Following the cantankerous verbal exchanges that have lately heated up the electioneering arena involving the leading presidential candidates, former head of state and chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has told polticians to restrain their utterances in order not to incite violence in the coming general elections.
He said that Nigerians are disturbed over the likely outcome of the forthcoming 2023 general elections due to their fear that the polls might be inconclusibe and marred by violence..
Abdulsalami, spoke in Kano yesterday where eight political parties and their candidates signed a peace accord, urged the candidates to stick to issues-based campaigns and refrain from mudslinging and other inciting comments that heat up the polity.
Represented by the head of secretariat of the Peace Accord Committee, Rev Father Attah Barkindo, at the ceremony organised for the eight governorship candidates of various political parties by the state wing of the committee yesterday, Abdulsalami insisted that there is palpable fear amongst citizens which should be doused by the relevant agencies.
He said, “Nigerians are worried there might be inconclusive elections at the end of the contest and violence. This makes it mandatory for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other security agencies to sit up to ensure that the right things are done.”
Abdulsalami noted that the act of attacking campaign trains is another serious security problem that is brewing, which should be stopped, and this, according to him, will be done by being fair to everybody.
The former military leader urged the candidates to accept the outcome of the elections as a way of making Kano great and peaceful.
The special representative of the United Nations for West Africa, Madam Giovanni Biha, urged the candidates to collectively, openly and actively denounce violence, saying that doing so will in no small measure curtail every possibility of uncertainties.
Biha commended the Kano candidates for agreeing to sign the peace accord, stressing that it was a move towards ensuring peace in the state.
The secretary of INEC in Kano State, Garba Lawal Muhammad, said the commission had already addressed issues relating to the late arrival of election materials, among others.
He said the purpose of the peace accord is to commit actors into doing what is right in 2023 to avoid the ugly happenings of 2015 election when no fewer than 58 people were killed.
On his part, Ambassador Ibrahim A. Waiya, the Head of Secretariat, Kano Peace Accord Committee, who coordinated the signing of the peace accord, said if any candidate refuses to abide by the gentleman’s agreement, he is by implication indicating that he should not be entrusted with power.
The candidates who signed the peace accord documents on behalf of their political parties included Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha for the PDP, Abba Yusuf (NNPC), Bashir I. Bashir (Labour Party), Bala Mohammed Gwagwarwa, Ibrahim Shaaban Sharada, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil, who were represented by their deputy governorship candidates and Murtala Sule Garo, who was represented by the state deputy governor and governorship candidate of the APC.
Atiku, Tinubu Refuse To Sheathe Swords, Continue Mudslinging
However, despite the call for restraint by the Abdulsalami-led peace committee, the PDP and APC presidential candidates continued their credibility battle yesterday.
Atiku yesterday asked Tinubu to tender an apology to him (Atiku) following the failure of his recent diversionary tactics to yield its projected result.
But Tinubu swiftly responded, saying it had become obvious that the PDP presidential candidate cannot defend the allegations of conspiracy and corruption, which he admitted in a viral video in which he allegedly confessed to during a telephone conversation with his erstwhile aide, Michael Achimugu.
Atiku earlier made the demand for apology to Tinubu through the Atiku/Okowa campaign organisation, while referring to the recent allegations by the APC campaign council that he used Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) to siphon public funds.
The spokesperson of the Atiku campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, said contrary to the claim by the Tinubu campaign, it is the APC flagbearer that should be disqualified from the presidential race on account of corruption.
Ologbondiyan said, “Now that Tinubu’s evil diversionary scheme against Atiku Abubakar has failed and Nigerians have seen that there is no iota of truth in his allegation against Atiku Abubakar, our campaign demands that Tinubu should tender an unreserved apology to Atiku Abubakar; he should listen to the voice within and withdraw from the presidential race.
“If anyone is to be arrested and disqualified from the presidential race on account of corruption, certainly, that person is not Atiku Abubakar but Bola Tinubu. Nevertheless, the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation assures Nigerians that we will not be distracted in this task of rescuing our nation from misrule but will continue to rally with Nigerians in our collective desire to restore our nation to the path of purposeful leadership and prosperity for all.”
Reading from a prepared text entitled, “Tinubu is the Real Mr SPV and Nigerian Artful Dodger,” the PDP campaign spokesperson said: “Bola Tinubu, sensing that his many corrupt activities, especially his fleecing of Lagos State with many Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) companies was about to come to light, rushed to hire a serial blackmailer, as he has always done, to foul the public space with fabricated allegations against Atiku Abubakar.
“However, no matter how much falsehood appears to thrive, the truth will always prevail at the end of the day. Tinubu has not only failed in this mission to tarnish the clean image of Atiku Abubakar but in the process also exposed himself as the real Mr SPV.
“Furthermore, Nigerians are still awaiting; the APC Presidential Candidate’s still has no explanation for his conviction and criminal forfeiture of $460,000 in a criminal case of trafficking in narcotic in the United States of America, for which under Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), he is not eligible to contest election in Nigeria.
“Since Asiwaju Tinubu has on his own opened up on the allegations of corruption, our campaign is prepared to help him to fill the gaps he wants closed. In the days ahead, our campaign will not hesitate to furnish Nigerians with a compendium of corrupt practices as well as the list of SPVs used by the APC Candidate to loot public funds in key government agencies thereby depriving Nigerians the benefit of our national patrimony.”
