The Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, on Sunday, said Nigeria does not deserve a leader, whose idea of development was to move the country from a rotten to a bad state. It was a reference to the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The campaign team of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, alleged that Tinubu represented the greatest threat to national cohesion and democratic norms. It dismissed allegations by APC that the PDP presidential candidate was playing ethnic politics, saying in a statement by one of its spokespersons, Kola Ologbondiyan, that the ruling party’s comments best describes Tinubu.
But the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) insisted that Atiku’s assertions on Saturday in Kaduna, during an interactive session of the Arewa Townhall Policy Dialogue, were irresponsible and unbecoming of a former vice president of the country.
Atiku, who hails from Adamawa State, in the North-east geopolitical zone, had been quoted as telling his audience in the North-west state of Kaduna, “I have traversed the whole of this country. I know the whole of this country. I have built bridges across this country.
“I think what the average northerner needs is somebody who is from the north, who also understands the other parts of Nigeria, and who has been able to build bridges across the rest of the country.
“This is what the northerner needs. He doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Igbo candidate. This is what the northerner needs. I stand before you as a pan-Nigerian of northern origin.”
The statement was followed by a backlash of angry feelings among Nigerians, particularly, on the social media.
At the same time, Director-general of the Atiku campaign and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, called on the various PDP support groups in the state to embark on door-to-door campaign for the success of the party at all levels in the 2023 general election.
However, condemning APC for attacking the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku’s campaign claimed its candidate “is known across the length and breath of our nation as a symbol of cohesion, unity and purposeful collaboration”.
The PDP campaign council stated, “For the avoidance of doubt, certainly, Nigeria does not need a leader, who would move the country from a rotten situation to a bad one.
“If anything, Tinubu has been an apostle of regional politics, where ethnicity and division along religious lines are dominant. As a matter of fact, his contemporary politics showcases a blatant disregard for ethnic groupings other than his.
“Nigerians have not forgotten past elections, where compatriots, who did not share in Tinubu’s ethnic-based political beliefs and proclivities were threatened that they will be chased into the ocean.
“Neither have Nigerians forgotten the threats of ejection from Lagos on the political opponents of Tinubu and the wanton destruction of electoral materials in areas, where the former governor’s party would not do well.
“In case Tinubu has forgotten, we want to remind him how his disruptive choice of same faith ticket, which he has been propagating since 2007, would have created a huge division and disaffection among compatriots but for the intervention of eminent Nigerians.
“Does Tinubu think that Nigerians have overlooked his arrogant display of ethnic proclivities via his Yorubalokan/Emilokan saga? What could be more divisive than this?
“It is imperative to state that the campaign of calumny against Atiku notwithstanding, he is the pan-Nigerian leader loved and respected across the six geo-political zones of our nation.”
Another statement by Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe, said it was regrettable and disingenuous for APC to turn fact on its head regarding the comments of the PDP presidential candidate during a public engagement at the Arewa House on Saturday.
The statement said, “For the benefit of the innocent public, who might be hoodwinked by the usual behaviour of APC in telling a big lie, what transpired was a direct question to Atiku to address the northern audience on why he should be voted for by the northern electorate.
“Atiku started with a joke by addressing the questioner as ‘Mr. Northerner’, which is a veiled criticism of why he limited his question to the northern audience, in the first place.
“Continuing, Atiku explained without a slur, unlike the APC candidate would, that what matters the most to the northern electorate is a candidate, who has built bridges of unity across other parts of the country and not necessarily a northern candidate, who lacks the credentials of national spread and acceptability.
“Those were the unambiguous remarks of the PDP presidential candidate. But because the APC does not possess any tangible ideas to campaign on for their candidate, they resorted to dubious tactics of diverting public attention, first, away from the failures of their party in the past seven years, plus and, secondly, to shift attention away from the embarrassing gaffes of their presidential candidate in his public communication, which they frequently shy away from.
“Of course, a failed political party and a presidential candidate, who cannot withstand five minutes of unscripted speech, would not have anything tangible to talk about other than to resort to irritating scavenging, like they have done in this case.”
‘Atiku’s Statement Irresponsible, Despicable’