“There is only one gladiator and that is the current president, Muhammadu Buhari. They are saying this is the toughest election in the history of Nigeria.”
Romanus Ugwu, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Verbal fireworks reverberated in the camps of President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, over the anticipated outcome of the February 16, 2019 presidential poll.
Minister of the Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd) fired the first salvo as he boasted that Atiku would not only suffer a bloody nose in the election, the poll would be his political graveyard.
“In this race, there is only one gladiator and that is the current president, Muhammadu Buhari. They are pretending by saying this is the toughest election in the history of Nigeria. Toughest for him (Atiku), certainly not for President Buhari.”
The minister who was represented by his Special Adviser on Security, Aliyu Ibrahim Gebi, during the APC Correspondents media interactive session, said Buhari would not have had any business in the contest if people like Atiku had performed while in government.
“l am from the North East, the same region with Atiku. As a contender, what has he done for our region? What has he done for us as a people? What has he done for IDPs and widows?
“What has he done for the orphans? What has he done for people outside his own immediate circle? So, it is easy for people to talk but where was he…If l am going to Bauchi from where I will spend five to six hours, I will spend nine to 10 hours.
“Where was he when the bombs were going off? Where was he when people were killed, slaughtered in their homes? Where was he when people were being abducted? Where was he when the poor could not eat because they cannot go out to farm and feed their families? Where was he when people were driven forcefully out of their homes? I ask him again, where was Atiku?
“So, this will be the easiest election in the history of Nigeria as far as President Buhari and APC is concerned. Other elections, l don’t care about, but as far as the presidential election is concerned, this will be a walk over. Atiku will not even win Adamawa much less Taraba or Gombe and then Bauchi.
“lf he had done what he should have done (when he was vice president to Olusegun Obasanjo for eight years), then maybe the story would have been different. If Atiku had done what he should have done, l assure you that President Buhari would not have even bothered contesting.
“So, it is not about taking power or looking for power because of you, your grandchildren and your in-laws. We are not subjects, we are only subjects of God, certainly not Atiku’s subjects.
“We are citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and we will ensure that we do whatever we can. This will be Atiku’s last outing and he will suffer a bloody nose by the grace of God,” he boasted.
But in a swift response, the Presidential Campaign Council of the opposition party admonished the Buhari Presidency to prepare its handover note.
In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party said Nigerians were waiting for February 16 to vote Atiku to give the country a focus and rescue the citizens from the misrule of the APC.
“We will not allow the rejected Buhari Presidency to distract us from our focus of repositioning and redirecting our nation to the path of a united, peaceful, secure and prosperous nation where all citizens are happy and free.
“The PDP Campaign, therefore, counsels President Buhari to note that Nigerians have moved ahead with Atiku Abubakar as their next president. He should, therefore, use the remaining days of his fading administration to prepare answers for his misrule.
“President Buhari should, by now, be providing answers for the over N11 trillion stolen under his watch, particularly in the petroleum sector where he sits as minister; the alleged diversion of funds meant for the purchase of weapons and welfare of our soldiers to finance his re-election campaign as well as the neglect and insensitivity that led to the escalation of killings and bloodletting in various parts of the country under his rule.”
Ologbondiyan claimed President Buhari’s alleged fixation on the PDP presidential candidate was an indication that he was threatened by Atiku’s credentials and popularity across the country.
“It is indeed despicable that President Buhari will continue to endorse the spinning of lies by his handlers against another presidential candidate, including its false claims that Atiku Abubakar cannot travel to the United States, which Nigerians have since seen to be mere fabrications.
“Is it not ludicrous that the Buhari Presidency has abandoned its statutory duties and turned itself into a lying, ‘monitoring spirit’ on Atiku Abubakar and his movements, yet it has not been able to produce any documentary evidence to substantiate its claims?
“President Buhari’s fixation on Atiku Abubakar, to the extent of sponsoring fabrications in a section
of the media, only goes to show that he is intimidated by our candidate’s resume, his overwhelming popularity and policy direction, which have since amplified his (President Buhari’s) incompetence and lack of direction, as a result of which he is being rejected by the majority of Nigerians.”
The PDP noted that although the former vice president is a world figure, who is not inhibited from traveling to any part of the world, he is “not prepared to make the sky his office, unlike President Buhari, who unleashed a widely condemned taste for very expensive and wasteful gallivanting with our national fleet, while Nigerians wallow in abject poverty for neglect and abuse of resources.”