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Atiku: I’ll Make Appointments on Merit and Federal Character, If Elected

He again challenged the APC candidate Tinubu to reveal real name and background.

Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, om Sunday, reassured Nigerians that if elected president next year, he would ensure that the men and women who would form his cabinet were appointed strictly based on merit and the federal character. Atiku said this in a brief telephone chat with THISDAY.
The former vice president said, unlike the current All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, which had been widely accused of open nepotism in the filling of key positions, his government would ensure that all geographical zones were equally represented in appointments into his cabinet.


He challenged his APC counterpart, Bola Tinubu, to reveal his name and background.
But the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of APC said PDP was merely engaging in another round of mudslinging by asking Tinubu to reveal his identity.
Relatedly, about 10, 000 members of a political pressure group, Arewa Decides (AD), made up of youths from the 21 local government areas of Adamawa State, drummed up support for the Atiku ahead of the 2023 general election.
Speaking exclusively with THISDAY, Atiku explained, “In making all appointments, and not just in appointing security chiefs, I mean all appointments across the board, only merit, balanced with federal character, will be my government’s criteria. I make a bold promise, which every Nigerian citizen at home and abroad can hold me to: we will carry every geopolitical zone along.”


Atiku assured Nigerians, irrespective of ethnicity, region, and religion, that the entire nation would be his constituency.
“At the barest minimum, they can expect their security of life and property, as well as their economic situation to improve under the administration that we will form in 2023, God willing,” he added.
Responding to a question on his assessment of the campaigns so far, the presidential hopeful expressed delight with the process, adding that no presidential candidate in the 2023 election has gone round the country the way he has done.
The former vice president stated, “My team and I feel very confident with the campaigns. If you go granular, you will see that no other presidential campaign has traversed Nigeria like we have done, and are still doing.


“We project our vision and patriotism to citizens of our great nation, and then feed off the love from Nigerians on the campaign trail and rallies.
“Our people have been through a lot. And when they listen to us, they can see that God, in His Infinite Wisdom and Mercy, is sending them relief.”
Atiku, who was in Anambra State last week, had told the people of the state that those, who craved the emergence of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction should support his presidential bid, saying voting him into power next year would mark a definite progress towards that goal.
“I am going to be a stepping stone to an Igbo president in this country,” Atiku, whose running mate, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, from the Igbo speaking part of the state, had said. He added, “I have shown it in my action, because this is the third time I am running with an Igbo man. If you really want to produce a president, then, vote Atiku-Okowa ticket.”


The presidential hopeful had also pledged to address youth unemployment, telling his supporters, “I promised to set aside $10 billion to promote small scale and medium enterprise for our young men and women so that they can be independent.
“I want to thank you, the people of Anambra State, for this warm reception. I never thought I will see such a crowd in Anambra State and, believe me, we are not going to forget you, we are going to reward you handsomely.”
In another statement by Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, he cited a bible verse, saying, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
According to Shaibu, “This, perhaps, explains why the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has refused to open himself up for scrutiny but continues to evade debates, non-partisan town hall meetings and live interviews.
“Tinubu’s entire life and persona are based on falsehood and, thus, he cannot address these questions, hence, his decision to continue to run all over the place. But these controversies did not begin today.


“In 2007, a former head of the civil service of Lagos State, Abdulrafiu Babatunde Tinubu, one of the eldest members of the Tinubu family, published a book titled: ‘Onijumu Wura: The Tinubu Dynasty of Kakawa, Lagos (The Tree)’.
“Abdulrafiu included the names of all members of the Tinubu dynasty from the 19th century till date. Conspicuously missing from the book was the name of Bola Tinubu. The author claimed anyone whose name was not listed in the book was not an authentic member of the Tinubu family.”


