Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), recently granted a recorded interview on a popular television station in Nigeria, where he raised some very serious issues that border on the integrity of some notable Nigerians, principal among them, is the integrity of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT). He raised the issue of the 2007 presidential ticket of the Action Congress (AC) and reiterated his long term assertion that Tinubu wanted to be his Vice Presidential candidate which he refused because of his rejection of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket. Both men are Muslims and Atiku claims to believe in the balancing of the presidential ticket to accommodate both Christians and Muslims and choosing Tinubu will be a direct breach of his conviction. However, Atiku also alluded to the choice of Gov Okowa of Delta State as his Vice Presidential Candidate, instead of Governor Wike, for the 2023 presidential election and submitted that Governor Samuel Ortom lied to the Nigerian people that he rejected Wike who scored 14 votes out of 17 to clinch the Vice-Presidential Candidate slot. He admitted that the 17-man selection Committee was set up by the party at his instance but the committee didn’t vote. It simply recommended three persons to him from which he chose one person. We want to bring these gentlemen in the court room of evidence before us to ascertain the veracity of their claims before reaching a forensic conclusion on the integrity quotient of both on the basis of balance of probability.

On the issue of Tinubu wanting to be his Vice-Presidential Candidate during the 2007 Presidential election, Tinubu vehemently rejected the position of Atiku and in countering it said “Let me say openly that Atiku offered me the vice presidential ticket in 2007. Atiku’s calculations and deceit had nothing to do with religion or his sensitivity to it. His conduct has everything to do with what we discovered about his paucity of character and love of intrigue. Atiku may want to be President. However, all he has shown is that he is pathological. I feel sorry for dear old Atiku. Love of his own ambition has eclipsed his relationship with the truth and an honest account of the past. We formed the AC without his knowledge. When President Obasanjo virtually exiled him from the PDP, we lent him our support by giving him the Action Congress platform for the 2007 election. Atiku has no business raising the issue of a Muslim-Muslim ticket except as a hypocrite”. Summarily, Tinubu described Atiku as old, a pathological liar, a hypocrite and a man with endemic paucity of character.

On the issue of Tinubu calling Atiku old, Atiku fired back at Tinubu that he has started having dementia and produced factual evidence of continual stuttering and stumbling on words and sentences to the extent that he forgets his Party’s name at times. Atiku said “we would not say that Bola Tinubu has lied. Rather, it is our desire to give him the benefit of the doubt, and believe that his memory may not be what it used to be. In any case, if Bola Tinubu can forget the name of his own political party, why will he not also forget what transpired in 2007 and 2015? We do sympathise with him.” One would not forget how difficult it was for Tinubu to turn over a page of paper he was reading from during his acceptance speech in Eagle’s Square after winning his presidential primary election ticket.  However, it will also be difficult to forget how Atiku was almost carried into his Jeep after the Osun PDP gubernatorial mega rally in which he found it difficult to put on his seat belt after managing to enter his Jeep. Tinubu was right calling Atiku old but it may be safe to conclude that this is the case of the kettle calling the pot black as Tinubu is just as old or even older than Atiku.

On the issue of Tinubu forming the Action Congress political party without Atiku’s knowledge, Bisi Akande, Tinubu’s bosom friend, had alluded in his book that both leaders contributed in forming the Action Congress. Another elder politician, Ejiofor Onyia, who was an eye witness to the formation of AC revealed that AC, as a name, came from the combination of Alliance for Democracy (AD), which was Tinubu’s party and Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), which was the party formed by the remnants of the PDM, a political movement headed by Atiku. A in AC came from the A that is common to both parties and C came from the ACD. This truth has not been successfully rebutted by the Tinubu camp. We hold that AC is formed by both Tinubu and Atiku from the evidence before us.

