Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, took a swipe at his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Bola Tinubu, saying his appearance at the Chatham House, was comparable only to a comedian’s visit.
At the same time, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), has also described Tinubu’s presence at the Chatham House as one of the saddest moments for Nigeria on the global stage, saying the people should weep not for Tinubu but the country.
Similarly, one of the spokespersons of the PDP Presidential Campaign Management Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, has said Tinubu only advertised incapacity and inefficiency at the Chatham House event.
In a statement titled: “2023: A Comedian Visits Chatham House” and signed by Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, the PDP presidential hopeful stated that Tinubu’s performance was disgraceful.
According to him, while Tinubu was expected to sell himself to voters at the event, he ended up doing the opposite.
“The disgraceful campaign of APC candidate, Bola Tinubu, reached its nadir at Chatham House in London, where he was expected to have sold himself. Six long months after emerging the candidate of the party, the self-styled Lagos godfather has continued to avoid any public engagement with other candidates because his intelligence pales in comparison to them,” he said.
Atiku stressed that Tinubu avoided engagements at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry (LCCI); evaded the town hall organised by the Alumni Association of the Lagos Business School (LBS) and that of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Lately, he added that Tinubu avoided the town hall organised by Arise Television and other media houses, stressing that the Chatham House event would have been an opportunity to redeem himself, but he once again fell short.
“After reading his prepared speech for about 15 minutes, it was time for the question and answer session. Clearly lacking the capacity to respond to easy questions, he claimed his style is to delegate and thereafter decided to call on members of his campaign to answer questions for him.
“It is baffling that Tinubu could not defend his manifesto, which he personally launched amid fanfare. His action was like a final year student calling on his colleagues to come help him defend his project. Utterly disgraceful,” Atiku stated.
He said, rather than reveal how he would tackle insecurity, Tinubu called on Governor Nasir el-Rufai to answer the question on his behalf, noting that for clarity, the Kaduna governor recorded 1,192 civilian killings alone in 2021, almost leveling with that of war-torn Syria and therefore not qualified to speak on the issue.
“This is also a governor that admitted to paying killer insurgents to stop murdering his people. He hurriedly withdrew his children from school last year, because of insecurity but left the children of the masses to their fate,” he alleged.
Early this year, Atiku had said Kaduna State was cut off completely, becoming inaccessible by air, train or road, noting also that in August, the governor wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, stating that election might not take place in some parts of the state due to the activities of terrorists.
“Yet he was the one nominated by Tinubu to address security issues. What a joke! Tinubu also could not respond to questions on healthcare and even the economy despite claiming to have developed Lagos. Rather, he nominated the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; Betty Edu and Wale Edun to do so on his behalf.
“No wonder he is not brave enough to attend debates. He cannot hold his own. For a man, who constantly says Emi lo kan (it is my turn), it is ironic that he suddenly discovers that it is not his turn when it is time to answer serious questions,” Atiku mocked Tinubu.
He noted that when, Tinubu was pointedly asked about his profile and background, he started his story from his life at Chicago university, wondering why the former Lagos governor could not mention the primary and secondary schools he attended and why he deliberately left them out of his Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) form CF001.
“Without mincing words, Bola Tinubu’s entire candidacy is built on a grand scam. He is like a puppet, who on the surface appears to be alive but is actually being empowered by strings from a team backstage.
“In the unfortunate event that he becomes president, Tinubu’s presidency will be run by a cabal pulling the strings from the backstage. This is not about effective delegation but dereliction of duty. The warning signs are there for Nigerians to see.
“The country is facing arguably its worst crisis since the civil war. Unemployment is at 33 per cent, at least 133 million Nigerians live in abject poverty, the exchange rate of the naira even at the official market is at an all time low, debt is at an all time high, oil revenue has dried up, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Nigeria cannot risk another failed presidency,” Atiku said.
According to the PDP presidential candidate, the country deserved a very healthy person, saying, “The office of the president is not for sick people. Tinubu has tried his best but he is now weak and tired and should be allowed to go home.”
On its part, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, in a statement by its Director of Strategic Communication, Dele Momodu, and titled: “Weep not for Tinubu but for Nigeria”, said what happened in the UK was a complete charade.
“The Bola Tinubu handlers fumbled, and bungled it big time… They showcased him like a packaged invalid. It would have been better to present him as a brilliant politician and administrator, warts and all, who’s capable of independent thoughts.
“But what we saw yesterday was a theatre of the absurd. It brought back memories of our great President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and how he mysteriously disappeared from the radar and some of his aides governed by proxy,” Momodu recalled.
Noting that he was one of those, who led a protest against the anomaly at the time, Momodu maintained that what was unacceptable then was even more unacceptable now with the benefit of hindsight.
He argued that the problem of Nigeria was often aggravated by the ambitions of some acolytes, who wished to remain eternally relevant in the corridors of power at the expense of the long-suffering nation.
He also recalled when Buhari visited the same Chatham House seven years ago, the difference was that he answered all questions directed at him and did not delegate any question to anyone to answer for him.
“It is horrifying to watch some respected intellectuals like el-Rufai and Kayode Fayemi as they struggled to window-dress Tinubu on a much-hallowed global stage. Please, weep not for Tinubu but for Nigeria,” Momodu.
Melaye, while interrogating the Chatham House show, said even when a direct responsibility was placed on him, Tinubu forgot that the seat of the President was a chair and not a bench on which you can invite others to sit with you, saying it was a direct and personal responsibility, adding that, “This is the origin of the expression, ‘the buck stops on my table’.
According to Melaye, “For nearly all his life, Tinubu has lived in disguise and in the shadows of others. There are contentions on whether the name he bears now belongs to him or a woman. There are also interrogations on his certificate, his crime record and a great hue of inconsistencies.
“It was this same pattern that played out in London, where he chose to assume the names of Nasiru, Dele, Femi and Ben before a live international audience, who would not only have pitied the ostrich conduct of Tinubu but saddened by his coterie of defenders and power entrepreneurs, who chose to swim in shame with a calamitous candidate.
“Tinubu spoke about working as a team. Nothing typifies a team more than a football team, where 11 players form a team. In each team, there’s always a captain. One of the formalities for starting a match is the tossing of a coin to decide the side of placement.
“During this ritual, the captain of each side steps forward to pick one side of a coin. That is team leadership. Further to this, there are ladders of leadership. First, a leader must be able to lead himself before leading teams, leaders and institutions. What was required of Tinubu at Chatham House was self-leadership, but as usual, he thought he could circumvent the process. He failed.”
Chuks Okocha and Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja