The federal government yesterday cautioned the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, against committing treasonable acts in their desperation to take over the presidency through illegal means.
Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, told journalists yesterday in Abuja that the former vice president, Atiku, had activated plans to replicate the Venezuelan situation in Nigeria, adding that the federal government would not condone such.
The PDP has, however, rejected to the minister’s statements, saying the accusation was trumped up by the ruling party to undermine Atiku and his request to claim his mandate through the court.
LEADERSHIP Friday reports that Venezuela has been embroiled in a serious political crisis since a disputed presidential election in the oil-rich South American nation in May 2018 after both the incumbent president, Nicolas Maduro, and the leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, claimed to be the legitimate president of the country after the parliament invalidated Maduro’s victory and proclaimed Guaido acting president on January 10, this year.
Guaido has recognition from the US government, Canada and over 50 other Latin American and European countries while Maduro has support from the axis of China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, etc.
Maduro has described the incidence as a coup d’état sponsored by the US to gain control of the country oil assets.
It is the Venezuela experience that the federal government has accused Atiku of trying to replicate in Nigeria out of his desperation for power.
According to the information minister, the sudden appearance Atiku’s posters and the hiring of US lobbyists by the PDP presidential candidate were indications of desperate measures by the former vice president.
He contended that the appearance of the posters coincided with the media report that Atiku had hired a US lobby firm to convince the United States not to recognise the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari until the Supreme Court had ruled on the suit by the PDP presidential candidate challenging the outcome of the presidential poll.
“The posters and the hiring of US lobbyists, the latest of such by the PDP candidate, have triggered questions about what Alhaji Abubakar is up to,” Mohammed stated.
The minister, however, urged Atiku to stop overheating the polity and quit trying to instigate a political crisis in Nigeria.
The minister also warned that political circumstances in the two countries were clearly different and such the Venezuelan model cannot apply to Nigeria.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the right to do whatever is lawful to challenge the outcome of that election. But he cannot get through the back door what he couldn’t get through the front door. That will be a pipe dream,” he said.
Although, the minister acknowledged that the government was aware of media reports that Atiku had on Wednesday distanced himself from the posters that were circulating in Abuja, he said that if the media reports were right, it means that the former vice president had suddenly realised the grave implication of his actions and hence decided to beat a quick retreat before it was too late.
Muhammed added that Atiku, as a self-avowed democrat, should realise that the only lawful channel for challenging the result of an election was through the courts rather than resorting to self-help, which is an act of desperation that will definitely attract dire consequences.
“Has he rescinded his decision to challenge the results of the presidential election in court, perhaps, after realising that the results he claimed to have obtained from the INEC back server are cooked? Is he now going for self-help? What really is Atiku’s motive?”
“There is no doubt that the PDP presidential candidate, out of desperation, is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model right here in Nigeria. But he should realise that Nigeria is not Venezuela, and that the situations in both countries are not the same,” the minister stated.
For Atiku to seek US recognition as the winner of an election that he lost by almost four million votes was unconscionable, he said, adding that the government of US had joined other countries to acknowledge President Buhari victory after the declaration of the presidential election.
“Let me read a part of the statement by Michael Pompeo, the US Secretary of State: ‘We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the election and condemn those whose acts of violence harmed Nigerians and the electoral process.
“We note the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election, despite localised violence and irregularities. Going forward, the United States remains committed to working together with Nigeria to achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.’ I think that says it all, “ the minister noted.
It Is A Plot To Undermine Atiku – PDP
However, in its reaction, the PDP yesterday accused the APC-led federal government of orchestrating the report that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar hired a lobby group with the sum of $30,000 as part of his plans to reclaim his mandate.
The party added that its presidential candidate does not need a lobby group to reclaim his mandate through the judiciary.
PDP, however, declared that no amount of fabrications, attempts at frame-up as well as veiled and open threats could stop Atiku from reclaiming his mandate at the tribunal.
According to the party, the whole saga was carefully orchestrated by the ruling party to discredit the PDP candidate in the eyes of the judiciary and the public in general.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party entirely rejects the declaration by the Buhari Presidency that Atiku Abubakar is “lucky to be walking free”, noting that such a statement was inciting and showed the unwholesome intention of the APC-led administration against Atiku Abubakar for seeking to retrieve his stolen mandate at the court.
