Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has challenged claims by the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that he rejected the former Lagos Governor as his running mate ahead of the 2007 presidential election.
Challenging claims made by Abubakar in a recent interview, Tinubu instead made a counterclaim that Atiku actually offered him the opportunity to be the vice presidential running mate on the platform of the Action Congress in 2007.
Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, said there are witnesses who can come forward should Atiku insist on misleading Nigerians that he has had misgivings about a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
The former Lagos State Governor, in a statement by his Media Office said Atiku had in 2007 promised him the vice presidential ticket and later reneged on the promise, just as he did recently with Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State governor.
According to him, the former vice president also used the same deception on Wike whom he promised the vice presidential ticket after the PDP primary election but reneged.
Tackling the former vice president for criticising his Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, Tinubu recalled how Atiku had fought vigorously in 1993 to become the running mate to the late Chief MKO Abiola after losing the presidential ticket to the deceased.
Reacting however, Atiku Abubakar described Tinubu’s comments on the interview as a knee jerk response to a wave making interview. The PDP presidential candidate has however not provided more details about what transpired between him and Tinubu back in 2007.
The APC candidate said “all Nigerians should feel great pity and sadness for the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar” noting that Atiku in a desperate attempt to win the election by stoking religious bias, has reduced himself to uttering baseless lies on national television.
Tinubu said, “We are saddened to see such a man become unhinged from the truth. So obsessed is he with his quest for office, Atiku is willing to render any form of untruth if he thinks it might gain him a single vote. Atiku may want to be president. However, all he has shown is that he is a pathological liar.
“Whatever moral compass he (Atiku) had has been lost. During a 22nd July television interview, Atiku assaulted historic truth by lying that he did not name Tinubu as his running mate in 2007 on the Action Congress ticket because Atiku did not want a Muslim as his running mate.”
Setting the records straight Tinubu explained that Atiku was not among those who founded the defunct Action Congress, saying “It was the actual founders of the AC who offered the party’s flag to Atiku because of the need to fight the authoritarian designs then President Obasanjo and the PDP had on Nigeria’s democracy.
“At that moment, Atiku had been unceremoniously pushed aside if not out of the PDP by Obasanjo. We needed to rally all forces to confront the one-party state Obasanjo had in mind. Atiku was simply a beneficiary of this collective duty to fight the attack on multi-party democracy the PDP had launched.
“I feel sorry for dear old Atiku. Love of his own ambition has eclipsed his relationship with the truth and an honest account of the past. We formed the AC without his knowledge. When President Obasanjo virtually exiled him from the PDP, we lent him our support by giving him the AC platform for the 2007 election.
“Let me say openly that Atiku offered me the vice presidential ticket in 2007. Let me also say that my religion has not changed. When he offered the position to me, I was a Muslim and I believe he was aware of my religious faith at the time.
“Atiku’s calculations and deceit had nothing to do with religion or his sensitivity to it. His conduct has everything to do with what we discovered about his paucity of character and love of intrigues.
“True to form, Atiku, fifteen years later, promised HE Governor Nyesom Wike the same thing this electoral season and similarly reneged. Governor Wike is a Christian.
“When it comes to intrigues, we can say that Atiku is without bias. He will attempt to lie and deceive both Christians and Muslims with equal vigour.
“Atiku has no business raising the issue of a Muslim-Muslim ticket except as a hypocrite. Perhaps he believes people have forgotten his antics during the 1993 election. After he woefully lost his bid to be the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, what did he do? He canvassed and lobbied harder than anyone to become the running mate to late Chief MKO Abiola. When it benefitted him personally, Atiku did not see anything wrong with Muslim-Muslim ticket. He saw everything right in such a ticket as long as he was on it.
“Now, Atiku criticizes my selection as running mate based on religion. He does so because he cannot criticize it on other grounds. If Atiku were to have one of his rare moments of honesty, he would admit that the person I selected as my running mate is more qualified for the position than the man who joined him. And this conclusion has nothing to do with religious faith. It has everything to do with competence, experience, ability, and vision.
“My running mate and I are here to build a more just and prosperous society for all Nigerians, be they Christian, Muslim or adherents of other faiths. It seems that Atiku is here trying to build an edifice of lies and call that the house into which Nigerians should walk and reside. He will fail in this sad attempt to trick an entire nation.
The Director, Media and Communication of Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, also responded to the Atiku interview saying they were shocked by the many lies and ignorance displayed by Atiku.
Onanuga said Atiku exposed himself as a man who is not prepared for the job he is applying for and a man who can not be entrusted with our commonwealth.