•You are frustrated, jittery, replies PDP candidate’s campaign
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The political fireworks for the 2019 general elections started yesterday with the All Progressives Congress (APC) calling out the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, saying he was not fit to occupy the position of the president of Nigeria.
But Atiku’s campaign office immediately replied and said the ruling party was frustrated by the emergence of its candidate as the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is flying the flag of the APC.
It said the APC was in mortal fear of the capacity of Atiku to defeat Buhari in the impending election.
The APC’s Acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, had in yesterday said Atiku was not fit and proper to aspire to be elected president of Nigeria, faulting his performance record as a vice president as well as questioned his integrity.
“In assessing candidates to be voted for during elections, Nigerians will normally consider the candidate’s background and antecedents. The pertinent question to ask about Atiku is what his scorecard in public office was? Regrettably, Atiku’s scorecard is abysmally low and he has proven to be an untrustworthy and unreliable character,” APC said.
The ruling party, which tried to compare Buhari with Atiku, said while the former had held consistent and principled stance on party affiliations, since 1999, the latter had moved around different political parties in desperate pursuit of his ambition to become president.
It said, “It is, therefore, very clear that if Atiku loses the presidential election in 2019, he will again defect from the PDP to another political platform.
“Atiku is known as a super rich Nigerian who entrenched the undemocratic practice of buying votes of delegates. During the APC National Convention in 2014, he spent several millions of dollars to buy delegates votes and emerged third, after Buhari and Rabiu Kwankwaso.”
Still attacking Atiku’s integrity, APC alleged that the former vice president reportedly bought over virtually all the PDP delegates and was declared winner of the presidential primaries last Sunday.
The party said having expended such a huge amount to secure the PDP ticket; Atiku would be keen on recouping his investment if elected president.
On the other hand, APC said Buhari did not spend a kobo on delegates as he banked only on his proven personal integrity.
” In any case how did a retired Customs Officer acquire so much wealth to fund his several presidential bids? The source of his wealth is very questionable and his financial resources are definitely ill gotten,” it claimed.
The APC, however, congratulated Atiku on his election as the PDP presidential candidate and said Nigerians had a choice to make between a change agent and one who would be surrounded by looters if he assumed office.
The ruling party said one prove of lack of trust was revealed in the altercation between Atiku and his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, which exposed the level of his alleged corruption.
APC also alleged that at the international level, Atiku had been reportedly placed on the global watch list of the United States of America and had avoided travelling to the US to avoid arrest and prosecution over a money-laundering and corruption case in that country.
You Are Frustrated, Jittery, Replies Atiku Campaign
In a swift response, the Atiku Campaign Organisation said it was not surprised by the confusion in Buhari’s campaign team.
The campaign in a statement yesterday reminded Nigerians that PDP’s primaries were genuine, free and fair, adding that Atiku got 1,532 votes in a contest televised live to millions of Nigerians.
It said the APC primary, on the other hand, was a study in dictatorship and corruption, stressing, “The sole candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, scored almost 15 million votes. How could that occur without rigging or manufacturing of faceless voters?
It said, “We are not surprised that there is confusion in the president’s camp. We expected that they would be thrown into a catatonic state, knowing that Atiku Abubakar’s emergence automatically means the coming end of their ignominious reign.
“That much was admitted by the president’s former running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, when he praised the emergence of Atiku as an ‘Eagle’ and ‘a cosmopolitan Wazobia politician. Obviously, Pastor Tunde Bakare has foreseen that the era of 97% versus 5% has come to an end with the emergence of the pan Nigerian Atiku Abubakar.
“We ask how the Buhari Campaign Organisation can disparage the PDP primary that produced His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, when even the president’s own wife, Aisha Buhari, has condemned the APC’s primary. Not only did Mrs. Buhari condemn APC’s primaries, she described them as ‘unfair’ and lacking in integrity. Who can know President Buhari better than his wife?
It said Nigerians had a choice of a man who would provide an efficient and business-friendly solution to the herdsmen crisis and a man whose government said ‘giving land for cattle ranching is better than death.’
The campaign regretted the aspersion the APC cast on the integrity of Atiku, saying there was no basis whatsoever for the allegation of corruption against the PDP presidential candidate.
It argued that if there was any evidence of corruption against Atiku, the Buhari administration, which it said was known for its vindictiveness, would have gone after him, arrest and prosecute him.