•APC intimidated by Atiku’s emergence, says PDP
Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2019 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to present the scorecard of achievements in the last three and half years to Nigerians.
Atiku, who threw the challenge in a statement by his campaign office, accused the Buhari government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) of being “very idle of late” and resorting to hurling insults and false accusations on him.
He dared the President to name one project he started and completed since May 2015, he came to power as well as one campaign promise he has kept.
In specific terms, Atiku challenged the Buhari-led APC administration to show what it had done with its much talked about cardinal programmes of anti-corruption war, infrastructure development, national security, youth and women empowerment as well as inclusiveness in the governance system.
The Buhari government, it said, had displayed so much cluelessness in tackling critical issues affecting the citizenry that Nigeria now has the world’s highest number of out of school children, numbering 13.2 million.
He further challenged the President to show to Nigerians what he has done with the N13 trillion loans he has taken in three years compared to the N6 trillion borrowed by the Federal Government during the 16 years that PDP was in power.
According to the PDP presidential candidate, whereas Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had been on a steady decline and the country has become the world headquarters for extreme poverty in the last three years, the Buhari administration has been busy blaming all former presidents and heads of state for the precarious state of the economy.
His words: “These are the issues the Nigerian people want to hear about, not insults from a presidency and a party that have spent three years in office only to preside over Nigeria’s first ever recession in 25 years.
“We urge the Buhari administration to remember that it is this disinterest in real governance and focus on trivia that caused Bill Gates to look President Buhari in the eye and tell him that ‘your economic blueprint does not address Nigerians’ needs’.
“The Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation runs an issue based campaign where refined language and cerebral arguments founded on facts are used to disseminate the vision of our candidate which is why we call on the Buhari Campaign Organisation to waste no time in taking the #BuhariChallenge in clearing the air on these knotty issues bothering the minds of Nigerians.”
The former vice president also demanded from President Buhari to name one southerner heading a sensitive agency under his government. He, therefore, advised the President and his party to focus on issue based campaign and stop hurling insults and levying false accusations on him.
In a related development, the PDP said the APC is in a panic mode since Atiku emerged as its presidential candidate.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, who spoke during a press conference in Abuja, particularly noted what it described as deliberate efforts by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhji Lai Mohammed to impugn on the character of the PDP presidential candidate.
“Since the successful conduct of our presidential primary and the popular emergence of Atiku Abubakar, the Buhari presidency and the All Progressives Congress have become intimidated; gone into panic and ignobly resorted to trading on rumour and spurious allegations, having failed in their evil machination to scuttle our presidential primary ab initio,” Ologbondiyan noted.
According to him, the ruling party has unleashed its officials, spin doctors and hack writers with billions of naira to fabricate lies, spurious allegations and smear campaign against the PDP presidential candidate.
He, however, said it was understandable why this was so because President Buhari is afraid to face a popular candidate in any election due to his incompetence, “for which Nigerians earnestly seek his replacement.”
Adding that engaging in smear campaign, as a means of survival, is reprehensible and cowardly, the PDP spokesman, said: “President Buhari and the APC, in their desperation, should not attempt to confuse personal economic prosperity that comes from hard work, as in the case of Atiku Abubakar, with corrupt enrichment. That President Buhari failed in leading a successful personal economic life does not mean that others cannot succeed without being corrupt.”
He noted that unlike President Buhari, who has failed in managing both private and public enterprises, Atiku “is internationally known as a hard working, resourceful, versatile and successful private entrepreneur, a vast employer of labour; an ingenious citizen, who has made immeasurable contribution to our national development both in public and private lives.”
Ologbondiyan further said it was a heinous perversion for the Minister of Information and Culture to attempt to suggest that the choice of Atiku is a return to era of corruption “whereas President Buhari is internationally reputed to be presiding over the most corrupt administration in the history of our nation.”
“Lai Mohammed fails to note that Nigerians are aware that, while our candidate, Atiku Abubakar has never been indicted for corruption or facing any corruption charge, President Buhari is now overburdened by indictments and allegations of humongous corruption, for which he has failed to provide explanations,” the PDP spokesman said.
He sought explanation from the minister to speak up on the leaked memo detailing the stealing of N9 trillion through alleged underhand oil contract at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum, under President Buhari’s direct supervision.
His words: “Lai Mohammed should speak up on the alleged siphoning of N1.4 trillion through sleazy oil subsidy regimes and those benefitting from the alleged N58 hidden tax per liter which Nigerians have continued to bear since the fuel price increase from N87 to presumably unsubsidized cost of N145.
“Lai Mohammed should speak up on why the Buhari presidency is suppressing investigation into alleged use of 18 unregistered companies to lift and divert N1.1 trillion worth of crude oil in 2017 and the President’s alleged link with the beneficiaries of this fraud.
“Can Lai Mohammed tell Nigerians how the Buhari era allegedly presided over the stealing of over N18 billion from the funds approved for rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuilding of six northeast states ravaged by insurgency?
“Can Lai Mohammed tell Nigerians how over N25 billion meant for health needs of Nigerians was stolen by the presidency cabal from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and how the same cabal siphoned the $322 million repatriated by Switzerland, under the guise of sharing the funds to the poor?”
Ologbondiyan further charged the minister to explain the circumstances surrounding his alleged attempt to obtain over N13 million from the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) under the mask of a ‘loan’ against budgetary approvals and principles of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“In as much as the PDP remains committed to issue-based campaign, ahead of 2019 elections, we will not by any means tolerate further lies and fabrications from the Buhari presidency, particularly from agents who have no ethical substance to make allegations against any Nigerian.
“On a final note, the PDP counsels the Buhari presidency and the APC to shed their resort to lies, falsehood and smear campaign and get prepared to face an inevitable crushing defeat, come 2019,” he added.
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