Updated: March 7, 2021
Nigeria’s main opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar says evidence is better than cheap talk. His office was reacting to comments President Muhammadu Buhari made during an interaction with IRI and NDI.
Our attention has been drawn to a personal statement by President Buhari himself wherein he claimed that he would give his opponents in the 2019 elections the level playing ground which the Peoples Democratic Party denied him.
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Speaking to a delegation from the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “I am prepared to give the opposition the opportunities I was not given in the past.’’
Let us now factually address that comment.
President Muhammadu Buhari ran for the office of the President of Nigeria in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 under the PDP. 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 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 APC march in Abuja and was not arrested or persecuted by the PDP.
Furthermore, the PDP ensured that the Independent National Electoral Commission was independent and appointed disinterested individuals to its board including Prof. Attahiru Jega, who then President Jonathan had never met before his appointment.
The PDP also ensured that vital government agencies like the National Bureau of Statistics were not politicised, whether or not their reports favoured the government.
However, since coming to office, President Muhammadu 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 was frozen even as opposition Presidential candidates were falsely accused of involvement in 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.
Sadly, on Monday the 17th of December 2018, in a Freudian slip during a live TV interview, Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman, revealed that President Buhari had ordered the National Bureau of Statistics to fudge the latest unemployment numbers seeing as they do not favour the government so close to an election.
This is even as the President has refused to sign the amended Electoral Act knowing that the Act would prevent the government from rigging the elections.
But the most telling action by the President was his attempt to foist his own biological niece as the Chairman of INEC but for the uproar of the opposition backed by the international community.
These and other actions completely contradict President Muhammadu Buhari’s assurances and we thus urge the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute not to be hoodwinked by the President’s deceptive words, but to focus on what cannot lie – the evidence.
- By Paul Ibe, Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar