With 21 days to the 2023 general election, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has claimed that the persons behind the current nationwide petrol and new Naira notes scarcity want to foist a political crisis on the country.
Tinubu, who made the comment in Ekiti State yesterday, said the people he referred to want the acute shortage of cash and petrol to incite the frustrated citizens to violence which will derail the electoral process and cause the declaration of an interim government.
Tinubu had earlier attacked the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing a new Naira policy and causing the shortage of Petroleum Motor Spirit (petrol) just weeks before the general elections, saying they are targeted at scuttling his presidential ambition.
One of Tinubu’s main supporters, Governor Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna State, has in the last few days accused some presidential aides of frustrating the campaign of the APC presidential candidate and using the new Naira policy to undermine support for the party.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has, however, accused the Tinubu camp of engaging in hate speech and trying to incite Nigerians to scuttle the elections.
Speaking at Ekiti Parapo Pavilion in Ado-Ekiti, venue of the presidential campaign rally yesterday, Tinubu said the people behind the crisis that is causing nationwide frustration and hardship to Nigerians want to spark turmoil that can lead to the postponement of the general elections.
“They are hoarding Naira so that you can be angry and fight. They want confusion so that the election can be postponed. What they want is an interim government. But we are wiser than them. We will not fight. Any rat that eats the rat poison will end up killing itself,” he told the audience.
The former Lagos State Governor told the people that he was in the presidential race to better their lives.
“I am in the race for the betterment of the people. If it is what I will eat and what I need personally, God has provided for me. I am in this race to make life good and better for you, too.
“Ekiti people are well educated people. They are well read; they don’t joke with education. But it is not good to finish schooling and not get a job. So, we shall provide jobs for you. On that day, we will trek to the polling booths to cast our votes. Your polling booths are not far from where you live. So, you should walk down to cast your votes,” Tinubu told his supporters.
Rallying the people of Ekiti to hope for better and happy life in his prepared speech, Tinubu said he believes every Nigerian is entitled to live a life of dignity.
“I believe each and every Nigerian is entitled to a life of dignity and happiness free from the fear of hunger, poverty, violence and hopelessness. I believe we can do better as a nation. I believe we must do better. History calls. Destiny Calls. Greatness calls.
“I came here today to offer you my best and assure you that I will always work for you. Take a look at my plan and ideas for the nation, you will like them because they were developed out of concern and hope for your welfare and for your future.”
Atiku Campaign Accuses Tinubu Of Hate Speech, Incitement
However, in its respse to Tinubu’s comments, the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation has accused the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of sending his campaign officials to unleash hate speech against prominent leaders in the north and other parts of the country in a bid to incite Nigerians, cause insurrection and disrupt the 2023 general elections.
Spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday, said Tinubu has resorted to incendiary statements as well as deploying top members of his campaign, including a serving governor, to insult and condemn prominent Nigerian leaders as a ploy to trigger crisis in the polity.
He claimed that the APC candidate had allegedly resorted to the use of inciting comments to cause insurrection because he had realised he had been rejected by Nigerians.
Ologbondiyan said, “Our Campaign invites Nigerians to note how notable arrowheads and supporters of the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign have been moving around various media houses to spew hate speech and promote blackmailing narratives apparently with the view to undermining our national unity and derailing the electoral process.
“Such top officials of the Tinubu Campaign are also reportedly instructed to attack peaceful and well-meaning Nigerians, issue threats, incite mob actions, promote riots and violence in various parts of the country in furtherance of Tinubu’s unrelenting incitement to his followers to deploy violence, fight and snatch power by all means in the 2023 general elections.
“Nigerians can still recall how Tinubu recently in London declared to his followers that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte. It is what we are doing; It is being determined; you do it at all costs; fight for it, grab it, snatch it and run with it”.”
Ologbondiyan recalled how Tinubu, during the APC Campaign Rally in Abeokuta, Ogun State, made very wild allegations, inciting his followers to see the February 25 presidential election as a “revolution”.
“It is therefore not in doubt that having failed in every parameter of assessing a credible presidential candidate and having realised that he cannot win in the election, the APC presidential candidate is desperately seeking to cause anarchy, mayhem, bloodletting, violence and a forcible overthrow of our democratic system, not minding the lives and safety of millions of Nigerians.”
