The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has described his counterpart in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as a desperate liar who should never be entrusted with the presidency.
Tinubu spoke in reaction to an Arise TV interview aired on Friday, in which Atiku addressed a lot of issues, including a claim that he fell out with Tinubu in 2007 because he (Atiku) was opposed to a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
In response to a question on his thoughts on the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the APC, Atiku said: “My fundamental disagreement with Asiwaju since 2007 was on the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“That was my fundamental disagreement and departure from Asiwaju.
“Together with Asiwaju, we formed ACN and I was given a ticket in Lagos and he insisted to be my running mate and I said no, I am not going to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Because of that he switched his support to the late Umaru Yar`Adua and that was the departing point and of course, it is also a fact that when Buhari emerged in Lagos in 2015 that I also opposed a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“I opposed it and my opposition actually reinforced the decision of President Buhari to pick a Christian running mate.
“So, I have always opposed that. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe it is right for a country like Nigeria that is multi-ethnic and multi-religious; there should be balancing of interests, whether religious or otherwise.”
Asked whether the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate would not damage his (Atiku’s) chances in the Northeast, the PDP candidate said, “Certainly, prospects are much higher.
“If you know the composition of the Northeast, you have Borno and Yobe; these are essentially two Kanuri states, then you have the other states which are essentially Hausa-Fulani.
“So, even if people are going to vote on that basis, I think I have a more favourable (support) from the Northeast.”
However, speaking through his campaign organization on Saturday in a statement, Tinubu faulted most of the claims made by the former vice president, noting that the APC was extremely shocked by the many lies and ignorance displayed by the PDP presidential candidate.
“In the interview, Alhaji Atiku exposed himself as a man who is not prepared for the job he is applying for and a man who can not be entrusted with our commonwealth.
“He was flippant in his response to important questions about his record of service and how he made money while serving in Customs.
“He muddled up facts and exhibited a befuddling absence of mind,” Tinubu said through the Director, Media and Communication of his campaign organization, Mr Bayo Onanuga.
Stating that the PDP candidate bungled the interview, Tinubu also described him as a lawbreaker.
He said: “The PDP candidate is a lawbreaker: it was most shocking Atiku admitted that he cheated the system for decades and engaged in gross misconduct as a government worker.
“As a Customs officer at the Idi-Iroko border, Atiku revealed that he ran a commercial taxi service, claiming ‘there is no law stopping public officers from doing business in Nigeria’.
“He punched harder, claiming there is no conflict of interest in doing so.
“We found this to be untrue. Every officer in the civil service is expected to comply with a code of conduct and service rules which bar civil and public servants from engaging in private business, while in government employment to the detriment of the service he/she is employed to render to the public.
“The 1999 constitution further codifies this in Part I, Fifth Schedule, Section of 2 (b).
“It says a public officer shall not, except where he is not employed on full-time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade. The rules however allow a public officer to engage in farming.
“We wonder which rule or which law Atiku was relying upon for his gross misconduct as a public officer.
“It is our considered view that Atiku gamed the system all through his career in public service, culminating in his founding of the Intel Logistics along with late Shehu Yar’Adua and some Italians, even while he was still in the employment of the Nigeria Customs Service.”
He said Atiku also has a poor knowledge of key sectors of the economy, adding; “We also found it surprising that the PDP presidential candidate does not know the contribution of the oil and gas industry to Nigeria’s GDP.
“He claimed the sector represents 20% of our national GDP whereas it is below 10 percent and it is still falling owing to the growth of the non-oil sector under the current All Progressives Congress-led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“False Data from Egypt: Atiku Abubakar wanted to impress his audience with his supposed knowledge of international affairs. He ended up embarrassing himself with false data he cited from Egypt.
“We found his claim that Egypt has two million police officers on the streets to be untrue. Various sources put the number at about 500,000 for a population of 104 million and not 80 million as falsely claimed by Atiku.”
On the issue of rotational presidency, Tinubu said Atiku should be more focused on the issue and not a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Asked to justify why the PDP jettisoned Section 3c of its own constitution, which enshrines power rotation between the North and South, Atiku tried to fudge his answer by focusing on Governor Nyesom Wike and his effort to reconcile with him after he, a northerner, snatched the presidential ticket that ought to have been taken by a southerner.
“While Atiku was playing to the gallery on APC’s Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, he didn’t see seeking to be President after eight years of a President from his part of Nigeria as politics of exclusion.
“Probed further, Atiku provided several contradictory answers. In one breath, he said power rotation is not in the constitution. In another breath, he said the PDP has never ‘micro-zoned any position’.
“Then he admitted that the party has always rotated power between the North and the South.
“Atiku’s justification as to why he became PDP’s presidential candidate, instead of a southerner is a perfect example in ellipsis: ‘In politics’, he said, ‘we negotiate power through negotiations(sic)’. Whatever that means.
Atiku supported Muslim-Muslim ticket
“Atiku, ever an expert in not telling the truth, also did not come clean over his once-upon a time preference for same-faith ticket. In 1993, after Atiku and Kingibe lost to MKO Abiola in the SDP presidential primary in Jos, Atiku was the choice of the Yar’Adua camp to become Abiola’s running mate. Abiola overlooked him and picked the more cerebral diplomat and bureaucrat, Babagana Kingibe. In all the tonnes of biographies written about him, there was nowhere he said he opposed Shehu Yar’Adua’s support for his candidacy as Abiola’s VP. He was not against it, since it favoured him. Now, it is politically convenient and opportunistic for him to oppose the Tinubu-Shettima ticket.
“Political Credentials: Most reprehensible was Atiku’s lies about how many times he ran to become the governor of Adamawa or old Gongola state.
“Mr. Presidential candidate, in case you don’t know due to your limited education, you run for an office, only, when you are on the ballot in an election. Your signifying interest in an office does not mean the same as running for the office. From available records, the first time you contested the governorship election in your state was in 1999. Your name entered the ballot for the first time and you won.
“Poor grasp of history: Atiku Abubakar also exhibited poor Knowledge of history when he claimed that Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s famous leaders, contested the presidency five to six times before he eventually won.
“This is a beer parlour tale that has been recycled over time. Lincoln contested the U.S. presidency twice. He ran in 1860 and 1864 and won both, before he was assassinated on 15 April, 1865.
“The false story about Lincoln’s failed presidential bids sprang from his previous failed state and national elections, from his state of Illinois. They were not the same as America’s presidential election.
“According to historians, Lincoln lost his first election in 1832 for Illinois state legislature. In 1834, he ran again and won.
“In 1843 he ran for Congress. He lost. Three years after in 1846, Lincoln ran for Congress again – this time he won and went to Washington. From established history, in 1848, Lincoln ran for re-election to Congress and lost. In 1854, he ran for Senate of the United States. He lost. Lincoln also made another failed bid for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 1858. He lost to Democrat Steven Douglas.
“Our conclusion is that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is ill-prepared to be President of Nigeria if he could bungle a Television interview that was planned well ahead of the day and time the duo of Dr. Reuben Abati and Ms.Tundun Abiola conducted it.
“We expected the PDP presidential candidate to be well informed on any issue before coming on national television to expose himself to avoidable ridicule”, he stated.