...PDP pooh-poohs Buhari’s claims
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday submitted his nomination form as the only standing presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), following the withdrawal of a younger one, Adamu Garba, who says he could not dole out the N45 million sought by the ruling party.
Garba stepped out of the race, just as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met a group of young aspirants eyeing other offices.
Garba said he could not in good conscience justify spending N45 million to participate in his party primaries.
Below is a thread of tweets he pushed out on Wednesday:
Garba’s tweets were rolling as Buhari thanked his supporters who helped pay for his own form, but the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pooh-poohed the source of the funds for the President’s nomination form.
Said the President, “I am here in person among friends and colleagues to put my name forward to my party, the All Progressives Congress, seeking nomination to contest the Presidential Elections next year, 2019.
“Fellow party members, I am taking this step with all humility, sense of responsibility and an unquestionable desire to serve and protect the interests. I am very grateful to those dozens of organizations who have joined together and contributed funds to purchase these forms.
“I assure them and the rest of Nigerians that, if nominated and if elected, I shall continue to serve you to the best of my ability.
“Let me today appeal to party members not to be complacent but to prepare, strategize and win in 2019 elections. We must not allow those who brought the country to its knees from 1999 to 2015 to come and take us back.
But the PDP in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan accused the Presidency of fraudulently round-tripping the N45 million claimed to have been contributed by a shadowy group to buy presidential nomination form for President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party said President Buhari’s inability, as “Mr. Integrity” to explain the registration status, membership and source of funding of the shadowy group exposes the charade in this latest failed endorsement stunt.
The PDP describex as laughable, that the Presidency does not realize that such stunts have become worn-out and cannot sway opinion in a country with citizens as enlightened as Nigerians.
It adds, “Most Nigerians already know how some officials at the Buhari presidency, made up of corrupt individuals, racketeers and certificate forgers, hurriedly assembled the group and mobilised them with N45 million for the APC presidential nomination form, which was hiked to scare away other contestants.
“How members of the group were settled for the stunt, as well the issues and disagreements that arose from the deal are also known to many Nigerians.
“What Mr. President’s handlers are hiding from him is the fact that Nigerians do not believe the falsehood that a set of Nigerians, facing the challenges of abysmally low purchasing power, put together a wholesome N45m to buy him a form.
“Nigerians are still waiting for him to make public the proof of registration, membership, list of individual contributors and amount contributed by these shadowy individual members.
“We also challenge President Buhari to make public the official correspondences of the 12 million members of the Rice Farmers Association, members of the Fertilizer Producers Association and the members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association who, he claimed, offered to buy nomination form for him.
“Moreover, the PDP described as unpresidential, the outbursts credited to President Buhari against those who left the APC, noting that such was an unwarranted attack on innocent Nigerians whose only offence is that they chose to abandon his derelict sinking ship, APC.
“Finally, the PDP counsels President Buhari to forget the idea of painting himself as a lover of youths and asking for funds from them, as his “lazy youth” comment and talking down on young persons not to contest against him in the 2019 election, amply convey his disdain for the Nigerian youths.”
But Osinbajo told young APC aspirants on Wednesday night, “I also want to say that your courage is exceptional. If you aspire to be anything in a country of about 200 million people, you are a courageous person, no question about that, because when you count the number of people who hold elective offices in this country, they are very few when compared to the population. So, what you are searching for is really coveted, and is not a walk in the park. I really salute your courage,” he said.
The VP congratulated the aspirants for having gone “this far in the game, that you are not just sitting down at home, not just getting upset with yourself on Social Media. You are putting your money, resources and your time where your mouth is. So, consider yourself in very exceptional company. This is a group of people who have not lost hope, but are very determined to ensure that things work.”
Prof Osinbajo added that young people should not lose hope in the country as things would continue to change for the better if they remain committed to the ideals.
He said, “I strongly believe that the future of our party depends on people who are committed to see that we build a party that is based on ideals that you and I think are important. As a young person, I belonged to several pressure groups. I graduated at the age of 21. And when I graduated, I began to participate in various pressure groups, human rights organisations, anti-corruption, civil society groups of every kind. When political parties started forming, we could not aspire, but we remained involved. My first involvement in government was when I was appointed as Attorney General in Lagos State.
“For seven years – after serving as Lagos Attorney-General – I was part of the party, I did not have a board appointment or anything, but I kept working for the party. I kept working for the party as a lawyer. Most of those cases we were not paid a dime. But we went from place to place. Sometimes we didn’t even have a place to stay when we went to court the next morning. So, there is a measure of paying the price, it depends on how serious or committed we are to some of the things we say we are committed to.”
Prof. Osinbajo further called on young people to stay committed and remain within the party to help to build the party structures.
“I believe that, in party politics, we must go beyond positions, whether elective or appointed, but we must be committed to something, the principles and beliefs of those who are the forebears of that party,” he said.
The Vice President added, “We are in a place where we are the ones who can make the difference. Nothing is going to change overnight, but we can make efforts to change the process. We can do a lot more, but it depends on our commitment. I like the idea of young people getting a quota in the party structure to run for office on some level, such as the state houses of Assembly.” Some of the aspirants had earlier raised the issue of allowing quotas to young people in elective offices.
According to the VP, “It is up to us to fight at every stage to see the ideals that we desire; we will win, in the end, if we are consistent. Our party is stronger if our young people are determined to make a change and a difference, even from within. We would see what can be done to ensure that women and youths are more involved in party politics.”
Young aspirants in the APC across the country who attended the forum had requested for audience with the Vice President ahead of the party primaries later this month.