Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been lampooned by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for declaring support for one of the presidential candidates, Labour Party’s Peter Obi.
In a special New Year message released to newsmen Sunday afternoon, Obasanjo said though none of the contestants is a saint but when compared in terms of knowledge, discipline and what they can offer, Obi has an edge over others. He therefore called on youths to rally round the LP candidate.
Obasanjo also took a swipe at Tinubu and Atiku, saying ‘Emi Lokan’ (My turn) and ‘I have paid my dues’ are one and the same thing and are wrong attitude and mentality for the leadership of Nigeria now.
In a swift reaction, the APC candidate described the endorsement as “worthless” that would not pose threat to his ambition, while the PDP, on its part, said it was not looking for the endorsement of any individual.
The Director of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, described the endorsement as worthless, which will not make him lose sleep.
He said Obasanjo does not possess any political goodwill or leverage anywhere in Nigeria to make anyone win an election.
Part of the statement reads, “We pity Peter Gregory Obi as we are confident that Chief Obasanjo cannot win his polling unit and ward in Abeokuta for Obi in the coming Presidential election on 25 February, 2023.
“Chief Obasanjo’s endorsement is not a political currency Mr. Peter Obi can spend anywhere in Nigeria because he is not a political force, even in his part of the country.
“Chief Obasanjo similarly endorsed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party candidate in 2019 against President Muhammadu Buhari. Atiku was walloped by Buhari with a wide margin in the election.
“History will repeat itself in February as our candidate, Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu will equally beat Obi by a large margin,” he said.
The APC candidate accused the former president of “Always opposing progressive political forces, as he did against MKO Abiola in 1993.”
In its reaction, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it is only concerned about the endorsement of the Nigerian people and not that of an individual no matter how important the person is.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba told Daily Trust on phone that Nigerians have endorsed PDP and Atiku Abubakar, saying that the endorsement of a single individual does not bother them.
“Nigerians have endorsed PDP, they have endorsed Atiku Abubakar and that is happening on a daily basis. You can see that from the reception from our campaigns. Our recent victories in Osun, FCT and others are indicators. We are confident that the PDP will win irrespective of whatever endorsement that is given because experience on the ballot matters,” Ologunagba said.
The party spokesman further said the “Endorsement of Obasanjo is that of an individual and it is within his rights to endorse whoever he wants. But as a party, our focus is to get the endorsement of the Nigerian people, no one person endorsement will translate to vote one way or another.
“As important as Obasanjo might be, what is important is that it is within his rights to endorse who he wants, but we are focused on the Nigerian people for their endorsement. What is important is that Nigerians have seen what is happening and they cannot be carried away by an endorsement from an individual. That is why as a party, we are focused on the issues of the election.
“What are the issues? Insecurity, nepotism, inexperience in government, the lack of preparedness of the APC government, which is apparent, those are the issues. The PDP has provided Nigerians with candidate Atiku Abubakar, who has adequate experience for the task ahead. That is why many people even from the APC are coming in to join Atiku. They are leaving the party because they know the true situation of things.” He said.