Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has challenged Bola Ahmed Tinubu to subject himself to a ‘long’ interview.
Atiku, a Presidential candidate of the PDP for the 2023 elections, was responding to a statement by the Tinubu Campaign Organisation earlier on Saturday over his disclosure on Tinubu’s request for a vice-presidential slot in 2007.
The former Vice President had on Friday in an interview on Arise TV, attacked the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Tinubu for settling for a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket for the 2023 election.
Atiku said he turned down Tinubu’s offer to serve as his running mate in 2007 in order to avoid fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“My fundamental disagreement and political departure with Asiwaju [Tinubu] since 2007 was due to the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Remember, I opted out of PDP because of zoning, and together with Asiwaju we formed ACN.
“Tinubu wanted to be my running mate when I was given the ACN presidential ticket in 2007, but I disagreed. And because of that, he switched his support to the late Umar Yaradua. That was the parting point”, Atiku said in the interview.
But describing Atiku as a pathological liar, Tinubu in a statement issued on Saturday by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, claimed that he, Atiku was the one who had offered him the vice-presidential ticket, adding that Nigerians should feel great pity and sadness for the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He accused Abubakar of demeaning himself by pandering to base prejudice at a moment Nigeria needs true leadership.
“We are saddened to see such a man become unhinged from the truth. So obsessed is he with his quest for office, Atiku is willing to render any form of untruth if he thinks it might gain him a single vote. Atiku may want to be president. However, all he has shown is that he is pathological.
“Whatever moral compass he had has been lost. During a 22 July television interview, Atiku assaulted historic truth by lying that he did not name Tinubu as his running mate in 2007 on the Action Congress ticket because Atiku did not want a Muslim as his running mate”, he said, accusing Atiku of illegally enriching himself when he was in government.
Tinubu as well accused the PDP candidate of hypocrisy, spreading falsehood and of having a poor grasp of history and current affairs.
But in a swift response on Saturday night, a statement by Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe, challenged Tinubu to subject himself to an hour long interview as did Atiku if he was “mentally present” and articulate enough to do so.
It said Tinubu and his “yes men” were not in a position to criticise Atiku when they had not sat on the ‘hot seat’.
“We would like to challenge Bola Tinubu to subject himself to an hour long interview, like the Waziri did, and if he is able to be as articulate and mentally present as our candidate, then he can talk.
“Until then, we will only want to remind him and his yes men that they are not in a position to point fingers when they have not sat on the hot seat”, the statement said.
It also responded to other issues the Tinubu campaign raised, including his (Atiku) time in Nigeria Customs Service and academic qualifications.
The statement, titled “We Challenge Bola Tinubu To Take The Hot Seat”, reads in full:
“We were rather amused to read the knee jerk response from the Tinubu Campaign Organisation to the wave making interview granted by Waziri Atiku Abubakar to Arise TV on Thursday, July 21, 2022.
“Amusement, because we expected this. Mr. Tinubu has not sat down to do any prolonged interview for obvious reasons. Nigerians have seen him talk in public and can themselves gauge the reason why he is mortified to do so.
“Nevertheless, I will now take the issues in their statement one after the other.
“The Tinubu campaign exposed its gross desperation and vacuousness by citing the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) 1999, to declare Waziri Atiku Abubakar’s stance on engaging in a side business while he was a young custom officer as a breach of the law. It is pertinent to educate the Tinubu campaign organisation that Nigeria is not under a military regime and our Constitutions are not retroactive in nature.
“Again, the Tinubu campaign betrayed either dishonesty or lack of attention to detail by claiming that Atiku Abubakar said oil contributed 20% of Nigeria’s GDP. That is a lie. What the Waziri said is as follows:
“Oil only maybe accounts for about 20% of our GDP”.
“The use of the word maybe by the Waziri was in reflection to the different figures given. While the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics states a figure close to 10%, other multilateral organisations have given a much higher figure of between 15-20%. So, while the jury is still out, it is right to qualify the contribution of oil and gas as a maybe. However, we do like to point out that Waziri Atiku Abubakar mentioned both the PDP and the APC during the interview and did not forget the name of his own party.
“It seems the Tinubu campaign organisation (can a disorganised body be called an organisation?) does not know the meaning of rotation of power and micro zoning. So, we will gladly educate them. Rotation of power refers to a constitutional provision where power is zoned between North and South. Micro-zoning refers to a non constitutional idea, where power is zoned not between North and South, but amongst geo-political zones. We hope this cures the political illiteracy of the authors of that document.
“The rude response also accuses Waziri Atiku Abubakar of having “limited education”. Atiku Abubakar has an earned Masters degree from Anglia Ruskin University. We challenge any of the present Presidential candidates to present an equal or higher degree. Moreover, his university attendance is a matter of verified record. Can we say the same about some other persons?
“On President Lincoln, we are afraid the poor student of history is the Tinubu campaign disorganisation. Yes, it is true that Lincoln ran for President with his name on the ballot twice. But he ran at other times, and failed to get his name on the ballot.
“In conclusion, we would like to challenge Bola Tinubu to subject himself to an hour long interview, like the Waziri did, and if he is able to be as articulate and mentally present as our candidate, then he can talk. Until then, we will only want to remind him and his yes men that they are not in a position to point fingers when they have not sat on the hot seat.”