Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has again tackled former president Olusegun Obasanjo for endorsing the Labour Party flagbearer, Peter Obi, for president.
Atiku said Obasanjo is posturing as Nigeria’s electoral janitor when he is not the ‘custodian’ of the key to Aso Rock.
He told the former president not to forget that power belongs to God, and God rules in the affairs of men.
Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi on New Year day had sparked mixed reactions, with the other major presidential candidates and their political party rejecting it.
Hitting Obasanjo harder, Atiku who spoke through the director, Public Affairs, of the PDP campaign management committee, Senator Dino Melaye, said Obasanjo refused to endorse him despite serving as his vice president because he insisted that his loyalty as vice is to the constitution and not to the president.
In a statement titled, “Atiku’s God does not live under the rock (Abeokuta), Melaye said since Obasanjo wrote his controversial book, “My Command”, there are telling indicators to deduce that he has tried to live in the reality of being in charge always.
He noted: “To be sure, he (Obasanjo) has tried to impress as the facilitator of succeeding presidents of Nigeria. Ironically, this attitude has grouped him among those euphemistically tagged ‘Owners of Nigeria’. His recent advisory on the February 25 election is another testimony to his misconception of being an electoral janitor who can padlock and unlock Nigeria’s electoral fortune at will.
“In the period preceding the 2015 elections, Obasanjo, in his characteristic janitorial expedition, aligned with the marketers of false change. He even tore the membership card of the Party that gave him the opportunity to be President of Nigeria for 8 years. He also appeared in photo opportunities with Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“A few months after Buhari’s election, Obasanjo realised that he had misled himself and many Nigerians. He tried to fight back in 2019, but by then, Buhari had designed some unorthodox ways to remain in power.”
Melaye added that with about 50 days to the 2023 election, Obasanjo is out again as the ‘custodian’ of the key to Aso rock, endorsing a candidate whose main office would be in Abeokuta with the annex office in Abuja.
He continued: “It is hypocritical and politically heretical to appeal to Nigerian youths to take their turn by supporting a candidate who is far older than many other young Flagbearers.
“This is the facade in Obasanjo’s postulation. Neither Nigerian youths nor other discerning electorates are deceived anymore. They have taken the full grasp of JOB 32:9 (CSB): “It is not [only] the old who are wise or the elderly who understand how to judge.”
“It is not surprising that Obasanjo is not supporting His Excellency Atiku Abubakar in this election. If the permutation of the electoral janitors is to be the thread to direct the needle where it should go, Atiku surely does not fit that configuration. One of the unpardonable ‘sins’ that Atiku probably committed while working with Obasanjo was the assertion of his constitutional independence, when he declared that the loyalty of the holder of the office of the Vice is to the Constitution and not to the President. Atiku will be loyal to Nigeria, but he will not worship at the altar of political deities.
“The good side of Obasanjo’s self-serving electoral sermon is the advance warning that Peter Obi is being supported to serve as an errand boy to Obasanjo. Nigerians should not forget that Obasanjo had been accused of making the running of his domestic kitchen the highest office he gave to a South Easterner during his tenure. He is, therefore, on another exploitative voyage.
He added that the 2023 election would be a revelation of electoral consciousness, electoral independence and electoral advancement.
He said those who seek to keep Nigerians in electoral hypnotism will wake up to discover that Nigerians have moved beyond the lock and key democracy, where janitors operate as if they are in the needle and thread race that were athletic events in post-colonial Nigeria.
Be Wary Of Politicians Who Think They’re Above Nigeria, Tinubu Tells Muslim Leaders
On his part, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, urged Muslim leaders to beware of those he described as mean-spirited politicians who think they are more than Nigeria.
Although he did not make a direct reference to Obasanjo, Tinubu said this set of politicians would go to the extent of deceiving and recruiting eminent persons to unsuspectingly preach division and hatred.
Speaking during a town hall meeting with the Muslim leaders from the North West geopolitical zone in Kano yesterday, the APC flagbearer assured that he will offer fair and just leadership to all Nigerians if elected president.
He said, “Religious leaders like you are agents of harmony and hope, not division and disunity. All well-meaning Nigerians, regardless of political affiliation, must join hands against violence, hunger, ignorance and bigotry.
