The Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation (MBCO) and the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation yesterday engaged themselves in a media war over the credibility or otherwise of the two presidential candidates.
While the Buhari campaign team described the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a cunning and deceitful character who has no intention of restructuring the country, the Atiku campaign team lampooned the ‘Next Level’ presidential campaign initiative of President Buhari, saying it is made up of mere promises without policies.
The Buhari campaign organisation provoked the salvo of accusations when it dismissed claim by Atiku’s men that the present administration does not believe in restructuring.
At the launch of the Buhari/Osinbajo 2019 campaign manual, yesterday at the presidential villa, the MBCO said in all his public outings throughout the years, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had advocated restructuring and true federalism.
It stated: “Sometimes in 2017, the APC set up a committee headed by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, to make far reaching recommendations on restructuring. That committee submitted its report early in 2018.
“The president himself is not cunning and deceitful character like some other candidate who knows he does not have the power to singlehandedly restructure the country through constitutional amendments but would engage in giving a time frame within which the country would be restructured.
“The president has never indicated he would oppose any move by the National Assembly to carry out constitutional amendments to fully reflect true federalism”.
The campaign organisation also refuted reports that Buhari discriminates against Southerners, pointing out that the president has obeyed the clear constitutional provision of picking one minister per state.
MBCO further stated that Buhari had also given very important portfolios to ministers from areas where he did not get too many votes in 2015.
The campaign team continued: “The federal executive council is evenly balanced between Christians and Muslims. There are two service chiefs from the North and two service chiefs from the South. As to the Security Council being dominated by Northerners, there are two service chiefs from the South.
“There are other federal government bodies that may be dominated by other sections of the country like the economic management team, which has more Southerners.
“Buhari has shown his love for the Easterners and his willingness to work with them from inception of his quest for the presidency by picking his vice presidential candidates in his first two attempts from the East (Chuba Okadigbo in 2003 and Ume-Ezeoke in 2007).
The campaign organisation also set the record straight on reports that Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world with 87 million extremely poor people.
It said, “While India was fighting poverty, the successive PDP governments squandered our resources at a time when they should have also started an effective fight against poverty. Then available resources were at an all time high as oil reached very high prices when it peaked at $140 per barrel per day.
“The government is now fighting poverty headlong through various poverty alleviation programmes and massive investments infrastructure. It will take time but we are on the right path now. If the successive PDP governments had done what the Buhari government is doing now, we would have been in the same class as India by now (pulling out of poverty)”.
But hitting back at MBCO, the Atiku Campaign Organisation (APCO) described the Next Level campaign initiative of President Buhari as vague.
In a statement it issued in Abuja yesterday, APCO, while congratulating the Buhari campaign team for the launch of the initiative, said having read through the presentation, “it is very vague on policy and very big on promises. Promises are cheap”
The statement noted: “Anyone can make promises and indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress did make quite a number of promises which they either denied or did not fulfill, such as the promise to create 3 million jobs per annum and to equalise the value of the Naira with the dollar.
“However, policies are the plans and roadmaps that will be used to achieve those promises. Promises made without policies are like a house without a foundation, they will fall. And we have seen proof of that in Nigeria in the last three years.
“Without a concrete policy, these ‘next level’ promises are nothing more than next level propaganda. We counsel the Buhari campaign that the time for propaganda has gone and Nigerians are now interested in proper agenda.
“In fact, the feedback we have received from Nigerians is one of alarm. Over the last three and a half years of the Buhari administration, Nigeria was officially named as the world headquarters for extreme poverty. Nigerians are asking if this administration is planning ‘next level’ poverty for them?
“Under this government, 11 million Nigerians have lost their jobs and the administration is so panicky that it has refused to fund the National Bureau of Statistics to release the latest unemployment numbers. Nigerians are asking if this administration is planning ‘next level’ unemployment for them?”
The Atiku campaign team further noted that under Buhari, the value of the Naira has been so devalued that Bloomberg rated the Naira as the worst performing currency on earth.
“The nation wants to know if this government plans ‘next level’ devaluation of the Naira for them? In 2018, Transparency International announced that Nigeria made her worst ever retrogression in the Corruption Perception Index moving 12 steps backwards from 136 under the Peoples Democratic Party to 144 under Buhari. Nigerians are asking if this administration is planning ‘next level’ corruption for them”, APCO added.