By Clifford Ndujihe, Omeiza Ajayi, Sunday Nwafor, Omeiza Ajayi, John Alechenu & Biodun Busari
LAGOS — Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has said the Independent National Electronic Commission, INEC, is yet to assure Nigerians of the workability of the Bimodal Voter Acreditation System, BVAS.
It came a few days after the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu expressed concern over the planned deployment of the BVAS, for next year’s general polls.
Tinubu also replied critics of his educational qualifications, mocking them for wasting their resources on a wild goose chase.
He spoke, yesterday, at Chatham House, London, where he said he was born on March 29, 1952, and that he has never disowned his biological father.
This came as the meeting moderated by the Director, Africa Programmes at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Alex Vines, was initially delayed by some Nigerians in London, who staged a #HarassTinubuOutofLondon protest at the venue.
Meanwhile, the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organidation, has described the outing of Tinubu at Chatham House as disgraceful.
‘INEC yet to assure us’
Speaking at Chatham House, Tinubu said: “We are still building confidence in our democratic and voting system. INEC is yet to assure us during this election that electronic transmission, the technology being used for accreditation and the total vote count is reliable, dependable and assuring in our democratic process before we introduce a complicated element of ballot counting.”
It will be recalled that at a meeting with the pre-election delegation of the Commonwealth Election Observation Mission in Abuja last month, APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu had said: “Our concern is how ready we are to deploy some of these technologies as regards transmission because we are taking a major step in transmitting election results in real time.”
On his sojourn at Chicago State University, Tinubu said he is now in possession of his original certificate.
During the screening of APC presidential aspirants, an APC member from Kano State, Sagir Iyali, had in a petition dated May 17, 2022, asked the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun President Screening Committee of the party to disqualify Tinubu over alleged false documents the latter submitted to the INEC, in 1998.
Iyali said Tinubu is above the required age to contest the office of president and that while his age is not known, his identity is also shrouded in secrecy.
Tinubu, who said he would reform the almajiri system, build additional schools, employ and train teachers among others to address problems in the education sector, however, surprised his audience, when he asked some of his supporters to answer some questions thrown at him.
The event was streamed live by Arise Television.
‘Why I don’t do live interviews’
Speaking on why he was not doing live interviews, Tinubu said: “I see myself as a marketable individual. They want to use me to make money and I said no.”
Tinubu has repeatedly shunned invitation by Arise Television for town hall meetings for presidential candidates, and has been criticised by opponents over his alleged refusal to grant live interviews like his two major opponents, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
Plan on education
On his plan for education at Chatham House, Tinubu said his administration will give loans to Nigerian students, noting that he will reform the Almajiri system in the North and build more schools and employ/train teachers in the country.
On how his government will make Nigerian youths productive if he wins the 2023 presidential election, Tinubu said there would be student loans and conducive template for youths to develop technology.
“There will be student loans (for Nigerian students). We are going to reform the Almajiri system. The youth can develop technology language on their own,” Tinubu said.
On Diaspora voting, Tinubu said: “Their rights to vote should not be abrogated,” noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Chairman is the only person that can speak authoritatively on the issue.
On health, the former Lagos State governor said he would convert brain-drain to brain-gain, promising that his administration will manufacture drugs and stop importation of drugs into Nigeria, and attract the best of Nigerian doctors abroad back to the country to fix the nation’s health sector.
On his age/identity controversies, university training and job experience, Tinubu said he was born on March 29, 1952, and his records are there for people to see.
His words: “I was born March 29, 1952, that’s my family record. The record is there. The transcript is there. My record is consistent in the school, in the university, they questioned, and they now confessed that they wasted their money and their time. The record is there, the transcript is there showing March 1952. I am not claiming another father. I am Tinubu and Tinubu proper. If they want a DNA, they could as well request for one.
“One of them has even been accused of not being a Nigerian citizen and I didn’t touch that area. Equally, Chicago State University, where I graduated has attested to that and now, I can announce that I have received my original replacement degree certificate from them.
“Deloitte trained me as an accountant, Mobil Oil has attested to my outstanding record. I got to the pinnacle of my career in the private sector. Who among them can brag about that?
“Yes, you want to wrestle with the pig, you got to live with the dirt. That is what I am doing. I got into politics knowing full well that it is a muddy water.”
Tinubu delegates El-Rufai, Alake to answer questions
Tinubu, however, surprised his audience when he asked some of his loyalists to respond to questions posed to him.
After his presentation, some members of the audience asked him some questions bordering on insecurity, oil theft, education and economy and how he planned to address crises in those areas, if elected.
Asked by the moderator at the Chatham House lecture to respond to the questions, Tinubu said he would assign some members of his entourage to do so.
He, thereafter, assigned Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to speak on how the Tinubu administration would address insecurity. He asked the Director of Strategic Communications of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Aleke, to take the question on oil theft and he also delegated former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Wale Edun, to answer a question on how he (Tinubu) would boost the economy, if elected.
Tinubu’s Chatham House performance a disgrace — PDP Campaign
The PDP Campaign said Tinubu’s outing was a pathetic display of vacuity as he failed to perform the simplest of tasks required of a person desiring to lead the world’s largest black nation.
Spokesman of the Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in Abuja, yesterday: “Nigerians including supporters of the APC presidential candidate were thoroughly embarrassed to watch Asiwaju Tinubu, who earlier showboated with a scripted speech went blank on the world stage in tragic display of emptiness and inability to personally address questions that were put to him on economy, security and other challenges facing our nation.
“Our campaign finds it very appalling that a candidate aspiring to be the president of a nation as complex as Nigeria exhibited an embarrassing inability to coordinate his own thought process to the extent that he could not personally think through issues and address them but had to direct questions put to him including those on his health and policies to others to answer.
“Asiwaju Tinubu has confirmed to Nigerians and the world that he has no business contesting the 2023 Presidential election; that he is grossly incompetent, completely unprepared for leadership and intends to transfer the onerous task of leading our nation to proxies and a cabal that did not seek votes from Nigerians.
“Of course, Nigerians cannot afford to have a president, who cannot take responsibility to lead but intend to shift burden to others apparently to find scapegoats to blame for his inevitable failures.
“The APC presidential candidate ended up becoming a butt of international joke as he could not provide any lead on the critical issues of economy, security, youth development and foreign policies, despite notes passed to him at the event by his handlers.
“Recall that PDP had earlier cautioned Asiwaju Tinubu and his handlers not to embarrass our nation by exhibiting his constant gaffes on the International stage at Chatham House.
“We subsequently enjoined Tinubu’s handlers to stop embarrassing him by always pushing him to make public appearances even when they are aware of his incompetence.
“What Nigerians expect is for the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign to apologise to the nation and stop embarrassing their principal with poorly scripted appearances. Now that the APC Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu has confirmed his unpreparedness and lack of capacity on the world state, we urge that he should immediately collapse his campaign, stop wasting resources, go home and rest.”