Cabal In Presidency Backing Atiku – Wike
Meanwhile, the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has reiterated his claim that a cabal in the APC-controlled presidency is backing the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
This is as he advised President Buhari to reconsider the manner with which the currency redesign policy has been implemented so far because it is anti-people.
Wike spoke yesterday at Comprehensive Secondary School field, Ibaka Town, Okrika Island during the Rivers State PDP Campaign Flag-off Rally for Okrika local government area of the state.
The governor said recent events had vindicated him over his initial public statement that the PDP presidential candidate and his supporters boasted that they did not need the G-5 governors to win election because they had been assured of victory by a cabal in the presidency.
He said: “I said they have been given assurance, but this election is not going to be based on that cabal’s assurance. It is on the people’s assurance.”
Wike insisted that the PDP candidate will still need Rivers State to win the election.
“Whether you like it or not, you need Rivers State. If you don’t need Rivers State you must fail. If you say you don’t want us, you’ll fail. There are no two ways about it,” Wike insisted.
The governor maintained that those who recommended this apparently new monetary policy do not love the President and are bent of tarnishing his legacy.
He urged President Buhari to take a critical look at the socioeconomic chaos, and hardship that the exercise has caused, and revisit the policy in order to curb the pain of Nigerians.
Wike said: “This policy is anti-people. The new Naira note is not there. Even though I have money in my account, I cannot get N10,000. I cannot go and buy fuel. Who is losing? Is it not the masses? Is it not the people?”
The governor told the President to stop listening to those who advise him on this monetary policy under the guise that it will curb vote buying, saying those advisors do not mean well for Nigerians and cannot feel their sufferings.
He also dismissed the claim that the policy is being implemented to fight politicians and corruption, and wondered if such goals can be achieved barel three months left within the lifespan of the President Buhari administration.
It Will Be Shameful For North Not To Vote Tinubu-El-Rufai
And just as the pressure mounts on the presidency over the alleged refusal of some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s aides to support the APC presidential candidate, Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai has asserted that it would be shameful for northern voters not to support the candidature of Bola Tinubu.
Speaking with the BBC Hausa service monitored by our correspondent, El-Rufai said Tinubu supported Buhari to be president from the north, adding that it is gentlemanly for the region to reciprocate by voting him in this month’s presidential election.
The Kaduna State governor also berated the redesigning of the naira at this period when the country is preparing for elections, alleging that it was a conspiracy by those in the presidency and some northern elders to sabotage the APC in the upcoming polls.
“I will expose them later if the need arises. We know them and I am not afraid of them. I am 62 years now, I have children and grandchildren. So, I am also an elder.
“It is unfortunate that some northern candidates arouse religious and regional sentiments during their campaigns. By God’s grace, we will win the election because our intention is good for the country,” he said.
El-Rufai lamented that the timing of the redesigning of the Nigerian naira was wrong, adding that the supposed aim of the policy, which is to tackle corrupt politicians, will be defeated as they will have their way to get the new notes from commercial banks.
“One of us, the governors, has collected the sum of N500 million in new notes. So, politicians have the way out. It is the common man that will suffer by the policy,” he stated.
UK Agency Denies Investigation Tinubu
Meanwhile, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has disowned two letters circulating on the social media in Nigeria on the alleged activities of presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.
A twitter user, @lanreisrael, alleged in a tweet that the UK National Crime Agency was investigating a case of money laundering by Alpha Beta, a company allegedly tied to Tinubu, through British banks to suspected drug dealers in Columbia. @lanreisrael posted.
The tweets included official letters purported to have been written by the UK agency on the investigation.
The agency however said the two letters were forgeries.
The first letter surfaced on Twitter in late January and is a purported reply to an enquiry to the agency on the alleged activities of Mr Tinubu.
It was viewed hundreds of thousands of times by Twitter users in the country.
The NCA told the BBC that it had denied the letter when it was drawn to their attention.
The second letter appeared to “challenge” the first letter.
It suggested that the NCA was threatening to take legal action against a rival presidential campaign team, which, it claimed forged the first letter.
The NCA has confirmed to the BBC that the second letter did not come from it.
The NCA is a law enforcement agency in the UK that focuses on local and international cybercrime, human trafficking, drug trafficking, organised crime, economic crime and weapons trafficking.
A recent investigation by the BBC disinformation unit found that political parties and campaigns in Nigeria were using social media influencers to spread disinformation to discredit their political rivals.
Nigerians will go to the polls on 25 February to elect a new president.