More Fireworks as Tinubu Counters Atiku, Says PDP’s Candidate Offered Him VP Ticket in 2007
*Says former VP ill-prepared to be Nigeria’s president
*I dare you to appear for TV interview, Atiku replies APC’s candidate
*You are seventh-time aspirant, Obi’s group mocks former VP
*Wike: I will speak about Atiku soon
Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, yesterday responded to the fireworks by his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, accusing the presidential candidate of the main opposition party of offering him a vice presidential ticket in 2007.
Speaking on ARISE NEWS Channel on Friday, Atiku had stated that he rejected Tinubu’s request to be his running mate on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) in 2007 because of his aversion to a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Atiku stated that his refusal to accede to Tinubu’s request made the former Lagos State governor switch his support to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who was the presidential candidate of the PDP.
But in a swift reaction by Tinubu’s media aide, Mr Tunde Rahman, the APC presidential candidate stated that it was Atiku that offered him the vice presidential ticket in 2007.
Tinubu Campaign Council (TCO) has also reacted to Atiku’s claim, saying that the former vice president was ill-prepared to be the president of Nigeria in 2023.
However, Atiku has challenged the APC presidential candidate to subject himself to a one-hour interview, like he did, to test if he will be able to be as articulate and mentally present as him (Atiku).
This is coming as the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike has disclosed that he would soon speak about the former vice president and the recent events in the PDP.
In the statement by Tinubu’s media aide, the APC presidential candidate disclosed that the former vice president knew nothing about the formation of AC at the time, adding that after he clinched the presidential ticket, he offered him the vice presidential slot.
He said Atiku in his desperate attempt to win the presidential election by stoking religious bias reduced himself to uttering baseless lies on national television.
“Atiku may want to be president. However, all he has shown is that he is a pathological liar.”
“Whatever moral compass he had has been lost. During a 22 July television interview, Atiku assaulted historic truth by lying that he did not name Tinubu as his running mate in 2007 on the Action Congress ticket because Atiku did not want a Muslim as his running mate.”
Tinubu disclosed that the actual founders of the AC offered the party’s flag to Atiku.
“I feel sorry for dear old Atiku. Love of his ambition has eclipsed his relationship with the truth and an honest account of the past. We formed the AC without his knowledge. When President Obasanjo virtually exiled him from the PDP, we lent him our support by giving him the AC platform for the 2007 election.
“Let me say openly that Atiku offered me the vice presidential ticket in 2007. Let me also say that my religion has not changed. When he offered the position to me, I was a Muslim and I believe he was aware of my religious faith at the time.
“Atiku’s calculations and deceit had nothing to do with religion or his sensitivity to it. His conduct has everything to do with what we discovered about his paucity of character and love of intrigue,” the statement said.
Tinubu alleged that 15 years later, Atiku promised the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike the same vice presidential ticket and also reneged.
“Atiku has no business raising the issue of a Muslim-Muslim ticket except as a hypocrite. Perhaps he believes people have forgotten his antics during the 1993 election. After he woefully lost his bid to be the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, what did he do? He canvassed and lobbied harder than anyone to become the running mate to late Chief MKO Abiola. When it benefitted him personally, Atiku did not see anything wrong with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. He saw everything right in such a ticket as long as he was on it.
“Now, Atiku criticises my selection as running mate based on religion. He does so because he cannot criticise it on other grounds,” Tinubu added.
Also in a separate reaction by the TCO, the Director of Media and Communication of the organisation, Mr Bayo Onanuga, said it was most shocking that Atiku admitted that he cheated the system for decades and engaged in gross misconduct as a government worker.
TCO added that 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”.
Tinubu Campaign Organisation argued that 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.
It stated: “It is our considered view that Atiku gamed the system all through his career in public service, culminating in his founding of Intel Logistics along with the late Shehu Yar’Adua and some Italians, even while he was still in the employment of the Nigeria Customs Service.
TCO said it was also surprising that the PDP presidential candidate does not know the contribution of the oil and gas industry to Nigeria’s GDP.
I Dare You to Appear for an Interview, Atiku Replies Tinubu
Meanwhile, Atiku through his media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe has challenged Tinubu to a prolonged interview, saying that the APC presidential candidate has not sat down for any prolonged interview due to some obvious reasons.
“Nigerians have seen him talk in public and can themselves gauge the reason why he is mortified to do so,” the statement said.
The statement added that the Tinubu Campaign Organisation exposed its gross desperation by citing the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) 1999, to declare Atiku’s stance on engaging in a side business while he was a young customs officer as a breach of the law.
It reminded TCO that Nigeria is not under a military regime, adding that the Constitution is not retroactive.
The statement accused the TCO of betraying either dishonesty or lack of attention to detail by claiming that Atiku said oil contributed 20 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.
“That is a lie. What the Waziri said is as follows: Oil only maybe accounts for about 20 per cent of our GDP. The use of the word maybe by the Waziri was in reflection of the different figures given. While the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics states a figure close to 10 per cent, other multilateral organisations have given a much higher figure of between 15-20 per cent,” the statement said.
The statement further disclosed that Atiku has an earned Masters degree from Anglia Ruskin University, and challenged any of the present presidential candidates to present an equal or higher degree.
“In conclusion, we would like to challenge Bola Tinubu to subject himself to an hour-long interview, as the Waziri did, and if he can be as articulate and mentally present as our candidate, then he can talk. Until then, we will only want to remind him and his yes men that they are not in a position to point fingers when they have not sat on the hot seat,” the statement added.
Also reacting to Atiku’s scathing comments against the presidential candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 election, Mr Peter Obi, the Peter Obi Support Network (POSN), yesterday mocked the former vice president, describing him as “seventh-time presidential aspirant.”
Atiku had said during the interview that Obi could not win the 2023 presidential election because the Labour Party did not have any governor and National Assembly members elected on its platform.
But the POSN in a statement by its spokesperson, Sani Altukry, titled, ‘Atiku Abubakar takes Nigerian masses for granted’, said Atiku in the “recorded interview,” gave unsolicited and erroneous political consultancy on who could win elections and who could not win.
He said: “The seventh-time presidential aspirant reportedly claimed that today’s most popular presidential candidate, Peter Obi, cannot.
“Unfortunately, the former vice president based his entire permutation on the assumed influence of corruption promoting and vote-buying mercenaries euphemistically called political structure, and failed to consider the unassailable powers of the masses of Nigeria, who are the most powerful force in a democracy and the key determinants of election victory.
“As every political philosopher knows, sovereignty resides with the people. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s assertion speaks to the illusions of the fascist school of thought that believes that the masses do not matter and erroneously believes that the masses cannot think for themselves.
“In essence, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is saying that Nigerians are some kind of slaves who cannot take a political decision on their own, except as imposed on them by their slave masters,” POSN explained.
“This erroneous idea belongs to the past, and so we assure the former vice president and those of his class who hold such derogatory perception of Nigerians that a new Nigeria is here and Nigerians are ready to take their destiny into their own hands,” POSN added.
Also reacting to Atiku’s interview on ARISE NEWS Channel, the Rivers State governor, Wike, in a statement by his Special Assistant Media, Mr Kelvin Ebiri, said he would soon speak and reveal to Nigerians all that has transpired in the PDP since the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the party.
“On Atiku, I will speak soon and Nigerians will know the actual truth of all that has transpired in the PDP in recent times,” Wike said.