The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday enjoined the Igbo not to be deceived by the endorsement of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, by some southeast leaders.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party said the endorsement was an affront to the Igbo people whom it described as victims of a 16-year misrule by the PDP.
The APC pointed at its “massive infrastructure and social programme investments” in the region as proof that no basis of comparison exists between its government’s performance and PDP’s years of retrogression.
“The APC considers Atiku and his PDP co-travellers as people who have lost any sense of shame. It will be interesting to know what the PDP will be telling the Igbo people during the campaign. We in APC are confident that the Igbo won’t be fooled by any group, by whatever name, to sell a thoroughly discredited party like the PDP to the very discerning Igbo people.”
This was as an Igbo group, Onicha-Igboeze Progressive Union, urged Nigerians to support the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to reap the dividends of democracy. It also asked the leader to set a template for other African countries by ensuring that next year’s general elections are credible. The Chairman of the group, Mr. Osi Nwokereke, made the disclosure yesterday during the maiden Onicha-Igboeze Day in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State.
But in a counter statement, PDP’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the APC is manifestly distressed over Atiku’s soaring popularity.
“The spontaneous and overwhelming acceptance of Atiku, as demonstrated in the Southeast is a manifestation of the trajectory that awaits him (Buhari) in all the geopolitical zones across the country. This acceptance demonstrates the settled resolve of Nigerians across board to vote out the incompetent Buhari administration because of its manifest failures in governance.
“The PDP is aware of how this acceptance has sent jitters to the APC and President Buhari, particularly with regard to the claims that Mr. President and the APC were making inroads into the southeast. With the assemblage of all leaders of note in every sector from all the five states of the southeast receiving our candidate, it is settled that President Buhari and the APC do not have any support in the zone,” the PDP said.
The statement added: “This acceptance could not have been less significant because the Buhari-led APC administration has no achievement of any sort in the entire zone. The PDP commends the people of the southeast and Nigerians in general for their courage in collectively resolving to rally with Atiku and our other candidates to rescue our nation from shackles of the Buhari administration and return her to the path of good governance, national cohesion and economic prosperity.”
APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole meanwhile has threatened to take Senate President Bukola Saraki to court for questioning his integrity.
“It is sad that Saraki, who just woke up from slumber occasioned by his crushing defeat at the Port Harcourt presidential primary election of his party, could degenerate to such a low level. It is equally sad, but not unexpected, that Saraki, who is politically drowning, would make such libelous comments against the national chairman of the APC. And I challenge Saraki to mention one name of an aspirant that gave money to the national chairman or we file a legal action against him,” Oshiomhole said in a statement.
He added: “Whereas, the basis on which he made those comments was tenuous and unjustifiable, it is on record that Saraki has been in the eye of investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for sundry cases of corruption. That is the same man that has taken it upon himself to question Comrade Oshiomhole’s credibility.
“We challenge him to mention one person who has claimed that he gave money to Oshiomhole to influence him and the decision of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in the just-concluded primary elections. We insist that Saraki with his kind of prebendal politics is nothing but a monumental disgrace to the nation’s democracy.”
In a related development, Buhari yesterday unveiled a wristband preparatory to the commencement of his re-election campaign.
The item tagged ‘Buhari Unity Band’ was the brainchild of a group called Good Governance Ambassadors of Nigeria (GOGAN).
Campaigns, according to the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would officially start Sunday.
Buhari, at the event, described the band as “a visual and token symbol of our resolve to live in unity as one and preach the message of unity wherever we live.” According to him, “those who subscribe to the unity wristband will be known as Nigerian Unity Ambassadors. You will be building on the legacy of a number of our patriots who have, in the past, sacrificed so much, some even their lives, in defence of our nation.”
He commended the initiators of the project “for their sense of patriotism and commitment,” promising that his government “remains committed” to advancing national unity and progress.