Ologbondiyan, in a statement, added that the “series of orchestrations against Atiku Abubakar and the PDP by agents of the federal government, officials of the Presidency and the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) expose a well-coordinated plot, which includes a resort to unfounded claims of links with a foreign lobby group, to attempt to frame up Atiku Abubakar, cause tension and ultimately derail the recovery of the stolen mandate at the presidential election tribunal.
“Such orchestrations are also targeted at instilling fear, causing apprehension in the citizenry and creating an opening to further suppress genuine public opinion and the course of justice in the quest by Atiku Abubakar and the PDP to restore the will of the people,” the statement noted.
The PDP further stated that part of the motive was to use lies, fabrications, threats and sponsoring of Atiku’s campaign posters to portray Atiku Abubakar and the PDP as being desperate and ready to subvert the rules in the pursuit of their mandate, and by so doing discredit their candidate in the eyes of the judiciary and the public in general.
“This explains why agents of the APC-led government fabricated and pushed into the public space bogus and laughable claims that Atiku Abubakar paid $30,000 to a US lobby group to assist in the quest to reclaim our mandate only for the federal government and the Presidency to turn around to feast on the fabrications with threats against Atiku Abubakar.
“The PDP calls on Nigerians to take copious note of threats by the Presidency through the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, to jail Atiku Abubakar based on trumped up allegations, while describing him as ‘one who is lucky to be walking free.’
“Nigerians now know who to hold responsible should any harm come to Atiku Abubakar, his family or any member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) in the course of the pursuit of the mandate at the tribunal.”
The statement added that the PDP and Atiku Abubakar did not need any foreign lobby group to prove their case before the tribunal, especially with the overwhelming evidence the party has put before the court.
The PDP, however, cautioned the APC-led federal government to allow the tribunal to judiciously carry out its responsibility without let or hindrance as well as “stop their unrelenting plots to overheat the system and derail the course of justice, as such will all come to naught.”
Senate Keeps Mum On Budget
• As a lady offers to marry Saraki over N10bn for Zamfara IDPs
The Senate yesterday kept mum on its earlier decision to lay the 2019 appropriation bill yesterday for onward passage on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
Unlike the previous days when the Senate president would ask the appropriation committee to give an update on the status of the 2019 budget even when it was not included on the order paper for discussion, he was quiet yesterday.
By Tuesday, only 24 committees out of the 61 working on the 2019 budget had submitted their reports.
The senate president, Saraki, said it was unfortunate that only 24 committees had submitted their reports as at Tuesday.
The Senate president had said that the House would go ahead to lay the budget on the floor yesterday for consideration.
“And I want to appeal to all our committees that you really have just till tomorrow (today Wednesday) to make sure that your reports get to the Appropriations Committee because, Thursday, you must lay this report,” Saraki said.
But the budget was not laid yesterday on the floor of the Senate and there was not the usual enquiry from the Senate president who had earlier promised that the budget would be passed on Tuesday.
The Senate had adjourned on Tuesday last week for one week to give room for the various committees to work on their reports on the N8.83 trillion budget estimate presented to them by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 19, 2018 for the 2019 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, while thanking the lawmakers for approving N10 billion for victims of attacks in Zamfara State during plenary, Sen Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) said a lady had offered to marry the Senate president, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, for the gesture.
“I have a mounting order from my constituents to thank you for the efforts we all collectively put in addressing the plight of the people of Zamfara State.
“Mr President, I want to thank you specifically. A lady in my constituency said I should tell you specifically that she had never seen you hit the gavel the way you did yesterday and I should tell you that when you commence your sabbatical, that she has offered herself to marry you, if you so wish. I told her to wait until we see facts and figures in the 2019 budget.
“With respect and apology to Madam at home but from where I come, you are allowed up to four wives, so Madam should please keep space because anytime I sit at home and look at the size of the house, I feel it is grossly underutilised,” Marafa said jocularly.
The Zamfara senator went on to extend his constituents’ gratitude to other senators and to President Muhammadu Buhari for the relief fund proposed for distressed persons in the state.
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