By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Demola Akinyemi & Omeiza Ajayi
•Saraki: Oshiomhole has no moral basis to remain in politics
•Atiku has surrounded himself with scammers — Keyamo
LAGOS — Ahead of Sunday’s flag-off of presidential election campaigns, the two major presidential candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari, and Atiku Abubakar were, yesterday, in war mood over the standing of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
National Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Director-General of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, Bukola Saraki, fired a salvo yesterday when he said Oshiomhole had no moral basis to remain in politics after sundry allegations of impropriety raised against him by his party chieftains and governors.
Saraki’s assertion was also echoed by the Atiku Campaign Organisation which, while sympathising with Oshiomhole over what it described as his recent experience in the hands of the Department of State Services, DSS, called on him to throw in the towel and join others that had allegedly deserted the party.
The Atiku Campaign also declared its readiness to teach the Buhari Campaign lessons in issue-based campaigns.
The salvos were immediately thrown back by Buhari Campaign which alleged that Atiku had been surrounded by scammers, saying Buhari’s refusal to interfere with whatever issues were raised against Oshiomhole was another badge of credibility for his anti-corruption crusade.
Anti-Oshiomhole protesters storm ICPC
This came as some protesters, yesterday, stormed the headquarters of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, in Abuja demanding an investigation into allegations of bribery levelled against Oshiomhole during the recently concluded nationwide primary elections of the party.
Saraki, who spoke with journalists in Ilorin yesterday, on the sidelines of the sixth remembrance prayer for his late father, Dr Olusola Saraki, said Oshiomole had no grounds to talk about morality in today’s politics in the light of what he claimed as the controversies that dogged the party’s nomination process for political offices.
Responding to earlier injunctions on him by Oshiomhole to resign his position as Senate President, following his defection to the PDP, Saraki said: “That must be a joke, coming from Oshiomhole talking about moral ground. I think Oshiomhole has no locus standi to talk about morality today.’’
Noting allegations of bribery he said were raised against the national chairman of the ruling party by party chieftains and governors, the Senate President said: ‘’I don’t think he has any moral ground, even to continue to be in politics, let alone talk about being chairman of a party.
“I remember in those days, nobody ever accused Oyegun of something like this. I have left that party. I’m sure the President, based on integrity, knows the right thing to do. So, on moral ground, he cannot speak.’’
The Senate President also used the opportunity to assure supporters of PDP’s victory in the forthcoming by-election in Irepodun /Ekiti /Oke Ero /Isin federal constituency.
Atiku Campaign blasts APC
The Atiku Campaign in a statement issued yesterday, also blasted the APC as it mocked its campaign tactics and the national chairman of the party over his recent experience arising from the nomination process.
Noting contradictions in the APC’s assertions that Atiku was set to bring in money from abroad to fund his campaign and another one on Tuesday where Atiku was mocked as being broke, the PDP presidential candidate replied: “Our response is to urge the APC to make up its mind on which lie it wants to tell Nigerians and then stick to that lie.
‘’As a party in power, there ought to be more stability in the APC at least, to give the public and the international community some assurance that the party is not imploding. No wonder there is a lot of policy flip-flop under the APC administration!
“We know that the APC is desperate to distract attention from the recent indictment of Vice President Osinbajo by the House of Representatives for alleged grand corruption and the interrogation of their chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, by the Department of State Services, DSS.
“Given the sordid state of things in the APC and its imminent implosion over money politics, we are not surprised that the APC is throwing wild allegations at former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the hope that something will stick.
“Our advice to the APC is that they should send their spokesman to the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation for a two-week crash course on how to run an issue-based campaign that is guided by civility and refined language.
“While the APC is throwing about baseless accusations, our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is set to launch tangible policies that will get Nigeria working again next week. Our campaign is focused on addressing the concerns and welfare of Nigerians by ‘Atikulating’ plans to move Nigerians out of poverty.
“We also sympathize with Oshiomhole on his ordeal and assure him that if he is finding the APC too hot for him, he may want to throw in the towel and join the large number of APC chieftains who have washed their hands off the party and its hydra-headed problems.”
‘Scammers surround Atiku’
Responding, yesterday, Festus Keyamo, SAN, the spokesman of the Buhari Campaign, pooh-poohed the assertions of the Atiku Campaign.
He said: “Atiku has surrounded himself with all those who failed with Jonathan. His spokespersons and those speaking for him on social media were the ones who sank Jonathan.
“Our advice to him is that he should be careful of these scammers around him. They were the ones who scammed Jonathan and made him believe that he was making headway in the campaign, but at the end of the day, we saw the result.
“Our advice to him is that he should reach out to us to tell him those who are the scammers around him. They want his money.”
On Oshiomhole, Keyamo said: “They should face their crisis. There is no crisis at all within us. It shows that we have a system that works, a system that everybody is free to express his mind, we don’t run a regimented system, there is freedom of speech.
‘’We are telling them that they should emulate our culture where even the national chairman can be subjected to security screening.
“During their time, it was not even like that, it was like a cult but what they are doing now by beaming their searchlight on our national chairman is that they are campaigning for Buhari.
“They are further reinforcing the transparent nature of Buhari, that even his national chairman cannot be spared when it comes to corruption. They have just scored an own goal.
“By talking about Oshiomhole, they have scored an own goal. It shows that the President can even move against his national chairman, even during campaign period.
“I am not saying that is correct, but if they are alleging the harassment of our national chairman by security agencies, they have just scored an own goal because they have given credit to Buhari on his anti-corruption posture.”
Layer leads anti- Oshiomhole protesters to ICPC
Meanwhile, some protesters, yesterday, stormed the headquarters of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, ICPC, in Abuja, demanding an investigation into allegations of bribery levelled against Oshiomhole during the recently concluded nationwide primary elections of the party.
The protesters, who were led by Stanley Onu, under the auspices of Coalition for a New Nigeria, CNN, said the protest was their quest to arrest the dangers faced by the APC, occasioned by the integrity challenged of the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
They carried placards with several inscriptions, such as ‘Oshiomhole must go’, ‘Probe Oshiomhole now’, among others.
According to the protesters, the APC is in serious crisis, following the most reprehensible, divisive and widely condemned primaries across the states.
Speaking further, the leader of the protesters said: “Today, the APC which was gaining grounds and welcoming new members is far from the all-embracing party it was when Mr. Oshiomhole took over as National Chairman.
“Given the various allegations of corruption by respected chieftains and members of the APC, we are here calling on the various anti-corruption agencies to begin a comprehensive probe of not only these allegations, but his time as governor of Edo State.
“We urge President Buhari to ask him to leave before he leads the APC down the path of ignominy in 2019.
‘’We assure you that this will not be the end of the Coalition for New Nigeria’s protest until Mr. Oshiomhole leaves the exalted office of national chairman of APC, the party of Change”.
Addressing the protesters, spokeswoman of the commission, Rasheedat Okoduwa, buttressed the impartiality of the ICPC, saying it would look into all petitions before it, giving precedence to the time of filing.
She urged the protesters to remain peaceful and allow the petition go through the various stages put in place by the commission.