The presidential campaign councils of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Sunday clashed over the health status of the ruling party’s candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
A former governor of Kano State who is the Special Adviser to the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, said yesterday that exposing the health status of one’s opponent and criticising them for their shortcomings were normal in political campaigns.
He spoke Sunday in Kano during a sign-up for Atiku/Okowa rally where the students of tertiary institutions in the state declared their support for the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar.
Speaking to newsmen, Shekarau said, “When campaigning, you are bound to challenge ideas, you are bound to challenge the quality of the candidates in the opposition. And I don’t see anything wrong in a candidate criticising his opponent, exposing his shortcomings.
“We are not using any abusive language. If I say my opponent is sick and will not be able to meet up with the challenges, there is nothing wrong with that.
“If I say my opponent is not capable and decide to say my candidate is the best, it is left for the citizens and electorate to decide.”
The former governor of Kano was apparently referring to Tinubu, whose health status has been a concern to some Nigerians ahead of next year’s polls.
But in a swift reaction, the APC Presidential Campaign Council said the statement was a campaign of calumny against Tinubu and a desperate move to hoodwink Nigerians.
The council in a statement by its director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, said, “Having failed to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians on its 16 years of infamous, criminal sabotage of our fatherland, in which Atiku as the overseer of the privatisation of our national assets programme, shortchanged our people, the PDP has just woken up to the reality that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s sure victory in the presidential election of February 25, 2023 is inevitable.
“Hence this desperate resort to character assassination and innuendoes. 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. It had also been a subject of investigation by the Lagos State House of Assembly.
“We however sympathise with Atiku and his mudslinging agents. We know why they are lashing on every straw available. They are seized with fear that the election is once again lost.
“The constitution of the republic is very clear on the rights of a citizen to contest for president. Our candidate has fulfilled those conditions. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the impartial umpire, has affirmed that he is qualified to run.
“The over 93 million registered voters who will vote in the 2023 elections have the intellect to choose who they want as president. That man is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Yes, that is his name.
“PDP should wait for its day of Judgment rather than engage in this obscurantist, diversionary game, a game that will be determined by the Nigerian masses.”
By Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja) & Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu (Kano)