From Romanu Ugwu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The war of words between the presidential candidates of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Tinubu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, continued, yesterday, with each camp hurling mud at the other.
The Tinubu camp fired the first salvo when it told Nigerians to be wary of what it termed sugar-coated promises of the former vice president, claiming that he would sink the country if voted into power.
Atiku, had during a rally in Abuja on Saturday, promised to revamp the economy, fight insurgency and restore Nigeria back to normalcy.
But the former Lagos State governor, in a statement by spokesman of his campaign council, Bayo Onanuga, alleged that all Atiku’s claims were fake.
“We need to warn Nigerians to be wary of the sugar-coated promises of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and his Peoples Democratic Party as they embark on their inordinate and desperate campaign to gain power at all cost.”
It described the PDP as a party that should be eternally shameful about its appalling record in governance between 1999-2015 wondering why it “is now busy rewriting history, embellishing the locust years as if it was a golden era in our history. Of course, this is fake history at its worse. We are not fooled. Nigerians should also not be fooled about the boldfaced lies, being articulated by the candidate and his party.”
But in a swift reaction, Atiku challenged the APC to mention one area it has not reversed the fortunes of the country since it came to power 2015. The former vice president also said Tinubu’s identity, education and health were key issues about what the ruling party was offering to Nigerians in the 2023 general elections.
The Tinubu campaign, however, said it was shocking that Atiku could still be standing up to ask for Nigerians’ votes despite what his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote about him in his book, ‘My Watch’.
“Obasanjo wrote that it would have been an unpardonable mistake ‘and sin against God to foist him on Nigeria.’ Obasanjo still believes so till tomorrow. Obasanjo still rues till today making Atiku his vice president in 1999, only to discover later, his shadowy parentage, his propensity to corruption, his tendency to disloyalty, his inability to say and stick to the truth all the time, a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts, his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues and his readiness to sacrifice morality, integrity, propriety, truth and national interest for self and selfish interest.”
The campaign council said it was aware that it was Atiku’s last shot at the elusive presidency, hence it was not surprised about his desperation.
“Atiku, while on the hustings, has been spewing series of lies, making empty promises and presenting a false narrative about our present reality and the legacy of the 16-year ignoble era of the PDP administration, of which he was a principal actor. He claimed at his rally in Abuja on Saturday that the country is not secure for trading and farming, a false narrative that he has been pushing around for some time, since he relocated to Nigeria from his base in Dubai, principally to contest the election.”
It accused Atiku of claiming that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, without telling his audience that the problem, which was exacerbated by banditry in North West and insurgency in North East, took its root from the stewardship of his party when the population of out-of-school children phenomenally rose from 10.5 million in 2010 to 13.2 million in 2015.
“The most grotesque of Atiku’s promise is that he will ensure that ASUU stopped going on strike so that universities ‘reopen forever and ever.’ Mr. Atiku forgot to tell his audience that a PDP government in 2009 signed an agreement with ASUU, which it never implemented for six years, leaving the mess of the agreement for APC to deal with.”
The APC accused Atiku of being part of the system that destroyed public university system only for him to set up the ABTI-American University.
The APC-PCC also listed Bell University which was meant for the children of the rich.
“A pointer that this former vice-president has not changed in his character as portrayed by Obasanjo was his promise to sell the newly commercialised NNPC Ltd and all its assets and subsidiaries for just $10 billion. Even before inviting bids, he had already undervalued the oil conglomerate, the way he undervalued Nigerian companies he was asked to sell, under the abused privatisation programme of the Obasanjo administration. Nigerians will remember that he made a similar promise in 2019, saying he would sell the NNPC to his friends and cronies. Surely, he retains the same mindset, though he has changed the terminology to ‘privatisation’.
“In his campaign. Atiku’s refrain has been to tell the less discerning Nigerians that he is on a recovery and restoration mission in presenting himself to be elected.
“The question every Nigerian must ask him in pidgin is: Recover Wetin? Can the PDP ever be a recovery vehicle for our country, judging by its old record of service, when it spent $16 billion on power that only resulted in worsening darkness?” Now the nation’s hope for uninterrupted electricity lies on the $2.5 billion Nigeria-Siemens deal, initiated by the Buhari administration.
