Atiku Playing Up Negative Stories for Ulterior Motives, Says Presidency

Femi Adesina
  • His reaction to secret burial of 1,000 soldiers, ploy to influence judicial decision

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja 

The Presidency yesterday in Abuja accused the former vice president and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23, 2019 poll, Atiku Abubakar, of always playing up negative developments in the country in pursuit of his ulterior motive.

It also described Atiku’s swift reaction to the allegation of secret burial of 1,000 soldiers in hollow graves by Wall Street Journal as a ploy to influence judicial decision “because he’s blinded by unbridled ambition.”

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, titled: ‘Atiku’s Unrelenting Appeal to Emotion: A Gambit Doomed to Fail’, further accused the former vice-president of merely appealing to emotion in his bid to whip up sentiment and influence the decision of the judiciary on his petition before the Presidential Appeal Tribunal.

Adesina alluded to Atiku’s remarks on the Supreme Court judgment of July 5, which declared Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of the September 22 controversial governorship poll in the state, accusing the former vice president of always overemphasizing negative developments in the country.

According to Adesina, Atiku’s grand tactic is to appeal to emotions with the overall intention to sway the forthcoming judgment of the appeal tribunal in his favour, describing his quick reaction to the Wall Street Journal report as the latest of such tactics. 

He described Atiku’s attitude as laughable and pitiable.

“First, it was laughable, now it gets progressively pitiable to see and hear efforts by the presidential candidate of the PDP in the last general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, appeal to the emotions of Nigerians, particularly members of the judiciary, perchance it would influence decision in the ongoing legal tussle over the result of the presidential poll.

“When the Supreme Court recently pronounced the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate as due winner of Osun State gubernatorial contest, Alhaji Abubakar, a former Vice President, had chided the court, saying it should have considered ‘the pulse of the nation,’ and reflected it in the judgment.

“That was when the jigsaw puzzle began to fall in place. Were most of the challenges in the country being orchestrated by hidden hostile hands, who think such would influence the judiciary, which would consider the so-called ‘pulse of the nation” in arriving at judgment on the presidential poll?

“Before and after the Osun State judgement, the PDP candidate had always been quick to play up negative developments in the country, the latest of which is the tendentious story by Wall Street Journal, alleging that about 1,000 Nigerian soldiers had been recently killed by Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa terrorists, and secretly buried by Nigerian military authorities.

“The military has duly countered the story, educating the Wall Street Journal on the hollowness of its publication. But Alhaji Abubakar has quickly weighed in on the matter, as part of his gambit to whip up emotions, and perhaps get the judiciary to reflect the ‘pulse of the nation’ in its judgment,” Adesina said.

Adesina also accused Atiku of taking pleasure in undermining Nigerian democracy because of his “unbridled ambition,” recalling that the former vice-president contributed “in his heyday” to the building of the same democracy he’s allegedly trying to undermine now.

He, however, affirmed the comment of Atiku that soldiers are great patriots, but alleged that on the contrary, someone who is quick to believe a negative story can’t be described as a patriot but rather pre-occupied with ulterior motive to influence the judiciary.

Adesina declared: “Yes, soldiers fighting insurgency and terrorism are great patriots. But the same can’t be said of anyone quick to believe any negative story about his country, however fictive and lacking in verity as the story could be. Well, except such person had the motive of whipping up negative sentiments and emotions, so that the judiciary could respond to the ‘pulse of the nation and reflect it.”

According to him, Atiku and his collaborators had earlier been told that their tactics would not work because the judiciary would not make decisions on the basis of sentiments but rather in accordance with the weight of the matter before it.

Adesina also described as futile, efforts by anyone to bring down the government and the military in his search to get to public office, positing that the 2019 elections had come and gone and the country had moved on.

“We have told Alhaji Abubakar and his co-travelers that the judiciary would always come to conclusions, drawing from matters of the law placed before it, and not sentiments or so-called “pulse of the nation.”

“Therefore, in vain does anybody labour to devalue the government and its military, thinking it would fall into a grand plan to get into office through artifice. The campaigns and elections for 2019 are long over. The country has moved on. And those who know it actually know it,” he added.

The Wall Street Journal in its article titled: ‘Nigeria Buries Soldiers at Night in Secret Cemetery,’ had alleged that the Nigeria Army runs a secret cemetery in which it had buried 1,000 soldiers engaged in war against terrorism in the North-east without informing their families.

Atiku in a swift reaction, expressed concern over the allegation, saying he was affected by the death of even a single soldier and called for the constitution of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matter. 

The PDP presidential candidate also lamented that within only one year, “scores of great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told,” wondering how “such grand scale of deceit is even possible under a democracy, such as Nigeria is expected to be.”

However, the Nigeria Army has dismissed the allegation as untrue.