The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has replied President Muhammadu Buhari over comments that he is corrupt and unfit to be president.
Just after Atiku’s emergence at the PDP National Convention in Port Harcourt on Sunday, the Buhari 2019 Campaign Organisation had congratulated and disparaged him in the same statement.
The statement signed by the Director of Strategic Communications of the campaign, Festus Keyamo (SAN), read in part, “We wish to congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the candidate of the PDP in respect of the forth-coming 2019 Presidential Election. However, we note with interest all the reports in the media as to massive vote-buying at the PDP primaries (especially with foreign currency).
“There were also media reports in the 2014 APC National Convention that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar freely used the same method of massive vote-buying in foreign currency, but he came a distant third. Till date, he has not denied those media reports. The claim therefore that the process that produce him now as a candidate of the PDP was free, fair and transparent is suspect.
“It is therefore clear that going into this election the issues that will agitate the minds of Nigerians most would be centered around the credibility of the candidate of the opposition and the kind of values he brings into our politics.
“Nigerians would ask themselves whether he can be trusted with our national resources with this proclivity for “dollarising” the political arena, thereby taking us back to the warped values from which President Buhari is trying to extricate the nation. One wonders what such a candidate would do with public funds.
“Nigerians would also note with interest the verdict of Atiku’s former boss when he was Vice President on his credibility and integrity, calling him unprintable names at different occasions. Nigerians would note that in all of these occasions, Atiku Abubakar had never defended these allegations against him by his former boss, but continues to court his support and cooperation.
“Nigerians would want to know how candidate Atiku Abubakar intends to inspire a nation to believe in his ability to fight corruption in the face of very damning reports both locally and internationally concerning his records on corruption whilst he was in public service as a Customs Officer and later when he was Vice President of Nigeria.”
But in a statement through his media office on Monday, Atiku said Nigerians would not be deceived by the antics of the APC-led government and would choose between a “lifeless” candidate and a proven “job provider”.
The statement read in part, “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 Abubabakr’s emergence automatically means the coming to an 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 per cent versus five per cent has come to an end with the emergence of the pan-Nigerian Atiku Abubakar.”
It added, “We ask, how can the Buhari Campaign Organisation disparage the PDP primary that produced Atiku, when even the President’s own wife, Aisha Buhari, has condemned the APC’s primary?
“Not only did Mrs Buhari condemn the APC’s primaries, she described them as ‘unfair’ and lacking in integrity. Who can know President Buhari better than his wife?”
The statement noted that the legitimacy of Atiku’s victory was confirmed when all the 11 individuals that contested against him congratulated him on his victory.
“11 aspirants contested against Atiku, during the presidential primary of the PDP. Every single one of them accepted his victory.
“President Buhari was the only candidate cleared by the APC to contest its primary. Yet, a coalition of five aspirants is challenging his victory. That alone tells Nigerians his emergence is fraudulent,” the statement read.
Speaking on the corruption tag, Atiku said that Buhari would have prosecuted him if he had anything tangible against him.
The statement read, “Nigerians know that Atiku Abubakar is the most investigated politician in Nigeria and any smear by the Buhari administration remains just that.
“With the vindictiveness of President Buhari, he would have arrested Atiku if he had been found wanting.
“However, to set the record straight, we want to remind Nigerians that the PDP’s primaries were genuine, free and fair. Atiku Abubakar got 1,532 votes in a contest televised live to millions of Nigerians. The APC’s primary, on the other hand, was a study in dictatorship and corruption. The sole candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, scored almost 15 million votes. How could that occur without rigging or manufacturing of faceless voters?
“No wonder Transparency International rated Nigeria as more corrupt today under Buhari, than just three years ago when the PDP was in power.
“The scandals are too numerous, including the $25bn NNPC contracts awarded without due process, the several padded budgets, the $41m Ikoyi Apartment scandal, the recall, reinstatement and double promotion of an alleged pension thief and Buhari financier, Abdulrasheed Maina, the N200m grass cutting scandal, and many others too numerous to mention.”
Atiku added that Nigerians would have a choice between what he described as a “lifeless” one and a known “job provider”.
“The choice before Nigerians in 2019 is a simple one. Nigerians have a choice of electing a lively candidate with a record of providing 50,000 jobs to Nigerians in his private capacity versus the lifelessness (apologies to President Donald Trump) of a candidate under whom Nigeria lost 11 million jobs and became the world headquarters for extreme poverty.
“Nigerians have a choice of a man who will 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.’
“It is very obvious that faced with such a choice, Nigerians would definitely vote for the man who will Get Nigeria Working Again, hence we are not surprised by this desperate statement from the Buhari administration that is so shameless that they made a man implicated in framing a man of God on spurious charges as their spokesman.
“If he can lie against a man of God, should Nigerians believe anything he says about the PDP and its candidate? “