Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu have renewed war over alleged corruption.
NewsOnline reports that with a little over one month to the general election, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, have rekindled their backlash and lashed back in the bid to clinch the presidency.
This online newspaper understands that the two presidential hopefuls have been at loggerheads since the commencement of the campaigns for the 2023 polls, attacking themselves with incisive vituperations in the ongoing credibility battle.
The rangling resumed yesterday when Tinubu asked security agencies to immediately arrest and prosecute Atiku over a recent revelation of alleged collusion with former President Olusegun Obasanjo to fleece and loot public funds.
But lashing back at Tinubu, the PDP flagbearer said the call for his arrest and prosecution over alleged corruption was diversionary, irresponsible, and a sheer attempt to divert the attention of Nigerians from the issues affecting the country.
NewsOnline Nigeria recalls that an audio recording was released in a viral video by Atiku’s former aide, Michael Achimugu, last week, in which the former vice president is alleged to have explained how some organisations were set up to divert public funds through a special purpose vehicles (SPVs).
In the audio which is yet to be confirmed, Atiku was heard admitting that while serving as deputy to Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, he founded the SPVs with the aim to “carry out certain activities” in a deceitful bid to avoid being linked to corruption.
Speaking through the APC presidential campaign council at a world press conference in Abuja yesterday, Tinubu insisted on the arrest of Atiku, saying the former vice president does not enjoy immunity simply because he is a presidential candidate.
Director of Public Affairs and chief spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo (SAN), said Atiku must must apologise and renounce his presidential ambition.
Keyamo who is also the minister of state for Labour and Productivity said Atiku has a case to answer.
Reading from the text of the world press conference, Keyamo stated: “Atiku does not enjoy immunity because he is a presidential candidate. We are saying this because they may be reluctant to act on the perception of the persecution of a presidential candidate it may invoke. However, facts are sacred.
“In other serious clime where situations like this arose, the law enforcement agencies acted decisively. You may recall in 2016, in the middle of campaigns for the exalted office of president in the US, the case of the private email of Hilary Clinton was referred to the justice department for likely prosecution a few weeks to actual voting, though she was actually cleared.
“That is what we want the authorities to do in the case of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He has to be arrested, invited. He is not God. He does not enjoy immunity because he is a candidate.
“All monies should be recovered from the marine float account. In the voice note, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar can be heard boasting that the issue of that account was thoroughly investigated by the EFCC, yet he was smart enough to escape.”
Keyamo recalled that durKeyamo further noted that the issue of the Marine Float Account was not new to Nigerians, adding that Atiku, then, was smart enough to escape.
“In the light of these very grave revelations, we call on Atiku Abubakar to immediately tender an unreserved apology to the Nigerian people and step down from the Presidential race forthwith, whilst handing himself over to the law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, Keyamo also gave the three anti-graft agencies 72 hours ultimatum to arrest, interrogate and prosecute Atiku.
Keyamo, in a five-page petition dated Monday, January 16, 2023 to the chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), accused the PDP candidate of four major infractions.
He alleged that Atiku colluded to fleece the country of public funds using what he termed as “Special Purpose Vehicles” (SPVs).
The APC campaign spokesman stated that with the public revelations of a whistleblower, Michael Achimugu, and pieces of evidence, Atiku has a case to answer.
You Are Distracting Nigerians From Core Issues, Atiku Replies
But he presidential candidate of the PDP yesterday lambasted Tinubu for trying to divert attention of Nigerians from the issues affecting the country.
Atiku said the recent call by Tinubu for his (Atiku) resignation over an allegation by Mr Micheal Achimugu over alleged corruption was diversionary and irresponsible.
Atiku’s spokesperson, Dino Melaye, who stated this when he appeared on Channels TV political/current affairs program, Politics Today, described Achimugu as a serial blackmailer who is in court for such an offence.
He added that Achimugu’s petition was written from the office of minister of state for Labour and Employment, Keyamo, who is one of the spokesperson of Tinubu’s presidential campaign council.
Melaye said Atiku’ team will no longer respond to the claims by Achimugu, adding that he was sent to distract Nigerians from the issues facing them.
He said, “We will not be concerned about the frivolous issues anymore. They commissioned this blackmailer to distract us. We will not fall for it.”
Melaye noted that Tinubu should be the one to withdraw from the race because of the enormous corruption allegations leveled against him.
