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War of words, allegations worsen ahead presidential election

Managing elections in Nigeria

Less than three weeks to Nigeria’s February 25 presidential election, leading candidates and their parties have continued throwing tantrums and raising allegations against one another, a development seen as falling short of issues-based campaigns ahead of the all-important poll.

The three leading candidates in the election are Bola Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Atiku Abubakar, of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi, of the Labour Party (LP).

On Tuesday, January 31, while campaigning in Awka, Anambra State, Tinubu hit Atiku and Obi, dubbing them liars and betrayers, respectively.

“We are not like PDP that forgot your rail line. They are liars. When you hear Atiku use the word ‘wallahi talahi’, what is in his head is “na lie I lie”. Anytime you hear him say ‘wallahi talahi’, just reply and say, “na lie I lie”.

Turning to Obi, the APC presidential candidate said: “The man who left here, he calls himself Peter Obi. We read in the bible that before the cock crows, he will deny Jesus Christ. Is it not true? So, how can he keep his promise to you? He cannot prove a point.

On Monday, February 6, the PDP and LP hit Tinubu in return. While Atiku accused Tinubu of mopping up cash to buy votes, Obi, on his part, alleged that the APC presidential candidate and his men are plotting a fresh smear campaign against him.

Debo Ologunabga, the national publicity secretary of the PDP, in a statement, said: “Tinubu has a history of appropriating public assets. What Tinubu has done in Lagos is state capture. He appropriated everything to himself.

“Our party is saddened that the cash crunch has persisted due to the sabotage of corrupt APC leaders, including their presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is alleged to have masterminded the intercepting and hoarding of the new notes for their selfish agenda.”

The PDP further accused Tinubu and his party of bringing ‘excruciating pain and distress’ being faced by Nigerians arising from their inability to access the new naira notes ‘occasioned by the reported nefarious activities of corrupt APC leaders who are compromising the system to intercept and hoard the new banknotes for their selfish vote-buying plans ahead of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.”

Atiku said Tinubu and his apologists in the APC are aware that they have no chance in the election and thus are devising all manner of shenanigans to overheat the polity, derail the electoral process and force an undemocratic situation upon our country.

Atiku in the statement also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide more mobile banks in rural areas, to reduce the difficulties Nigerians are facing in accessing cash.

On their part, the Obi-Datti Media Office accused the Tinubu team of hatching a “multi-million naira media campaign, dubbed “Killer Punch”, aimed at spreading lies about Obi.

Diran Onifade, head of media, Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, who raised the allegation in Abuja, said: “Having failed in all their plans to win the February 25 election, and seeing their campaign derailing on all fronts, Tinubu’s media handlers led by Femi Fani-Kayode, Festus Keyamo and Adamu Garba are set to release a video they term “Killer Punch.”

“Already, they have been releasing snippets of the documentary on social media without getting any attention, as people already know about their desperation to drag down Obi, who they rightly know, is far ahead.

According to the Obi-Datti team; “This documentary of lies and falsehood, which they have fabricated, is their attempt to portray Mr Obi as a drug peddler, killer and sexual pervert among other innuendos in their fertile imagination.

“Already, the Obi-Datti Media Office is aware, that they are a product of a strategy session between Tinubu and selected members of his media team, where Tinubu reportedly accused his media handlers of not “punching to knock out” and not doing enough, to halt Obi’s unprecedented progress.

Read also: INEC begins mapping of election hotspots, records ceaseless hacking attempts

“He demanded more wild propaganda from them, against his opponents, especially Obi, with the objective of throwing anything at the opponents to win, regardless of ethics or morality.

Onifade said that the team will continue to be amused over the desperation, to search for faults in the presidential front-runner, and their apparent frustration, of not finding any.

According to him, “The LP standard bearer has remained the most fact-checked, among the four top presidential candidates, for the obvious reasons, that he is the only one running an issues-driven campaign, and therefore provoking intellectual conversations, and gaining more supporters, daily, nationwide.

“But as the election day draws nearer, and the reality of their impending defeat heightens, their anger and frustration are also on the rise.”

He described the directives to bring down the Labour Party flag bearer at all costs, as “a clear indication of their hopelessness.

“We at the Obi-Datti Media Campaign Office have all the details of their machinations, including some anti-Obi persons, already contacted for a role in the so-called ‘Killer Punch’ documentary’, and also the release of N500m for this failed smear campaign,” the Obi-Datti Campaign alleged.