The Labour Party and the Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation on Friday berated the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, for saying he will win the election next year.
Specifically, the Director-General of Asiwaju Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Adebayo Shittu, told Saturday PUNCH that the outcome of the 2023 general election would shock Atiku.
He said, “Talk is cheap. Tinubu will be waiting for him. Despite coming from Adamawa, Atiku’s people will prefer to vote for Tinubu.
“When people ask me why I think so, I tell them the evidence is there for all to see. What has Atiku done for his people in Adamawa since he became a politician?
“We in Tinubu’s camp have no fear and we will lose no sleep over the threat of Atiku. Our number one priority in the North-East is to beat him in his constituency in Adamawa. Our victory in 2023 will just be like the MKO Abiola’s election.”
Also, Valentine Obienyem, Peter Obi’s spokesperson, said Obi would win next year’s election.
“Things are not working well in Nigeria today, we have acute hunger in the land. Is it social media generated? We have many things going wrong in Nigeria, not because of social media.
“If it is not because of social media, you cannot say that it’s only those in social media that feel the impact. So, whether you’re in the social media, villages and wherever you are in Nigeria today, we are having the impact of hard times.
“Whether they’re in social media or not does not really affect the vote. I can tell you that 80 per cent of Nigerians believe that it is Peter Obi that will solve all these problems. So, his followership is not social media generated, but a product of the dysfunction that we have in the society today. Followers of Obi go beyond social media,” he added.
Earlier, Atiku had said although he is friends with the All Progressives Congress standard bearer, Bola Tinubu, he is determined to defeat him in next February’s election.
Atiku said these during an interview with Arise Television which aired on Friday.
“Of course, we are still friends but that doesn’t mean we will not have political differences. We have been having political differences since we became friends,” he stated.
When asked if he was determined to defeat Tinubu despite their relationship, the former Vice-President said, “Of course.”
He, however, disagreed with Tinubu for picking a Muslim as his running mate, adding that this would be a threat to Nigeria’s unity.
“I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe it is right for a country like Nigeria that is multi-ethnic, multi-religious and there should be balancing of interest,” Atiku stated.
He recalled that while he was running for President in 2007, Tinubu wanted to be his running mate but he dismissed the idea because they were both Muslims.
The former vice-president claimed that this made Tinubu to abandon him for the candidate of the PDP, Umaru Yar’Adua, who won the election.
“Remember I came out of the PDP on the issue of zoning and together with him we formed ACN and I was given a ticket in Lagos and he insisted on being my running mate and I said no, I am not going to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket. So he switched his support to the late Umaru Yar’adua. That was the departing point,” Atiku stated.
He also dismissed the argument that Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima – who is also from the North-East like Atiku – could give him (Tinubu) an advantage.
Atiku noted that of the six states in the North-East, only Borno and Yobe are dominated by the Kanuri tribe of which Shettima is a part of.
“Certainly my prospects are much higher. If you know the composition of the North-East, you have Borno and Yobe. These are essentially two Kanuri states and then you have the other states which are essentially Hausa/Fulani. So, even if people are going to vote on that basis, I think I have a more favourable position from the North-East,” he stated.
The former vice-president also dismissed the chances of his former running mate, Peter Obi, who is now the candidate of the Labour Party.
Atiku argued that Obi’s popularity was mainly on social media and about 90 per cent of northerners are not on social media. He added that Obi’s candidacy would not split the votes of the PDP because he had no structure or politician to push his candidacy.
“I really don’t expect the Labour Party to take many votes from the PDP as people are speculating. They have no structure at all levels, with no governor, and lawmaker. It will take a miracle for the Labour Party with no structure at the grassroots to win the election.
“They had said through social media they have one million votes in Osun State but how many votes do they have in real life? In the northern part of the country, about 90 per cent of people don’t have access to social media. Most of the electorate are not on social media,” he said.
Atiku added that Obi never informed him of his intention to leave the PDP, adding that he was only informed a few days after.
When contacted for comment, the Director of Media of Tinubu’s Campaign train, Bayo Onanuga, said, “They are friends and Tinubu wants to reply to him (Atiku) personally. We’ll issue a statement tomorrow (Saturday) when Asiwaju replies him personally.”
But the LP said Atiku was restless over Obi’s growing popularity.
It said Atiku’s remark against Obi showed that the ex-Anambra State governor posed a threat to the PDP candidate’s presidential ambition.
The party’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Arabambi Abayomi, said on Friday that the fact that Obi was being constantly attacked showed that he had become a threat to the APC and the PDP.
“All that the presidential candidate of the PDP and its candidate talk about now are Obi and the Labour Party because Nigeria’s structure has changed for the Labour Party.
“I say so because, for the first time in history, we have the NLC and the TUC declaring that workers are members of the Labour Party. Our popularity has sent shivers down their spine; they are not only jittery; they are also confused,” he said.
Meanwhile, Atiku has dismissed claims by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State that the PDP committee set up to select his running mate, picked Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Atiku, who said he was ready to make the recommendations public, said the committee listed three names, including Wike.
He, however, said efforts were on to address disagreements in the party.
On the claim that the PDP had become a northern party since all top leadership positions were being held by northerners, Atiku said the Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, who is from the North-Central, will step aside once the PDP wins the Presidential election.
When asked if his former principal, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, would support him, Atiku said he expected Obasanjo to support him because he was the only one that could carry on his legacy.
He disagreed with the 17 security agencies in the country being headed by people from the same section of the country.
Atiku also said there was an urgent need to remove petrol subsidy. He added that when he and Obasanjo were in government, there was a plan to remove subsidy but this was jettisoned by successive governments.
“It is inevitable (subsidy removal) but has to happen. It has to be accomplished through negotiations with the organised labour and other sectors of the economy. That policy should resume,” he said.