“We all must live together. No one has the right to try to lord over the other. Allah stands against such injustice. And where Allah stands, all bad things must fall. Mean-spirited politicians – those thinking only of themselves or those who think they mean more than the nation itself – will go to great lengths to deceive or recruit eminent persons to unknowingly preach division and hatred.
“They cannot win with the truth. So, they will try to win with a lie. But a lie never wins in the end. Those they cannot beat with honesty, they seek to beat them with untruth and falsity. They want to turn servants of God into preachers of division and hateful sentiment.”
Tinubu urged the religious leaders to ensure that they preach unity and harmony among their followers rather than division and disunity, noting that it is the only way the nation could experience development.
He told the Muslim leaders that he had demonstrated a sense of unity and oneness in all his campaigns and would continue to do so.
Tinubu pledged to conduct himself in public office on the values and ideals of fairness and justice, adding that he would always speak about facts and truths, policies and programs.
On expectations from him if elected president, he reminded the faith leaders of his record as Lagos State governor.
Tinubu said, “I promise to be a fair and just leader. This pledge is based on the Islamic teachings on leadership. A leader in a plural society is enjoined to be a leader for all. If elected, I shall govern in harmony with our nation’s democratic Constitution.
“More than that, I shall tackle this nation’s problems with a commitment to solving them. I say this not as a boast. I say it based on my record. As Lagos governor, I assembled perhaps the most diverse team by any state government. That team was based on competence, not tribal this or regional that. It was not based on the attire one wore or the accent one spoke with, but on the quality of one’s ideas and contributions to society.
“If given the chance by Almighty Allah, I will operate in the same spirit of inclusiveness and innovation in order to renew the hope of our people. My highest priorities shall be the protection of our land and prosperity of its people.”
He further dwelt on his plans for the economy, promising to make security, making the economy one of widely shared prosperity and agriculture the three pillars of his government.
Jigawa and Kano state governors Muhammad Badaru Abubakar and Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, respectively, described Tinubu as a visionary person who is trustworthy.
Badaru also stated that Tinubu is physically and mentally healthy, contrary to mischievous insinuations.
“People spread fake news about his health status. We that are with him know that he is very healthy. Aside bodily health, he has very high mental alertness,” he said.
The Jigawa governor recounted how he joined Tinubu on a recent trip to London and Saudi Arabia where they had the stressful lesser hajj ritual and came back to Nigeria without having any rest.
Ganduje said religious leaders have a role to play in choosing political leadership in the light of their role as guardians of the society.
He added that Tinubu had over the years demonstrated that he is a fair leader who is not driven by ethnic sentiments.
Ortom’s Endorsement Of Obi Confirms Crack In G-5
Meanwhile, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has thrown his weight behind Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi as the right candidate to win this year’s presidential election.
Ortom’s position was however greeted with suspicion in certain quarters, with some Nigerians saying it is a confirmation of the disagreement in the camp of the G-5 governors of the PDP.
The governor, in a statement through his special adviser on media and publicity, Terver Akase, said he strongly recommended Obi to Nigerians as the man who has the capacity to effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country.
Ortom said if he was not a member of the opposition PDP, he would have personally led Obi’s campaign across the country because only Obi has what it takes to provide the leadership that Nigerians desire.
He said, “I am also convinced that Obi possesses the qualities of a leader who will be a true President of this country by guaranteeing justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians.”
The governor stressed that for some years, the country had been tottering on the verge of collapse, owing to leadership failure and its attendant consequences of poverty, heightened insecurity with banditry, kidnappings and other acts of terrorism threatening the very foundations of the nation.
We’re Intact, Will Unveil Choice Candidate Soon – Wike
But Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State said the G-5 governors of the PDP are in one accord and would soon declare their position on the presidential candidate to support in the forthcoming general election.
An associate of Wike, Ogbonna Nwuke, insisted that there were no cracks within the G-5 governors, who have maintained their opposition to the continued stay in office of the PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
Nwuke who is also the spokesman of the Consolidation for New Rivers Vision Campaign Council, spoke in a chat with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, while reacting to Ortom’s endorsement of Obi.
The former member of the House of Representatives stated that the development was clear evidence that there is freedom of expression amongst the G5 governors.
