The Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, on Sunday, urged Nigerians to reject former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in the 2023 presidential election.
Director, Media & Publicity of the organisation, Bayo Onanuga, said this in a statement.
Onanuga was reacting to a controversial remark made by Atiku during the Arewa town hall policy dialogue in Kaduna on Saturday.
Atiku had reportedly said at the event, “What the average Northerner needs is somebody who is from the North; he doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Ibo candidate.”
Reacting, the Tinubu-Shettima Campaign Organisation spokesman said the comment shows Atiku’s desperation “in the face of imminent defeat”.
He further stated, “The statement of Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku to the effect that Northerners don’t need a Yoruba or Igbo president is the worst expression of ethnocentric opportunism ever uttered by a former Nigerian Vice President.
“This clearly demonstrates how low a man honoured with the second highest office of the Nigerian Constitution is willing to sink in search of a perennial wild goose chase after the highest office in the land.
“It confirms the argument that Atiku has feasted on such base, cheap, primordial sentiments to use the masses and the elite of the North as the ladder to ascend to power since 1989 without any dividends to show.
“Doubling down in his now infamous speech, Atiku said: “What the average Northerner needs is somebody who is from the north and also understands that part of the country and has been able to build bridges across the country. This is what the Northerner needs, it doesn’t need a Yoruba or Igbo candidate. I stand before you as a Pan-Nigerian of northern origin.
“In clear terms, Atiku who stole the PDP ticket, by a similar mindset, has cast himself as a northern candidate, who should solely be supported by the people from his region. We view Atiku’s public declaration which framed him as an ethnic and regional champion as unbecoming for a man who was once a former Vice-President of Nigeria.
“But we are not surprised by his desperate position. Atiku has resorted to whipping up ethnic sentiments, knowing that his chances of being elected have become a mirage. He has himself, not anybody else, to blame for his expected electoral misfortune. First, he broke the fundamental rules of power rotation in his party and the country.
“As if this cardinal sin was not enough, the PDP candidate has remained defiant in the face of pressure by preserving the two topmost posts in his party for people from his region. The Nigerian public now know better that a man who has been campaigning as a so-called unifier of our disparate groups, is a tribal jingoist, who has now totally eviscerated all pretensions to being a detribalised Nigerian. He is demonstrably the anti-thesis of a pan-Nigerian politician. Nigerians of goodwill, who, daily, seek a united and prosperous nation, should reject Atiku and his party at the polls next February.
“Atiku only pays lip service to national unity, despite that it features as one of the 5 cardinal points of his so-called “Covenant with Nigerians. The facade is over, he is now fully naked before the Nigerian people.”