The statement noted, “Atiku Abubakar’s history has never been in doubt. His father was Garba Abubakar, a Fulani trader and farmer, while Atiku’s mother was Aisha Kande. Atiku was named after his paternal grandfather, Atiku Abdulqadir, who hails from Wurno, Sokoto State and migrated to Kojoli village at Jada, Adamawa State.
“His maternal grandfather was Inuwa Dutse, who migrated to Jada, Adamawa State from Dutse, Jigawa State. Where is Tinubu from? Who are his parents? Who was Tinubu’s father? What was his name? What is Tinubu’s full name? Is it Bolatito, Omobolanle, Abolaji, Bolarinwa?
“While it is not uncommon for leaders to use a short version of their names, most times, for the purpose of stylistic rendition, the full outlay of their names is nonetheless public knowledge.”


He explained that in the Second Republic, names, such as Bisi Onabanjo, Bola Ige, Bisi Akande and many more from the South-west region, were brand names of great political icons. He also said everyone knew that the name of the governor of Ogun State in the Second Republic was known in full as Olabisi Onabanjo, ditto for Ajibola Ige and the rest of such examples.
“However, it is confounding that in the case of the APC presidential candidate, he is simply known as Bola Tinubu,” Shaibu said in the statement, alleging, “No one knows the prefix or suffix to his ‘Bola’.”


The statement said further, “Tinubu also seems to have moved from infancy directly to university in the United States of America, hence, his record as the only presidential candidate in the history of Nigeria not to include his primary and secondary school information on his INEC Form CF001.
“Earlier, in 1999, while contesting for the governorship of Lagos State, he lied on oath that he attended St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, and Government College, Ibadan, but his credentials were soon challenged by the late legendary lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), even as it had been established that Tinubu had no classmates in primary or secondary school.


“Eager to avoid another embarrassing scrutiny, he has now decided to be silent about his primary and secondary education. Rather than tell the truth, his campaign spokesman, Festus Keyamo, shamelessly stated on Arise Television that Tinubu did not attend primary or secondary school and should, thus, be commended for beating the odds.”
Quoting Keyamo, he wrote, “They are asking what primary school one must have attended to go to secondary school. We want the younger ones to know that this is a virtue and not a vice. In those days, great men wrote exams from home,” adding, “This is complete balderdash given the fact that Keyamo, had in 2000 sued the Lagos State House of Assembly for clearing Tinubu of school certificate forgery.”


Shaibu further stressed, “Since the APC continues to insist that they will not present their presidential candidate for media scrutiny, may we therefore call on the media handlers of this particular ‘Bola’ Tinubu to avail the country and its people the full outlay of Bola Tinubu’s name.
“The country and its people need to know if the man seeking to become their president is known as Adebola, Ajibola or, perhaps, it’s just simply: Bola (lokan)? The nation shall be most grateful if the APC can remove this tiny veil out of the many shades about their presidential candidate that they don’t want the Nigeria people to know about.


“It is often said that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Nigerians must not allow a stranger, an anonymous man with no record, to control the destiny of over 200 million people.”
However, Director of  Media and Publicity of the APC campaign, Bayo Onanuga, said PDP should wait for its day of judgement rather than engage in this obscurantist, diversionary game, describing the latest allegation as  another attempt at shadow boxing and desperate resort to character assassination and innuendoes.


Onanuga said, “In another puerile move, Shuaibu challenged our candidate to give his full name and went on a journey of fantasy about his early education and parentage, matters already thrown into the dustbin decades ago.
“We were not surprised that the desperate Atiku camp, faced with mounting setbacks in its campaign, will engage in another round of mudslinging, after it failed to make any capital over its amplified allegation of drug dealing against our candidate.”
Onanuga noted that if only the PDP would go back to its records, it would have realised that the same campaign of reckless calumny was its stock in trade in the governorship campaigns in Lagos State in 2003.


Meanwhile, the Arewa youths, weekend, said Atiku was the only leader among the presidential candidates that could bring the country out of its current economic, political, security and education quagmire.
Shortly after a solidarity walk across the state capital, the state Co-ordinator, Comrade, Bala Aliyu, said the reason for the solidarity walk was to drum support for Atiku, a man of multiple capacities with sufficient experience to pilot the affairs of the country.


Aliyu said Arewa Decides was well-established in tbe 19 northern states and had declared support for Atiku in the 2023 general election. They said he remained the best alternative among the presidential candidates.

Chuks Okocha, Emmanuel Addeh, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Daji Sani in Yola

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