By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The war of words be-tween President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar over the authorship of a rigging roadmap for the 2011 presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, continued at the weekend, with Atiku’s campaign group blaming leakages in Jonathan’s campaign for the revelation.
While Atiku’s campaign blamed dissatisfied staff for the leakage of the alleged plan, Jonathan’s campaign, on its part, disowned the alleged plans, charging Atiku to stop his seeming desperation for power.
The 141-page document details alleged plans by Jonathan’s campaign group to compromise delegates, the police, religious leaders and other institutions which the Atiku campaign claimed were articulated by Jonathan’s campaign group.
The Jonathan campaign had in its first reaction accused the Atiku campaign of cloning and doctoring its working documents and subsequently yesterday, disowned the document as circulated by the Atiku campaign to Western foreign missions in Abuja and the media.
Mr. Mike Omeri, Director of Planning, Research and Strategy at the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign headquarters, said yesterday: “We totally deny ownership of this sinister document being circulated by the Atiku campaign and challenge it to prove its veracity to Nigerians.
“While, unlike the Atiku Campaign, we are not in the habit of threatening the media with legal actions in a veiled attempt to gag the Third Estate of the Realm, we would appeal to our friends in the media to be more circumspect with information made available to them by politicians.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we do not need to plan to manipulate a process that already clearly points to our success. As a campaign, we are doing everything lawfully possible to win the January 13, 2011, presidential primaries of the party.
“We have identified and are engaging with the delegates to the primaries. We have visited 32 of the 36 state branches of our party to engage with the delegates; and President Jonathan has personally gone to four of the six geo-political zones to meet with the delegates. The remaining states and zones of the party are scheduled to be engaged with this week after the Xmas festivities.
“We are glad that our efforts are already paying off. We have the endorsements of 21 of the 26 PDP governors and all the six geo-political zones of our party. Non-PDP members as well as non-partisan members of the public have also not hidden their preference for President Jonathan. In an unusual show of solidarity, the entire traditional rulers of the South-East as well as prominent and paramount traditional rulers in the North, South-West and South-South have declared their support for our President.”
Moles in Jonathan’s camp— Atiku Campaign
However, Atiku campaign spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, was insistent on the authenticity of the alleged rigging document which he said was obtained from leakages (moles) within the Jonathan/Sambo campaign headquarters.
He said: “It is a leakage from them and they don’t need to deny what they did. Afterall, didn’t Dr. Omeri say that it was a badly cloned document that we did and now they are coming out to disown it. Which one do we believe?”
On how Atiku campaign obtained the alleged document, Shehu said: “They have leakages in their camp and we are not to be blamed for that and it is because of lack of commitment and passion for what they are doing.
“Once we got it, we circulated it to diplomatic missions in the country to ring the bell about the injustice being planned against us.”
Atiku is desperate—Jonathan Campaign
The Goodluck/Sambo campaign was, however, dismissive of Atiku’s assertions, saying it was ridiculous for Atiku to insinuate that esteemed PDP delegates could be compromised.
It said: “We express our regret about the Atiku Campaign insinuation that the esteemed delegates and members of our party are incapable of making a decision on a matter of such national importance as the selection of our presidential flag bearer without financial inducement.
“This insinuation is an unfortunate manifestation of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s habitual contempt for our party and its members; an attitude which took him to the Action Congress in 2007 and has brought him back in 2010. We can only urge him to be less desperate about his political desire by putting our country and party first in all his subsequent political actions.”