The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 25 election, Atiku Abubakar, has asked Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), to join him in unearthing the truth regarding the academic certificates of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He made the call at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Atiku, who came in second in the election, had challenged Tinubu’s victory and lost at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
He told newsmen yesterday that he would only drop the battle against the president after the Supreme Court’s judgment.
Although the tribunal, among others, dismissed the allegation of certificate forgery against the president, Atiku continued his case at the Illinois Court in the United States which recently ordered the Chicago State University to release Tinubu’s academic records to him as requested.
The former vice president is seeking to include those records in his appeal at the Supreme Court.
He had alleged discrepancies in the certificate Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Atiku told the press conference yesterday that every Nigerian was embarrassed by the alleged certificate scandal of the president.
He stated: “The reputation of Nigeria is at stake. I am a Democrat by conviction and a citizen of a country that I love.
“This quest is not for or about Atiku Abubakar. It is a quest for the enthronement of truth, morality and accountability in our public affairs
“In line with this, therefore, I am calling on all well-meaning Nigerians, leaders of thought, our religious leaders, our traditional leaders, our community leaders, our political leaders, and in particular, Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP and, the leaders of every political party in Nigeria. And, indeed, every single person who loves this country, as I do, and who wishes nothing but the best for the country, as I do, to join me in this campaign to enshrine probity, accountability and the basic principles of justice, morality and uprightness in our country and in our government.
“This is a task for each and every one of us”.
He paid tribute to the late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, “who inspired us on this path of discovery. Now, he can truly rest in peace in the assurance that what he started about 23 years ago has come to fruition. Gani’s vindication today gives credence to the saying that no matter how fast a lie runs, the truth will someday overtake it.”
He alleged that Tinubu also sent a delegation of APC governors to meet with him immediately after the election, but that he rebuffed them.
“I would only drop the fight when the court rules, if the court rules that I am right, if the court rules that he (Tinubu) is right, that is the end of the fight. At the moment, we are at the Supreme Court and there is no any higher court than the Supreme Court,” he said. Reacting to a question on whether there were overtures from Tinubu’s government, Atiku answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, immediately after the election, I was told there was a delegation of governors who claimed they were sent by the president, but I did not allow them to get into my house. I did not,” he said.
Atiku also accused the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari of revoking his contracts.
“I was the founder of one of the biggest logistics companies since the military era, and as soon as Buhari came, even though we had licenses and we had nothing to do with government, We are just contractors to the oil companies.
“As soon as Buhari came, all those contracts were revoked and taken away from us till today. So, I am not doing any government business.
“So, I am not scared of any business being taken away from me, it has already been taken away from me since the Buhari administration. They took it and distributed out among themselves.”
Atiku said he was not indebted to Tinubu as believed.
He stated: “In 2007, we came together to form Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and in Lagos at the convention, I emerged and I got the ticket. After the convention, a few of our friends, who are here, met me and told me Bola wanted to be my running mate. So, I asked of their opinion on Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“All of them said they objected. So, I asked them why they didn’t tell him (Tinubu). So, that was the end of our political relationship, he broke away as he went ahead and supported Yar’adua. So, where is the ground for him to say I betrayed him?
Atiku said he prevented former President Olusegun Obasanjo from sacking Tinubu as governor of Lagos State during the 2003 general elections.
“Those of you who are old enough will remember that in 2003, the PDP took over all the states in the South West, with exemption of Lagos. I stood before Obasanjo and said no, you can’t take Lagos. And he left it.
“So, who is indebted to the other? Is it me or Tinubu? Till today, I will not do Muslim-Muslim ticket, it is absolutely wrong and not right. We are multi ethnic and multireligious society.”
Also responding to a question on the authenticity of Tinubu’s academic records, Atiku’s lawyer, Kalu Kalu, said the law is very clear that a party at fault cannot be allowed to enjoy the fruit of his illegality.
“Also, the Chicago State University admission has a claim that Bola Ahmed Tinubu attended Government College, Lagos and graduated in 1970 when indeed the school was established in 1974,” he added.
Accept defeat and lick your wound, APC tells Atiku
Also reacting to Atiku’s press conference, the All Progressives Congress (APC) urged him to graciously accept his defeat and quietly lick his political wound with some dignity. The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, in a statement yesterday, described Atiku’s speech as the beat of his tattered drum of shame.
He said “Despite Atiku’s lies before the Illinois Court that he wanted to use the discoveries in pursuit of his appeal at the Supreme Court, he has rather chosen to use same as an instrument of mischief and blackmail in clear contempt of the highest court of the land.”
He alleged that Nigerians rejected Atiku at the polls, saying he could not get by subterfuge what he failed to get through the ballot box.
“Nigerians validly elected President Tinubu to revamp our economy, restore security, create jobs, provide transformative infrastructure, improve electricity supply and enhance the living conditions of the masses.
“President Tinubu has undertaken to serve Nigerians, and he will not be distracted by a man who has consistently failed to achieve his self-serving and brutal quest to become Nigeria’s president.
“We believe Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should have known better than to demonstrate gross contempt of the highest court by making public comments on a matter that he has submitted to the court for adjudication.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar holds the unenviable title of Nigeria’s most prolific election loser and longest-running presidential candidate in history, and we see his recent US fishing expedition as the last kick of a roundly rejected presidential aspirant.
“While we sympathise with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for spending a lifetime pursuing unrealised dream, we strongly condemn the perfidious road he has taken and the needless negative exposure of Nigeria and the institution of the Presidency in a foreign land.”
Chicago’s case is Atiku’s, not mine – Obi
Reacting to Atiku’s call on him to join the fight against Tinubu, Obi said Chicago’s case was Atiku’s alone, saying his own focus was on his appeal at the Supreme Court.
Obi, who spoke to Daily Trust yesterday through the Head, of Obi-Datti Media Office, Diran Onifade, said: “All I can say is that we’re at Nigeria’s Supreme Court as separate entities. That’s where things are at the moment.
“CSU is Atiku’s case. We’re only at the Supreme Court on our own.”
When contacted for a reaction, the National Auditor of the NNPP, Ladipo Johnson, who often speaks on Kwankwaso’s behalf, promised, in a WhatsApp message, to get back to Daily Trust, but he never did as of the time of filing this report.