The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of threatening former Vice President Atiku Abubakar because the defence of the ruling party and President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal was allegedly collapsing.
The opposition party in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday took exception to the governing party’s reaction to a statement made by Atiku calling for the implementation of electoral reforms.
In the statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP scolded the APC for warning Atiku against making comments on the state of the nation and also seeing his “patriotic” reactions to pressing national issues as to a felony.
The PDP emphatically stated that the comments of its presidential candidate in the February 2019 election on national issues have been patriotic and within his constitutional right of freedom of speech, not only as a citizen of this Federal Republic, but also a former Vice President, as well as a leader and Presidential candidate of the PDP, “the party that commands the followership and solidarity of overwhelming majority of Nigerians.“
The statement added: “As a responsible political party, we boldly state that none of the statements made by our presidential candidate falls within the realm of a felony in any way whatsoever.
“However, intelligence available to the PDP largely posits that the threats against Atiku Abubakar emanated from certain persons around the Buhari Presidency who are jittery that President Muhammadu Buhari’s defence is collapsing at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, for which they have become desperate to use underhand methods to stop Atiku Abubakar.”
The PDP invited Nigerians to note that the renewed allegations against Atiku Abubakar came after a witness told the court, as has been publicly reported, that the Army never required any enlisted officer to submit his WAEC certificate, in total contradiction to claims that Mr. President’s certificates were in the custody of the Army.
It added: “Our party counsels the APC to rather get ready for justice instead of seeking ways to frame Atiku Abubakar on flimsy and unconstitutional grounds.
“Moreover, the APC is reminded that while the PDP was in power, it never gagged the APC and its leaders, including President Buhari, from exercising their freedom of speech and freedom after the speech, in line with our laws.
“We note that General Muhammadu Buhari issued over 160 statements while he was in the opposition, including inflammatory remarks like the one that called on his supporters to take their fate in their own hands. It is instructive to note that none of the PDP administrations threatened General Buhari over such comments.
“Furthermore, it is quite disturbing that the APC is attacking Atiku Abubakar for commending British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for appointing 39 years old Nigerian, Kemi Badenoch, as a minister in his cabinet.
“Contrary to President Buhari’s projection to the world that Nigerian youths are lazy and should not be given an active role in governance in our country, other nations are finding accommodation for our youths. Atiku Abubakar cannot but commend such world leaders, no matter whose ox is gored.
“It is also instructive to note that the APC has further shown its disdain for the Nigerian youth as being demonstrated by President Buhari, whose cabinet has no place for our youths.
“Instead of attacking Atiku Abubakar for standing for our energetic and focused young men and women, the expectation of Nigerians is that APC will accept its failures and advise President Buhari against total disregard for young Nigerians.
“Furthermore, the PDP notes the reference by APC to President Buhari as a “sitting” President. Our party, however, states that what Nigeria needs at a time like this is a working President, not a President that sits down while our country becomes the world headquarters of poverty; not a President that relaxes in an arm-chair while insecurity festers and our economy continues to nosedive to the extent that Ghana has overtaken our nation as the number one recipient for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in West Africa.
“This is why the PDP stands with Nigerians in their determination to retrieve Atiku Abubakar’s stolen mandate at the tribunal and no amount of threats by the APC can detract from this resolve.”
Recall that Atiku had called for the implementation of the Justice Lawal Uwais report on the reform of the electoral process and the removal, from the President, of the powers to appoint the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He had said the powers to appoint the INEC’s boss should reside with the judiciary.
According to him, this should be part of the measures to guarantee the credibility of future elections.
He averred that the nation’s electoral process needed to be brought up to date, saying that one the ways to address the observed lapses in the system was the implementation of the Uwais recommendations.