He said, “The development is clear evidence that there is freedom of expression among the G5 governors.
“Having said that, the G-5 have said they will announce their position any moment from now. I think it will be best if we all wait for the G-5 announcement to know the direction to follow.
“I don’t think there is a crack in the G-5 but whatever happens, the G-5 said they are supporting a Southern candidate; whether that Southern candidate will be Obi, whether that Southern candidate will be Tinubu.
“Let’s wait for the G-5 governors’ declaration because their decision will be binding”.
Clark Backs OBJ On Support For LP Flagbearer
Also, barely 48 hours after former President Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi, elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has endorsed Labour Party presidential candidate as his preferred choice for president in next month’s election.
The position of the Ijaw leader is the second high-profile endorsement of Obi in three days.
Speaking yesterday during a press briefing at his Asokoro residence, Abuja, Clark noted that the Obi’s vision statement shared on occasions to making Nigeria more productive, using the rich resource endowment in every part of the country, curbing waste and fighting corruption, and creating jobs for the teeming youths through innovative initiative is commendable.
The former federal commissioner said this has restated commitment to restructuring and devolution of power, and will promote harmony, peaceful coexistence amongst the states and constituent parts of the country.
This, according to him, is a vision for more equity and justice as it pertains to the South South region, which in the past 60 years has produced much of the revenue for the national economy.
He said, “Peter Obi’s commitment to environmental justice to the cleanup of the Niger Delta polluted communities is most welcomed, given that even the ongoing Ogoni clean-up has been rather low.
Also his commitment to inclusion of qualified persons from the Niger Delta in the national governance process in the government if elected into power is very reassuring.
“His commitment to reactivation of our ports, development of Blue Economy and Maritime sector and investment in Gas sector, development of Modular refineries, are worthy of note.
Insisting on a southerner as president, Clark called on all well-meaning Nigerians irrespective of ethnic, religious and even political backgrounds to vote for Peter Obi.
He said, “The decision of the leaders from Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum, which I also lead, that the Northern part of the country as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari, which would have completed full eight years as president by May 29, 2023, should yield power to candidates from the South for purpose of unity, equity and fair play
“I formerly hereby announce that I will, therefore, personally, vote for HE Peter Obi and his vice presidential candidate on election day.
“Also, I have requested the leadership of PANDEF, as a democratic institution and all the other socio-cultural and political bodies which I head to consult with their members at the levels of states, local government and diaspora to take further steps in supporting my choice of Pete Obi.”
I Didn’t Mock Anybody Over Obasanjo’s Support For Obi – Wike
Meanwhile, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has clarified that the intent of his public comment on the endorsement of Peter Obi by former President Obasanjo, instead of his former vice president, Atiku, stems from concern for the PDP.
Wike gave the explanation yesterday when he spoke at the Mgbuodohia Community Primary School, venue of the flag-off of the construction of Mgbuodohia Road in Rumuolumeni Town of Obio/Akpor local government area of the state
The governor observed that Obasanjo had served as president on the platform of the PDP with Atiku as his vice for eight years, and, ideally, he should have been in a better position to solicit for support from Nigerians on his behalf with confidence.
He said if such was not done by way of endorsement, then something was fundamentally wrong that should elicit concern by members of PDP.
Wike noted: “I meant no bad. I’m only worried as a prominent PDP member. A man who loves PDP should be worried. I was not mocking anybody. I was merely worried. My prayer was, ‘look, let Obasanjo remain quiet and not say anything’. That was all my prayer, but my prayer didn’t work.
“My prayer was that if this man makes any statement, it will indict us because he was president under the PDP for eight years, and he worked with our presidential candidate. And the campaign of our presidential council is that our presidential candidate during the eight years did very well, with experience.”
The governor insisted that for Obasanjo to have gone ahead to endorse Obi, instead of his former vice, it means something must be fundamentally wrong.
He wondered why instead of people in the party to look at the issues critically, and ponder on what could be done with the seeming wrong, they are abusing him.
Wike said, “What did I do? I didn’t do anything. All I did was to express concern. If you care for this party, it is for you to go back and ask what is fundamentally wrong.
The governor insisted that it is only those who love the PDP that would be bent on ensuring that nothing untoward happened to it.