“We need to further ask whether the PDP is hoping to be a recovery vehicle for our armed forces, when during its stewardship, it diverted billions of dollars allocated for arms, into private pockets and marabouts. Our ill-equipped soldiers, were left to die as they faced guerrillas with superior weapons.
“Today, the APC government of President Buhari has changed the misfortune of our armed forces and boosted morale with modern weapons, fighter jets, warships and others.
“We ask again, can a party that cannot recover itself due to its internal implosion and crisis recover and rescue Nigeria? Let PDP rescue and recover itself and its abandoned national secretariat first. After raising over N20billion to build a national party office, PDP and its leaders plundered the money the same way they plundered our country.
“Our advice to Nigerians is to ignore anything Atiku Abubakar says. He is a bloody liar and a desperate politician who should never be trusted. Atiku is not coming to recover Nigeria from anything, he is only coming to restore it back into his pocket and those of his cronies.”
However, Atiku, in a statement by Phrank Shaibu, said the ruling APC was aware it had been rejected by Nigerians. It also tasked Tinubu to come clean on his source of wealth.
“It is shameful and unfortunate that all the APC can rely upon to campaign is what former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had said. It is obvious that what the ruling party is hoping to achieve is to continue in their old habit of obfuscation and taking attention of the electorate away from issues that are critical to the this election season.
“While we will not waste much time to educate the APC and their presidential candidate to note that self-same President Obasanjo has made commendable remarks about Atiku which outdates the old story that they will want recycled to confuse the public.
“However, our reaction to the APC is that currently, their party has pushed Nigeria deeper into the abyss of poverty, insecurity, indebtedness. It will be good to challenge the APC to acknowledge one aspect of Nigeria’s national life where they have not reversed the fortunes of the country compared to what was handed to them in 2015.
“It is for this reason that Nigerians have roundly rejected the ruling party and what the likes of Bayo Onanuga will want to achieve is to fabricate old tales, such that will take attention away from the hardship that the APC has lunched on a large percentage of Nigerians.
“Tinubu’s identity, education, health continue to be the key issues about what the APC is offering to Nigerians. A candidate whose profile is more rooted in inflated edification of disbeliefs. We know that the only reason that the APC is re-presenting an old story about Atiku is because they are aware of the rejection of their party and its presidential candidate by Nigerians.’
Shaibu, in another statement, challenged Tinubu to reveal the source of his wealth, wondering how the APC candidate, who allegedly could not complete secondary school because of poverty could claim in a BBC interview to have inherited properties from the same family.
“Obviously thrown off balance when the BBC reporter asked him to disclose the source of his stupendous wealth, Tinubu responded by asking: ‘Are you an enemy of wealth?’ He subsequently told a fable of how he inherited properties and also traded stocks like Warren Buffet. This is complete hogwash.
“Interestingly, Tinubu had told a Lagos State House of Assembly committee that was set up to investigate his dubious academic records in 1999 that he could not complete secondary school because his family was too poor. So, how did Tinubu, whose family was too poor to send him to school despite a free education policy at the time, inherit properties from the same family? This is obviously balderdash. Tinubu would do well to stop comparing himself with Warren Buffet whose source of wealth has never been linked to narcotics by US authorities.
“To be clear, questions on Tinubu’s source of wealth did not start today. US authorities said Tinubu revealed in bank documents that he worked with Mobil Nigeria Limited in 1989 and his salary was just $2,400 and he had no other sources of income. But records from his First Heritage Bank account showed that in 1990 (just within one year), Tinubu deposited $661,000 into his individual money market account and in 1991 deposited $1,216,500 into the same money market account. Where did he get the money from?
“On the other hand, Atiku Abubakar’s source of wealth has never been in doubt. The ones he has listed publicly include: NICOTES (now Intels) founded in 1989; Prodeco, 1996; Atiku farms, 1982; and ABTI schools, 1992. Some of these companies like INTELS have had reputable Nigerians like the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and even traditional rulers on its board. We dare Tinubu to list his companies and source of wealth as Atiku has done.”