The presidential candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are engaged in war of words over the decision of the ruling party to adopt same faith tickets.
Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and candidate of the major opposition party, had in a recent TV interview claimed he dumped Bola Tinubu, candidate of the APC, a fellow Muslim like himself, from becoming his running mate during the 2007 presidential election on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Responding through Tinubu Campaign Organisation, the former Lagos governor lebelled his rival as a pathological liar who twists facts, recalling that the former vice president in 1993 preferred same faith ticket but turned around now to show his disdain.
“Atiku, ever an expert in not telling the truth, also did not come clean over his once-upon-a-time preference for a same-faith ticket,” a statement by Bayo Onanugu, the Tinubu Campaign’s director of media and communications, reads on Saturday. “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.
“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 Muslim-Muslim ticket. He saw everything right in such a ticket as long as he was on it.
“Now, Atiku criticizes my selection as running mate based on religion. He does so because he cannot criticize it on other grounds. If Atiku were to have one of his rare moments of honesty, he would admit that the person I selected as my running mate is more qualified for the position than the man who joined him. And this conclusion has nothing to do with religious faith. It has everything to do with competence, experience, ability, and vision.”
Mr Tinubu who recalled political events in 2007 said he offered the ACN platform to the PDP candidate who fell out with his principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“I feel sorry for dear old Atiku. Love of his own 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.
“True to form, Atiku, fifteen years later, promised HE Governor Nyesom Wike the same thing this electoral season and similarly reneged. Governor Wike is a Christian.
“When it comes to intrigue, we can say that Atiku is without bias. He will attempt to lie and deceive both Christian and Muslim with equal vigour.
The Tinubu camp also accused the former vice president of being a semi-literate with no knowledge of when one has ran for an office.
“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,” the statement added.
In a statement by his spokesman, Paul Ibe, the PDP candidate said although he is accused of acquiring limited education, his academic credentials are not subject of derision like those of his rival whose credentials, age and source of incomes are shrouded in secrecy.
“We were rather amused to read the knee jerk response from the Tinubu Campaign Organisation to the wave making interview granted by Waziri Atiku Abubakar to Arise TV on Thursday, July 21, 2022,” Mr Ibe responded. “The rude response also accuses Waziri Atiku Abubakar of having “limited education.
“Atiku Abubakar has an earned master’s degree from Anglia Ruskin University. We challenge any of the present Presidential candidates to present an equal or higher degree. Moreover, his university attendance is a matter of verified record. Can we say the same about some other persons?
“On President Lincoln, we are afraid the poor student of history is the Tinubu campaign disorganisation. Yes, it is true that Lincoln ran for President with his name on the ballot twice. But he ran at other times, and failed to get his name on the ballot.
“In conclusion, we would like to challenge Bola Tinubu to subject himself to an hour long interview, like the Waziri did, and if he is able to 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.”