The issue of Atiku offering the Vice-Presidential ticket of AC to Tinubu, knowing full well that he is a Muslim, in contradiction to Atiku’s claim that he rebuffed Tinubu’s lobbying to become his Vice, in a Muslim-Muslim joint presidential ticket, presents a more interesting scenario. Throughout Tinubu’s political career he had wanted to contest for the Vice-President in 2007 and 2015, but campaigned to be President only once in 2022. He was a Muslim both in 2007 and 2015 and the eventual Presidential Candidates were Muslims. It is obvious from current happenings that Tinubu sees nothing wrong about same-religion ticket. If there were doubts as to his evasive claims about his intentions when lobbying to be Vice-President, it was laid to rest when he unilaterally chose a Muslim as his Vice-Presidential running mate of APC in 2022. The question also the Tinubu camp failed, refused or neglected to answer was the reason Tinubu gave for rejecting to accept Atiku’s offer to become his Vice since he sees nothing wrong in a Muslim-Muslim joint ticket. One can conclude that he gave no reason for rejecting the post because the offer was never there. Evidence abound that Tinubu wanted to be Vice to Buhari in 2015 but was diplomatically rebuffed by Buhari who gave him the sole right to proclaim a Christian Vice-President. Vice-President Osinbajo today is the evidence. It is obvious that Tinubu not only desired but lobbied to be Atiku’s Vice in 2007 because, as alluded to by his bosom friend, Bisi Akande, this was why Tinubu’s camp refused to wholeheartedly work for the victory of Atiku in 2007. Tinubu also refused to work for the victory of Buhari in 2011 and at the root of the disagreement was the choice of the Vice-Presidential ticket. Buhari chose Tunde Bakare and did not give Tinubu the right to suggest whom it should be. Tinubu’s camp should do their home work better next time and tutor their leader because they are portraying Tinubu as either antagonistic to the truth or having memory loss.

However, as stated above, Atiku also alluded, in the interview, to the choice of Gov Okowa of Delta State as his Vice Presidential Candidate, instead of Governor Wike, for the 2023 presidential election and submitted that Governor Samuel Ortom lied to the Nigerian people that Wike scored 14 votes out of 17 to clinch the Vice-Presidential Candidate slot. He admitted that the 17-man selection Committee was set up by the party at his instance but the committee didn’t vote. As a Lawyer, this is curious, because Governor Samuel Ortom was the Chairman of the selection committee that submitted the recommendation to the party. He was an eye witness to everything that transpired in the committee and even supervised the proceedings. He came out immediately after the choice of Okowa to declare that Wike got 14 out of the 17 votes cast. Kassim Afegbua, another chieftain of PDP, also corroborated Ortom’s stand on the outcome of the committee’s report. He was of the opinion then that Wike got the support of all the members of the committee except three of them. It was confirmed widely then by all the newspapers and blogs that Wike won the committee’s recommendation, but suddenly Okowa was announced.

For the avoidance of doubt, Atiku reserves the constitutional right to choose his Vice without recourse to anybody or institution for assistance in his choice according to Section 142(1) of the 1999 Constitution. One wonders why Atiku set up a committee to advise him on the choice of a running mate and turned back to impugn the character of the committee and its Chairman simply because they chose someone he didn’t like or didn’t prefer. Why did Atiku set up the committee in the first place if he had a preferred candidate. Why didn’t he restrict the committee to some specific individuals if he had a person he didn’t want at all. Atiku would have simply told the committee to exclude Wike from the list from the beginning to avoid embarrassing Wike and himself. It’s obvious Atiku doesn’t like Wike and all that Wike stands for but this should not give him the right to declare Ortom a liar just to indicate his utter disgust of the person of Wike. Unfortunately for Atiku, whatever he said that transpired during the meeting of the committee was a hearsay evidence which is not admissible in law. His evidence cannot be compared to the direct evidence proferred by the Chairman of the committee, Gov Ortom, that Wike got 14 votes to clinch the ticket. It would have been a dereliction of duty for the committee to submit their recommendations to the presidential candidate of the PDP without giving reasons for the choice of each aspirant. They needed to show their conviction to the candidate on the weight of each aspirant and the only way to show that was registering the score of each aspirant in the votes conducted. It is elementary knowledge that whenever a committee is functioning, they come to their decisions through majority votes. Even if we agree with Atiku that he asked the committee to forward three names to him, how can the committee select the three out of the rest if not through voting among themselves. We, therefore, submit that Atiku was against the truth in his assertion that Ortom lied on the score of Wike.

It is obvious that the two major political parties have chosen men that, in their own words, lack character and integrity. The two major political parties have stumbled in their choices of these old, untrustworthy and untruthful elders and Nigeria may tumble if Nigerians vote any of them. Stumbling and tumbling were not my words, they were prophetically said by the Minister of Works and Housing, Fashola, when he described the confrontation between Tinubu and Atiku as a stumble, which may lead to a tumble. Nigerians must avoid these men if they don’t want to tumble.

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