Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has downplayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to give a level playing ground to opposition parties – something he was “denied in the past” – saying the statement is an indication that the President is a poor student of history.
President Buhari had reportedly said on Monday, while speaking to a delegation from the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute, (NDI), “I am prepared to give the opposition the opportunities I was not given in the past.’’
In a sharp response, however, Atiku said records do not lie.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Paul Ibe on Monday, Atiku urged the President to go down history lane to compare historical references to what is obtainable today.
“President Muhammadu Buhari ran for the office of the President of Nigeria in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 under the PDP (led government).
“Not once during those intervening years was he arrested, molested or persecuted in any way, shape or form.
“As a matter of fact, immediately after his experience with Boko Haram terrorists in Kaduna on July 24, 2014, the then PDP administration bought Mr Buhari a $300,000 dollar armoured and bombproof SUV for his protection.
Mr. Buhari received the vehicle which helped save his life.
“Never were Muhammadu Buhari or his relative’s accounts frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, INEC, or any other government agencies under the PDP and never were his running mates, children, friends and family targeted.
“Muhammadu Buhari participated in several protests and marches, including the Occupy Nigeria movement and the 2014 All Progressives Congress (APC) march in Abuja and was not arrested or persecuted by the PDP,” he said.
The former Vice President also called the attention of President Buhari to the manner the electoral umpire was treated under the administration of Nigeria’s Immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan.
“The PDP ensured that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was independent and appointed disinterested individuals to its board including Professor Attahiru Jega, who then President Jonathan had never met before his appointment. We are concerned about Amnesty International’s report on Nigeria – Presidency
“The PDP also ensured that vital government agencies like the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) were not politicised, whether or not their reports favoured the government.
“However, since coming to office, President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to reciprocate the good treatment meted out to him by the PDP and has instead persecuted, harassed and attempted to intimidate his likely opponents, even before they became candidates.
“Their businesses have been affected with the government either pulling out of or attempting to pull out of commercial contractual agreements freely entered into between government agencies and businesses owned or partly owned by perceived presidential opponents.
“Also, in a bid to intimidate the Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar’s plane was invaded by a crack combined military team on November 11, 2018. That was unprecedented in Nigeria’s history and never occurred even under military rule.
“Opposition presidential candidates who participated in peaceful marches have been arrested and are currently facing trial. Others were set up by government agencies including the Code of Conduct Tribunal and were tried until the government’s case collapsed at the Supreme Court.
“The account of the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP (Peter Obi) was frozen even as opposition Presidential candidates were falsely accused of involvement in an armed robbery and when the government’s case was falling apart, their main suspect suspiciously and suddenly died in police custody.
“An opposition candidate on the verge of winning an election was strangely charged for examinations malpractices and his win was overturned.”