the giant logs in his own eyes.
“The APC is in total disarray with prominent members of his party openly apologizing to Nigerians for the unmitigated disaster it has foisted on Nigeria since 2015. This is one of the reasons APC members have been migrating in droves to PDP.
“It took almost forever for APC to achieve the simple task of constituting its Presidential Campaign Council, due to the total lack of unity in their party. It is very obvious that APC has become completely rudderless and many self-respecting members are jumping ship and being recovered by PDP.
“How can these APC candidates ever unite Nigerians when they’ve shown open disdain for the democratic and voting rights of certain ethnic groups within their domains?
“Everything about APC and its candidates have been shrouded in secrecy and they are just unable to tell Nigerians the truth about anything. How can Nigerians be expected to place their faith in such mysterious characters?..
“How can APC be expected to guarantee the safety of lives and properties when right under the watch of Alhaji Shettima as Governor of Borno State, Boko Haram became an intractable menace and Nigeria is yet to fully recover till this day?”