The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar came under attacks from many quarters over his call for a northern presidency in 2023 at the weekend.
Atiku had said only a northern presidency is desirable, stating Nigerians don’t need a Yoruba or Igbo to become president.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said Atiku’s statement was an attack on national unity.
Its Presidential Campaign Council said the former Vice President’s declaration has framed him as an ethnic and regional champion.
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode said the former Vice President was provocative and self-serving.
In a statement at the Arewa town hall policy dialogue in Kaduna, Atiku said: “What the average Northerner needs are somebody who is from the North … he doesn’t need a Yoruba Candidate or an Igbo candidate”.
Reacting to Atiku, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Barrister Felix Morka in a statement in Abuja on Sunday said the outburst of the PDP flag bearer was a repulsive act of desperation capable of instigating strife and disunity in the country.
Morka said: “Atiku’s statement is a decisive attack on our national unity. It is beyond the pale for a senior citizen and a former Vice President of the Federal Republic to so brazenly instigate strife and disunity in our country in pursuit of his befuddled political self-interest.”
The APC spokesman who said he was surprised that such a statement emanated from “a desperate and serial failed candidate for the office of President” argued that, “If, as Atiku believes, the average Northerner needs a Northern President now, after a Northern President, when will they ever not need a Northern President?
“What does Atiku think the average Southerner needs? Why is it about what the average Northerner needs, or even what the average Southerner may need?
“Why is it not about what Nigeria and Nigerians need? Nigerians need bold and visionary leadership anchored on a firm commitment to transcendental national unity, over and above ethnic or sectional obsessions.
“Atiku’s words ring loud of extreme and mindless desperation, and such an extremely desperate man cannot and must not be entrusted with the most important job of President – a job whose core duty is that of leading, uniting and working in the best interest of all in an ethno-religious pluralistic society as Nigeria. Our country does not need this kind of highly inflammable rhetoric now or ever.”
The APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) said Atiku’s statement was the worst expression of ethnocentric opportunism ever uttered by a former Vice President.
A statement by the PCC Director, of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga said Atiku’s utterance demonstrated how low a man honoured with the second highest office of the Nigerian Constitution was willing to sink in search of a perennial wild goose chase after the highest office in the land.
The council observed that the former Vice President’s assertion confirms the argument that he has feasted on such base, cheap, primordial sentiments to use the masses and the elite of the North as the ladder to ascend to power since 1989 without any dividends to show.
“We view Atiku’s public declaration which framed him as an ethnic and regional champion as unbecoming for a man who was once a Vice-President of Nigeria.
“But we are not surprised by his desperate position. Atiku has resorted to whipping up ethnic sentiments, knowing that his chances of being elected have become a mirage.
“He is demonstrably the antithesis of a pan-Nigerian politician. Nigerians of goodwill, who, daily, seek a united and prosperous nation, should reject Atiku and his party at the polls next February.
“Atiku only pays lip service to national unity, despite that it features as one of the 5 cardinal points of his so-called “Covenant with Nigerians”. The facade is over, he is now fully naked before the Nigerian people.”
Also berating the PDP candidate on his Facebook page, the Director, New Media of the APC PCC, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode lampooned Atiku maintaining that the country does not need an ethnic bigot and tribal champions as President in 2023.
The former Aviation Minister wrote on his verified Facebook page: “Such tomfoolery is rarely seen even from the worst among us. Atiku’s words are not only unacceptable but also insisting, irresponsible and despicable.
“To say that the north will be better off if a Northern is in power for yet another 8 years and will be worse off if an Igbo or Yoruba is in power is an insidious, provocative, dangerous, self-serving and specious lie
“We will not allow Atiku to do to us what he did to Wike. We will not be cheated or denied.
“It is time for power to shift to the South and an overwhelming number of the people in the North and certainly all the Northerns in the APC believe that. They recognise the fact that if we want our nation to continue to enjoy the peace and remain united into the distant future. We must be fair in our dealings with one another.
“Atiku is a dying breed who still sees things from a regional, ethnic and religious prism. Nigeria has moved on from that and she deserves better. Our nation will not accept an ethnic bigot and tribal champion as their President.
“Atiku Ibn Dubai does NOT speak for the North, he speaks for his deluded and blind PDP supporters and his PCC.
“Nigeria does not need a Northern or Southern President, she needs a Nigerian President and Bola Ahmed Tinubu is that President,” he insisted