The presidential campaign organisations of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have traded words over the propriety of security chiefs attending the Buhari presidential campaign flag-off called ‘Next Level’ on Sunday.
According to The Punch, the service chiefs spotted at the campaign were Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.
While Buhari is contesting on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.
Speaking on the matter, the spokesman of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO), Segun Sowunmi, noted that the presence of the security chiefs at the event meant that they had been compromised by the incumbent president.
He said, “The problem with the security agencies is that they have not fully defined who they should be loyal to.
“The concern is that the commander-in-chief has some sort of relationship with them but when they elevate that relationship to a point where they begin to attend political events at the launch of the campaign of a political party, everybody must be scared.
“This is because it portends a very dangerous development which is that they have now got themselves involved in politics to the point that they are now the cheerleaders of another political party.
“I hope when we want to unveil our own political document in a public forum and if we invite them, they would be reasonable enough to attend since they now attend political events.
“We want to advise them to be removed from politics so that the opposition can feel safe. I am quite disappointed in President Buhari for exposing the military to such a compromise and we call on the international community to take note.”
Reacting, the Director of Strategic Communications for the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo SAN, said that the event was more than a campaign flag-off but rather an event to celebrate the success of the Buhari administration.
He said, “It was not a campaign but the launch of a scorecard. You cannot prevent the crowd from chanting ‘APC’ because party members will do what they want. The event was a scorecard involving heads of all sectors including security to showcase their achievements.
“We were supposed to have a segment for security chiefs but the airtime was not enough. We showcased achievements in infrastructure, social investment, and agriculture.
“The truth of the matter is that in campaign periods, the line is very thin because the government is APC and APC is the government but the truth of the matter is that it is about government performance.”