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POLITICS

Atiku not prepared for presidency – Tinubu Campaign Organisation

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The Tinubu Campaign Organisation, on Saturday, stated in a reply to comments made by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, about the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, in an interview on Arise TV on Friday, that he (Atiku) was not prepared for the job he was applying for and could not be entrusted with the commonwealth of the nation.

In a press statement signed by the Director, Media and Communication of the TCO, Bayo Onanuga, the pro-Tinubu group said the interview exposed Atiku “as a man who is not prepared for the job he is applying for and a man who cannot 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 befuddling absence of mind.”

Atiku had, during the interview, said, while he remained friends with Tinubu, he parted ways with him politically because of his (Tinubu’s) insistence on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, The PUNCH reports.

The former vice president said, “We will go to battle with APC. My fundamental disagreement with Tinubu since 2007 was due to the Muslim-Muslim ticket issue. And this formed my reason to have parted ways with him politically.

“I remember I left PDP on the issue of zoning and together with him we formed the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria. I was given the ticket and Tinubu insisted that he must be my running mate.

“But I turned the demands down that I will not contest the election on a Muslim-Muslim ticket base. And due to that, he switched his support to the late Umar Yar’Adua during the poll.

“And that was the parting point. And of course in 2015 when Buhari emerged through the primary, I opposed the Muslim-Muslim ticket when it was brought to the table. And my decision then made Buhari change his plans and went for someone that is not of the same faith as him, a Christian.”

In its reply via a press statement titled, ‘Mr Presidential candidate: Lincoln did not contest US Presidency five or six times, Takeaways from Atiku Abubakar bungled interview on ARISE Television’, the Tinubu Campaign Organisation expressed shock at what it called “many lies and ignorance displayed” by the ex-VP during the interview.

“We have watched Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s interview on ARISE Television and were extremely shocked by the many lies and ignorance displayed by the Peoples Democratic Party’s 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 cannot 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 befuddling absence of mind,” the statement partly read.

The statement highlighted what it called “takeaways from the bungled interview”, alleging that the “PDP candidate is a law breaker,” lambasting him for admitting “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.”

The statement continued, “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.”

The TMC further said the PDP presidential candidate had poor knowledge of key sectors of the economy; it accused Atiku of citing false data from Egypt; and lampooned the former vice president for jettisoning “rotational presidency.”

“We also found it surprising that the PDP presidential candidate does not know the contribution of oil and gas industry to Nigeria’s GDP. He claimed the sector represents 20% of our national GDP whereas it is below 10 per cent and it is still falling owing to the growth of non-oil sector under the current All Progressives Congress led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari,” it stated.

It added that, “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 2 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.

“Rotational Presidency: 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 focussing 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 8 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, 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 no where 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 Tinubu-Shettima ticket.”

The pro-Tinubu group also lashed out on Atiku on his political credentials, saying, “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.”

The organisation further derided Atiku, saying he “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 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 U.S. Senate from Illinois in 1858. He lost to Democrat Steven Douglas.”

The statement concluded, “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.”

Credit: Punch