Similarly, the PDP yesterday said it was irresponsible for Tinubu to try to divert public attention from the issues affecting Nigerians by calling for Atiku’s resignation over Achimugu’s claims.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Hon Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, said Tinubu was diverting attention from the atrocious record and the vexatious misrule of the APC by demanding that Atiku should withdraw from the Presidential race on account of simulated allegations by the APC.
He said, “It is indeed ironic that an embattled Tinubu, who is beleaguered by uncountable cases of fraudulent activities, including perjury, forgery, treasury looting, corruption and narcotic-related conviction can attempt to impugn on the unimpeachable integrity of the PDP Presidential Candidate.”
Ologunagba added that Atiku is one of the most investigated public officials in this country, saying it is also on record that in all the investigations undertaken over him and his affairs, Atiku was never found culpable in any of the allegations.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has said that his government will dismantle inefficiency in governance in Nigeria and declared that “there will be no sacred cows”.
Obi who was a guest of Chatham House, the famous British international Policy institute, said with him and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed in charge of governance, they will dismantle inefficiency and eliminate transactional policies that breed corruption in government.
Obi, during the chat monitored in Abuja, took over 15 questions from the audience after presenting a paper on various sectors.
He said they will dismantle the structure of criminality which they have been using to hold the country.
“There will be no sacred cow,” Obi said of what will happen under the Obi-Datti administration.
The Labour Party Presidential candidate also said: “our objective is to dismantle these structures of criminality and enthrone competence, character, and capability so that talents and ideas can flourish.”
On how he intends to cope with possibly having a National Assembly that may be dominated by other parties, Obi said he went through such experience as Governor of Anambra state when none of the 30 members of the State of Assembly came from his political party, adding that what he needed to navigate such case is to do the right thing, avoid nepotism and transactional policies, because even the parliamentarians desire good governance.
Responding to a question on the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and why he has not condemned them, Obi said that for him and many other reasonable Nigerians including Igbos, the Biafra war ended 53 years ago. But he is not oblivious of the agitators’ demands for justice.
According to him, “we are going to look into the issue of justice and marginalisation in which some of them are hinging their grievances.
“We are going to apply the carrot and stick in dealing with the agitators. But in the end there can only be one government and we will be in charge.”
On the how to attract investors to Nigeria which was asked by a former British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, Obi likened what he intends to do to attract investors to bee and and honey, he will create enabling environment where rule of law thrives and will avoid any transactional policies which breeds corruption and weakens governance.
On how to navigate the so-called ‘big boys’ to be able see through his beautiful policies if elected, the LP standard bearer said the challenge will be surmounted as there will be no sacred cow.
Nigerian Youths To Present Demands To Presidential Candidates
Meanwhile, ahead of the 2023 presidential election, the Nigerians Youth under the auspices of Youth Awake Now (YAN) said it will present a charter of demands to all the presidential candidates for them to work with and ensure that the youth benefits from the central government when a new president is elected.
YAN comprises Arewa youth leaders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth leaders, Afeinifere youth leaders,UAW youth leaders, NYCN leaders, NANS youth leaders, NAPs leaders, NYC leaders, and NYP leaders.
Reading from a communiqué after their meeting, the spokesperson of the YAN, Barrister Pereotubo Roland, yesterday explained that the charter of demands from Nigerian youth will be presented to the aspirants after which a memorandum of agreement.
He said, “We, the Nigerian Youths believe strongly that our diversity is our pride and living in peace should be above all.
“We, therefore, express our commitment to work together to build a better Nigeria, amidst our various ethno-religious, political, and cultural diversities.
“With this communique, we commit ourselves to foster intercultural dialogue and relations across all leaders regardless of the party in Nigeria and also call on Every Nigerian Youth to be enjoined to #YAN freely expressing their demands to their preferred candidate using the YAN platform as a common tool to drive Socio-Economic growth and sustainability for a better future.
“The content endorsed as well as that of the Nigerian Youths will be put together and a major Demand Charter from the Nigerian youth will be presented to the aspirants after which a memorandum of agreement will be executed with each of the presidential aspirants. Enough Enough! We are not going to continue to take this again.”
On his part, the Executive Chairman of the YAN, Festus Uchenna explained that no time is late saying that we have been making consultations across the country for the past six months.