MORE attacks were launched yesterday by the camps of the two main contenders in next year’s presidential election.
President Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar are in the race, which has a legion of other contestants.
A vote for Atiku, said Information Minister Lai Mohammed, is a vote for corruption, which Nigerians had rejected.
The Atiku camp returned the fire in addition to listing its candidate’s achievements as Vice-President in the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency .
The Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) said Atiku’s election as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate will make the campaign for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari much easier.
According to the group, for the PDP to have recycled a former leader from one of its past administrations that had been mirred in corruption allegation shows clearly that the opposition party is planning to wield the country back to the era of monumental corruption.
Also yesterday Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said a vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate is a return to “a sordid corruption-laden past”
The Minister spoke in Abuja when he paid an advocacy visit to the headquarters of Daar Communication Plc, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower Radio stations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the minister was at the media house to seek support for the National Campaign Against Fake News launched by the Federal Government on July 11.
Fielding questions from members of Board and Management of the organisation and some reporters at the event, the minister expressed the confidence that Nigerians would make the right choice in President Muhammadu Buhari next year.
“The stark choice for Nigerians in the 2019 election is either to go back to the past – a sordid corruption-laden past – or a brighter future, which beckons as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I am, however, very confident that Nigerians will make the right choice,” he said.
In a statement by its Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the BCO said the PDP had nothing new to offer Nigerians, apart from trying to restore the old order in which corrupt politicians looted the nation’s coffers dry.
Ibrahim recalled that the PDP under some of its past administrations had questioned Atiku’s credibilty, noting that it cast spell in the eyes of the ordinary man that the same party is presenting the same person it once maligned as a choice Nigerians should settle for in the forthcoming presidential poll.
He said: “Everyone seems to be forgetting that we are not just voting the presidential candidate but the party and these same people are the ones that put us in this mess in the first place. Now, they have regrouped, recycled the same leaders who were in power when the country’s treasury was looted dry and still want Nigerians to give them power.
“It is like a dog going back to eat its vomit. Are there no better people to challenge President Buhari in 2019? This set of people were in power one way or the other since 1999, and we have been moving backwards since then. Now, they want to take Nigerians back to Babylon after Presiddnt Buhari has painstakinly secured their freedom from bad governace, corruption and a battered economy that was tottering towards an eclipse.”
Noting that Atiku’s emergence as PDP presidential candidate has made its campaign for Buhari’s second term easier, BCO insisted that the opposition party was planning to sell the presidency to the highest bidder.
Ibrahim continued: “We said it and we will still make it clear to Nigerians that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) they rejected in 2015 on account of debauchery, pervasive corruption and collapsing and decaying infrastructure are out to desecrate the coveted seat of President of this nation.
“It has been the position of the Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) that the PDP is not interested in choosing a person of clean past from its motley of contestants but more concerned about who donates what to the party.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari administration will never allow their invidious plans against Nigerians. We urge Nigerians to join us in the campaign against those who have created a crowd of beggars among them, turned their states to mere ATM points, and are ready to mortgage the country at pittance for the sake of power.”
But, the Atiku Abubakar campaign, in a statement yesterday, listed the “bold strides” taken by the former Vice President while in public office.
It said as Vice President (1999 to 2007) and chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), Atiku superintended over the GSM revolution that saw Nigeria go from 50,000 to 100 million GSM lines.
The organisation said the GSM revolution added 500,000 direct jobs to the economy and attracted $27 billion to the GDP.
The campaign group also credited Atiku with what it described as the successful privatisation of many public enterprises that hitherto consumed government resources without yielding profits.
“A further achievement of the former Vice President is initiating, starting and completing several road projects all over Nigeria, including roads in President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina.
“In return, we challenge President Buhari and the APC to mention three projects that they have initiated, started and completed in the last three years.
“We ask President Buhari how many loopholes in public expenditure he has plugged? The spectacular failure of the 419 Nigeria Air is still fresh in the memory of Nigerians.
“Unlike Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar is an expert job creator who has founded many successful and thriving businesses, including the American University of Nigeria, Yola; a microfinance bank that has moved 45,000 families out of poverty; and Rica Gado, a livestock feed company that has significantly reduced instances of herdsmen/farmers clashes by providing a business-friendly solution instead of asking Nigerians to give up their land for cattle ranching or face death, as the Buhari government did.
“Unlike President Buhari, Atiku Abubakar does not believe Nigerian youths are lazy. How could, when 25,000 out of his 50,000 employees are youths?
The campaign organisation stated that it listed only a few of the “booming” commercial enterprises founded by Atiku, adding that no other candidate is as poised as Atiku to get Nigeria working again.
“Nigerians want jobs and Atiku means jobs. It is no surprise that that is one thing the APC do not want to talk about, seeing that they have lost 11 million jobs in the last three years.”
On the fake news phenomenon, the minister said it was assuming a dangerous dimension, especially as the nation approached the 2019 general elections.
“There is no better time to intensify the campaign against fake news, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“The enemies of democracy will explore the phenomenon of fake news even more than before.
As you witnessed in the last Osun governorship election, especially the rerun, about 16 PDP members were arrested by the Police for impersonating international observers to perpetrate violence.
“But, within minutes, the whole story was turned as if it was APC stalwarts that were arrested. This is the power of fake news.
The minister continued: “A few days ago also, news circulated in the social media that Sharibu Leah had been released.”