The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign council has dismissed the endorsement of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by some socio-cultural groups.
Festus Keyamo, the council spokesman, said the endorsement was engineered and carried out by PDP members and sympathisers.
Earlier on Sunday, five top socio-cultural organisations in the country – namely the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) – adopted Atiku, saying he has shown that he will restructure the country if given the mandate.
But reacting via a statement, Keyamo said the same groups had supported the PDP in the 2015 presidential election but the party was still defeated nonetheless.
“As regards the endorsements by the socio-cultural groups, there is no fraud bigger than that of known PDP members and/or hardened PDP sympathizers wearing the apparel of socio-cultural groups, purporting to represent entire regions and endorsing their own political party,” the statement read.
“Their excuse that they are supporting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar because of the bogey called ‘restructuring’ is nothing but a subterfuge. In any case, Ohaneze had said in its earlier release that the first reason they are endorsing Atiku Abubakar is that his running mate is an Ibo man.”
He said while some of the leaders of the various groups have enjoyed government patronage in the past, the proceeds of such patronage have “never trickled down to their people they purport to represent.”
He said this is “in tune with the campaign promise of Atiku Abubakar to enrich only his friends” and as such, “like bees and honey, these people and #AtikuAbubakar are attracted to themselves.”
“Unfortunately for them, President Muhammadu Buhari has managed to navigate his way directly to the masses who they purport to represent and is ensuring that the dividends of democracy reach the people directly,” Keyamo added.
“Their annoyance is that they have been eliminated as middlemen. That is why the bond between the masses and President Muhammadu Buhari continue to grow on a daily basis.”
Meanwhile, Atiku Abubakar, says he will promote an inclusive government if elected.
Atiku said on Sunday while reacting to his endorsement by leaders of five top socio-cultural organisations in the country, on Sunday.
Reacting shortly after, Atiku said the endorsement is “a loud statement that there is hope for our country”.
“I am moved to tears that in the midst of deep divisions and deliberate use of instrumentalities of state to set our people against themselves in the last three and a half years, responsible and respected leaders across Nigeria have agreed to come together for the purpose of endorsing my candidature for the February 16th,2019 Presidential elections,” he said in a statement.
“Today we put aside all our prejudices to elect a President with religion and ethnicity playing no role in our elections.”
The former vice-president added that he is buoyed to lead a pan-Nigerian team if elected, and that he has been chosen to unite our people “and exactly that I will.”
“I will run a properly federated Nigeria through constitutional reforms to bring out the best from ALL sections of Nigeria to make Nigeria work again like in the past when the Saudi Royal family came to Nigeria to access Medicare,” he said.
“We will promote an inclusive Nigeria based on productivity that every section of Nigeria will bring out the best under their soil, and in their brain to make Nigeria assume its position in Africa and the global community.
“It would be 100% for every section of Nigeria as I would not understand any arithmetic outside that.”
Atiku is seen as President Muhammadu Buhari’s main challenger in the election.