Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has fired back at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, flagbearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 elections.
Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, his running mate, had criticised Atiku and other presidential candidates during a town hall meeting at Eko Hotel, Lagos, on Tuesday.
Responding in a statement which Mr. Phrank Shaibu, his aide, issued on his behalf, Atiku played down on the chances of Tinubu, declaring that Nigerians won’t elect a ghost president.
He accused Tinubu of shying away from public scrutiny and using proxies to answer questions reserved exclusively for would-be presidents.
He said the APC presidential candidate had on two occasions “dodged” the invitation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry (LCCI) but decided to “play smart” by organising his own town hall meeting with the organised private sector at Eko Hotel and suites, the same venue of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) where he failed to show up in August.
Shaibu said rather than be bold enough to subject his ideas for scrutiny before a non-partisan panel of professionals as done by Atiku and even the candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, before the LCCI, “Tinubu decided to organise his own event in Lagos where he dictated the pace of events and filled up the room with most of his supporters and fans who applauded his flavourless ideas”.
“After reading out his uninspiring speech, Tinubu sat on the high table and systematically dodged questions directed at him by the audience. Rather, he delegated his team members to answer all the questions on his behalf, an indication that he lacks a clear understanding of the issues plaguing the country and is hiding his ignorance,” the statement read.
He noted that Town Hall meetings were supposed to be events where candidates display their understanding of issues and inspire hope in the electorate, emphasizing that such important events were no mere gatherings where aides speak on behalf of their principals.
“From indication, his aides spoke more than he did at the event, an indication that he didn’t even need to be there in the first place. Clearly Tinubu plans to run a proxy government in the unfortunate event that he wins the Presidential election”.
According to him, the conduct of the APC presidential candidate and his decision to cleverly dodge dialectic public conversations may not be unconnected with Tinubu’s clear lack of mental coordination and understanding of Nigeria’s core problems.
“At the KADInvest programme in Kaduna last month, he spoke about how Governor Nasir El-Rufai turned a “rotten situation to a bad one”. In Kano last year he revealed his plan to recruit 50 million youths into the military in order to tackle unemployment while he went off tangent at a book launch back in July, talking about “cassava, garri, agbado, eba and ewa.
“Earlier this year, he advised Nigerians to go and renew their expired Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) thereby causing confusion in the polity until the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a rebuttal,” the statement read.
He said Nigerians will not “overlook these ominous signs”, the reason Tinubu’s handlers have continued to shield him from open public engagements and scrutiny.
“He continually argues that he doesn’t need physical strength to lead Nigeria but only the mental capacity. However, his refusal to publicly display this intelligence and articulate his thoughts should worry every well-meaning Nigerians who are still suffering from the seven-year misrule of the All-Progressives Congress that has brought poverty, inflation and unemployment to an unprecedented height,” Shaibu explained.
He added that of all the 18 Presidential candidates, Tinubu is the only one that has refused to subject himself to a media interview.
“Due to his continual refusal to be accountable, the Lagos godfather had to be publicly invited to the studio by Arise Television, an invitation that he remains too timid to honour since nobody would be able to teleguide him,” Shaibu lamented, insisting that Nigerians will not elect a phantom president in 2023.