The gloves were off again yesterday. President Muhammadu Buhari’s and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s camps were locked in a bitter row over the key issue of credibility.
The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation called on President Buhari not to run in next year’s election over an alleged involvement of some people believed to be his relatives in the acquisition of shares in 9 Mobile and Keystone Bank.
But the Buhari Media Organisation fired back, accusing the PDP flag bearer of being desperate to drag the President’s name in the mud.
The war of words came on a day the National Chairman of the ruling APC, Adams Oshiomhole, wrote off the PDP as no alternative for Nigerians. He predicted that the opposition PDP will make a minimal impact in the 2019 general elections.
Oshiomhole spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja.
It also came on a day the APC announced the commencement of its presidential campaign with tomorrow’s rally at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Atiku and his party said the President should opt out of the race on moral ground, alleging that members of his family acquired stakes in the telecom firm and two banks.
The opposition party demanded an explanation for the source of the funds used for the investments.
The PDP said that the President no longer has the moral standing to seek re-election until he has addressed the allegation.
Its candidate had, in a statement on Wednesday, accused President Buhari of soiling his hands in the alleged acquisition of shares in 9 Mobile and Keystone Bank Plc.
The PDP, through its campaign’s spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, told the President to perish the thought of going ahead with his campaign without clearing his name.
Stating that the issue borders on President Buhari’s integrity, Ologbondiyan urged the President not to bring his exaulted office into disrepute.
He said: “This is not an issue for President Buhari’s aides to howl about in the media, it touches directly on his person, particularly his perception as a symbol of the talakawas. He must therefore address them on this issue.
“It is a norm that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. President Buhari and his family members have entangled themselves in corruption. Mr. President’s hands can no longer be said to be clean, until he proves otherwise.
“The PPCO wants Nigerians and the whole world to note that President Buhari’s refusal to personally address this matter means consent.
“We, therefore, dare President Buhari to put forth a denial on this disclosure by our candidate and we will spare no thoughts in furnishing the public with details of his corrupt activities within and outside Nigeria.”
The PDP claimed to have “full details” of how the President’s relations “paved the way” for corrupt acquisition of shares in major companies.
The party did not, however, name such relations of the President.
But the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, brushed aside the PDP’s allegation, saying: “You may refer to my earlier statement on Atiku. He’s not saying anything new.”
Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) Niyi Akinsiju told The Nation that “Atiku is desperate to cast President Buhari in his own ignoble image of a pervasive wheeler-dealer, acknowledged for diversion of public resources to personal use and an unrepentant facilitator of cronyism in governance.
“We can’t possibly make an issue out of a virulent fiction, cooked in the imagination of a man who wished he had grown his profile both as public servant and political career in the ennobling tradition of honesty, integrity and transparency.
“The simple truth is that President Buhari has an established image that cannot be maligned, as military governor, minister, head of state, chairman of the petroleum trust fund, the President had conducted himself in the most honourable manners in the offices he had held in public trust.
“It is not now that he would join in the crass pursuit of acquisition which has become the past time of Nigerian elite like Atiku. The PDP presidential candidate should be informed that Etisalat is an international business concern and functions on the tenets of global best practices, no sale or acquisition of its shares can be done in secrecy.
“Even a hundred thousand transactions on the holdings of the group would make headlines throughout the world; it is the requirement of financial reporting standards. The same with the allegation of owning shares in Keystone Bank; the CBN, like all financial regulatory institutions across the world, insists on transparency in the profile of ownership of banks within its jurisdiction.
“Atiku and his Dubai gang should make another try with the grand lies that have become their preoccupation in the already failed pursuit of a presidential ambition that is premised inordinate predicates.”
To the APC, there is no point bandying words with Atiku. They party said it was going ahead with its campaign as scheduled today.
Isa-Onilu said the President would use the occasion to present the scorecard of the administration and its successes on its three cardinal objectives – security, economy and, fight against corruption. Besides, he will outline his vision and programmes for Nigerians for the next four years.
Isa-Onilu said: “The launch, which signals the commencement of the campaign rallies of our great party for next year’s general elections christened: “The Next Level”, will be attended by the President Buhari; Vice President Prof Osinbajo; Party chair Adams Oshiomhole, party stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, governors, members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and other prominent leaders of the party, members of the National Assembly and top government officials.”