The Presidential Candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Bola Tinubu has been urged to discuss issues and not individuals in the build-up to electioneering ahead of 2023 general elections.
The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor of Delta, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, made the call while reacting to a statement credited to Tinubu in which he reportedly said his running mate was better than the man chosen by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Ifeajika said the choice of who was the better vice presidential candidate of the major political parties and the party to vote for in the 2023 general elections remained with Nigerians and not for one individual to try to influence by speaking derogatorily about opponents.
He said that Delta Gôvernor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, was picked as running mate by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar due to his soaring political profile, his contributions to national development and his exceptional performance as governor in the last seven years.
The CPS pointed out to Tinubu, who he said Gov. Okowa had respect for, that maligning the PDP’s Vice-Presidential Candidate would not in any way diminish his (Okowa) political pedigree, and reminded Tinubu and his APC-led Federal Government of the need to fulfil their electioneering promises to Nigerians before thinking of re-election in 2023.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had an interview on Arise TV some days ago where he said that Sen. Bola Tinubu approached him to become his running mate of the defunct ACN in 2007, but that he (Atiku) declined the request because he was averse to Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“In response to Atiku’s comments, rather than address the issues Atiku Abubakar raised, Sen. Tinubu took a swipe at our governor, saying that his own running mate was better than Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s choice of Sen. Okowa.
“We know Senator Bola Tinubu as a good politician and former governor of Lagos State. But we expect him to know that there are other politicians that are towering and are good, patriotic and have tried in their tracks to be statesmen.
“And, Delta’ Gôvernor and by the grace of God, Vice-Presidential Candidate of PDP’, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, is in this bracket. If Tinubu thinks that he is good, he should not foreclose that they won’t be other persons that are good or even better in politics where he thrives.
“It was his choice to pick his own running mate for whatever criteria he had. The same considerations, no doubt, the Presidential Candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had in choosing Senator Ifeanyi Okowa over all the other candidates screened,” he said.
Stating that politics was not a game of turn-by-turn, but competence, Ifeajika reminded Tinubu that the National Health Act in the country today came from the effort of Governor Okowa when he was in the Senate, and urged him to check in case he didn’t know or may have forgotten.
He added that it was on record that Okowa headed critical committees and sub-committees put in place by the APC-led Federal Government during the COVID-19 pandemic to help in mitigating the challenges posed by the scourge.
The CPS said that unlike Alhaji Bola Tinubu who had no certificate to show to meet part of the constitutional requirements for contesting election, “Governor Okowa is well educated and owned certificates that are in public domain and verifiable”.
“Senator Bola Tinubu has been in the news lately for what we know are not for the good reasons. We are not surprised that he took an unwarranted swipe at the PDP Vice-Presidential Candidate because that is his patent. It’s his character to abuse and not discuss.
“We recall that Tinubu had boasted that he made Bihari the President and that it was, therefore, his turn to be the President of Nigeria. In other words, he has been putting people there, but now it is his turn to be.
“Those who follow social media would have seen the mockery that followed that comment.
“He, Tinubu has also been reported to have said that in attaining his ambition of being president, he was going to fight dirty.
“And, in reference to the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, he reportedly said that the man will labour in vain.
“These are the languages Senator Tinubu has come to be identified with. So, we are not surprised that in attempt to get back to Alhaji Abubakar, who said that Tinubu approached him to be his running mate and he refused, he, (Tinubu) took a swipe at an innocent man, Okowa, who is not in direct contest with him.
“We are asking Tinubu to face his contest. He has a joint ticket with whom he has chosen as his running mate just as Atiku has done. So, he should be preoccupied with how to go to the contest and leave the campaign of calumny.
“He should be discussing issues affecting the general wellbeing of the people, not discussing individuals.
“Dr Okowa, as governor and Vice Presidential candidate of PDP, has his CV in public domain. He has a record and he is a man that is well known. So, a Tinubu’s swipe can not diminish what Okowa has attained.
“Senator Tinubu should confine himself to the contest he has. He has so much around him to deal with, giving the size of baggage that people know that he has.
“In the national turf, apart from being ‘the national leader’ of APC, as the members say, what we have on Tinubu is that he was a senator for a very short period and a two-term former governor.
“Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa was a senator and a two-term governor. So, it is for Nigerians to judge who is a better person in all of these. Who has done well, for not just his state, but the country, adding value.
“Okowa as senator, was behind the birthing of our national health policy currently being enjoyed by Nigerians. So, Nigerians need to assess what Tinubu and Okowa have in public domain and know who is better,” he said.
The CPS also said that the presidential ticket of Atiku/Okowa was a big threat to the APC, just as he reminded the party of the devastating woes it has brought to Nigerians since it came into office in 2015.
He pointed out that the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the ruling party at the centre had given Christians a unique opportunity to cast their votes for the PDP, a development, he said, would give room for all Nigerians to be represented at the federal level.
Ifeajika said Delta was home for all tribes because the Governor believed in the oneness of the country, and sued for peaceful co-existence in all parts of the country.
He lauded the media for their sustained objective and unbiased reportage of the policies and programmes of the Senator Okowa-led administration in the state, promising to sustain the synergy.