The public spat between the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his opponent in the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar took another dimension on Sunday.
Responding to a statement credited to the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, in which it accused Atiku of lying about his past record of opposition to the Muslim-Muslim ticket, the Atiku Media Office, said it sympathises with Tinubu, because “his memory is no longer what it used to be.”
This was contained in a statement signed by Atiku’s Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe.
Atiku noted that the response from the Tinubu camp to his interview on Arise TV, which he described as “replete with indiscreet language,” deserves a response.
Ibe said, “The former Vice President has elected to respond to the claims made by Asiwaju.”
He said, “On the issue of Atiku Abubakar offering to make Bola Tinubu his running mate in 2007, the Waziri says as a statesman, which he believes Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also is, or should be, it is pertinent that they use temperate language at all times. It not only shows that they are seasoned and mature, more importantly, it is a good indicator of fitness for office.
“And that is why it is our intention to respond to Asiwaju’s statement on Atiku Abubakar’s Arise TV interview, not in the rather impolite manner that he dealt the PDP presidential candidate, but in measured tones.
“The major accusation made by Asiwaju Tinubu is that the Waziri Adamawa offered him the opportunity of being his running mate in 2007, which means that the former Vice President was not then mindful of Nigeria’s religious and ethnic diversity, making his statements during the Arise TV interview hypocritical.
“We would not say that Bola Tinubu has lied. Rather, it is our desire to give him the benefit of the doubt, and believe that his memory may not be what it used to be.
“Nigerians may want to note that on 14 September, 2005, the then US Consul General, Brian L. Browne, drafted a memo, leaked via Wikileaks, wherein he stated that Bola Tinubu was scheming to be a running mate to either Atiku Abubakar or Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is further historically corroborated by the subsequent political history of Nigeria. Biographers of President Muhammadu Buhari have variously recounted how that Bola Tinubu made the same request of then Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
“In his 2016 AUTHORISED biography of President Muhammadu Buhari titled ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria’, Professor John Paden, an American, wrote about the issue as follows:
“Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and political ‘godfather’ of the South-West geopolitical zone, felt he should be the vice-presidential candidate.”
The above, Ibe said, clearly shows a behavioural pattern here. “So, if anyone is “unhinged from the truth” (to borrow Asiwaju Tinubu’s words), it certainly is not Atiku Abubakar.
“In any case, if Bola Tinubu can forget the name of his own political party, why will he not also forget what transpired in 2007 and 2015? We do sympathise with him.
“The fact remains that in a fragile and ethnically diverse nation, such as ours, religious and ethnic balance must be observed at the highest levels, and from there flow downwards.
“That is what Atiku Abubakar said during his interview with Arise TV and he stands on that principle and will continue to do so without apology to anyone.
“From the forgoing, it is clear that His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar’s memory and recollection of the event has been corroborated by multiple, independent, and unconnected third parties, and if this were a court of law, this issue would have been regarded as proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“We would also like to remind Nigerians that even though multiple sources have testified that Bola Tinubu desperately lobbied to be made Buhari’s deputy in a Muslim-Muslim ticket, Bola Tinubu himself denied this on June 22, 2022, and instead accused President Buhari of offering him the position of Vice President.
“Which is exactly the same false allegation he has made against Atiku Abubakar. This is a pattern of behaviour. Not owning up to his actions.
“Therefore, we hope this settles the matter, and that cordiality can be expected henceforth from the opposing camp.“
The Atiku team expressed hope that the Tinubu Campaign will henceforth use temperate language in its response to issues.