A national leader of the All Progressives Congress [APC], Bola Tinubu, has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of mounting a campaign to block him from picking the vice presidential ticket of the party.
He said the president and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], were afraid that the combination of a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, and himself as the APC presidential and vice presidential candidates, could wreck them in the February 14 election.
He was responding to an article published in a popular online medium, Sahara Reporters titled, “How Jonathan Blackmailed Bola Tinubu before 2011 Presidential Election: Season of Wrong knives.”
The former Lagos governor is accusing the President of being behind the report even though Sahara Reporters is not known to be fan or mouth piece of Mr. Jonathan.
Mr. Tinubu, is angling to run on the same ticket in the presidential election with Mr. Buhari, who was elected the APC candidate last Thursday.
However, it is believed that some of the party’s leaders are not comfortable with the combination because both are Muslims.
The statement by the Tinubu Media Office, on Tuesday, said the unfolding “smear campaign” against the former governor did not come as a surprise.
It said the campaign against Mr. Tinubu had been in the works for years since the Jonathan-led government realized that the APC leader commanded a powerful political followership.
“The successful merger and birth of the APC posed the most potent threat to the PDP and Tinubu, an architect of the merger, has become a marked man,” the statement said.
“The thought of a Buhari-Tinubu ticket confounds the PDP hierarchy and their crisis-battered president. That Tinubu might be nominated as General Buhari’s running mate also incenses the small element within the APC who joined the party not for its progressive vision but to exploit its platform to press forward their vision of themselves.
“Having failed at halting General Buhari’s bid, the PDP disinformation machine has thrown itself into overdrive trying to stymie the selection of Tinubu. Sadly, some elements within the APC – elevating their personal ambition over party and national interests — have lent themselves to this endeavour.”
The statement recalled that during the Nazi takeover of Germany, “madman” Adolf Hitler became jealous of those within his own party who showed independent thought and who would not allow themselves to be bent just so he could satisfy his megalomania.
Outraged by the situation, Mr. Hitler engineered a purge executing the lot of them., a bloody scheme that became known as the “night of the long knives.”
It said Nigerians had entered the “season of the wrong knives.”
Reeling out some of the allegations made in the campaign against Mr. Tinubu, the statement said the one on the academic qualification of the APC leader was not new.
“What is new is how desperate they have become to stir up a new controversy using an old lie,” it said.
“In the past these allegations were successfully rebutted. Recent attempt to present them as fresh allegations will not go unchallenged.”
It said the online report also claimed that Mr. Tinubu withdrew his support for the ACN in the 2011 election due to blackmail by the president.
It however noted that it was rather odd that the report coloured the former governor as the villain.
The statement argued, “If the report were true, he would be a victim. President Jonathan and his administration would be guilty of the high crime of extortion.
“This tiny consideration seemed not to dawn on the authors of this scurrilous piece; so fixated on stabbing Tinubu, they implicate their own boss in wrongdoing. So eager to please their master, Jonathan’s mindless men further ensnare him.
“If Tinubu had been scared off in 2011, it would make no sense for him to spearhead the formation of the APC against the same president.
“If the president had such control over TInubu why didn’t the president use that leverage earlier to scuttle the APC before it gained a strong position in the political space? The story makes no logical sense.”
The statement said while the authors of the article claimed the former governor did not attend Chicago State University, they cited as their evidence, a letter from the US Consulate.
It however said a closer look at the letter suggested that Mr. Tinubu’s name was misspelt.
It said the authors likely misspelt the last name so that the name search would reveal nothing.
“This is clever but immoral; it is a wrong knife,” it said.
“Meanwhile, Tinubu has genuine documents and pictures showing him as an award-winning student at the school. Nigeria should be proud that one of its own graduated an honor student from an American university over thirty years ago when that was more of a rarity than it is today.
“Instead, his detractors want to pretend he never set foot on campus.”
The statement recounted that as late as August 2012, Mr. Tinubu visited the university and was given a special reception and a tour by the school’s president.
It argued that this would not have been done for a stranger but for a distinguished alumnus.
It said after graduation, the former governor landed jobs with two well established international companies, one the accounting firm Deloitte and Touche and the other, ExxonMobil.
It also stated that such companies investigate applicants’ academic backgrounds and that if he had not attended the school, these companies would not have hired him.
On the allegation of drug running levelled against Mr. Tinubu, the statement said it was the lowest form of calumny.
“He has never been arrested, charged or indicted for any drug-related crime,” the statement said.
“Had any such suspicion existed, the American government would not have granted him political asylum during the Abacha era. Under American law, asylum cannot attach to anyone who has broken or offended that same law.
“Moreover, Tinubu travels frequently to the states. This means he has a visa. American law prohibits visa issuance to anyone reasonably suspected of drug dealing, let along being convicted of the same.”
“If I were Tinubu, I would place a wager with the PDP. He should offer to fly to America if the PDP would also send Mr. Kashamu. Both can fly to Chicago. Then he should bet the PDP who would return to Nigeria first. We all know the answer.”
The statement said the vicious campaign against the APC leader was being run from the PDP’s basement.
It said, “They fear him. They cannot assail his competence and experience. He has been an able senator and governor. They cannot assail his commitment to democracy. He has personally sacrificed more for democracy than all the PDP hierarchy combined.
“They fear his ability to campaign, to get out the vote and to protect that vote, especially in the southwest because they know that is the pivotal region where the election will likely be won or lost.”
The statement said the authors, who it described as “assailants” were desperately trying to scuttle Mr. Tinubu’s potential candidacy.
“In that the truth offers them no solace, they resort to lies. They seek to ambush the man under cover of innuendo and untruth. But their aim is off and their knives are wrong. In the end, what they use to injure him will turn to point against them. Such is the outcome when one engages in malice.
“Thus, they seek to prevent a person who may be controversial yet he is perhaps Nigeria’s most able and versatile politician, strategist and policy maker. For perhaps the most gifted politician of his time not to seek national office is a luxury a nation in this dire circumstance can ill afford.
“In the end, governance has little to do with religion, region or rumour. It has to do with vision and competence. The wrong knives will never be able to cut that truth.”