Tinubu, Atiku Fight Dirty Over Campaign Kick Off

Barely 24 hours after arriving in the country from the United Kingdom, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday returned to the trenches as they traded barbs over their preparedness for the 2023 presidential poll.

The PDP standard bearer fired the first salvo when he declared the APC candidate unfit to contest the presidential election, just as he mocked the governing party for suspending its campaign.

Speaking through one of his spokespersons of the PDP presidential campaign management committee (PCMC), Senator Dino Melaye, the former vice president lampooned the APC and its candidate, saying they were not prepared for the contest.

Atiku cited Tinubu’s absence at the signing of the peace accord and the skirmishes within the APC over the composition of the party’s campaign council as instances of the governing party’s unseriousness, even as he accused the PDP of immaturity.

But firing back almost immediately, Tinubu punctured Atiku’s claims, declaring that the PDP was planning to return to power to resume another round of looting of the commonwealth.

Speaking through his director of Public Affairs and chief spokesperson, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo (SAN), the APC candidate described Atiku’s claims as outlandish, advising PDP to desist from its hallucinations and concentrate on rescuing itself before even thinking of ‘rescuing’ Nigeria.

Before the flag off of the campaign season by the PDP, the duo had taken each other over health issues and the same faith ticket.

Melaye in a statement he issued yesterday said, “As an indication of the unpreparedness of the APC to lead Nigeria, the Party in its nearly 10 years of existence has no Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is usually referred to as the soul or the conscience of the Party. Without a soul the party has remained rudderless, floundering, reactive and retrogressive.

“Before Ahmed Tinubu emerged as the flag bearer of the Party against the run of play, he had in his usual entitled fashion been addressed as the leader of the Party. However, neither he nor any other was good enough to lead the BOT, so the structure has remained sterilised.

“With the acephalic existence of the Party, it could only function under a Caretaker Committee. Again, no one was worthy to lead the intervening contraption but a sitting Governor, who ordinarily should be preoccupied with the affairs of his State. As things stand all the illegality committed in Buni’s era may be subjected to judicial interrogation.

“The shilly-shally continued until the Presidential Convention of Parties fell due. Again, the APC acted disjointedly asking to be granted extension of time by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). While PDP had conducted its Party Convention and Presidential Election convention as scheduled, INEC had to baby- sit and spoon-feed APC before it could hold its Party and Presidential primaries conventions. How the Party dilly dallied before ending up with the  contentious selection of a running mate for its Presidential Candidate is another lamentable story waiting to be told another day.

“Another evidence of maturational lag manifested during the Presidential Primaries. The National Chairman of the Party, acting for himself or a proxy expressed preference for a candidate, while majority of APC Governors had their own choice. Though President Buhari, sometimes humoured to be the leader of the Party, did not make any pronouncement, it is unlikely that the Chairman acted alone without the approval of the man behind the mask.  Till today it has been a ding-dong between the National Chairman of APC and the flag bearer of the Party. Where is the time to think or act on the good of Nigeria in all these?

“Perhaps, a more telling indicator of the gross unpreparedness of the APC for governance is in the constitution of its Campaign Council. In its unguided attempt to be at pace with the better organised and better structured Party like the PDP, the APC amateurs by-passed processes, ignored consultation, discarded vital inputs and ran to the press with a hurriedly hemmed list of Council members.

“As the joke goes, it is the matter they are still settling. The omission or commission arising from the composition has led to accusations and counter accusations of usurpation of power, disregard for processes, violation of power boundaries, engagement of the dead and even the borrowing of names from other parties to make up numbers or profiles. The inauguration of the APC Campaign Council has since been postponed indefinitely! If the kick off of  campaigns was unified by INEC APC would still have held PDP and other parties down from commencing their campaign, but Gentlemen, as you can see PDP is already up and running.

Noting that that the APC candidate was not to be ready for the polls, Atiku said Tinubu has been rolling from one controversy to another, recalling that he was missing in action at the signing of the Peace Accord by political parties.

“When it is not about his origin, it is about his age. When it is not about his academic qualification it is about his physical or physiological qualification. Something has to be invented every time to fill a gap.

“The latest invention was a recourse to an old fitness video to certify the health of a contender for the Presidency of Nigeria, who is on a trip to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed reason and for an undisclosed period. The Presidency of Nigeria is neither a cycling competition nor a track event. Indeed, if it’s an athletic programme then Tobi Amusan ‘lo kan’.

“In Tinubu’s absence as a non-residential or off campus contestant, his running mate Senator Kashim Shettima has been conducting himself within his own pitiable capacity, and in the process committing all kinds  of gaffes, including likening Tinubu’s ruthlessness to Abacha’s degree or rewriting the Nigerian Constitution to arrogate  roles to himself in an unlikely government that is slipping from their fingers due to tardiness. It is for these gross demonstration of incompetence and lack of capacity that the APC has been rechristened ‘All Progressives Confusion’”.

Melaye further noted that contrary to what he described as the irredeemable tendencies of APC, the PDP, Atiku, his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa are moving ahead.

“The PDP has constituted its Campaign Council and the campaign will be on full steam at Uyo on October 10, 2022. Political disagreements are being resolved”, he added.

Responding, Tinubu described Atiku’s claims as outlandish, noting that PDP has become the theatre of the most absurd.

Reminding the PDP of allegation of sleaze in its fold, Keyamo said, “Firstly, in the past few weeks, the PDP has entertained Nigerians with scandalous issues that show the party remains a clear and present danger or threat to Nigeria’s treasury and equity.

“In the last few days, the public space has been inundated with allegations made by no less a person than a prominent Governor of the PDP accusing its National Chairman of being patently corrupt and of collecting a bribe of N1 billion from one of its candidates.

“The Governor even threatened to ‘reveal more’ if there was a denial. The Party Chairman, Ayu, is yet to deny or debunk this allegation for fear of being stripped totally bare in public. Is this the party that claims it is ready for governance and that Nigerians can trust? A party without any iota of shame?”

Keyamo added that instead of Ayu to hide his head in shame, he went on “a bribing spree,” crediting the accounts of members of the NWC in a desperate and laughable attempt to hang on to office.

The minister implored Nigerians to cross-check properly whether PDP is a party they can trust and whether it is ready to govern Nigeria.

He recalled that some governors within the PDP had openly expressed reservation about the capacity of the party leadership to deliver on its “often touted promise to restructure and unite Nigeria when it is getting increasingly clear they are incapable of restructuring and unifying their own party to start with”.

Keyamo continued: “This is owing to the fact that their party has a Northern Presidential candidate and a Northern Party Chairman and also ignored the principle of zoning because its perennial presidential hopeful cannot cede the opportunity to others in the spirit of national inclusion and cohesion, having consistently put his own personal interest above national interest. These concerns were expressed by some PDP Governors themselves. It is like hearing from the horse’s mouth. Need we say more? These frank and honest Governors are doing the Lord’s work for us.

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