By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in last February election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has said that that his battle against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is in the general intetest of the Nigerian nation, adding that the decision of the Supreme Court will put to rest his agitation for the presidency of the country, since it is the court of final appeal.
He said at a world press conference held in Abuja on Thursday that the battle against the qualifications of Tinubu for presidency was specifically aimed at installing justice, good governance, accountability and probity in public service.
Atiku confirmed that the only pressure brought to bear on him since the declaration of President Bola Tinubu as winner of the election was one that was to come from some governors after the election, but he rebuffed the them by refusing to meet them when they came to his home in Abuja.
On his businesses suffering any persecution as a result of his dogged pursuit of his case in court against the President, Atiku disclosed that it was only under former President Muhammadu Buhari an oil services company he had interest in was victimised by government.
Atiku addressed the media on Thursday as a fallout from documents released by the Chicago State University and a deposition under oath by one of its officials that the diploma certificate tendered by the President to prosecute his presidential ambition was not from the CSU, adding, according to some reports, “It is a Nigerianthing to forge documents.”
The presidency has since admitted same saying Tinubu procured the certificate from a vendor, which it did not name.
On his X account, presidential media aide, Mr. Temitope Ajayi wrote, “We should be clear. In the deposition made by the Chicago State University, there was nowhere the university said the certificate presented to INEC by President Tinubu is fake.’
“The university insisted under oath that President Tinubu graduated with honours and even at that, replacements for lost certificates are done by vendors, not the university.
“The claim that President Tinubu submitted a fake certificate to INEC does not make sense. A man cannot forge the academic records he possesses. You can only forge what you don’t have.”
Atiku, accompanied at the press briefing by some former state governors and PDP chieftains, vowed to fight the battle to wrest power from Tinubu to a logical conclusion especially at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The PDP presidential candidate admitted that he was undertaking the battle at a great cost but said that there would be no going back until justice is manifestly done in the struggle.
Atiku thanked his local and international lawyers for their good battle in court and enjoined Nigerians who desire good governance, justice, accountability and probity to join them.
He appealed to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and that of the New Nigeria People’s Party NNPP, Rabiu Musa Kwankasso to join him in the struggle to enthrone legitimate and lawful government for the country.
Atiku insisted that the nation needs a legitimate government at the moment in the interest of future generations adding that Nigeria is bigger than any individual.
The former Vice President called on well meaning Nigerians to join the struggle adding that it is the duty of leaders to advance the well-being of the people during this type of trying period.
Below is the full text Atiku read at the press conference:
Citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I consider it important to address and report to you today on issues that define the future of elective government and legitimate leadership in our country.
Political leadership and active citizenship matter because they are ways through which we all work together to build a country that works for all who live in it. Our country is bigger than any of us, and its standing in the world affects the fate of all who come from or live in it. As leaders, it is our duty to advance the well-being of all our people and of the country.
For this purpose, my generation worked hard to return the soldiers to the barracks and to defend the right of the people to elect and establish for ourselves a legitimate government. Our elections are established and governed by law and founded on the constitution from which leadership and government in Nigeria alone derive their legitimacy.
The people look up to us as leaders to respect these rules and, where necessary, to defend them. This is what brings us here.
Today, we are called upon again as a people to uphold and defend the ground rules of elective government in our country. The constitution prescribes the requirements for those who seek the highest elective office in the land.
It should not take months or, indeed, decades, for the institutions concerned to be able to do their work in establishing the credibility of any certificates presented by candidates for public office.
We undertook this journey at great cost and for important reasons. The ground rules for legitimate governance in our country need to be upheld, and the reputation of our country is at stake. That affects everyone, Nigerians everywhere.
I am a democrat by conviction and a citizen of a country that I love. The issues at stake in this case require us once more to re-dedicate ourselves to both the country and our constitution.
Now, we entrust these facts to us all as citizens and as leaders of the institutions charged with interpreting our constitution. I should thank the lawyers both in Nigeria and in the United States, who have assisted us in bringing clarity and definitive answers to these issues that appear to have defied our institutions for nearly a quarter of a century. I also want to extend my gratitude to Nigerian citizens and friends of Nigeria both within and beyond the shores of our country for their patience as we have sought to find the facts and establish the truth.
I wish to pay tribute to the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, who inspired us on this path of discovery. Now, he can truly rest in peace in the assurance that what he started about 23 years ago has come to fruition. Gani’s vindication today gives credence to the saying that no matter how fast a lie runs, the truth will someday overtake it.
Former American President Thomas Jefferson once said, “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter”. From exposing the Watergate scandal and unravelling the dubious certificates of politicians, journalists have maintained eternal vigilance by bridging the gap and stepping in when other arms of government failed.
It is for these reasons that commendation must be given to David Hundeyin, an independent journalist whose extraordinary work and those of many more young people like him has become a source of inspiration. Special thanks must be given to the millions of Nigerian youths and citizen journalists too who continue to put out the truth online even when no one is listening. Indeed, the price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance. They have put the country first in their firm commitment to unravel the truth and hold leaders accountable. This gives me the hope that we have worthy partners in the struggle to reclaim the country we call home.
This quest is not for or about Atiku Abubakar. It is a quest for the enthronement of truth, morality, and accountability in our public affairs. In line with this, therefore, I am calling on all well-meaning Nigerians, leaders of thought, our religious leaders, our traditional leaders, our community leaders, our political leaders, and in particular, Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP and, the leaders of every political party in Nigeria, and, indeed, every single person who loves this country, as I do, and who wishes nothing but the best for the country, as I do, to join me in this campaign to enshrine probity, accountability and the basic principles of justice, morality and uprightness in our country and in our government. This is a task for each and every one of us.
Thank you for listening. May God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.