- Messy Details of Planned Fight of The Century
Prior to the emergence of former Vice President AtikuAbubakar as the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday 7th October, 2018 in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, watchers of political events had been making several calculations about the outcome of the party’s primary elections.
It was speculated initially that the Governor of Sokoto State, Malam Aminu Tambuwwal would be favoured as he reportedly had the support of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and other top members of the party.
However, Alhaji Atiku Abubabar understood the game and he finally emerged the winner of the keenly contested election that had more than a dozen gladiators as contestants.
That done, the battle for Aso Rock appears to have begun as the camp of the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari seems to have become jittery over Atiku’s emergence.
It will be recalled that both Atiku and Buhari are serial candidates of the nation’s presidential election.
Buhari’s camp did not wait long before responding to the election that produced Atiku, and that in itself appears to have been the start of the acclaimed mother of all fight.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) made it clear in a press statement issued and signed by the Director of Strategic Communication of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) and dated October 7, 2018 that it was ready for the battle ahead.
The statement is entitled: “Press Statement From President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation On The Emergence Of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar As PDP Presidential Candidate.”
It reads: “We wish to congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the candidate of the PDP in respect of the forth-coming 2019 Presidential Election.
“However, we note with interest all the reports in the media as to massive vote-buying at the PDP Primaries (especially with foreign currency).
“We contrast this with the speech of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2014 APC Convention when he said as follows:
“I have always served Nigeria to the best of my ability. I have always tried to give more to the nation than it has given me. This is the principle of service that has guided my public life. Thus, I am not a rich person. I can’t give you a fistful of Dollars or Naira to purchase your support. Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale”.
Keyamo stressed in the statement that there were media reports in the 2014, APC National Convention that “Alhaji Atiku Abubakar freely used the same method of massive vote-buying in foreign currency, but he came a distant third. Till date, he has not denied those media reports.
“The claim therefore that the process that produced him now as a candidate of the PDP was free, fair and transparent is suspect.
“It is therefore clear that going into this election, the issues that will agitate the minds of Nigerians most would be centered around the credibility of the candidate of the opposition and the kind of values he brings into our politics.”
He stated that Nigerians would also note with interest the verdict of Atiku’s former boss when he was Vice President on his credibility and integrity, calling him unprintable names at different occasions.
“Nigerians would note that in all of these occasions, Atiku Abubakar had never defended these allegations against him by his former boss, but continues to court his support and cooperation.
“Nigerians would want to know how candidate Atiku Abubakar intends to inspire a nation to believe in his ability to fight corruption in the face of very damning reports both locally and internationally concerning his records on corruption whilst he was in public service as a Customs Officer and later when he was Vice President of Nigeria,” he said.
In its reaction, Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation expressed surprise over the statement.
“Our attention has been drawn to a statement released by the Buhari Campaign Organisation which cast aspersions on the emergence of His Excellency Atiku Abubakar as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and suggested that his emergence was the result of money politics.
“We are not surprised that there is confusion in the President’s camp. We expected that they would be thrown into a catatonic state knowing that HE Atiku Abubakar’s emergence automatically means the coming end of their ignominious reign.
“That much was admitted by the President’s former running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare when he praised the emergence of HE Atiku as an ‘Eagle’ and ‘a cosmopolitan wazobia’ politician. Obviously, Pastor Tunde Bakare has foreseen that the era of 97% versus 5% has come to an end with the emergence of the pan Nigerian Atiku Abubakar.
“We ask how can the Buhari Campaign Organisation disparage the PDP Primary that produced His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, when even the President’s own wife, Aisha Buhari, has condemned the APC’s primary?
“Not only did Mrs Buhari condemn APC’s primaries, she described them as ‘unfair’ and lacking in integrity. Who can know President Buhari better than his wife?
“Eleven aspirants contested against His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, during the Presidential primary of the PDP. Every single one of them accepted his victory. President Buhari was the only candidate cleared by the APC to contest its primary.
“Yet, a coalition of five aspirants is challenging his victory. That alone tells Nigerians his emergence is fraudulent,” the campaign organization stated.
They maintained that Nigerians know that Atiku Abubakar is the most investigated politician in Nigeria and that any smear by the Buhari administration remains just that. With the vindictiveness of President Buhari, he would have arrested HE Abubakar if he had been found wanting.
“However, to set the record straight, we want to remind Nigerians that PDP’s primaries were genuine, free and fair. Atiku Abubakar got 1,532 votes in a contest televised live to millions of Nigerians.
“The All Progressives Congress’ primary, on the other hand, was a study in dictatorship and corruption. The sole candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, scored almost 15 million votes. How could that occur without rigging or manufacturing of faceless voters?” they said.
Many Nigerians have however, done their calculations on the 2019 Presidential election and they believe that the election would be a tough fight between the two leaders, who are both experienced in governance.
It was believed that while AlhajiAtiku Abubakar would have block vote in the South East and South-South, the votes in the other four regions including North East, North West, North Central and South West would be divided between the two leading candidates.
Another fear from the camp of President Muhammadu Buhari was the statement of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who has been criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari lately, that he has forgiven Atiku and that he has confidence that he would win the 2019 presidential election.
Obasanjo reportedly said this, when Alhaji Atiku paid him a courtesy visit in his home in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Thursday 11th October, 2018.
However opinion leaders and watchers of events are predicting a tough battle for the two gladiators in 2019, while advising the two camps to be ready to accept defeat in good faith as ‘it is certain that one of them will and another will lose no matter what happens.”
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