But hitting back at Atiku and his campaign team, Tinubu regretted that instead of addressing “allegations of criminal money-laundering and reckless abuse of public trust levelled against him, Atiku was trying “in vain to defend himself by embarking on a puerile diversionary journey by drumming up a stale allegation against” him.
Speaking through the director of Media and Publicity of the APC presidential campaign council, Bayo Onanuga, Tinubu challenged the PDP to come clean on corruption allegations against Atiku and stop dancing around the real issues if it has little bit of respect for Nigerians and concern for the Nigerian youths and a future without corruption.
Onanuga, in a statement he issued in Abuja last night, said: “It is obvious that the PDP presidential candidate has no defence to these allegations, which he admitted in his viral confession.
“This was the reason we boldly made the call on him to follow the path of honour, for once, by withdrawing from the presidential race. We also urged the authorities to hold him to account. But the hangers-on and dependants who saw his withdrawal as an end to the campaign bazaar in desperation resorted to painting the kettle black to look like their pot.
“This resort to counter-mudslinging is not only an admission of criminal guilt; it is an irresponsible way to cover-up the concrete evidence of conspiracy and corruption.”
Tinubu wondered why PDP would pretend that Atiku is innocent of the allegations when even his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, had documented his (Atiku’s) “legendary corruption in his book and had sworn never to support Atiku’s presidential ambition to avoid the wrath of God.”
Kwankwaso Asks Atiku, Tinubu To Withdraw From Race Over Allegations
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso, has urged the presidential candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to withdraw from the presidential race over allegations of corruption and drug peddling against both of them respectively.
According to Kwankwanso, the allegations have made a mockery of the 2023 general election.
A statement issued by the national publicity secretary of the NNPP, Dr Agbo Major, said Nigeria has been brought to ridicule and disrepute before the comity of nations over accusations of high level corruption and drug peddling against Atiku and Tinubu.
“He said, “It is a moral burden for the two candidates to continue in this race at a time Nigerians are looking for a younger and unblemished crop of leaders. There is no moral justification for Atiku and Tinubu to strive to rule the nation until the court decides their fates one way or the other. National interest supersedes personal interests, aggrandizement and grandstanding in the quest for a better, greater, progressive, equitable and just democratic nation.
“Nigerians are tired of recycled politicians who have numerous cases of corruption, drugs, birth/educational certificates, health and questionable sources of wealth. Citizens want men and women of integrity, visionary, purposeful, resourceful, dynamic and transformational leaders to usher them to a new and better Nigeria we all desire and deserve.”
According to the statement, Senator Kwankwaso is the man to give Nigerians a new lease of life after years of wandering in political wilderness from the oppressive APC and PDP regimes.
Kwankwanso At Chatham House: I’m The Most Qualified For President
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) Sen Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso yesterday said he is the most qualified candidate to be the next president of Nigeria.
According to Kwankwanso, he is a PhD holder who has been in government for more than 35 years, an achievement he said placed him above other candidates.
Kwankwanso, who was speaking at Chatham House, United Kingdom, on why his discussion on a possible merger with the presidential candidate of the Labour Party Peter Obi failed, explained that media hype around the LP at the time did not allow the party to come to an agreement with him
LEADERSHIP reports that there were discussions between Kwankwanso and Obi for a merger but it ended in deadlock because none of them agreed to be a running mate to the other.
But Kwankwanso, who also said his party, the NNPP, is a national party, placed it above that of Obi, the Labour Party, which he described as regional.
Even though Kwankwanso said he was ready to discuss with any other presidential candidate, they must acknowledge that his qualifications would not allow him be a running mate to a candidate.
Nigerians Should Vote Only Patriotic, Servant-leaders – Catholic Bishops
Ahead of the February/March general elections, Nigerians have been advised to vote for leaders who will be true patriots, servants of the people who will bring about positive change in the nation.
The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, who gave the advice, said such leaders must be responsive to the security and welfare needs of all Nigerians without discrimination.
This was contained in a communiqué issued by the bishops of Ibadan Archdiocese, comprising Ilorin, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Osogbo Dioceses, after their meeting held at the Jubilee Conference Centre, Oke Ado, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The communiqué, entitled ‘Nigeria: Now is the time of Grace”, was signed by the president of the group, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin, and secretary, Most Rev. John Oyejola, and made available to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti yesterday by Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye,
The bishops said they fully identify with the suffering and pain of all Nigerians over these years As they endured numerous threats to security of life and property, crippling economic downturn and bad political leadership.
“We therefore urge all eligible Nigerians to secure their permanent voter cards (PVCs), and vote in the elections according to their conscience, without fear, in order to secure their own future and that of their children”
On the security situation in the country, they said it is “not yet time for celebration.”
The bishops expressed sorrow over the murder of yet another priest, Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi, of the Catholic Diocese of Minna. Fr Achi was burnt alive last week in his parish house by terrorists.
The Catholic bishops exhorted all Nigerian politicians and electoral umpires from the federal to the grassroots levels to ensure nobility and fairness in their speech and actions towards free, fair and peaceful elections in February.