While the PDP standard bearer said Tinubu betrayed his party in 2007, the APC presidential candidate said Atiku was the real betrayer who shortchanged Nigerians by reneging on the gentleman’s agreement of power rotation between the northern and southern part of the country.
Casting the first stone in the credibility battle was Atiku who accused Tinubu of refusing to support the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2007 presidential election because his demand to run on a Muslim/Muslim ticket was rejected.
Atiku who was the ACN presidential candidate at the time said Tinubu supported PDP in 2007after he (Atiku) turned down the former Lagos State governor’s demand to be vice presidential candidate.
The PDP candidate who stated this when he featured on Arise TV programme, The Morning Show, said the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket caused his “fundamental disagreement” with Tinubu since 2007.
Tinubu had formed the defunct ACN shortly after the Alliance for Democracy (AD) crashed politically. While Atiku is a Muslim from the North East, Tinubu is a Muslim from the South West.
As APC presidential candidate, Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima, former governor of Borno, as his running mate, attracted mixed reactions from party stakeholders and outright rejection by Christian bodies over the same faith ticket.
Reacting to Tinubu’s choice of a Muslim running mate, Atiku said yesterday that he severed political ties with the APC presidential candidate over the issue, even though they are still friends.
The PDP candidate said, “My fundamental disagreement and political departure with Asiwaju [Tinubu] since 2007 was due to the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Remember, I opted out of PDP because of zoning, and together with Asiwaju we formed ACN.
“Tinubu wanted to be my running mate when I was given the ACN presidential ticket in 2007, but I disagreed. And because of that, he switched his support to the late Umar Yaradua. That was the parting point.
“The Muslim-Muslim ticket has always been my fundamental disagreement. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, and there should be a religious balance in our leadership. We are still friends, of course. But that doesn’t mean we won’t have political differences. We have been having political differences ever since we became friends; nothing unusual about that.”
On the support of his former boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku said he had been talking with Obasanjo, adding that he was quite sure that the former president has no better candidate to support than him.
“I have been talking to him. The only thing is that I didn’t go after I emerged as the candidate of the PDP. Why will I not need his support? He was my former boss. Of course I will need his support. I assume I have it. I don’t think he has a better person to support than myself because I have his legacy to continue,” he noted.
Atiku further justified his choice of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
He said, “In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party including our governors, the national working committee, board of trustees, and other leaders to seek their inputs and their wisdom.
“In these consultations, I made it clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a president-in-waiting.
Tinubu Has Lost Moral Standing – PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP has said Tinubu has lost the moral ethical standing to contest the 2023 election, following the controversy that trailed the emergence of Bishops at the unveiling of his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima.
The party said the hiring of street artisans, fraudsters and touts and criminally dressing them in bishop’s vestments to orchestrate an endorsement for its presidential campaign is nauseating, blasphemous and unpardonable.
“With this scandalous act, Asiwaju Tinubu, who is still battling with issues of alleged perjury, non-existent certificate and allegations of extortions has become more ethically challenged and lost all moral standing to seek election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The opposition party spokesman said it was ludicrous that instead of being remorseful and asking for forgiveness, the APC presidential campaign is “shamelessly posting lame denials and excuses in the face of hard and verified evidence of its involvement in the shameless venture.”
He added that PDP is not surprised by the attitude of the APC presidential campaign, adding that it is consistent with the ruling party’s character and DNA.